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Democracy continues with a virtual Annual Meeting

May 16, 2020 9:00 AM

Cllr Tim Hill chairing the Annual Meeting of Bedford Borough Council 2020, which took place onlineThe week, Bedford Borough Council held their Annual Meeting. This was the first full council meeting 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 involved 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 Councillor for Elstow and Stewartby Tim Hill thanked, with Mayor Dave Hodgson remarking it was 39 years ago when he and Tim attended a Council meeting as observers.

Bedford Borough Liberal Democrat Group Leader Councillor Christine McHugh spoke of how Councillor 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 Councillor Hill dancing at his first engagment as Speaker, the 2019 Bedford African Community Event!

Councillor 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 Councillor for Clapham Ward Cllr Jane Walker. Councillor Mohammed Nawaz (Kempston Central and East) was elected as Deputy Speraker.

Mayor Dave Hodgson said "It is important that democracy continues despite the Coronavirus Pandemic. Wednesday's meeting was historic as it was the first time Bedford's Full Council has ever met virtually in its history. I would like to congratulate Councillor Tim Hill on completing his year as speaker and welcome Councillor Jane Walker as our new, and first 'virtual', Speaker and Councillor Mohammed Nawaz as the new Deputy speaker - I look forward to working with them both, particularly in these challenging times."