Lord mayor Tate's last meeting

NEWCASTLE lord mayor John Tate made an emotional farewell to City Hall last night, thanking his wife Cathy and telling the council chamber he would ‘‘never forgive’’ former general manager Lindy Hyam for what he said was a slight on the lady mayoress.

As is tradition, retiring councillors were given the opportunity to make a valedictory speech during the final meeting of a turbulent four-year term.

The council passed a motion by acclamation to formally recognise the civic service of Cr Tate, who is stepping down after 31 years on the council and 13 as lord mayor.

He spoke mostly of his support from the lady mayoress, who was also recognised by the motion.

‘‘I couldn’t have done it without her,’’ Cr Tate said.

‘‘This is a job that you need to do together.’’

Cr Tate pointedly made reference to a council debate in August 2010 and a subsequent decision to bar Mrs Tate from representing the council at official functions.

‘‘I will never forgive or forget the general manager at the time, in response to a question from Cr [Aaron] Buman [about whether there was an official role for the lady mayoress], she took delight in saying ‘No there’s not’.’’

Cr Tate said he was leaving while he loved local government.

At least seven councillors sat through their final meeting last night.

Cr Tate, Sharon Claydon, Graham Boyd and Shayne Connell are all stepping aside.

Cr Boyd said it was ‘‘an honour and a privilege’’ to serve the city.

Councillors Mike King, Mike Jackson and Scott Sharpe are unlikely to return, as they are not running for re-election at the top of a ticket.

As if to highlight the importance of the September election, the last controversial item of business for the term, a vote to gift council childcare centres to community operators, was deferred so that it could be settled by the new council.

General manager Phil Pearce said that council staff could continue to consult with childcare operators about the plan, but ‘‘won’t be able to take substantive actions’’ until the chamber reconvened in October.

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