New West Norfolk mayor aims to reach out to borough's far corners
West Norfolk’s new mayor stressed his “local” credentials as he took up the borough’s top civic role.
Geoff Hipperson was elected at the borough council’s annual meeting on Thursday, having spent the past year as deputy mayor.
He said he and his wife Rose, who will be mayoress, were “very appreciative” of the chance to take on the post.
He said: “We have both been born, brought up, worked and lived in West Norfolk all our lives. There is nowhere else we would rather have been.
“This makes us, and I say this carefully because of that television programme The League of Gentlemen, we are local.”
Mr Hipperson, who has been a councillor for 20 years and represents the Airfield ward, said he wanted to reach out to the far corners of the borough and involve residents as much as possible in activities and events.
He described the retiring mayor and mayoress, Nick and Cheryl Daubney as "a very hard act to follow" and said he hoped to be able to put what he had learned from them and civics staff as deputy mayor to good use.
He added: "The events that have taken place, the places they have visited, the charities they have supported, are real and substantial."
In his own farewell speech after 20 years as a councillor, Mr Daubney thanked colleagues, civic staff and his mayoress for their support, and paid tribute to the wide range of organisations working to make life better for people across the borough.
He said: “We have developed a deep respect for the army of groups and volunteers and organisations who make our community work.
“Volunteers, support groups, festival organisers, drama groups, medical services, clergy, police, fire, youth leaders, an endless and powerful list. Hopefully Cheryl and I have given a little.”
He congratulated the many new councillors elected for the first time this year and wished them well in the work, before praising what he described as the council’s “superb” team of officers.
He said: “I know that if you have vision, if you give clear direction, our officers can, and will, deliver the best.”
Father Adrian Ling, of All Saints’ Church, Hillington Square, will continue to serve as the mayor’s chaplain.
And the mayor's charity committee will raise funds for West Norfolk Riding for the Disabled and West Norfolk Mind.
The newly-elected deputy mayor, Margaret Wilkinson, was absent from the ceremony.
But Mr Hipperson said her record of 36 years' unbroken service as a councillor, as well as 20 years on the magistrates' bench, meant she needed little introduction.
And he recalled how they had first come to know each other shortly after he was first elected.
He said: "Rose and I will not forget that at meetings when I first got on the council, not knowing many people, Margaret would always come across and talk to us.
"I am looking forward greatly to representing the borough and the council with her during the forthcoming year."
Mr Hipperson’s nomination was proposed by council leader Brian Long and seconded by opposition leader Jim Moriarty.
Mrs Wilkinson was proposed by deputy leader Elizabeth Nockolds and seconded by the Labour group leader, John Collop.