New mayor hopes for fresh start
The new Mayor of Berwick hopes the start of the civic year will usher in a fresh start for the embattled town council.
Cllr Ivor Dixon, member for Lower Spittal, was voted in as Berwick’s chief citizen by nine votes to six at Monday night’s annual meeting.
His sheriff will be former councillor Brian Douglas, while Cllr Gregah Roughead, defeated in the mayoral contest, takes the role of deputy.
However, Cllr Dixon admitted there had been second thoughts after watching the difficult times the past two mayors, Hazel Bettison and Isabel Hunter, have endured during a period of turmoil and conflict.
“I’ll be perfectly honest, I was not going to stand,” he said. “I felt that the council was not getting anywhere, there were too many arguments and not enough decisions being made and at first I thought I did not want to be part of that.
“I spent many sleepless nights thinking about it and wondering whether I’d be letting down the people of Berwick but at the end of the day I decided the council needs someone to push it forward.”
He also consoled Cllr Roughead on his narrow defeat.
“If it hadn’t been me, I would have been quite happy with Cllr Roughead. Your time will come.”
Cllr Dixon, who was deputy mayor last year, will officially be given the robes of office at a mayor-making ceremony in the town hall on Monday at 6pm.
Cllr Bettison, who proposed him for the mayoralty, said: “He has been a fine deputy who has filled in for me whenever I’ve been at work.
“He is not just my neighbour but my friend. He has also got Berwick and this council at heart.”
Cllr Roughead defeated Cllr Jeanette Beresford by eight votes to seven in the deputy mayoral contest.
Cllr Roughead said: “I’d like to thank everyone who supported me. I think it’s a really positive message to the community in trying to get the youth more involved in this town.”
Cllr David Blackburn, who proposed him for mayor, said: “He has been an active member of this town council and I’ve never seen him show disrespect to anyone, in public or in private.
“His age should not be an issue. He represents a meaningful change of direction that this town would probably need to go in if we are going to engage with the younger people that are going to be this town’s future. He can be an ambassador and an example of what is good about this town.”
However, he felt it was important that councillors showed respect to each other if the council was to move forward.
“The council chairman can only be as strong as the determination of the membership to show good order and that has, in the past, been lacking,” he said.
He also paid tribute to Cllr Bettison for her efforts as mayor in what had been a difficult year.
“This council has had a very productive term under your leadership,” he told her.