Bedford's former “boy wonder” elected council’s new speaker

Long-serving Bedford councillor Tim Hill proudly accepted the honour of becoming the borough council’s new Speaker.

By David Tooley, local democracy reporter
Tuesday, 21st May 2019, 1:36 pm
Councillor Tim Hill
Councillor Tim Hill

With his voice cracking with emotion, Lib Dem Cllr Hill (Elstow and Stewartby) thanked his fiancee, his family, and his party campaign team for their love and support at the council’s annual meeting on Wednesday.

Cllr Hill, who has served as a borough councillor for 22 years, said: “Many thanks to my fiancee, Jo, I wouldn’t be here now without her love and support. My mum, God rest her soul, would be so proud now.

“After 22 years on the council I am at last able to do it.”

Councillor Tim Hill

In proposing Cllr Hill, Cllr Christine McHugh (Lib Dem, Goldington), said: “Tim has gone from a boy wonder, being the youngest councillor at Bedford Borough, and he has grown to what we see today.

“I hope that you find us, the council, well behaved.”

He is now an elder statesman after first being elected in 1986 for the Brickhill ward. In the election on May 2 he was returned with 79 per cent of voters backing his name.

Cllr Hill did not serve as deputy mayor but was elevated to the post after Cllr Wendy Rider (Lib Dem, Brickhill) took a position in Mayor Dave Hodgson’s new cabinet.

Cllr Hill was seconded by Mayor Dave who has known his colleague for 38 years, since they went to their first political meeting together in 1981. “He is my longest political friend,” he said.

Outgoing Speaker, proud Scotsman Cllr Doug McMurdo (Ind), who represents Sharnbrook in the “northern Highlands” of the borough, was thanked for his year in the hot seat. The Speaker is not only in charge of procedures at full council meetings, but represents the borough council at community events.

Cllr McMurdo said taking prayers at a mosque in Bedford was one of the highlights of his year.

Labour group leader Cllr Sue Oliver (Kempston North), praised Cllr McMurdo for taking control in a pre-election year and “doing it well, and in a courteous way.”

She said her highlight of the year had been the annual carol service in Sharnbrook where Cllr McMurdo put his own stamp on proceedings. He was piped in to the strains of Flower of Scotland.

Cllr Oliver said: “One member of the congregation said ‘he’s forgotten his trousers!’ before they realised you’d got your kilt on, underneath your ceremonial robes.”

And Mayor Dave congratulated him for representing the council at events. His first event was a Men in Sheds barbecue.

And, to groans from the council chamber, the mayor, said Cllr McMurdo also “took questions from a group of Spanish students in the Mayor’s Parlour and coped with their inquisition…”

Cllr Jane Walker (Cons, Clapham) was elected deputy speaker for the year 2019-2020.