BASINGSTOKE'S Mayor will be staying in the job for another year, it has been confirmed.

Cllr Diane Taylor (Conservative, Oakley and North Waltham) has been re-chosen as the borough's mayor for a second consecutive year by the council, with Cllr Onnalee Cubitt (Conservative, Basing), staying on as her deputy.

Cllr Cubitt was due to take over the position of the borough's first citizen this year, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, this will be put on hold for a year.

Local authorities were granted a number of emergency powers through the Coronavirus Regulations 2020, including being able to have virtual meetings as well as not to hold the Council’s Annual General Meeting, at which the Mayor is officially appointed.

Due to the exceptional circumstances, the decision has now been taken to postpone the borough council’s Annual General Meeting, due to be held this week, until May 2021. Cllr Taylor will be the first mayor to serve more than one term consectuively since before the council became a borough - when Lionel John Stroud served two years in 1952-54.

Cllr Taylor said: "My past year as Mayor has been an amazing time for both me and my Consort and Chaplain Andy.

"It has been wonderful to meet so many of the residents of this borough and find out more about their outstanding achievements, generosity and hard work.

“After much consideration and discussion with the Deputy Mayor and others, it was decided that the time simply isn’t right for the hand-over as we continue to cope with the current pandemic.

"It will therefore be a privilege to continue to serve as Mayor for this coming year – whatever that year brings.”

The decision was made after discussions between the council, mayor, deputy mayor and the four party leaders on the council.

Cllr Cubitt said: “Cllr Diane Taylor and her husband Andy Taylor, the Mayor’s Chaplain have been an outstanding civic partnership this year.

"During these difficult times for everyone and with extreme social distancing likely to continue for the foreseeable future, we are extremely fortunate that the Mayor has kindly agreed to extend her tenure.

"We are blessed to have such a wonderful and experienced first citizen at the helm to support us through this dreadful pandemic.

“I am honoured to continue serving the Mayor as Deputy Mayor and to do whatever is necessary to support her and the citizens of our amazing borough. Stay well. Stay safe."

It comes as many districts across Hampshire are believed to be doing the same.

Earlier this month, Cllr Martin Hatley was re-elected mayor of Test Valley for the second consecutive term, and revealed that a number of boroughs across the county were planning on doing the same.

Districts believed to be doing similar are Eastleigh, East Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Havant, Fareham, the New Forest and Romsey town council.

Cllr Taylor and her consort Dr Andy Taylor lived in Kempshott for four years followed by 37 in Oakley and the pair say they love the whole area.

Born and raised in Surrey, Cllr Taylor’s father was a professional opera singer with the Royal Opera Company in Covent Garden.

While studying maths at Sussex University, Cllr Taylor met physics student Andy.

As a married couple, his work with Vickers Medical brought them to Basingstoke and they had two children, Barney and Pippa, who went to Oakley Infant and Junior Schools, the former King’s School and Queen Mary’s College, in Basingstoke.

Barney is now European managing director of a technology company, and Pippa is executive producer of the Chris Moyles’ Show on Global’s Radio X.

Before raising her family, Cllr Taylor worked for Sight Savers, previously The Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind, in PR and publicity.

She is now involved with a number of charities and pastoral work, alongside her responsibilities as a councillor.

Dr Taylor changed career path 15 years ago, from industry to the church. He now works as community pastor in Basingstoke where he has been instrumental in starting many initiatives, including Besom, The Town Chaplaincy, Street Pastors, Basingstoke Foodbank, the Night Light Winter Shelter and The Dwelling Place - both supporting local homeless people - and the Starfish Enterprise to help new community initiatives. He is also a member of the Social Inclusion Partnership.

Now married for 47 years, the couple regularly travel to India and other countries to support their charity work.

They also enjoy spending time with their four granddaughters, aged from six to 19.

The news comes the day before the borough's first "virtual" council meeting is due to be held.

Members on the Development Control committee will meet tomorrow (Wednesday May 20) for the first time since all meetings were postponed in March, due to the pandemic.

And it comes a day after the council's chief executive, Mel Barrett, confirmed he would be leaving later this year to take up a position at Nottingham City Council.