Double delight as mayors of Bungay and Beccles are elected

Graham Catchpole who is the new Beccles Mayor. Picture: James Bass

Graham Catchpole who is the new Beccles Mayor. Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

Butcher John Groom will serve as mayor of Bungay for the next year, after Olly Barnes stood down from the role this week.

John Groom, who is the new mayor of Bungay. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

John Groom, who is the new mayor of Bungay. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Mr Groom was voted in during a council meeting held in the town on Monday, when Mr Barnes said he had spent a “fantastic year” as mayor, and paid tribute to other councillors for their support.

Accepting the nomination for mayor and being voted in, Mr Groom said it was “totally unexpected”.

This will be Mr Groom’s third term as mayor, and he has lived and worked in the town for more than 30 years.

He said: “I’m very proud to serve the town. I have always tried to support any good causes, especially those involving the young.”

He is a member of numerous organisations in Bungay, including the Town Trust, the Castle Trust, is a Waveney District councillor and an honorary member of the Bungay Rotary Club.

He said: “My wife Jayne and I retired from our very successful catering business at the beginning of this year but I still run my butchery business and we are now showing and breeding Suffolk Punch horses.”

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During the meeting, Judy Cloke also stood down from her position as deputy mayor, which will be filled by Mary Buck.

Mr Groom welcomed her to the role, and said: “I’m sure we can work together – we’ve known each other for the best part of 20 years.”

In Beccles, Graham Catchpole has been elected to serve as mayor for the coming year. He takes over from Hugh Taylor, who stood down from the role at a meeting of the town council on Tuesday evening.

Seconding a proposal to vote Mr Catchpole in as mayor, councillor Norman Brooks described him as “one of the hardest working councillors” and said he was “Beccles through and through.”

Being voted in, Mr Catchpole highlighted a number of important decisions the council faced in the coming year and warned his fellow councillors there would be plenty of challenges ahead.

“I think it is true to say that this year will not be a ride through the tunnel of love, more a rollercoaster ride with a few bumper cars thrown in,” he said.

“The challenges and decisions that we as a council will have to make are wide and varied.

“With district councils reducing budgets and looking to merge to save costs, and the government pushing hard on devolution for Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, town councils find themselves in the situation of being asked to take it over or lose it on a number of fronts.

“We have decisions to make on car parks and public conveniences, children’s play areas, the neighbourhood plan, Waveney District Council’s 20 Year Forward Plan, Beccles Quay and River Moorings needs to be resolved, the transfer of the Waveney Meadow needs to be completed.

“We need to refurbish the Avenue leading to the Common and upgrade the skateboard park – all this on top of the normal day to day operations of the council,” he added.

“Every mayor has their own style and brings with them different interests and priorities and tends to encompass different sectors of the community.

“This is what keeps the role of town mayor interesting. I intend to work hard to get all of the mentioned issues resolved, some of which go back to when I was last mayor in 2012.

“I am only on this council to get things done for Beccles. That is what I shall concentrate on and I will need the help of all our councillors both town and district working together.

“I hope that we can all look back this time next year and be very satisfied with our achievements.”

After Mr Catchpole’s speech, outgoing mayor Mr Taylor was proposed as deputy mayor, followed by a nomination for Mr Brooks.

With councillors’ votes tied, one of new mayor Mr Catchpole’s first tasks was to cast the deciding vote for deputy mayor.

He chose Mr Brooks, saying Mr Taylor had been an “exceptional mayor”, but wanted to give every councillor who wished to serve as mayor or deputy mayor the opportunity to do so.