WOMAN POWER is ruling Saddleworth as an all-female line up has taken the reins of the Parish Council.
At the annual meeting Cllr Pam Byrne was voted in as chair for 2016/17 by her fellow councillors while Cllr Nikki Kirkham was elected vice-chair.
Around 60 members of the public gathered for the event, which began with prayers from Rev Duncan Rhodes.
Then Cllr John Hudson nominated Cllr Byrne as chair of the council, seconded by Cllr Rob Knotts and supported by Cllrs Alan Belmore and Paul Fryer.
Cllr Hudson, a former Parish Council chairman and Mayor of Oldham, said: “It gives me great pleasure to nominate my friend and colleague Pam Byrne.
“She works very hard for the people of Saddleworth. She is a person who can definitely fulfil the job with her skills and personality.”
Cllr Knotts added: “Some of you might have watched ‘Home Fires’ recently. The ladies have elegance, dignity, charm and common sense. I am sure we will see all of those characteristics from Pam.
“I have had the pleasure of working with Pam on a number of projects and I am always impressed by her focus on the task, determination and hard work.”
Cllr Byrne, who is a Saddleworth School governor, was unanimously elected to take on her second stint as chair, with only Cllr Steve Hewitt absent from the meeting.
She was invested with the Chain of Office by outgoing chair Cllr Neil Allsopp before reading and signing the Chairman’s Declaration of Office.
A Past Chairman’s Medallion was presented to Cllr Allsopp and a Past Consort’s medallion to his wife Carol.
Cllr Byrne’s daughter Helen will be joining her throughout the year at events as chairman’s lady and was handed her official Chain of Office.
In her inaugural speech, Cllr Byrne said she already has a host of fundraisers planned for her chosen charities – Saddleworth School music department and for repairs to the great east window at Saddleworth Church.
She added: “I want to help lots of other groups and organisations in the area too. I know even the smallest amount can help give people an opportunity to continue their work.
“I have new things in mind as well and want to support a literary festival in October, continue the work on the Civic Hall and also the cemetery.”
She concluded: “I truly am grateful and pleased that my fellow councillors have put their trust in me to represent Saddleworth for the next year.”
Vice-chair Cllr Kirkham, who only joined the council in 2011, was also unanimously voted in after being proposed by Cllr Knotts and seconded by Cllr Hudson.
Cllr Knotts said: “Nikki is well respected on the council and throughout Saddleworth. She is the first to pull on her wellies and get stuck in.
“She has a terrific, cheerful disposition and you never see her without a smile on her face.”
Cllr Hudson added: “We have strong women leading the Parish Council now. Nikki will give Pam excellent support for what is a difficult job and they will be a great team.”
Cllr Kirkham was invested with Chain of Office and gave a vote of thanks to staff of the Civic Hall, particularly Parish Clerk Pam Bailey who has just completed her first year.
Cllr Katrina Roman will accompany her as vice-chairman’s lady’s and was invested with her chain of office.
Outgoing chair Cllr Allsopp announced he has raised £11,000 for his chosen charities over the last year and presented cheques to 23 organisations.
“It might not be the massive amount some chairs have raised but I am delighted and want to thank everybody who supported us and my committee for their hard work,” he said.
“We have attended 64 events over the year, from dinners and balls to school fairs and presentations. I have had a ball and it has been a wonderful experience.
“I wish Pam every success. Do it your way, you will do it right. God bless Saddleworth.”
Then he presented his wife Carol with a unique gold and diamond pendent in the form of the White Rose of Yorkshire, created by Arjento of Uppermill.
He said: “Mostly, I want to thank my wife, Carol. She hates the limelight. However, she knew how much this meant to me so she backed me, which is something I shall never forget.”
Finally, new standing orders and financial regulations were adopted, and chairs and vice chairs of the council’s 11 committees and 13 outside bodies were appointed for 2016/17.