Ipswich: Politics and pageantry mix at emotional mayor-making

Ipswich: The town’s first Labour mayor for six years is today starting a hectic series of engagements after accepting the ceremonial chain of office.

John Le Grys became mayor at an emotional annual meeting of the borough council when he was formally elected to take over from Jane Chambers.

Mr Le Grys, who was first elected to the borough in 1994, broke with tradition by announcing he was setting up a new fund as one of the mayor’s charities he will be supporting over the next 12 months.

He has set up the Mayor’s Inclusion Fund which will be run separately from council funds and will make grants to small charities in Ipswich which benefit the community as a whole.

His other charity for the year will be the Ipswich Umbrella Trust – the charity which provides facilities for those at the margins of society and runs the drop-in centre in Black Horse Lane.


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Mr Le Grys said the Umbrella Trust had been one of the charities supported by his predecessor but he felt it still needed to be supported over the next year.

One of his first acts as mayor was to pay tribute to Mrs Chambers, whose year in office finished on a sad personal note when she lost her Alexandra Ward seat.

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That meant she was unable to fulfil the traditional post-mayoral role as deputy mayor.

The Conservative group had decided that outgoing deputy mayor David Goldsmith should not remain in that position when the council was run by a Labour administration, so former mayor Roger Fern – who was first citizen in 2004/5 – was installed as deputy mayor for the coming year.

Mr Le Grys said Mrs Chambers had worked very hard as mayor and had clearly enjoyed the role – she would be a hard act to follow.

Mrs Chambers said: “I have had a wonderful, wonderful year. I have met people I would not have seen otherwise. It’s been fantastic.”

Mr Le Grys’ mayoress is his partner Doreen Aldridge whom he introduced to the council last night.

The annual meeting also appointed David Ellesmere as the new leader of the council for the next four years, and as he unveiled his executive a spiky political note emerged.

After Mr Ellesmere pointed out that the Tories had spurned his offer of a seat on the executive, new Conservative leader John Carnall was initially refused the right of reply until the mayor was corrected on the correct procedure – although the political spat did not sour an evening of pageantry.

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