On Air Now

Alex Cann

8:00am - Noon

Now Playing

Rag'n'bone Man

What Do You Believe In

Transparency row overshadows Ripon's mayor-making ceremony

Thursday, 16 May 2024 13:08

By Thomas Barrett, Local Democracy Reporter

Cllr Barbara Brodigan (left) and Sid Hawke, Mayor of Ripon.

For centuries Ripon's mayor-making ceremony has been a genteel affair where dignitaries including the Dean of Ripon and members of the armed forces observe tradition to usher in the next 12 months of the civic role.

But it descended into chaos yesterday after four councillors refused to back the nominated mayor, Sid Hawke when it was claimed the usual rules had been ripped up during the nomination process.

Each year, a city councillor takes up the mayoral position and attends events on behalf of the city.

This year, both Eamon Parkin and Sid Hawke put themselves forward for the role which is decided by their fellow councillors.

Cllr Hawke, who has been the mayor for the last two years, was announced as the mayor elect in March. Councillors wearing ceremonial robes met at Ripon’s Town Hall last night for the ceremony.

But Cllr Barbara Brodigan (Spa ward) addressed councillors to say she would not be supporting Cllr Hawke due to the rules being changed.

She said councillors had now been asked to choose their preferred candidate via email to a council clerk rather than in person.

Cllr Brodigan said a vote by email is “not transparent and is not a secret voting process.”

She was backed by Cllr Pauline McHardy (Minster ward) who said the new process for nominating the mayor was “flawed”.

Cllr McHardy said:

“We used to have a meeting with a secret vote and all councillors pulled together after discussions.

"If there are two candidates for mayor then they each have to give a presentation, this is not happening. We now just send an email with no proper meeting.”

Their complaints were rejected by deputy leader of the council Cllr Peter Horton who was chairing the meeting.

He said the process was still confidential because nobody knew each other’s email. He added: “It was a perfectly straightforward procedure.”

As is tradition in mayor-making ceremonies, Cllr Hawke was waiting outside ready to be “dragged in” before signing the city’s ancient oath.

It was a nervous wait as councillors took a vote on whether to approve his nomination which ended up tied by 4 votes to 4.

It left chair Cllr Horton with the casting vote and he voted in favour of Cllr Hawke’s nomination.

After being confirmed as the mayor for the next 12 months, a relieved Cllr Hawke said it was a “privilege to be elected mayor of this wonderful city again.”

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service after the meeting, council leader Andrew Williams described the scenes as “appalling”.

He said:

“This is supposed to be a dignified civic event and it turned into mudslinging. I’ve never, ever been to mayor-making quite like it.”

Cllr Brodigan told the LDRS this morning that councillors were unhappy with the new rules and “our voices need to be heard”

She said:

“It’s not personal against Sid. The correct process was not used and our questions about it have not been answered. We wanted to say how we felt about it.”

More from Local News