A new mayor, deputy mayor and executive has been appointed at a full meeting of Wokingham Borough Council.

Councillor Keith Baker, who has served on the council since 2006, was elected Mayor of Wokingham Borough yesterday (Thursday, May 20).

Cllr Baker said: “Being the first citizen of the borough is an amazing honour, which very few councillors actually achieve, and I am extremely humbled to become one of this small group.

“In many respects I’m quite old fashioned, in that I believe being mayor is something you earn through your contribution to public life, and not simply because it’s your turn.

“I would like to enter into an informal contract between all councillors and myself. I will pledge to be even handed to all parties and all councillors.”

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He replaces Cllr Malcolm Richards, who served as Mayor for the last year, and has been a borough councillor for 12 years. He has now retired, with his seat for the Norreys ward being taken on by fellow Conservative Phil Cunnington.

Cllr Abdul Loyes was then elected Deputy Mayor. He is the first Muslim to serve in the position. He said: “I came to England in 1976 aged eight. I have always considered England as my home. As much it is an honour and pleasure to be elected Deputy Mayor here tonight. And if my parents were alive today, I know they would be very proud to see me here.

“My wife and I have brought up and educated our children here in the borough, and have enjoyed a great life. I know it sounds like an advertising slogan, but Wokingham really is a great place to live and work, and I want everyone who lives here to benefit from the great things on offer.”

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Cllr Lindsay Ferris, leader of the Wokingham Liberal Democrats, nominated Caroline Smith for Mayor and Deputy Mayor, the move was outvoted by the Conservatives.

The executive members will remain much the same this year. You can see the appointed executives below:

  • John Kaiser, Deputy Leader and Executive for Finance and Housing.
  • Pauline Jorgensen, Highways and Transport.
  • Wayne Smith, Planning and Enforcement.
  •  Stuart Munro, Business and Economic Development.
  •  Parry Batth, Environment and Leisure.
  • Charles Margetts,  Health, Wellbeing and Adult Services.
  • Gregor Murray, Resident Services, Communications and Emissions.

In changes, Graham Howe was appointed chair for Executive Member for Children’s Services, and Bill Soane was appointed as the new Executive Member for Neighbourhoods and Communities.

The following Deputy Executive Members were appointed:

  • Laura Blumenthal – Equalities, Poverty, the Arts and Climate Change.
  • Shahid Younis, Insight and Change.
  • Michael Firmager, Environment and Communities
  • Phil Cunnington, Health, Wellbeing and Adult Services.

The political makeup of committees was also determined at the meeting. The Conservatives hold majorities in all of the committees. For the influential planning committee, Cllr Simon Weeks stepped down as chairman. He has been replaced by Chris Bowring, with Angus Ross appointed as vicechair.