Sister Cities: Arizona tunes in as Antrim and Newtownabbey selects new mayor

Friends in Antrim and Newtownabbey’s Sister City, Gilbert in Arizona, tuned in online to watch the new mayor take up office at the council’s annual general meeting on Tuesday.

The meeting took place at Mossley Mill in Newtownabbey to comply with social distancing restrictions due to the Covid pandemic.

Macedon Alliance Councillor Billy Webb is the borough’s new Mayor. His deputy is Threemilewater DUP Councillor Stephen Ross.

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Clr Webb who is the first non-Unionist Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey. He was also the first non-Unionist Mayor of Newtownabbey in 2011.

Mayor, Cllr Billy Webb (right) And Deputy Mayor, Cllr Stephen Ross

He joked that the first change he has seen is that nowadays he has a personal dresser.

His first job was to present the Past Mayors’ Medal to outgoing Mayor Councillor Jim Montgomery, an Antrim Ulster Unionist representative.

Cllr Webb said: “I want to start by saying how delighted and honoured I am to be taking up this post as Mayor. I would like to thank my party colleagues for allowing me the honour.”

He thanked the new Alliance group leader Antrim Councillor Neil Kelly for the nomination and his wife Pat for her support since his election as a councillor 24 years ago.

Sending greetings to the United States, he told the Mayor of Gilbert, Brigette Peterson: “I hope that when we return to normality, we can meet again and re-establish our student exchange programme.”

Paying tribute to the outgoing mayor, he said: “You have managed to keep Antrim and Newtownabbey at the forefront of other councils. Your use of social media over the past year has been admirable.”

Turning to the outgoing Deputy Mayor, Glengormley Councillor Noreen McClelland, he said that during a diffiicult year, she supported the mayor and carried out her role with dignity and warmth and her “compassion has shone through”.

He continued: “We are now entering a new era. There is a lot to be done in the year ahead.”

He went on to say that he is looking forward to getting out and about and meeting as many people as he can.

He indicated that he has chosen the Children’s Hospice and Women’s Aid charities for fundraisers.

The group party leaders proceeded to offer the new mayor their congratulations and support for the incoming year.

There were congratulations too for the new deputy mayor.

Cllr Ross said that taking up the post was a “big honour” that he will “grasp with both hands”.

The new Chairs and Vice Chairs of the council’s committees were also announced: Planning, Chairman, Cllr Sam Flanagan, Vice Chair, Ald Dr Fraser Agnew MBE; Audit, Chair, Cllr Andrew McAuley, Vice Chair, Cllr Alison Bennington; Community Planning, Chair, Cllr Roisin Lynch, Vice Chair, Cllr Michael Stewart; Operations, Chair, Cllr Annemarie Logue, Vice Chair, Ald Mandy Girvan; Policy and Governance, Chair, Ald Paul Michael BEM; Vice Chair Cllr Taylor McGrann.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter


Click here to read: Council veteran Billy Webb elected Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey


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