A new mayor of Test Valley has been elected following a meeting of the borough council.

Councillor Mark Cooper, who represents Romsey Tadburn for the Liberal Democrats, was elected mayor of Test Valley by counillors on Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC). His wife, Dr Susan Tippett, now becomes mayoress.

Cllr Cooper, who had been the Deputy Mayor, takes over from Cllr Martin Hatley, who has stepped down following two years in the role. Cllr Alan Dowden has taken over in the deputy position.

The Mayor of Test Valley is chosen from amongst the sitting borough councillors, and their role includes a number of jobs, such as chairing meetings of the whole council and receiving royalty when visiting the borough.

They are separate from the leader of TVBC, with the mayor being expected to be politically neutral, especially when chairing meetings.

The first mayor was elected in 1976, when Test Valley was given the status of a borough, though it had two chairmen of the district council who served a similar function since the authority’s formation in 1973.

Normally, the mayor is elected to serve a one year term of office, though there have been exceptions to this. The first mayors of Test Valley, A E Parke and J L Morgan, both served for two years, while the current mayor, Cllr Hatley, has also served for two years.

Cllr Hatley was appointed to a second year in the role due to the Covid pandemic last May, as it was decided to roll over the vote until this year.

Now, he has given way to Cllr Cooper, who was voted into the role at a meeting held on Wednesday, May 19. Following him being voted into office, he appointed the Rev’d Thomas Wharton from Romsey Abbey as his chaplain.

Paying tribute in the following leader’s speech, Cllr North said: “We’ve been extremely blessed in recent years to have mayors of the borough with an extraordinary amount of experience in serving Test Valley.

“In fact, Mr Mayor, I hadn’t quite reached my first birthday when you were first elected to Test Valley Borough Council.

“I say that, not because I never want to get called in debates again - but to underline your unrivalled understanding of our constitution and procedures. Well apart from, perhaps, your new Deputy Mayor, which makes you both such a great team to chair our meetings for the forthcoming year.”