COLCHESTER’S new mayor vowed to make the city a “safe space for all” as she took up the position at a lavish ceremony.

Lesley Scott-Boutell became the 191st mayor of Colchester at a ceremony at the city’s town hall on Wednesday.

The long-standing Lib Dem councillor, who has lived in Colchester since she was eight years old and is the city’s 16th female mayor, has represented Stanway since she was first elected in 2002 – except for one year after she wasn’t re-elected in 2015.

She was inspired to stand for election by the then MP Sir Bob Russell who asked if she’d ever considered becoming a councillor.

Gazette: Mayor and mayoress - Lesley and Jessica Scott-BoutellMayor and mayoress - Lesley and Jessica Scott-Boutell (Image: Seana Hughes)

“I didn’t know what a councillor did,” she admits. “But if Bob thought I could do it, I thought I’d give it a go.”

More than 20 years later, Ms Scott-Boutell, who says her priority has always been representing Stanway, admits she never expected to one day become the mayor of Colchester.

She said: “I love my ward, I care for my ward, and I care for our residents and it’s a privilege being in the position where I can listen to them and represent what they think and feel.”

The theme of her mayoral year is “fostering tolerance and understanding, breaking down perceptions, and building a safe space for all”.

Gazette: New role - deputy mayor Mike LilleyNew role - deputy mayor Mike Lilley (Image: Seana Hughes)

“I believe Colchester has a bright future and I’m committed to working to make it an even more vibrant and inclusive city for all,” she said.

Over the next 12 months, she will fundraise for five charities which are close to her heart including the Colchester-based Royal Association for Deaf People, reflecting on her own experience of hearing loss.

The digestive system research charity Guts UK has also joined the mayor’s charities, inspired by her battle with stomach cancer, as has Colchester Pride, Support our Paras, and the RSPCA’s mid and north Essex branch.

Ms Scott-Boutell’s mayoress is her daughter, Jessica, who was once Colchester Council’s youngest councillor and cabinet member.

“I am just so proud of her,” the new mayor added.

She takes over as mayor from veteran councillor John Jowers, who stood down from his role as a councillor for Mersea and Pyefleet at this year’s local elections.

Old Heath and the Hythe councillor Mike Lilley is now the deputy mayor and will take over as mayor in May next year.