Mid-term Mayor steps into role left by her son

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A former mayor has taken on the chains of office once again - just weeks after her son quit the post mid-term.

Cllr Jo Bentley is the new Mayor of Hailsham and chairman for the remainder of civic year.

The grandmother of six will serve has the head of the Conservative led council for the next six-months after Jeff Bentley-Astor quit last month for family reasons.

The Conservative councillor beat Lib Dem Paul Holbrook in an election at a meeting of the town council on November 21.

The 70-year-old said: “With the blessing of the council I’ve stepped into the breach.

“It was a great shock to all of us when Jeff came around and said he had to quit, but he has to put family first.

“I was then asked by members of my party to allow my name to be put forward.”

She added: “It’s a great honour but it’s a lot of hard work. I’ve done it once before but things have changed, people have changed, the council’s changed and we are a different council to what we were before.

“Each mayor has their individual way of doing things and I want to be part of the community. I want to help as many people as possible along the way and visit as many people as I can.”

Former businesswoman Cllr Bentley also sits on Wealden District Council.

She was co-opted onto the Town Council in December 2002, and then elected in May 2003 for a four-year term. In 2004 she was elected as mayor for one term.

After a brief spell away from the council following a stroke she was elected at a by-election in May 2010 and re-elected in May 2011.

Currently representing Hailsham South & West Ward, she serves on a number of committees, including Planning and Environment, Hailsham In Bloom and Planning & Development. Cllr Bentley has been the principal organiser of the town’s festivities including the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and Dickensian Christmas Market.