THE new Mayor and chairman of Bradford on Avon is Cllr Alex Kay, a professional geologist and self-employed artist who has lived in the town for the past five years.

Her deputy and vice chairman is Cllr David Garwood, who was the mayor and chairman for last year.

They are both members of the ruling Ideal Bradford group, which has ten of the 12 councillors on the council.

Cllr Garwood said: “I am very pleased to see Alex Kay assume the position of Mayor and Council chairman for the coming year.”

Cllr Kay said: “It is an honour to be mayor of this wonderful town. I will do my best for it and the people of the town. I am delighted that Dave Garwood is elected Deputy Mayor.

“Dave has been an excellent Mayor; we are grateful to his hard work, guiding us through our first year as a new council. We have learned a lot and paved the way to better support and improve Bradford on Avon.

“We have a great team of councillors and staff. I look forward to a year progressing our plans together, with all our volunteers and townspeople.”

Mrs Kay, 59, works as a geologist in the energy and environmental sectors. She returned to the South West after years of working overseas with the oil and gas industry in Alaska and Scotland.

She has a passion for community, arts and environmental issues and has played a key role in the Bradford on Avon Arts Festival since coming to the town five years ago. She and her husband, Simon, have one son, Sebastian.

Cllr Dominic Newton was re-elected as the Leader of the Town Council after Cllr Mike Roberts questioned whether they needed a political leader.

Cllr Roberts said: “We have 12 councillors and we all should have the same sort of duties and we should all be responsible for policies, not have them pushed through by just one person.”

Cllr Newton said he took “personal exception” to the implication that as council leader he was driving through his own agenda.

“That is not the case,” he said. “My role as leader is not to promote my own agenda but to promote the policies of this council.”

The elections all took place at Tuesday’s annual town meeting, with only three residents attending the event at St Margaret's Hall.

The councillors also voted to restructure their committees, reducing them from seven to just five, and elected new chairs for each.

The Resources & General Purposes committee and the Personnel committee have been merged into one Resources committee chaired by Cllr Newton.

The Business & Tourism committee and the Town Management & Development committee have also been merged into one Town Development committee chaired by Simon McNeill-Ritchie.

The other three committees, Planning & Environment, Highways & Transport and Community & Recreation all stay the same, except that the first has changed its name to Environment & Planning.

They will be chaired by Cllr Alex Kay, Cllr Dominic Newton and Cllr Daniel Taylor respectively.

Cllr Laurie Brown objected to a proposal that the full council should have the power to elect and remove the chairs of individual committees.

He argued it was a departure from tradition that committee members elect their own chair. “We are standing democracy on its head,” he declared.