End of an era

PUBLISHED: 14:35 25 May 2006 | UPDATED: 10:14 06 May 2010

Sharon Taylor

Sharon Taylor

A NEW era has dawned in Stevenage. One of the longest serving council leaders in the country has stepped down from his role. And a new system for electing the mayor, which for the first time in the borough council s history allows for someone other than a

New mayor Simon Speller

A NEW era has dawned in Stevenage.

One of the longest serving council leaders in the country has stepped down from his role.

And a new system for electing the mayor, which for the first time in the borough council's history allows for someone other than a Labour councillor to become the first citizen, has been ushered in.

Cllr Brian Hall, who had led Stevenage Borough Council since 1971 apart from one year when he was mayor, made way for his successor on Tuesday evening.

Cllr Brian Hall

He remains a councillor and has taken on the resources portfolio.

Tributes to Cllr Hall came from Cllr Sharon Taylor who is the first female leader of the council.

She said: "Brian has led this council with unparalleled competence and commitment for over three decades and built Stevenage into a successful community. He has created a fantastic team of members and officers which I am proud and lucky to inherit."

Cllr Taylor, who became a member of the council in 1997 and was elected deputy leader in 2004, was born in Stevenage and has lived in the town nearly all her life.

"As for many of us first generation new towners, my sisters and I feel that the town and us have grown up together," she said.

"Our families, our community and our town have a unique bond that makes Stevenage a special place. That is why I feel so proud and honoured to have been elected to serve as leader of the council."

Cllr Taylor has two daughters aged 28 and 16 and a 25-year-old son.

Former Stevenage Borough Council planning officer Cllr Simon Speller took over as mayor from Cllr Brian Underwood.

"I am really looking forward to an exciting year, which includes the diamond anniversary of the New Town in November," said Cllr Speller.

"During my mayoral year I will be looking to promote 'sport for all', to encourage everybody to get fit and enjoy an active lifestyle.

"We've got a great record in Stevenage of producing sporting champions, and we must help develop the champions of the future, especially with the London Olympic Games in 2012 coming up."

From next year, the councillor with the longest time on the council will be offered the mayorship.

Lib Dem leader Robin Parker qualifies but has declined to take the role , for the time being, so the person due to take over in 2007 is Conservative Graham Clark who has become mayor designate.

Deputy mayor is Labour's John Lloyd whose wife Joan has been mayor.

Other executive portfolio holders are:

Community and Culture - Sue Myson;

Community Safety - Bob Clark;

Economic Regeneration - John Gardner (deputy leader);

Environment and E-Government - Richard Henry;

Equalities and Human Resources - Reg Smith;

Housing and Health - Ann Webb; and

Performance and Improvement - Pam Gallagher.

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