New chairman elected for Central Bedfordshire Council

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Conservative Linslade councillor Gordon Perham has been elected as the new Central Bedfordshire Council chairman.

Cllr Perham replaces Stotfold and Langford councillor Brian Saunders, who has stepped down after three years, having served as deputy chairman for two years previously.

As well as serving on Leighton-Linslade Town Council, Cllr Perham has been CBC vice-chairman for the last three years.

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Two candidates were proposed to chair CBC, with councillor Perham gaining more votes than Independent Flitwick councillor Gareth Mackey at the local authority’s annual meeting.

The new Central Beds Council chairman Gordon Perham and vice chairman Caroline MaudlinThe new Central Beds Council chairman Gordon Perham and vice chairman Caroline Maudlin
The new Central Beds Council chairman Gordon Perham and vice chairman Caroline Maudlin

Councillor Saunders said: “It’s been an honour to be your chairman and to say my term of office has been different would be an understatement.

“In May 2019, items on the agenda didn’t include discussion on a pandemic or a motion regarding a war in eastern Europe.

“Chairing a meeting became a challenge, but we pulled through with the help of and sometimes the hindrance of technology.”

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Conservative Leighton Buzzard South councillor Amanda Dodwell proposed councillor Perham as chairman, saying: “He’s really good at being part of a team.

“He’s been supporting Brian Saunders when he’s been out doing work in the community. That’s what Gordon’s about. He’s very involved with our community in Leighton Buzzard.

“He’s helped children learn to swim. He’s been a football referee. He’s involved with the Leighton Buzzard Society, in town twinning and our Anglia in Bloom.

“This is the type of person who can meet with our volunteers and our community activists, which is what the chairman needs to do.”

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Independent Potton councillor Adam Zerny proposed councillor Mackey describing him as “bold, knowledgeable, eloquent and charismatic” during his 11 years as a town and unitary councillor.

“I’m certain those on both sides of this chamber want those meetings run smoothly and effectively,” said councillor Zerny.

“The most important thing for this council is that we get the best chairman on offer.”

On being elected, councillor Perham said: “Councillor Saunders has had to put up with many changes. Who knows, I mightn’t have been ready last year. I was quite happy when Brian stayed on, as it was very challenging.

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“It’s going to be an election year ahead. I’m quite happy to meet as many people as possible and shake their hands, and listen to their problems and try to help them as best I can.”

Referring to himself as “a hobby gardener”, councillor Perham explained his pathway into local politics could be traced back 45 years to when he worked at a psychiatric hospital for eight years running a department and looking after 25 staff.

“My catchphrase is ‘I’m always working and never completely satisfied’,” he added. “I’m a practical person.”

The chairman is elected annually by the council and chairs the full council meetings, as well as promoting public involvement in the local authority’s activities.

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On the civic side, the chairman attends ceremonial events representing the council as its ambassador.

Conservative Sandy councillor Caroline Maudlin was voted CBC deputy chairman, after she and Independent Biggleswade South councillor Steve Watkins were proposed for the role.

She joined CBC in 2009, when the unitary authority was first formed, representing Northill ward.

Councillor Maudlin chaired the council from 2013-15 and was previously its deputy chairman in 2012.