Yarmouth’s next mayor is a first for UKIP
- Credit: James Bass
The next mayor of Great Yarmouth will be a symbolic first for the UK Independence Party.
Cllr Malcolm Bird will be confirmed as the party's first-ever borough mayor in the UK at a town hall ceremony on May 16.
A UKIP spokesman said the party have had a town mayor in Ramsgate, Kent, and a council leader in Thanet, also in Kent, but the party has never had a full ceremonial mayor before.
Stuart Agnew, UKIP MEP for the East of England, with offices in Yarmouth, said: 'If Malcolm Bird is duly elected by his colleagues to the post of civic mayor, this will be a real feather to our cap, if you'll please forgive the pun.
'From joining the party in the late 1990s, I have watched UKIP grow in Norfolk.
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'There have been setbacks and problems associated with immaturity, but the trend line is relentlessly upwards. UKIP in Yarmouth lead the way for us in Norfolk.'
Cllr Bird, who represents Yarmouth's Central and Northgate ward, was first elected in 2014 when UKIP became the third largest party on the borough council.
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Before yesterday's local elections, UKIP had eight seats on the council, compared to the Conservatives and Labour who had 14 seats each, with three independent councillors.
Prior to his election, Cllr Bird, a hotel owner, was a leading tourism boss in the borough.
A semi-retired businessman, he has lived in Central and Northgate ward for over 50 years.
He was involved in representing residents' interests as chairman of Great Yarmouth Residents Association for over 16 years and he was also a director of the Great Yarmouth Tourist Authority.
The role of the mayor is apolitical as they do not enter into any political debates and they represent the borough in civic engagements.
The holder of the title has traditionally alternated between the parties represented on the council – and until this year has always been Conservative or Labour since the role was reintroduced more than a decade ago.
The mayor represents the borough with the insignia of the mace, robes, and chains of office at events throughout their year in office.
In their civic role the mayor meets with individuals and communities to honour them for their contribution to the life of the borough, and to promote civic pride.
They also chair meetings of the full council every six weeks, with councillors addressing the mayor.