Kenilworth’s mayor looks to busy year ahead

Michael Coker. ENGNNL00120120420120249
Michael Coker. ENGNNL00120120420120249

New faces and a host of new challenges are welcomed by the incoming mayor as he looks forward to serving the town for a third time.

Michael Coker was handed the town’s ceremonial chains at the annual mayor-making ceremony in Kenilworth Castle on Thursday evening.

Michael Coker. Picture by John Cooke Photography

Michael Coker. Picture by John Cooke Photography

The Conservative councillor, who also sits on Warwick District Council, said with a busy 12 months ahead he cannot wait to get started.

“I’ve been mayor three times now and it has been very different each time,”he said.

“But there is always one underlying theme - that you get to meet so many nice people doing so much.

“Every year I come across a committee or group which has been going for years but which I had never noticed. It is lovely to see how much is here.”

Michael Coker. Picture by John Cooke Photography

Michael Coker. Picture by John Cooke Photography

Cllr Coker, who was first elected to Abbey ward in 1976, has now welcomed seven new town councillors to Jubilee House in an “unusual” shake up for the elected group.

“I was very sorry to see members leave ahead of the election, but welcome those new faces,” he said.

“The council has been freshened-up and it is always good to get new people and new ideas in.”

The solicitor was Warwickshire Coroner until 2008 and has been leader of the Conservative-led district council.

He was Kenilworth mayor in 1989 and again in 2006.

The grandfather, who turns 80 this year and lives with his wife in Elmbank Road, said one of the biggest changes in the role this time around are HS2 and development of the Neighbourhood Plan.

The plan will help shape Kenilworth’s future and builds on a questionnaire completed by almost 2,000 households.

“Much of my time up to now has been working on the plan, but this will now be passed over,” he said.

“It requires a great deal of work and input and the more we put in the more accurate it will be for the townspeople.

“We want development to be in line with what residents want. This will last forever so we need to get it right.

He will “watch from the sidelines” to ensure progression in the next 12 months as the plan is brought to fruition.

Cllr Coker is also calling for sponsorship as he starts off his mayoral year with a sponsored slim, aiming to lose a stone over the next 
two months and raise funds for Side by Side Theatre company.

He has promised to make up the slack with personal donations if he does not reach his target, and has welcomed sponsorship from the town.

Cllr Richard Davies, of St John’s Ward, was appointed as deputy mayor.