In a surprise move, councillors voted for a Tory candidate to replace Labour councillor Avril Harris as Swanage Town Mayor.
The new Swanage Town Mayor is now councillor Tina Foster and her deputy is councillor Chris Moreton. Both are Conservative councillors.
Councillor Avril Harris hands over the chain of office to councillor Tina Foster
New deputy mayor, councillor Chris Moreton and new Swanage Town Mayor, councillor Tina Foster
Councillor Harris wished to continue
Despite wishing to serve a second year as mayor, councillor Avril Harris acknowledged at the Swanage annual council meeting on Monday 23rd May 2022 that she did not have enough support from other councillors to continue.
Speaking as she handed over the chain of office, councillor Avril Harris said:
“I had hoped to continue as mayor for another year but that is not to be; with local and other elections on the horizon for May 2024, party politics have come into play and being one of two councillors of the Red party, I hear I will not have the votes of the ten councillors of the Blue party.
“I look forward to continuing to work as a councillor for the next two years, along with all other councillors, for the benefit of our town.
“I’ve lived in Swanage for nearly 43 years and have grown to love the place. It’s my home and it has been a privilege and an honour to serve as town mayor for the past year.”
Councillor Avril Harris as mayor (right), visited the new community café at Herston Village Hall
Part of the team who fought to retain the Swanage Ambulance Car
Councillor Avril Harris thanked the town hall staff and the support of her husband, along with councillor Tina Foster, who was deputy mayor, during her time in office.
She also paid tribute to all the voluntary groups who support the community including Swanage Food Bank and the team, that she was part of, who fought successfully to retain the Swanage Ambulance Car.
As mayor, councillor Avril Harris has supported the installation of a memorial to Trevor Chadwick, who saved children from the Nazis at the start of World War Two
Councillor Avril Harris (centre) at the newly re-opend King George’s Play Area
Number of achievements
During her time as mayor still limited by covid restrictions, councillor Avril Harris listed a number of achievements including the repair of the Stone Quay, refurbishment of the playground at King George’s playing fields, and a number of environmental improvements including tree planting.
Other projects have been started, including the creation of a Swanage Neighbourhood Plan to give weight to local views in planning matters, a new play area in Herston, a new seafront strategy, new facilities at the football club in Days Park, and the formation of a community land trust to build social housing for local people.
New deputy mayor, councillor Chris Moreton congratulates new Swanage Town Mayor, councillor Tina Foster
“Put in the time that the role demands”
Councillor Mike Bonfield proposed councillor Tina Foster as mayor. He said:
“Councillor Foster has worked extremely hard as a councillor and is so committed. I know for a fact that she will put in the time that the role demands.”
Seconding the proposal was councillor Bill Trite who said:
“Councillor Foster has done very well in her first years as a town councillor. She has much experience in local government as a parish councillor and will do a good job.”
Councillor Avril Harris added:
“Councillor Foster was my personal choice as a deputy and has my full support.”
Swanage Town Clerk Dr Martin Ayers looks on as new Swanage Town Mayor makes her acceptance speech
“I am honoured to have this opportunity”
Newly elected Swanage Town Mayor, Tina Foster said:
“I wish to thank councillor Harris for her help and friendship. I am honoured to have this opportunity and I will do my best to fulfil my obligations.”
Former Methodist minister, councillor Chris Moreton was then elected as deputy mayor.
Councillor Chris Moreton was elected as deputy mayor