Ilkley Town Council held its annual meeting on Monday and a new Mayor was elected.
Attended by the fourteen new councillors who were elected in May, the committee members and representatives to local community organisations were also decided.
Councillor Karl Milner was elected as Mayor for the 2023-2024 civic year, and will chair the Council. Councillor Damian Kearns was elected as Deputy Mayor.
Councillor Milner commented on his election “I am humbled to have been selected for this role and I am particularly pleased to be succeeding Cllr Mark Stidworthy and the other outgoing councillors from every political background who have guided Ilkley through challenging times – the Covid pandemic, economic downturn, and inflation. These issues have been some of the most difficult Ilkley may ever have faced, certainly since the war. Remember that town councillors work on a volunteer basis and are not paid for their time. They dedicate their spare time to running the basic services that keep the town and community functioning and I appreciate all their efforts. Thank you for your service.
"Town councillors come from different political backgrounds, we fought each other at the ballot box, and may have different priorities but understand that we have more in common than divides us. As a result, we have agreed to work together for the benefit of all Ilkley residents.
"Over the next four years I hope that the work of the Town Council will be based on partnerships with local groups that deliver social, environmental and civic services and improvements. We will also run a well-governed and efficient council. I can’t wait to get started”
Councillor Damian Kearns commented: “I am honoured to have been elected by my fellow Councillors to serve as Deputy Mayor and pledge to use my office for the good of our town.
I succeed Ros Brown who set the bar very high and is going to be missed on Ilkley Town Council.
Councillor Karl Milner is our new Mayor and I look forward to working with him. I know Karl, like me, will put Ilkley first.
"I stood as an Independent and do not believe that party politics is relevant to Ilkley Town Council, it is all about our lovely town. I am philosophically more aligned to the progressive councillors but acutely aware that I serve everyone. Whilst Ilkley Town Council may split on party lines our community is united in wanting to do our best for the place we are lucky enough to call home.
"As one of 11 new Councillors I shall rely on experienced colleagues for help and guidance and I will work with all my fellow Councillors regardless of which party they represent. I look forward to getting to know everyone.
"My thanks to everyone who supported me and to our fabulous Town Council Staff who serve us so well.
"There is so much that we can do for Ilkley and I for one can’t wait to get cracking!”
John Grogan, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Keighley and Ilkley said: ‘It is great news to see the first ever Labour Mayor of Ilkley Town Council elected - the times they are a changing . Karl Milner will bring extensive experience not just of politics but also of business and the voluntary sector to the role . It is also good to see Labour , Liberal , Green and Independent councillors coming together to work for the good of the town.
"There is a rich tradition to inspire the four new Labour councillors . More than 100 years ago an Independent Labour Party ( the forerunner of the Labour Party) Councillor called W M Benson chaired Ilkley Urban District Council and was influential in the development of plans for the library , the town hall and the bridge over the river".
A spokesperson for the Conservative councillors said: "The seven Conservative councillors elected this year are looking forward to working with the four colleagues from the Labour Party, and the one person elected for each of the Green and Lib-Dem parties and the Ilkley Community Alliance. We congratulate Cllr Karl Milner (Lab) as the newly elected Town Mayor and Cllr Damian Kearns (ICA) as Deputy Mayor.
"It was unfortunate that the Mayoral election this week was contested and that Mark Stidworthy (Lib-Dem), the outgoing Mayor, chose to politicise the Council when he was required to make a casting vote which then counted against our candidate, Cllr Steve Butler, who had achieved the same number of votes as Cllr Milner. We felt that our candidate would have been the better choice because he had more years of experience on the Town Council, including as Mayor, than all the other councillors put together, most of whom are elected for the first time. It is a pity that Cllr Milner has no previous experience but we hope that, as promised at the meeting, he 'will learn'."
Full meetings of Ilkley Town Council are usually held on the first Monday of each month at 7.30 pm in the Council chamber in Ilkley Town Hall, and members of the public are invited to attend. The dates of these and other main committee meetings were agreed at the Annual Meeting, and can be found on the town council website.