Chamber initiation for new members and first citizen
The borough's latest cohort of councillors and the new mayor were welcomed into their roles at a cordial meeting of the full council on Wednesday.
Coun Ron Conway was confirmed as the borough’s first citizen, replacing Sue Loudon who also stepped down as a councillor after more than two decades of service.
Leading the tributes to the retiring mayor Lord Smith said: “She has perfectly represented the spirit of Wigan both inside this chamber and outside, when it has been necessary.”
The chamber was also informed that Ms Loudon was hopeful of reaching the £35k mark through fund-raising efforts for her mayoral charity, guide dogs for the blind.
The former mayor had chosen the cause because mayor’s consort, Ms Loudon’s sister Joan Mee, has a guide-dog and the pair are dedicated supporters of the charity.
Incoming mayor Coun Conway, who represents Labour in Aspull, New Springs and Whelley, was proposed and seconded by ward colleagues Chris Ready and John Hilton.
Coun Ready promised an informal proposal speech for his “best mate”, telling the chamber: “It’s a great honour for me to propose him to be mayor.
“Ron and Janet will make an excellent mayor and mayoress because they always put people first.”
Adding, in a light-hearted part of his speech, that the pair “enjoy dressing up” and will therefore take to the formal mayoral robes.
Coun Conway told the chamber: “I pledge that I will treat each member equally and with the utmost respect and will expect the same in return.”
Coun Bill Clarke, who is Labour member for Ashton, was installed as deputy and the mayoral charity will be Wigan and Leigh Hospice.
With the mayoral proceedings complete, the meeting turned to the upcoming democratic year with the formation of committees confirmed and new members introduced.
This included an olive branch offered to controversial opposition member Coun Bob Brierley. The independent secured re-election in Hindley Green in this year’s elections and has been given the opportunity to serve on the Confident Places Scrutiny Committee for the year.
Members later confirmed the appointment of the council’s principal lawyer Brendan Whitworth as the temporary assistant director for legal and monitoring officer during the continued absence of incumbent Linda Fisher. This was followed by the approval of independent panel members tasked with scrutinising the members allowance system.
Local authority rules mean each council must conduct a review every five years with Wigan’s last one taking place in 2011.
The council also confirmed that future full chamber meetings will start an hour earlier at 6pm.