More time for public speaking, greater involvement with community groups and business and less formal meetings are expected to be the hallmarks of the new Weymouth Town Council.

Even the name may change with calls to look at adopting a title which includes Melcombe Regis.

The council's first meeting on Tuesday evening was a formal affair – with the need to elect committee chairmen, adopt legal papers, rubber-stamp the appointment of the town clerk and deputy and agree a schedule of meetings.

Graham Winter (Lib Dem) was elected the council's first chairman and Colin Huckle (Lab) his deputy. They will be titled Mayor and Deputy Mayor.

But there was some time during the two-hour meeting for controversy – Christine James (Lib Dem) suggested the computer controlled lights on poles idea for seafront lighting should be scrapped with local experts being asked to come up with a better plan. It won public applause but isn't in the gift of the town council: the scheme is a Dorset Council project.

Graham Lambert (Green) suggested that councillors should not take their £1,000 a year allowance, or if they did, pay it into a community treasure chest for local charities to apply to. But that failed to get support (see page 6).

Christine James, a driving instructor, agreed that the allowance should remain. She said that it was not even close to meeting her loss of earnings when on council business during the year.

There was also a call to reduce the number of councillors from the 29 who were recently elected. Kevin Brookes (Con) said it was too many for what was, effectively a parish council, albeit one of the biggest in the country with up to 50 employees during the summer season.

But that idea stands little chance of success over the coming five years and would need a special case made to alter legislation.

Councillors were unable to say much about their £3 million a year budget – that had been set by former borough councillors and the Dorset Council.