Hastings mayor gets extra year

Mayor Kim Forward
Mayor Kim Forward

CURRENT mayor Kim Forward will continue in the role for another year after being given the thumbs up by fellow councillors.

The mother-of-five, who has represented Gensing Ward since 2008, was the overwhelming choice of councillors who gathered at the White Rock Hotel on Wednesday, May 18.

The Conservative group did put forward the current deputy mayor, Labour councillor Alan Roberts, but he did not accept the nomination – leaving the path clear for Cllr Forward.

Cllr Jay Kramer, who nominated her Labour colleague, was clearly a big fan.

She said: “Kim has proved herself to be an excellent ambassador for the town. The qualities she brings to the role include a genuine interest in people and their well-being and a commitment to reach out to all sections of the community in Hastings and St Leonards.

“She is passionate about Hastings and St Leonards and has brought energy, fresh ideas and enthusiasm to the role of mayor.

“Kim has also tried to demystify the mayoralty and explain how our local democratic system works so ordinary people in the town realise that the mayor is a local resident like the rest of us.”

Cllr Forward, who has taught in a host of local schools over the last 20 years and remains chairman of governors at Filsham Valley, has been criticised by opposition councillors for devaluing the role of mayor by downgrading much of the pomp traditionally surrounding the position.

She is seldom seen in her official gown and became the first ever mayor of Hastings to have a Facebook page.

However, there was no vocal opposition to Cllr Forward’s re-election other than the half-hearted attempts by the Conservatives to bamboozle the Labour group by putting a second Labour councillor up against her.

The Conservative councillors were however, notable in their absence from the traditional meal which followed the meeting.

Cllr Forward herself spoke of the support she had received over the last 12 months and paid tribute to the many local residents “who help make Hastings and St Leonards such a wonderful place to live” and had invited her to share in “the many superb events here in Hastings.”

She finished by saying: “I am extremely proud to be the mayor of this town.”

Cllr Roberts was confirmed as her deputy for another year and, as expected, Cllr Jeremy Birch was re-elected as leader of the council.

Cllr Forward would not be drawn on whether or not her second stint as mayor ruled her out of the running to replace Michael Foster as the parliamentary candidate for Labour - a role she is expected to run for.