Dacorum’s new mayor says choosing charity was a ‘very hard decision’

Councillor and new Dacorum mayor Gbola Adeleke
Councillor and new Dacorum mayor Gbola Adeleke

The new mayor of Dacorum said it was tough choosing which local worthy cause to support as he was sworn in this week.

Former deputy mayor Gbola Adeleke, who has been a councillor for 12 years, was handed the chain and robe by outgoing mayor Allan Lawson at the annual inauguration ceremony on Wednesday.

Speaking at the ceremony, the Conservative councillor for Bovingdon, Flaunden and Chipperfield said: “One of the tasks I had to perform as deputy mayor was to select my charity for my mayoral year.

“We had a number of requests, all very worthy indeed and playing tremendous and commendable roles in our community.

“It was a very hard decision and we could have selected all of them. In the end, we decided to choose Rennie Grove Hospice Care.

“Rennie Grove has been caring for local people for 30 years. The hospice enables patients in Dacorum with life-limiting illness to choose how and where they want to be cared for towards the end of life, and ensures that their families have access to support and counselling.”

The event at the Hemel Hempstead Civic Centre was attended by former mayors, honorary members and distinguished guests.

In his acceptance speech, Cllr Adeleke congratulated the outgoing mayor Cllr Allan Lawson for his work throughout his term, during which he raised more than £18,000 for his charity, The Chilterns Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Centre.

Cllr Adeleke intends to put community engagement at the forefront of his year with various planned fundraising events, namely a multi-cultural gala evening, a community event day and a family fun day for children with learning difficulties – a cause close to his heart.

He said: “I will also use every opportunity to engage with the youth in our community and hope that my successors will carry on with the initiative.”

Cllr Adeleke has lived in the borough for more than 40 years and is married with four children.

He says he cherishes “the warmth and friendship” of the people of the borough and believes that respect and trust of the community has to be earned through dedication, delivery and inclusiveness.

His council committee membership includes Health in Dacorum, Joint Negotiating Committee, Housing and Community, Finance and Resources and Strategic Planning.

The mayor has also served as a trustee and director in a number of outside and voluntary sector organisations, including Age UK Dacorum, Community Action Dacorum and Dacorum Volunteer Bureau.

Cllr Adeleke has a firm belief in humanity and in the ability of humans to put their similarities before their differences.

As a devout Catholic, religion plays a big role in his family.

“It’s right that you should contribute to the community when you are part of that community,” he said.

“If you continue to take without putting something back – like a well of water – it will go dry.”

Councillor Robert McLean was appointed as deputy mayor for 2015/16.

He has been both a borough and parish councillor for eight years, and has served on the Housing Scrutiny Committee over the same period with interest in the provision of affordable housing for tenants and their children.

Councillor Williams was confirmed as council leader with responsibility for community partnerships, and the following councillors were appointed as portfolio holders:

>Councillor Margaret Griffiths - Deputy Leader and Housing

>Councillor Graeme Elliott - Finance & Resources

>Councillor Harden - Residents & Corporate Services

>Councillor Janice Marshall - Environment, Sustainability & Regulatory Services

>Councillor Graham Sutton - Planning & Regeneration