How Ipswich’s mayor is making history
PUBLISHED: 07:30 25 April 2020 | UPDATED: 12:07 25 April 2020
Extraordinary times demand extraordinary actions and as a result the current mayor of Suffolk’s county town is about to make a little history of her own.
For only the fourth time in the town’s history and more than 70 years since it last happened, the mayor of Ipswich will stay on for an extra year.
Traditionally, the mayor takes up the post at Ipswich Borough Council’s annual meeting at the start of May and serves in the role for 12 months before handing over the chain of office and spending a year as deputy mayor.
But the coronavirus lockdown has meant the annual meeting has had to be cancelled, with the borough council confirming Jan Parry will remain as mayor until May 2021, with Jane Riley continuing as deputy mayor.
While it is not uncommon for elected members to be mayor on more than one occasion, this will be just the fourth time in Ipswich’s mayoral history dating back to 1836 that it will have happened in consecutive years.
Mrs Parry said: “I completely agree with the decision. When this first started and it was decided to delay the elections I did ask what the implications were.
“At that point no-one could even think about it, but as time has gone on it just seems silly, and perhaps even unnecessary, to have an annual meeting.
“For me, being mayor has been a fantastic experience. Being mayor is about getting to know the community across town, visiting young people, charities, individuals, and taking the temperature across the whole town, which I have really enjoyed.
“I would be very much up for doing virtual communication. If I can do anything to support those organisations as we go forward that would be great.”
The last time a mayor served two years back-to-back was 1947-49 when James Cullingham held the post. That was because Ipswich was involved in a major shake-up of the local government boundaries and Mr Cullingham was required to continue chairing full council meetings for the new changes.
From 1940-42, Robert Jackson served two terms because of the Second World War, while the first to do so was Dr George Samson from 1870-72.
The exact circumstances behind Dr Samson’s extra year are not known, but it is possible a series of devastating cholera outbreaks between 1863 and 1875 had an impact, when there were only 14 serving councillors.
Mrs Parry said those situations very much had parallels with the extraordinary circumstances people were currently living in, and added: “In a way they are not dissimilar situations. Some people say it’s like the war and there are parallels. We are all learning a bit from history.”
The council was also due to have elections for a third of its cohort this May, which has already been postponed, meaning 16 members of the council – including the leaders of the Labour and Conservative groups – will serve a five-year term and instead stand for election in 2021.
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