Issue - meetings
Election of Mayor
Meeting: 16/05/2022 - Council (Item 3)
Election of Mayor (Chair of Council) 2022-23
To elect the Mayor (Chair of Council) for the Municipal Year 2022-23.
Cllr. Wheeler proposed that Cllr. Holliday be elected Mayor, and Cllr. Seacome seconded this.
One Member spoke in objection to the nomination, suggesting that the Mayor-elect had sent an email some time ago that contained offensive and racist comments, highlighting a cultural problem and a lack of understanding of racism within the Liberal Democrat group. The issue of racism was uncomfortable and embarrassing but needed to be challenged. The culture of the local party was unwelcoming to people of colour, and had driven their only black candidate to resign last year. The electorate had not been made fully aware of Cllr. Holliday’s record and might have voted differently if they had all the facts, and her nomination went against the values of the Liberal Democrats. She had failed to take responsibility for the harm she had caused, and had never admitted that what she did and said was categorically wrong.
They continued by reminding Members that in June 2020 they had committed to total opposition to any kind of racism, both deliberate and unconscious, and it was important to ensure that the council was a welcoming and safe place for everyone regardless of the colour of their skin. It was currently not representative of the community it served, instead representing inequality and privilege. There was a part of the community whose fair and equal share of influence was withheld from them, and this would not change unless the culture of the Liberal Democrat group did. They emphasised that due to this failure of holding people to account, the overlooking of racist views because of how long she had served her community, electing Cllr. Holliday to the position of First Citizen would send a hostile and negative message to ethnic minorities.
The Mayor added that Cllr. Holliday had been rebuked at the time, and had attended training, apologised and served her suspension. One Member added that she had also been subject to a Standards Committee, in line with the council’s constitutional processes, and the outcome of this was public record.
Councillor Sandra Holliday be, and is hereby elected Mayor of the Borough of Cheltenham and Council Chair for the ensuing Municipal Year.
The Head of Paid Service invited the Mayor to sign a Declaration of Acceptance of Office of Council Chair for the ensuing municipal year 2022-23.
Councillor Sandra Holliday took the chair.