COUNCILLOR David Richardson was elected the new Mayor of Northallerton and called for greater links with businesses and residents to help the town prosper.

Cllr Richardson was elected at a virtual annual meeting of Northallerton Town Council, with Councillor Philip Eames elected Deputy Mayor. It came after a motion of no confidence in former Mayor Councillor John Forrest and Deputy Mayor Councillor Claire Palmer who both resigned from their positions.

The new Mayor said: "This is a great honour and a privilege. I am keen to engage with members of the public and other organisation to build greater links in the town. We must focus on building up the town even more so in the light of the pandemic. This is the people of Northallerton’s council and we should do everything we can to foster good relationships and help Northallerton prosper."

Concerns over finances were raised as Councillor Colin Hutson called for information about the accounts warning there had been a deadline of May 7 to file VAT returns. "This is serious we may have missed that and it might open us up to late filing penalties and also a significant loss of payments to the council. This has to be made a priority,"

An urgent meeting was to be arranged between Cllr Richardson and Cllr Palmer.

Members agreed a grant of £2,500 to Hambleton Foodshare after Cllr Paul Atkin said the authority should be increasing donations.

He added: "Brompton Parish Council has a precept of £40,000 and pays out grants of £7,500, Northallerton doesn’t pay out anything like that and yet we have over £300,000, I would like to see us giving somewhere between £10,000 to £20,000 out."

Councillor John Prest objected saying it was a lot of money to go in one grant to Foodshare, bearing in mind they only had £4,000 in the grants budget but it was agreed by councillors.

Cllr Palmer said she reserved the right to make a statement on behalf of herself and Cllr Forrest. She added: "We both believe we have not been given sufficient opportunity to reply in connection with the motion of no confidence."

Cllr Palmer said comments had been misinterpreted and it had been a particularly hard year due in part to the nature of the business being dealt with. Cllr Richardson said council meetings were to transact business not to have endless comments made.

"We need to put the past in the past and look to the future without nit picking."he added.

Cllr Palmer said she would strongly object if her statements were cut short, but councillor Richardson closed the meeting after the stand in clerk Sue McDowell suggested copies could be distributed.