Central Bedfordshire Council: Chairman and Vice Chairman for Central Bedfordshire Council are re-elected
Brian Saunders has been re-elected chairman of Central Bedfordshire Council to serve for a third year
Conservative Stotfold and Langford councillor Brian Saunders has been re-elected chairman of Central Bedfordshire Council to serve for a third year.
He was chosen ahead of rival candidate Independent Flitwick councillor Gareth Mackey, after a vote at the local authority's annual meeting.
Councillor Saunders took over the role from Fiona Chapman in May 2019, having served as her deputy for the previous two years.
Conservative Linslade councillor Gordon Perham has been re-elected unopposed as deputy chairman for 2021/22.
The council's annual meeting was cancelled last year because of the pandemic.
Thursday's (May 13) proceedings were held in CBC's Priory House headquarters at Chicksands for the first time in more than 12 months, marking a return of face-to-face meetings.
Councillor Saunders told the full council meeting he would vacate the chair initially, as he wanted to stand again, so councillor Perham accepted nominations for chairman.
Nominating councillor Saunders, Leighton Buzzard South councillor David Bowater explained he has worked with him a lot over the years.
"This included in particular when I was mayor and deputy mayor of Leighton Buzzard around a year ago.
"I found him to be an excellent chairman. He always has been, so I'm happy to propose."
Conservative Flitwick councillor Neil Bunyan seconded the nomination and echoed councillor Bowater's comments.
Proposing councillor Mackey, Independent Aspley and Woburn councillor John Baker said: "Gareth Mackey is a three-term mayor in Flitwick.
"He has considerable experience of chairing town councils and committees, and dealing with a whole range of issues.
"I think he's a very eloquent speaker and would present the council in a very positive light.
"Councillor Mackey would carefully read the constitution and apply it in a professional manner.
"He would be genuinely fair and equal to all members, not just those of the governing party.
"I would add I wasn't expecting councillor Saunders to stand again, this evening, and equally he's also a very good candidate."
Seconding councillor Mackey, Independent Potton councillor Adam Zerny agreed with councillor Baker's assessment.
"Councillor Mackey's strong grasp of the constitution would bring great benefit to this role," said councillor Zerny.
"The independence he's shown in everything he's conducted as a councillor I feel that would be a significant benefit to this position.
"This council needs to be seen as having an independent chair.
"I fear, however well the previous incumbent may have conducted this role, it's important to have someone who doesn't carry the baggage of a political party, so councillor Mackey presents the best option here."
After winning the vote to be chairman for 2021/22, councillor Saunders described it "as an honour to be chairman".
Thanking councillors "for putting your trust in me for another year", he said: "The last year has been like no other and I look forward to steering the council towards the new normal, whatever that happens to be."
Both he and councillor Perham took an oath saying they would fulfil their duties to the best of their "judgment and ability".
Councillor Perham said: "It has been a difficult year for everyone, and likewise in this position as I would like to have met as many residents as possible.
"We've lost a chance to do health and charity work, and to support charity workers.
"Their funding has gone down because they couldn't put on events.
"So I'm hoping we'll get alot of opportunity to do these events this year, and I'm happy to support Brian and go on his behalf when necessary."