‘Alternative Deputy Mayor’ appointed for South Tyneside while incumbent deals with ‘ongoing health issues’

A new Deputy Mayor has been appointed at South Tyneside Council to take over the ceremonial duties of a councillor facing “ongoing health issues”.

According to a council report, Labour councillor Joe Amar, who represents the Biddick and All Saints ward, has been unable to attend council meetings since July due to illness and may be unable to attend for several more months.

Under the Local Government Act, a councillor is normally disqualified if they fail to attend meetings for a “period of six consecutive months”.

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To avoid this happening, a formal request was made to waive the rule to allow him to remain in office while he “works on his recovery back to full health”.

South Shields Town HallSouth Shields Town Hall
South Shields Town Hall
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This will allow Cllr Amar to remain a councillor until May 2023, when elections are scheduled.

At Thursday’s (November 24) full council meeting, council leader Tracey Dixon passed on her “best wishes” to Cllr Amar.

This sentiment was shared by several councillors, including Conservative Ian Forster, who called Cllr Amar “a gentleman and a man of honesty and integrity”.

South Tyneside Councillor Richard PorthouseSouth Tyneside Councillor Richard Porthouse
South Tyneside Councillor Richard Porthouse
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Cllr DIxon said the dispensation would excuse the non-attendance of Cllr Amar and allow him to “continue on his journey back to full strength and full recovery from illness” without the “worry” of disqualification.

Labour councillor John McCabe added: “At the end of the day we’re all mortal people and the man is not well.

“I’m glad that the cohort here have agreed to the dispensation and let’s hope that he has a speedy recovery”.

Councillors later agreed to appoint Hebburn North councillor Richard Porthouse to serve as an “alternative Deputy Mayor” for the remainder of the council year or “until Cllr Amar returns to full health”.

South Tyneside Councillor Joe AmarSouth Tyneside Councillor Joe Amar
South Tyneside Councillor Joe Amar
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Cllr Porthouse, a former Mayor and former Deputy Mayor, confirmed fellow Labour councillor, Margaret Peacock, would serve as Deputy Mayoress.

Following his appointment, the new Deputy Mayor of South Tyneside said he was “honoured and privileged” to accept the role.

Cllr Porthouse added: “Thank you colleagues for giving me the opportunity to serve our wonderful borough, the residents and the fantastic communities and volunteers that do so much to maintain our standards.

“I look forward to supporting the Mayor and Mayoress and will do my very best for the borough”.