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Annual Council Meeting Breaks New Ground As Local Democracy Proceeds During Pandemic

May 14, 2020 12:22 PM

Cllr Tim Hill chairing the Annual Meeting of Bedford Borough Council 2020, which took place onlineBedford Borough Council last night held the first meeting in its 854-year history which did not take place in person, as the Annual Meeting of the Council happened online.

With the ongoing pandemic precluding face-to-face meetings, all members of the Council came together digitally to take part in the Annual Meeting, which involves the election of a new Speaker of the Council and approval of the composition of Council Committees for the year ahead, amongst other items.

The public meeting was livestreamed on YouTube, and you can watch it here.

The meeting saw outgoing Speaker, Liberal Democrat Cllr for Elstow and Stewartby Tim Hill thanked for all his efforts during a successful term. His one-year term of office as Speaker was unfortunately slightly truncated in terms of engagement with the wider community due to the Coronavirus pandemic. However the Mayor and Council group leaders thanked Cllr Hill and praised him for his chairing of Council meetings and his work in representing the Council.

Bedford Borough Liberal Democrat Group Leader Cllr Christine McHugh spoke of how Cllr Hill has grown in the years since he was first elected to the Council as its youngest Member, and remarked on how the wide array of different types of events at which he carried out the duties of Speaker, from Remembrance Services to graduations and much more. She also noted that video evidence exists of Cllr Hill dancing at his first engagment as Speaker, the 2019 Bedford African Community Event!

Cllr Hill expressed his thanks to everyone who has supported him in the role, in particular his fiancée Jo and also the Civic Team at the Council. He described the role of Speaker as "inspiring, amusing and challenging at different times and sometimes at the same time."

The new Speaker of the Council, elected unanimously, was Conservative Cllr for Clapham Ward Cllr Jane Walker. Cllr McHugh wished Cllr Walker congratulations and best wishes for the year ahead on behalf of the Liberal Democrat Group.