New Margate mayor and mayoress appointed at Charter Trustees annual meeting

Margate mayor Cllr Rob Yates and Mayoress Iris Johnston Photo Frank Leppard

Thanet councillor Rob Yates has been named as the newest Margate mayor with  Iris Johnston, a former mayor and council leader, as mayoress.

The appointments were confirmed at the annual meeting of the Margate Charter Trustees at the town’s Baptist Church last night (May 22).

The mayoral appointment was proposed by Cllr Elysa d’Abbro who said he was a “strong voice” for renters rights and involved in his community. The appointment was seconded by Cllr Alan Currie.

Cllr Yates said he was “inspired” to see so many people gathered for the meeting, adding: “I believe we, as a community, can achieve anything.”

Seats filled at Margate Baptist Church Photo Frank Leppard

Revealing he had given up his wind farm job for full time politics, he said: “It’s not the usual career path but what gives me hope is seeing so many people in the room who have taken risks to set up businesses, volunteered for community groups or started CICs.”

Cllr Yates talked of the 10th anniversaries for Thanet food Link and Margate Park run and noted how community comes together to help when it is needed.

He said his aims for the mayoral year were ‘participatory democracy’ with the people of Margate involved in making decisions for the town.

Flowers for outgoing mayor Cllr Heather Keen Photo Frank Leppard

Outgoing mayor Heather Keen, who attended 133 events last year,  said it had been an honour to be involved in everything from  Platinum Jubilee celebrations for the Queen and the following events marking her death, to opening the path for Margate Town council which now has the required signatures to move on to the next step of the process.

She thanked  those who had assisted during the year including her mayoress Caroline Friday, clerk Ingrid Spencer, mace bearer Cliff East and mayor’s cadet Sophia Perkins.

Photo Frank Leppard

Her last ‘duty’ was the presentation of an award to resident Ann Wells for 70 years service to the scouting organisation.

Cllr John Edwards takes the role of deputy mayor with wife Pat as deputy mayoress.

Mayor’s cadet for the coming year was named as Katie Skabarde.

The event was attended by other town dignitaries including new Ramsgate mayor Pat Moore. Food was supplied by Sundowners and Gina’s Bakery.


  1. “Revealing he had given up his wind farm job for full time politics”.
    I’m sure he wouldn’t give up his job to become Margate mayor unless he got more money out of it..
    This seems typical of all of the Thanet officals now, what can I get out of it, rather than, what can I do to help the people. Still their expenses will tell the truth, once audited by an independent body.

    • Complete rubbish comment,rob had a very well paid job and his allowances as a district councillor is tiny in comparison

      • So, why did he give up his ‘very well paid job’ to become mayor of Margate ? When his ‘allowances are tiny in comparison’?
        Just asking on behalf of the electorate, who might now like to know how their taxes are spent.

      • But the article states “Thanet councillor Rob Yates has been named as the newest Margate mayor” please explain why you, in you reply have said ‘his allowances as a district councillor is tiny in comparison’
        Or is district councillor the same as Mayor of Margate. I’m just trying to get the facts correct, if that is possible…..

        • Paul – look at KCC site and Councillor costs made up of ‘allowance’ plus travel etc – Mr Lewis claimed total of £16678.56, not a bad income and far in excess of my OAP. TDC councillors claim much less.
          These figures are taken from KCC site for year 2022/23.

    • I retired as a District councillor in 2019 after 24 years as a District councillor. My husband that I mostly retired to be with died in October 2021 .

      The Mayoress role is honorary unpaid position and a privilege to have been invited by Cllr Yates. I will do my best to support him in promoting Margate and helping residents. The Charter trustee accounts are available to the public.

  2. Thank you for you honest reply, it was just a question, as I know you done a lot for the people of Thanet in your years as councillor, and I thank you for your service. I sincerely hope your year as Mayoress is enjoyable.

  3. Excellent that is “First Citizen” for the year and welcome back to Iris. However could the authority move at least into the 20th century if not the 21st. Mayoress is now a totally outdated and sexist term. It assumed that the Mayor is a bloke and his partner is a woman. Most councils now have the title of “Mayor’s Consort”. Women mayors are now two a penny,LGBT ones now fairly common, same sex marriage is now legal and even Charlie Windsor had a “consort” so a swift change of title now seems appropriate.

  4. Isn’t Iris Johnston the councillor who once paraded around in a tee shirt emblazoned with the message ‘I love Manston’?

    • Let’s hope she wears that T-shirt to some of the mayoral gigs. And also let that anti-airport fundraising plonker of a mayor what a fool he is opposing the airport with all the investment and jobs it will bring

    • The Save Manston group kindly gave me a T shirt with Save Manston on it and as long as the Labour Party manifesto said ‘we support Manston airport but not scheduled night flights’ We were committed to this promise on which we were elected. In 2015 the Party collectively decided we had done our best over decades and we could do little more. In the meantime environmental concerns were being raised along with not finding a a to back investor showing their funds in the UK .

      • That is disingenuous Iris. You and the Labour Party abandoned the concerns of the residents and Labour members in Ramsgate in 2015 regarding the airport. Your support for the airport was purely to secure votes in that election – the T-shirt photo-op, sidling up to Grant Shapps, all regrettable for Labour members who genuinely understood the environmental and business incompetence issues. I will also remind you Iris, that you were responsible for supporting the employment of Madeline Homer, the worst CEO we’ve ever had. I am sorry your partner has died but rewriting history and rehabilitating yourself as an unpaid Deputy Mayor/ess does not wash with many of the electorate in South Thanet. There’s more to life than poncing about in fancy dress having a starry-eyed view of your questionable legacy.

        • Clare …UKIP took control of TDC in May 2015. Labour advised publicly in November and December 2014 that we had not found a back to back investor.

          Leaders of councils have to meet with Ministers and as part of our Manifesto promises will speak to anyone who will help us to keep our word.

          Mrs Homer was appointed to her position at Full Council having gone through thorough interview procedures managed by an HR team. I found her helpful and hard working up to my retirement in 3019.

  5. Iris – you are still offering a less than honest picture of past events. Once the airport was sold off by Ann Gloag, Labour backed the disco brothers for a mixed use development. Even Chris Wells wanted to erase the airport from the local plan. Intelligent Councillors have known all along that the painful loss-making indecision about the site was to rid the site of an unworkable freight-hub and get on with the County plan wherein the Tories want the whole of Thanet to become a hard-standing with non-environmentally sound homes creating suburban sprawl. The posturing by Labour and other parties has contributed without critique to allow this policy to take shape albeit building up to the old airport site, building Parkway for commuters. many of the residents from all Parties I might add are absolutely livid about the games that you and other so-called politicians have made in this particular debacle.
    Here’s a Brief History of Manston. I was instrumental in getting the Ramsgate NNF people and the Herne Bay team together in the late noughties and if you had attended the numerous KIACC meetings and the public meetings you might have learnt much earlier about the appalling health implications to communities living close to an airport, not that you cared as you were only interested in rallying your support in Margate.

      • May I suggest, Iris, that you acknowledge your mistakes instead of deflecting from them by suggesting that unless we all opt to be Councillors we don’t know how challenging it is. I will also remind you that being a Councillor or dressing up in a mayoral chain is not the only way to contribute to society and to live in a borough, a notoriously rotten one at that, where the people’s representatives in the main are self-serving, intellectually challenged, ideologically confused, amoral, deceitful and very bad at communications – it is not a club I’d wish to be a member of. Holding you all to account however is a civic duty that is cost effective as well as dealing directly with Councils and Government to effect solutions and change.

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