Weston's new mayor and deputy formally elected at council ceremony
- Credit: Heidin Burton ABIPP
Weston-super-mare officially has a new mayor.
Cllr Sonia Russe formally assumed the office at a ceremonial Weston Town Council meeting last Thursday (May 19).
By a unanimous vote on the council, Cllr Russe was duly elected, as was Cllr Peter McAleer who replaced Cllr Roger Bailey as deputy mayor.
They will both hold the roles until May 2023.
The Mayor Making saw departing mayor Cllr James Clayton - one of Weston's youngest ever mayors - chauffeured to the Town Hall, dressed in the mayoral robe and chains of office, to chair an annual meeting of the council for the final time as Weston's first citizen.
The macebearer carried the ceremonial mace into the chamber to kick-start proceedings, followed by the mayor's chaplain, Revd Peter Ashman, who began by saying prayers for the people and businesses of Weston.
Guests and dignitaries, including the High Sheriff of Somerset, deputy Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset and chairman of North Somerset Council, then listened to a speech by Cllr Clayton on his successful premiership.
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He thanked the people of Weston and town councillors for putting faith in him as leader.
He said: "Working full time as a street warden and having a young family during my year has been a whirlwind - when you're mayor the work is phenomenal and very trying too.
"When I was elected, I had a big task ahead of me so I worked towards meeting the five pillars of the council; creating a positive image of the town, cleaner and greener policies, working with our youth, a brighter future and heritage and arts.
"Everything I did as mayor was helping to achieve these goals by going out and showing the people of Weston what we can do as a council.
"One of my many highlights was on Christmas Day. Me, the mayoress and our family spent the day at Somewhere to Go for dinner with the homeless and vulnerable - it was so moving to give a proper Christmas to those people."
Cllr Clayton also announced he has raised more than £6,000 for his chosen charity, Redeeming Our Communities (ROC), which helps people struggling with financial and food deprivation among others.
He concluded by thanking his children for their support throughout the year and the outgoing mayoress Kaylee Rose for being his 'guiding rock'.
Cllr Russe and Cllr McAleer then both signed a declaration of acceptance.
In her inaugural speech, Cllr Russe thanked the council for entrusting her with the role and welcomed the new year ahead.
She said: "I am very happy and flattered for the support I have received in the chamber today.
"I feel very privileged to be able to serve as Weston's first citizen and I promise to uphold the tradition of mayorship.
"Also, I will fulfil my duties impartially and to the best of my abilities, always acting to the benefit of our town.
"I look very forward to my year as mayor and chairman of the council."
The evening was then completed with a formal dinner at Weston College with food made by catering students.