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New Barnet mayor Melvin Cohen second person to serve two terms since role was created
Barnet’s new mayor will become only the second person ever to hold the role for two terms when he takes over in May.
Conservative group members voted for Councillor Melvin Cohen to take on the position ahead of former council leader Brian Salinger, who has never held the title, at a recent meeting.
The selection reportedly "raised a few eyebrows" among members, but reports of any rift were stongly denied.
Golders Green representative Councillor Cohen is only the second person to twice hold the mayoral position since the role was created in 1965.
Some members were reportedly left surprised when Cllr Salinger, who has served on the council for 27 years, failed to win a majority vote among members.
A Conservative source, who did not want to be named, said: “It was quite a big upset. It’s incredibly rare for someone to serve twice and it is a bit of a snub for someone who has been a councillor for so long.”
When asked today whether he felt he had been snubbed by his colleagues, Councillor Salinger said: “I couldn’t possibly comment on the position of my colleagues but that was the decision.
“I wish good luck to Melvin and I hope he enjoys it. After 31 years as a councillor (including four on another authority), I need to now decide whether I want to do four more years. Being mayor would have been a nice swansong, but it was not to be.”
Councillor Salinger served as leader of the authority until 2006, when he was replaced by the current Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer.
Several Tory members today denied any rift among the group and welcomed the appointment of the popular councillor.
Brunswick Park representative Andreas Tambourides said: “Cllr Cohen has been an excellent mayor in the past and I’m sure he will be again. We wish him the best of luck.
“He came across very well in the selection and was the best out of the two. Cllr Salinger has served for a long time but Cllr Cohen was the better candidate.”
Cllr Cohen, who last stood as mayor in 2003/04, was presented to the chamber at a full council meeting at Hendon Town Hall on Tuesday evening.
He will take over from incumbent mayor, Cllr Brian Schama, who steps down on May 21.
Speaking at last night’s meeting, Cllr Cohen said: “I want to thank my colleagues for putting their trust in me for a second time. I will aim to live up to that trust.”