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New mayors receive the chains of office
ALAN Armitage became Lord Mayor of Oxford this week and pledged to support asylum seekers and local artists.
He took over from Elise Benjamin, the city’s first Green mayor, at the mayor making ceremony in the Town Hall council chamber.
After being given his mayoral robes and chain, Mr Armitage, Liberal Democrat city councillor for North ward, said he was looking forward to his year in office.
He added that he would be using the Lord Mayor’s car, a Toyota Prius with the number plate FC1, instead of riding a bike to get to engagements as Ms Benjamin did during her year of office.
Mr Armitage, 61, said: “I think people like to see the Lord Mayor’s car and they will expect me to give them a wave when I go past.”
His chosen charities for the year are Arts at the Old Fire Station, a charity running a theatre, dance studio and art gallery at the George Street venue, and Asylum Welcome, which supports asylum seekers in Oxford.
The father-of-three, who lives in Summertown, added: “Asylum seekers can often be essentially destitute, so I want to raise as much money as possible for Asylum Welcome and its volunteers.
“And there’s an exhibition space at the Old Fire Station which I would like to support, so that local artists get an opportunity to showcase their work and get the confidence to go on.”
As chairman of Oxfordshire’s European Movement, Mr Armitage requested that the Flag of the European Community was flown from Carfax Tower during the mayor making ceremony on Wednesday.
Following the ceremony, a reception for the new Lord Mayor was held in the main hall of the Town Hall in St Aldate’s.
In Wallingford, Ros Lester drank from the Loving Cup in an ancient ceremony as she became the new mayor of the town.
Mrs Lester, 62, replaced fellow town councillor Colin Dolton as mayor in a ceremony at the town hall last week.
She said: “The town clerk Andrew Rogers saluted me as the new mayor and took a drink from the cup first and then I took a sip.
“All the other town councillors also took a sip from the cup, which contained a kind of brandy.
“The ceremony goes back hundreds of years. I am delighted to be mayor of Wallingford.”
Army cadet Ben Green, 16, from Wallingford, was chosen as the mayor’s cadet for the year and will accompany Mrs Lester to a number of events.
Monica Lovatt, wife of town council leader Sandy Lovatt, was elected Abingdon’s mayor, replacing fellow Conservative Mike Badcock.
She said: “When I was first elected in 1991, I didn’t think for a moment that I would ever be mayor.
“Now, 21 years later, I have that honour and I am looking forward to the next year.”
In Didcot, town councillors voted in Pete Read, Labour councillor for Northbourne ward, and he replaces Phil Hayward.
Wantage Town Council elected Charlotte Dickson as town mayor for a second year at the council’s annual meeting. Fiona Roper will serve again as deputy mayor.
In Witney, Harry Eaglestone is to serve as mayor for a second year.
Bicester Town Council elected last year’s deputy mayor Dan Sames to the position, while Tony Ilott has become mayor of Banbury.