A new Mayor of Hertsmere has been sworn in, though the handover of the chains of office was conducted in an unusual way due to ongoing lockdown restrictions.
Councillor Cynthia Barker was formally appointed in the prestigious role for 2020-21 at Hertsmere Borough Council's Annual Meeting yesterday (Wednesday 24 June). Cllr Barker, who takes over from Cllr Rabbi Alan Plancey, is the first Philippines-born individual to hold the office in the borough. Unfortunately, she was denied her full moment in the spotlight because the meeting was held virtually and Cllr Barker was unable to take the chains from Cllr Plancey in person. Instead they were delivered before the meeting for her to put on at the appropriate point.
Ordinarily the appointment of a new Mayor and Deputy Mayor is a major milestone in the civic calendar. A ceremony is held at the Civic Offices attended by community leaders, friends and family and other invited guests.
Mayor Cllr Barker said: "While it is disappointing that we weren't able to mark the moment in the usual way, I am still so proud and honoured to take on this role.
"I'm fully aware of the importance of the role of Mayor at this time of uncertainty, fear and sadness for so many.
"The Mayor serves as a figurehead for the whole of the Hertsmere community and can really help to bring people together.
"All that Cllr Plancey was able to achieve during his tenure as Mayor under extremely difficult and unprecedented circumstances is amazing.
"I hope to carry on Cllr Plancey's work by celebrating all the wonderful support provided in our borough, particularly by the voluntary sector, and recognising all the brave and remarkable people who have helped fight coronavirus and are now picking up the pieces as we emerge on the other side."
During her year as Mayor, Cllr Barker will be raising money for the NSPCC, the leading charity preventing child abuse and supporting those affected.
At the meeting, former Mayor, Cllr Plancey talked about some of the engagements he was able to attend before lockdown during his year as Mayor and of his chosen charities, Mind and Camp Simcha, which supports Jewish families living with serious childhood illness across the UK.
Cllr Plancey said: “It was a tremendous honour to serve as Mayor and while many of the engagements and fundraising events were postponed because of the lockdown, I have still been impressed and awed by the work of my two chosen charities.
"The resilience and tenacity shown by the people of Hertsmere during my time as Mayor has been inspirational and it makes me even more proud to call the borough my home.
"I wish Cllr Barker all the best as Mayor. She was an excellent Deputy Mayor and am sure that she will continue to serve the community well in her new role.”
Also at the meeting, Cllr Anne Swerling was appointed Deputy Mayor of Hertsmere. Cllr Swerling takes over from Cllr Barker.
Cllr Morris Bright MBE was re-appointed as Leader of the Council and Cllr Caroline Clapper appointed as Deputy Leader.
For the opposition parties, it was noted that Cllr Jeremy Newmark is Leader of the Labour Group and Cllr Andrew Melville is Leader of the Liberal Democrat group. Executive and committee members were also appointed.
Posted on Thursday 25th June 2020