Mayor making is ‘Richard and Alison show’

Mayor Richard Austin with former Mayor and wife Alison Austin
Mayor Richard Austin with former Mayor and wife Alison Austin

Retired agricultural consultant Richard Austin became Boston’s 481st mayor on Thursday - taking over the red robes and chain of office from his wife, Alison.

The Derbyshire lad, who proposed to Alison at the top of Boston Stump three weeks after their first date, is now on a mission to protect, promote and enhance the borough’s reputation wherever and whenever he can.

He asked fellow councillors and the wider public to support him in that task - and says Boston has a great past and an exciting future.

“The image and reputation of a place is its most important asset,” he said.

As Richard presented his wife with her past mayor’s badge, he told the audience of freemen, guests and councillors: “This is the Richard and Alison show.”

Later, summing up her year of office, Alison admitted: “My really big challenge is about to begin - standing two paces back and keeping my mouth shut.”

The Austins - both Independents - have helped form what is described as a ‘soft coalition’ with the 13-strong Conservative group and are part of the ruling administration.

UKIP gained 13 seats - although one member has now become an unaligned Independent - but mayor-making was the traditional ‘anointing’ of the chosen candidate with party politics set aside and no other names proposed.

Richard has chosen Coun Colin Brotherton to be his deputy, but he was absent from Thursday’s annual borough council meeting.

Council leader Peter Bedford, proposing Richard as mayor, outlined his life from childhood days in Derbyshire to his appointment to the Ministry of Agriculture and the move to Kirton that saw him meet Alison.

Coun Bedford said: “Three weeks after their first date, he dragged her up to the top of Boston Stump - not by the hair I hope - and proposed to her.”

Richard later formed his own agricultural business in Kirton, Richard Austin Associates, and has been a stalwart of his local church - where, according to Coun Bedford, they now have to stop him going on the roof to clean the gutters.

Coun Bedford described Richard as ‘very sociable and immensely practical’ - the two men first met on a football pitch - and said: “He’s a person who, if he sees a job that needs doing, he just gets on and does it.”

Born in 1936, Richard was first elected to the borough council in 2007.