Richmond mayor calls meeting over re-election

Richmond mayor Jonathan Preece pictured in the River Swale at last year's boundary walk. Photo: Guy Carpenter.

A mayor who used his casting vote to give himself another term of office has called an extraordinary meeting of the town council.

Richmond’s mayor Councillor Jonathan Preece has declined to reveal the reason he had called the meeting at the town hall on Friday other than that the sole item on the agenda would be related to his re-election last week.

However, in correspondence to councillors Cllr Preece, who has served as mayor for the past year, has urged that there should be “maximum attendance” at the meeting.

The meeting follows Cllr Preece, who has served on the council since 2014 putting himself forward for the role, which is considered to be the greatest honour for town councillors, despite another member who had not previously been mayor seeking the role.

Friday’s meeting will come just three days before a scheduled ceremony to install Richmond’s mayor.

After a vote of 12 of the council’s members, Councillor Lorraine Hodgson had six votes and Cllr Preece also had six votes.

Councillors attending the meeting said after it was found the vote had been tied, Cllr Preece declined a request for another vote and told members he had taken legal advice and that he had the deciding vote.

Cllr Preece, who retired as a lieutenant colonel in the Royal Army Dental Corps after 22 years service and now works as a dentist, said he did not want to discuss the extraordinary meeting ahead of Friday.

He said: “It is a matter for the councillors to discuss. It will be an open meeting, so anybody can attend.”

Previously, Cllr Preece, who represents West Richmond has said it had been a “very, very difficult decision” to stand to be mayor again, but he felt he “had a lot to offer to the town council as chairman”.

He said: “I’m trying to work for the good of the town and I feel that I’m in the best position to rise to those challenges. I feel that I’m prepared to give up my freedom to work for the town.”

Cllr Hodgson, who is a school teaching assistant and has served on the council since 2015, said she had been “flabbergasted” that Cllr Preece had voted for himself.

She said: “I was quite upset and there were quite a lot of people around Richmond who were upset and thought it would be nice to have the first female mayor for some time.

“I am quite well known in Richmond through schools, charity work and Richmond Meet and people have been coming up to me saying that I would have made a good mayor. It would have been fairer to have put two names into a hat.”

Cllr Hodgson said she had no idea what Cllr Preece wanted to discuss at the extraordinary meeting, but added councillors had been given little notice and that she had already had other commitments.

1 Comment

  1. The only sensible (and honourable) reason for the meeting is for Councillor Preece to withdraw his self-election.

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