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Cambridge’s new mayor Mark Ashton says role is surreal – and reveals his wish





Cllr Mark Ashton has been named as Cambridge’s new mayor and has revealed his number one wish for his term of office.

Cllr Russ McPherson hands over the mayoral chain of office to incoming Mayor Cllr Mark Ashton as outgoing Mayoress Carole McPherson hands over her chain to Barbara Ashton. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cllr Russ McPherson hands over the mayoral chain of office to incoming Mayor Cllr Mark Ashton as outgoing Mayoress Carole McPherson hands over her chain to Barbara Ashton. Picture: Keith Heppell

Cllr Russ McPherson handed over the mayoral chain of office after a two-year stint in the role – a year longer than usual due to the pandemic.

The ceremony took place at the Guildhall last Thursday (May 26), where Cllr McPherson’s wife Carole also handed over her chain to Cllr Ashton’s wife, Barbara.

Cllr Ashton said that it felt “surreal”, adding: “One minute you’re walking around and nobody recognises you, the next minute you’re walking around in a civic service through the middle of town on Sunday.”

The new mayor said he is looking forward to raising the profile of two small charities – Cambridge Aid and Romsey Mill – and hopefully giving a voice to other small charities.

Cllr Ashton also has another significant goal he hopes to achieve during his time in office. “If I’ve got one wish, it would be when I’ve finished my year that when they do the rankings for the most unequal city in the UK, we finally lose that title,” he said.

“It’s just unbelievable that in Cambridge with all our wealth – with the universities, with the large businesses, AstraZeneca, Microsoft, Apple – that we have this city that is ranked as the most unequal and it’s just not right.

“We must be able to work together. So they’ll be lots of ceremonies but, like I say, I just want, in a sense, to give hope to people and say, ‘We recognise the difficulties you’re facing and we want to do our best to work with you on that’.”

Cllr Russ McPherson hands over the mayoral chain of office to incoming Mayor Cllr Mark Ashton. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cllr Russ McPherson hands over the mayoral chain of office to incoming Mayor Cllr Mark Ashton. Picture: Keith Heppell

Outgoing mayor Cllr McPherson said: “Having just completed an unprecedented two-year mayoralty stretching right through the pandemic period, I can safely say that Carole and I have experienced a very unique double term of office.

“May 2020 saw me installed as the mayor of the city on Microsoft Teams in front of my laptop dressed in full red robes and chain – a very surreal experience indeed!

“We both absolutely and totally love the historic significance of the mayoralty and have been overwhelmed by the messages of support and positive acknowledgement of our 2020-22 term in this great office; after such an intense and historic double term, it was a very emotional day for us handing over to the new mayor Cllr Mark Ashton – but we wish him well in his year sitting in the best chair in the city!”

In a speech on the new mayor, Cllr Rob Dryden told last Thursday’s meeting that Cllr Ashton was born in Rochdale in 1951 and married Barbara in 1972 at the Cambridge Registry Office. The couple celebrate their golden wedding anniversary this year.

New Mayor of Cambridge Cllr Mark Ashton with wife Barbara. Picture: Keith Heppell
New Mayor of Cambridge Cllr Mark Ashton with wife Barbara. Picture: Keith Heppell

Cllr Dryden also revealed that while at college studying meat technology, Cllr Ashton, who has five grandchildren, worked in a cotton mill, as a postman and as a construction worker on the M62. He later worked as authorised meat inspector for Cambridge City Council.

Cllr Ashton, who overcame meningitis, was elected as a Labour city councillor for Cherry Hinton 11 years ago.



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