Tuesday 19th May 2015, 6:00pm
Councillor Hull elected as Axminster mayor
THE old guard reigns supreme in Axminster where veteran councillor Douglas Hull, a Devon Alderman, was last night (Monday) elected as Mayor to succeed Jeremy Walden, who served for a two-year term.
Amid rumours that there would be a three-corned fight, Councillor Hull, whose local government service goes back 51 years, was elected to office by eight votes to five.
He was proposed by another long-serving member, John Jeffery, and seconded by Councillor Brian Watson.
Councillor Hull, a lifelong Liberal Democrat, started his local government career as a member of Hawkchurch Parish Council and went on to serve on the old Axminster Rural District Council. He is also a member of East Devon District Council and served on Devon County Council for many years, having been honoured by being made an Alderman.
Councillor Hull was challenged by just one other nominee – Councillor Paul Hayward, who was proposed and seconded by new members Chris Tipping and Anni Young.
Councillor Hayward was also defeated by eight votes to five in a two-way fight for deputy mayor with Councillor Graham Godbeer, a district councillor who is also the chairman of East Devon District Council.
Councillors voted by secret ballot for the positions of mayor and deputy mayor with the counting of votes being witnessed by new district councillor Ian Hall, a former town councilor.
This will be Councillor Hull’s third term as town mayor, having held office on two previous occasions (1981-1983 and 2003-2005). His wife Joy, also a town councillor, served as First Citizen from 1981 to 1983.
Councillor Hayward challenged Councillor Hull election as deputy mayor two years ago by nominating himself.
The two were also opponents in the recent district council elections with Councillor Hull beating Councillor Hayward to a town ward seat by 91 votes.
Two years ago Councillor Symes sparked a debate which prompted some councillors to say that the system makes it difficult for newer or younger members to get the top office.
But the town council has stuck to tradition by always electing the deputy to succeed as mayor. If that continues, Councillor Godbeer, who has also served as First Citizen before, will become mayor and it will be another two years before a younger member gets a chance.
After his election Councillor Hull thanked the council for the faith they had showed in him and set down the ground rules of how he would operate during his term of office.
He told his colleagues that he belived the mayor, as chairman of the council, was the “servant of the town and council” and as such he would not be promoting his own ideas but if his casting vote was called for he would always observe “the status quo”, a policy he followed when he was last mayor.
Councillor Hull also urged regular attenders at council meetings who used the public forum to express views not to allow their grievances to “fester for a month”, advising them to raise their issues by visiting the council offices in the Guildhall.
Councillor Hull said he would also be present at the Guildhall every Thursday morning between 10am and 11am for the public to raise any issues with him.
- In Seaton, Tony Woodman was voted town mayor - full story in next week's Pulman's View
Selected photos are available to purchase online here