New mayor’s warm words for woman who was due to be ‘first citizen’

The new mayor of Brighton and Hove, Lizzie Deane, has spoken of her sadness that the outgoing deputy mayor Mary Mears was unable to become mayor because of ill health.

Councillor Lizzie Deane, the new mayor of Brighton and Hove

Councillor Deane was originally due to become deputy mayor, with Councillor Mears stepping up to serve as the “first citizen” of Brighton and Hove in place of Councillor Alan Robins.

But ill health forced a change of plan – and a political tussle over who should become the new mayor, with the Conservatives pushing for their colleague Dawn Barnett to step in.

At the “annual council” meeting and mayor-making at Brighton Town Hall yesterday (Thursday 26 May), Councillor Deane said in her speech of acceptance: “Annual council and mayor-making is traditionally a time of celebration and rejoicing but there is an exception to every rule.

“I am deeply conscious that I was scheduled to become deputy mayor today and that the person who should rightfully be sitting in this chair this afternoon is Councillor Mary Mears.

“I am very sad indeed that she has been prevented from taking up the role by ill health – and I am sure I speak for us all in sending her our very best wishes for a full recovery.

“When Councillor Mears became ill, I made it clear that I would not consider taking up the mayoralty unless or until all other alternatives had been explored.

“I want to assure members and residents of our city that I am very much aware that the mayoralty is not a ‘jolly’.

“It is an enormous honour and a privilege, with considerable responsibility and – particularly in the circumstances in which I find myself mayor – I pledge to do my utmost for this council, its members, our city and its residents, to take on this role with the humility, respect and dedication that it merits.

“I cannot think of a more wonderful place to be first citizen than Brighton and Hove. We are so fortunate to live in a place with deep history and traditions yet at the same time a modern and forward-looking city. We even have United Nations status – how wonderful is that?

“If I were to describe Brighton and Hove in just one word, it would be ‘open’ – open for business, particularly important as we come out of covid, open to fresh and new ideas … and, above all, open-hearted.

“I am passionately proud that we are a City of Sanctuary – and proud that this was agreed unanimously by this council.

“It is a tremendous honour to be representing Brighton and Hove, meeting new people here, and welcoming visitors from home and abroad.”

Councillor Deane, a long-serving Green councillor, said that her mayoral charities for her year in the ceremonial role – when party politics is set aside – would be

  • Sussex Heart Charity
  • Off The Fence
  • Allsorts
  • Martlets
  • Brighton Fringe
  • Fare Share
  • New Note Orchestra
  • Campaign to Protect Rural England
  • Team Domenica

The outgoing mayor, Labour councillor Alan Robins, also praised Councillor Mears, saying: “I have a natural affinity with anyone called Mary.

“I had an aunty Mary, my dear sister Mary, who died during covid last year, my niece Rachel Mary and a great niece Mary – all strong, independent uncompromising women, all with hearts of gold, who would give you their last ha’penny if they thought you needed it.

“And I think Mary Mears falls into the same category. I know how much Mary was looking forward to becoming mayor. It would have been a great swansong for someone who has given so much to the civic life of the city. I ask you all to think of her and wish her a speedy and full recovery.”

Councillor Jackie O’Quinn is the new deputy mayor

Labour councillor Jackie O’Quinn was elected deputy mayor for 2022-23.

Conservative councillors boycotted the annual council meeting after the Greens and Labour refused to back the Tories’ nomination of Councillor Barnett as a replacement for their colleague Councillor Mears.

  1. paul white Reply

    Get the green party out they cant run a city like Brighton they cant run a bath

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