Uncertainty over Mayor’s appointment

The outgoing Mayor of Craigavon Councillor Mark Baxter.The outgoing Mayor of Craigavon Councillor Mark Baxter.
The outgoing Mayor of Craigavon Councillor Mark Baxter.
Next week – starting on Monday, June 9 – will be a historic one in Craigavon Civic Centre, with the final annual meeting of the borough council and the inaugural meeting of the new ABC (Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon) administration both held in the building.

The CBC annual meeting is on Tuesday, June 10, with the election of the last Mayor of Craigavon, and on the Thursday, the preparatory work will start for the establishment of ABC which will take over the reins in a year’s time.

As ever, with Craigavon, there are no hints who will be the First Citizen.

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The DUP have hogged the chair for the past number of years, so much so that all their members – with the exception of Darryn Causby and Gladys McCullough, plus the brand new members – have worn the Chain.

Mrs McCullough has been offered it in the past two years, but has turned it down, and she is unlikely to agree in her final year as she quits local politics. And Mr Causby has been elected to the new body and may not have the time to devote to the Mayoralty.

New faces Margaret Tinsley, Johnny Buckley and Phil Moutray have also made the ABC and would not have the experience for Mayor.

It is known, though, that the party wants to create history by providing the last Mayor, and are not keen to hand it over to the UUP or SF, although those two parties may contrive to block the DUP.

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The present incumbent Mark Baxter has insisted, “It hasn’t even been thought about, with the pressure of the elections to ABC.”

There will be ad hoc arrangements in ABC, with the D’Hondt mechanism for the top post – probably Lord Mayor with Armagh having that honour – and each party will, according to strength, have the choice year-on-year.

The inaugural meeting of ABC will be in the Mayes Hall on Thursday, and much work has to be done in the following year – where to meet, whether they want to retain the name ‘ABC’, what to do with the three Civic Centre, the introduction of the new powers like planning, car parking and town centre promotion.

The new wards to which councillors were elected are Portadown, Craigavon, Lurgan, Lagan River, Cusher, Armagh and Banbridge.

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