Thursday, 6 July 2017

Do not sign up to a Ruritanian costume drama played out to esoteric rules- a look at my Mayoral year

I have been surprised by the number of people who have asked me to post the contribution I made at the Mayor Making. So here are my notes:

Congratulations to the new Mayor and his wife Wendy

I would particularly like to thank my wife and three daughters who have been a great support

Council staff- esp Mike Hassett. Kevin and Stephen (my immediate predecessors) I know share my view; Mike is conscientious to a fault, 100% reliable, determined to do his best and takes great pride in his work. Amongst all the chaos of the last year, he was the one fixed star, I'm sorry he is not here to hear me say so.

To my chaplain, Rod Garner who gave me support well above the call of duty. He planned an excellent Civic Service which was appreciated by the many people who turned up. Rod also provided the space for me to reflect on the role, sadly he is not here either to hear me say good things about him. 

When I became Mayoral year ago I had a little list of things I wanted to do. I had a vision that the Mayoralty could reach out and confer civic recognition and thanks to people in our community who have often been excluded. I am pleased that I have ticked almost all of them off. I suggest, Your Worship, you do the same, it will help you give some shape and direction to your year and stop you be dragged along on the tide of other peoples’ agendas

Some would like to recruit you into a Ruritanian costume drama played out to esoteric rules. Do not be captured by them. You have been elected not appointed, have some democratic self-respect. We serve the people not some moribund set of rules in a book of etiquette that can be used to intimidate rather than include people. 

Some of the most important things I have done without pomp and circumstance, no car, no driver, no civic regalia, indeed on my bike

Ernest Jones near death, waiting for Legion d’honeur in his bed in hosp bed. I got a phone call, at short notice that all was at last in place. At his bedside I read the citation that came with his medal:  'As we contemplated this Europe of peace, we must never forget the heroes like you, who came from Britain and the Commonwealth to begin the liberation of Europe by liberating France. We owe our freedom and security to your dedication, because you were ready to risk your life.'

South Sefton Adult Ed centre, pouring rain, I turned up on my bike -drivers day off- dripping wet, penetrated my allegedly waterproofs cloths.I was to present certificates to adult learners, many who had not flourished at school and to the world their lives may have look unsuccessful. But I met folk determined to turn around their lives. Often in difficult personal circumstances, they had achieved. Education was the golden key that unlocks a better future.

In your year, Your Worship, you will meet many folk who enrich our communities: volunteers, gardeners, youth groups, faith organisation, foodbanks the list goes on and on. You will discover the vibrant music scene in the borough including vol choirs who sing in nursing homes, Musical theatre, full-scale choral societies, and small-scale chamber choirs of amazing quality. All of them enrich our communities and make this a good place to live.

Like me, you will take part in solemn acts of remembrance for those who died in two world wars and conflicts since. During your year you will mark the 100th anniversary of Sandgrounder R G Masters gaining the Victoria Cross for outstanding bravery. We owe an enormous debt to that generation.

Back to my little list: 

Mental Health 1st Civic Reception on World Mental Health day
1st Civic visit to the mosque
1st Civic reception for the LGBT+ community

Migrant workers World cake day celebration
Homeless- Christmas day lunch at the Shelter, Life for life and this week Emmaus

All on my little list

One item not achieved. One item on my little list I have not ticked off. I sometimes sit in the Mayor's Parlour and look at the list of those who have had the Freedom of the Borough conferred on them.

After 40 years there is not one women's name. I have politely pointed this out and made a firm suggestion to the powers that be. I got no response. I think now is the time that this should be rectified. 

Since the Sefton was established in 1974 only soldiers and sportsmen have been given the highest honour that the borough can bestow. Surely there are people from the Arts, Science, Industry, Academia and other walks of life who deserve this recognition. Above all else surely there ONE are women who deserve this honour.

Jean Alexander was an active citizen of the borough as well as being known to British television viewers as Hilda Ogden in the soap opera Coronation Street, a role she played from 1964 until 1987, and also as Auntie Wainwright in the long-running sitcom Last of the Summter Wine from 1988 to 2010. For her role in Coronation Street, she won the 1985 Royal Television Society Award for Best Performance, and received a 1988 BAFTA TV Award nomination for Best Actress.

During her acting career, she has received many accolades. It is surely time that her hometown honoured her.


To everything, there is a season, and my time as Mayor has come to an end. It is a privilege to serve. I have tried to do it to the best of my ability with the help and support of my family. It only remains for me to wish you, your worship, and Wendy, every success in your endeavours and when your course is done I am sure you will look back on the twelve months as a rewarding and fruitful time in public office

1 comment:

I am happy to address most contributions, even the drunken ones if they are coherent, but I am not going to engage with negative sniping from those who do not have the guts to add their names or a consistent on-line identity to their comments. Such postings will not be published.

Anonymous comments with a constructive contribution to make to the discussion, even if it is critical will continue to be posted. Libellous comments or remarks I think may be libellous will not be published.

I will also not tolerate personation so please do not add comments in the name of real people unless you are that person. If you do not like these rules then start your own blog.

Oh, and if you persist in repeating yourself despite the fact I have addressed your point I may get bored and reject your comment.

The views expressed in comments are those of the poster, not me.