New Mayor Councillor Dot Foster honoured to be representing Calderdale

New Mayor of Calderdale, coun Dot Foster, with consort Mick Foster, pictured in the mayors parlor, Halifax Town Hall
New Mayor of Calderdale, coun Dot Foster, with consort Mick Foster, pictured in the mayors parlor, Halifax Town Hall

When the new Mayor of Calderdale was first asked to be a candidate in local elections she remembers being taken through the council chamber and past the Mayoral chair on her way to be interviewed.

“One day Dot, you will be sitting there,” her guide said to Coun Dot Foster.

Coun Foster, who took on the role of Calderdale’s first citizen at Halifax Town Hall recalls she did not think an ordinary person such as herself would ever do it.

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But, six years later, she was taking on the chain of office from retiring Mayor Marcus Thompson.

It was, she said, a huge privilege and an honour to represent the people of Calderdale.

“Despite never thinking I would ever sit in this chair I am hugely excited about meeting people and seeing parts of Calderdale I don’t know so well,” she said.

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Proposing her for the role, Coun Megan Swift (Lab, Town) said Coun Foster had a love of the people of Sowerby Bridge and Calderdale and this meant she would be an excellent ambassador for the borough.

Seconding the proposal, Coun Adam Wilkinson (Lab, Sowerby Bridge) said Coun Foster would soon be seen at a host of community events and her incredibly likeable and friendly nature were sure to endear her to people.

“I know Dot will be appreciated not just by the people of Sowerby Bridge but the whole of Calderdale,” he said.

Coun Foster (Lab, Sowerby Bridge) grew up in Steventon, Hampshire, author Jane Austen’s birthplace, nor far from Winchester.

She met her husband Mick, who will be her consort, 25 years ago working for Bournemouth council’s gardens department.

Moving to Halifax with their family in 2008, she explained she got involved in politics in 2012, when she and a friend campaigned to save the Sure Start childcare centre they used in Sowerby Bridge.

“It was under threat of closure owing to budget cuts. We decided to save it and lobbied the neighbourhood hard.

“The proposed cuts were dropped and the centre saved – and I am pleased they remain open across Calderdale to this day,” she said.

She joined the Labour Party and put herself forward the following year for election, and she has represented Sowerby Bridge ward ever since.

Coun Foster has chosen two charities for which she will raise money in her Mayoral year.

A young violinist who had toured North America with Hampshire County Youth Orchestra because she had been able to learn an instrument through her council music service, Coun Foster wanted others to have that opportunity.

She said whether it was Beethoven or the Beatles, many people appreciated music and Coun Foster quoted Rolling Stone Keith Richards who said music was a language that did not speak in words, it spoke in emotions.

Accordingly, Calderdale Music Trust was the first charity she chose, giving children access to discovering that themselves by giving them the opportunity to learn musical instruments.

“Playing music is amazing, breaking down barriers, raising self-esteem,” she said, and it improved hand-eye co-ordination.

“But to achieve this music should be accessible to all,” she said.

She chose Sowerby Bridge based Happy Days as her second charity, which supports homeless people, helping them at difficult times in their lives.

Happy Days had a 90 per cent success rate of keeping people who were staying there off the streets permanently.

Coun Foster’s Deputy Mayor will be Coun Angie Gallagher (Lab, Elland), whose consort will be her husband Jim.

Proposing her for the role, Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town) said her friendly, outgoing and down-to-earth personality would be a great asset to the borough.

A Tesco employee for 18 years, she was an active trade unionist who had won the Elland seat in 2014 and held it last year.

“Her politics is rooted in her passion for her community, standing up for ordinary people,” said Coun Swift.

Seconding the proposal, her new ward colleague Coun Victoria Porritt (Lab), who had campaigned with Coun Gallagher, said: “She has always been there for me and for Elland – and I know she will be there for Calderdale.”

Coun Gallagher said it was an honour and she would strive to meet the standards set by her predecessors as Deputy Mayor.