Council meets for the first time

By Liz Hearnshaw and Patrick LowmanMEMBERS elected to a town's first grassroots council took their seats last night during the authority's historic inaugural meeting.

By Liz Hearnshaw and Patrick Lowman

MEMBERS elected to a town's first grassroots council took their seats last night during the authority's historic inaugural meeting.

But few decisions were made during Bury St Edmunds Town Council's first gathering at the Moreton Hall Community Centre, with the majority of the agenda filled with purely administrative tasks.

Following the meeting, many members of Suffolk's newest authority were still left questioning what exactly the body will do as it enters its first term in office.

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It was decided a final decision on the town council's roles and functions will be taken at a later date after discussion with St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

It was a familiar face already serving on the borough council who was elected as the group's chairman, with Bob Cockle, who serves the St Olaves ward on the larger authority, appointed unanimously.

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But even in its early stages of existence, members of the council were keen to stress this will not be a political body - a pledge reflected in Mr Cockle's appointment of Conservative borough councillor Frank Warby as his vice-chairman.

During the meeting, members discussed a possible home for the newly-formed authority, with the historic Guildhall emerging as a hot favourite.

Councillors sitting on a working party will now investigate the costings and availability of the building in the centre of town.

The authority's budget for the coming year was also outlined, with £172,240 provided through a council tax precept and a further £15,000 secured through a grant from the borough council.

The meeting, overseen by members of the Suffolk Association of Local Councils, also agreed to further investigate advertising and appointing an employee to act as town clerk at a salary of about £42,000.

Meanwhile, a councillor who has served his community for almost two decades has had his dedication rewarded by being declared the new Mayor of Sudbury.

Veteran councillor John Sayers was named as the new mayor at the town's annual meeting last night.

Mr Sayers has represented Sudbury North ward on Babergh District Council for the Conservatives since the 1980s.

During that time he has been a high-profile figure in the battle for a new town hospital and the much-campaigned-for bypass.

Mr Sayers entered local politics after retiring as managing director of Sudbury silk weaving firm Gainsborough Silks.

He enjoyed a 50-year career in the silk industry and received a Royal warrant during his managerial reign at the company. Mr Sayers is also a founder member of the Sudbury Life Saving club and the Sudbury Round Table.

After receiving his ceremonial robes, he said: “I would like to thank my fellow councillors very much for kind gesture and I will do my utmost to respond to their support.”

Mr Sayers replaces Nigel Bennett, who became the town's youngest mayor when he was elected last year.

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