GREEN councillor Lizzie Deane has been elected as the new mayor in a vote boycotted by the Conservative group.

Cllr Deane will serve in the ceremonial and politically neutral role for one year after Councillor Mary Mears, who was due to become Brighton and Hove's next mayor, was no longer able to take on the role due to ill health.

Both outgoing mayor Alan Robins and Cllr Deane paid tribute to Cllr Mears, expressing sadness and wishing her a speedy recovery from her illness.

In a speech after donning her new mayoral robes, Cllr Deane said she would serve with the “humility, respect and dedication” that the role merits.

She said: “I cannot think of a more wonderful place to serve as first citizen than Brighton and Hove.

“We’re so fortunate to live in a place with deep history and tradition, yet at the same time being a forward-thinking city.”

The Conservatives nominated Cllr Dawn Barnett as a substitute for Cllr Mears, but the Green and Labour groups rejected the proposal due to concerns over previous statements made by the councillor.

Conservative councillors opted to boycott the council meeting over the move.

A Conservative spokesman said: “We are saddened to make this decision, particularly given the mayoralty is one of the most cherished civic traditions of Brighton and Hove City Council and is meant to be non-political.

“However, as neither Labour nor the Greens support the Conservative candidate, we felt it was only fair and reasonable that we show our support for Cllr Dawn Barnett by neither attending nor voting for the new mayor and deputy mayor at this year’s annual council.

“We support Dawn 100 per cent and we feel very strongly as a group that the actions of Labour and the Greens this year have been underhanded and wrong.”

The deputy leader of the council Councillor Hannah Clare slammed the boycott, describing the actions of the Conservative councillors as "shameful".

Cllr Deane's nomination was backed by all Green and Labour councillors, but independent councillor Peter Atkinson chose to abstain from the mayor-making vote.

The Argus: Conservative councillors boycotted the council meeting after backing Cllr Dawn Barnett for the mayoraltyConservative councillors boycotted the council meeting after backing Cllr Dawn Barnett for the mayoralty

Speaking to The Argus earlier this month, Cllr Atkinson said the decision not to support Cllr Barnett’s mayoral nomination was “mean-spirited”.

He said: “While I would probably disagree with Dawn on almost everything politically, she has been a great servant to her local residents and is one of the longest-serving councillors in the city.

“She didn’t gain the support of people in Hangleton by accident and is one of the hardest working councillors I know.

“The position of mayor is apolitical and ceremonial - and Dawn understands that. I think it’s mean-spirited and morally wrong to deny her this opportunity on political grounds.”

Councillors also voted to elect Labour councillor Jackie O'Quinn as deputy mayor of Brighton and Hove.