THE hunt is on for Oxford City Council’s new Lord Mayor – but so far there are no takers.
Each year the Lord Mayor attends hundreds of occasions on behalf of the local authority following the mayor-making ceremony in May.
As a result, the search for the right candidate, who is supported by the deputy mayor and sheriff, starts in the new year and is now under way.
According to council tradition, the longest-serving councillor is the first to be invited to take on the ceremonial role and city council leader Bob Price has already started looking for Dee Sinclair’s successor.
But so far the councillors he has approached have all turned him down, saying that they are too busy to become Lord Mayor.
The first councillor to be offered the post last week was Liberal Democrat city councillor Jean Fooks, who first became a city councillor in 1992.
She represented North ward for 14 years and then Summertown ward and has also been county councillor for Wolvercote and Summertown since 2001.
Mrs Fooks said: “I did attend a number of civic engagements as sheriff for the council in 2011. But I’m very busy representing my constituents and want to concentrate on that — I think it’s rather unlikely that I will ever be Lord Mayor. I can’t see myself changing my mind.”
Labour city councillor Colin Cook, who has been a councillor since 1999 barring an 18-month break, has also said no to the role.
Mr Cook, who works for Oxford University’s medical sciences teaching centre, said: “It’s a big commitment and you are the first citizen of the city.
“I was sheriff in 2010. I’m not sure if my liver could take the number of social events the Lord Mayor has to attend.”
David Rundle, Liberal Democrat councillor for Headington, and Ed Turner, Labour councillor for Rose Hill and Iffley, who both joined the council in 2002, have also turned it down.
Mr Rundle said: “Although I recognise the importance of the role of Lord Mayor, my ambitions don’t lie in that direction.”
Mr Turner, who is deputy leader of the council, added: “I’ve got a lot on my plate at the moment, so I can’t do it.”
City council leader Bob Price, who is the longest serving councillor with 30 years service and is a former Lord Mayor, said: “It is a very important, busy role and it’s very time-consuming.
“So far the councillors I have emailed have all said no, so we will now start the process of going down the list, offering it to each councillor based on how long they have served.
“That process should take a couple of weeks.”
Current Lord Mayor Dee Sinclair said: “I have been very busy and so far it has been fantastic. I have visited places like the Campsfield House detention centre in Kidlington and I think my visit will inspire me to go back there.”
After Cllr Price, John Tanner has 23 years’ service and Val Smith 22 years and six months. They have both served as Lord Mayor.