New mayor 'will not shirk decisions'

As a former headteacher and long-serving special constable, Fakenham's new mayor said he was not a man to shirk difficult decisions after accepting the role this week.

As a former headteacher and long-serving special constable, Fakenham's new mayor said he was not a man to shirk difficult decisions after accepting the role this week.

Mike Coates was handed the chains of office by outgoing mayor Jayne Cubitt at a town council meeting on Tuesday night.

He said he was honoured to be given the position and looked forward to bringing his experience to bear in helping the town through difficult economic times.

“I am a bit laid back, but hopefully people will see I'm on the ball,” he said.

“I will always make a decision. If is wrong I will apologise, but I won't fail to make that decision - however difficult it is.”

Mr Coates, 65, said his key concerns were that parking should be available and affordable to townspeople and tourists, and that plans to revitalise public areas like the Millenium Park were pushed through with the help of action groups and committees.

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“Several of us also want to see the chapel in Queens Road cemetery used as a place of contemplation, rather than a storage depot,” he said. “It is the small things like that - we as a town council want to support the people of Fakenham and if we can help in any way, we will try our best to do that.”

The new mayor praised his predecessor for her term in office, and said: “I think Jayne did very well over the year and was a credit to the office of mayor. She put a lot into it and I hope I can do as well.”

During Tuesday's meeting, Mrs Cubitt said: “It has been a real honour to be the town mayor and I have really enjoyed my year.”

Mr Coates began his teaching career in King's Lynn and came to Fakenham in 1971 as head of Great Snoring Primary School. He later became a senior county headteacher before his retirement in 2004.

He also served for 31 years in the Special Constabulary, and was a section officer in Fakenham.

Mr Coates' appointment, along with that of Janet Holdom as his deputy, marked a night of change at Fakenham Town Council.

The council's youngest member, Stuart King, announced his resignation in order to continue his education in Blackpool, and 25-year-old retained firefighter Jeremy Punchard replaced Jennifer Rest, who resigned earlier this year.

The name of Fakenham's new mayor could become the last to be engraved onto the town's symbolic civic chain.

The decorative chain contains the names of former town chairmen and mayors dating back to 1974, and Mr Coates' name will be etched onto its last empty silver link.

But no further links are planned to be added for future mayors after the town council agreed last month not to spend public money on civic regalia while taxpayers were struggling through a recession.

Mr Coates said: “The thing is, people have got to pay their rates and you cannot see any sense in paying �40 for a link in a chain just so somebody could have their name on it.

“We need to have another way of doing it. My suggestion was to have a scroll and write the names on so we kept a record until we are flush with money or a wealthy councillor comes along to donate a new piece of chain.”

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