I would like to thank my Civic Chaplain: the legend that is the Rev Knapton for his spiritual support and words of wisdom. I’d also like to thank Margaret and her merry band of kettle boilers, tea brewers and washers-up. Thanks must go to the Town Hall team for keeping the diary in order, issuing invitations, affixing the chain when Jane was at work, ensuring that tree planting went according to plan (thanks Ashley) and generally looking after a somewhat (at times) ‘difficult’ Mayor. Mention must be made here of the transition between the old (Colin) and the new (Joanna) Town Clerk. I think this went remarkably smoothly and am confident that Joanna will be an asset to the Council for many years to come. We are very fortunate to have a good team here – and I include the ‘lads’ in this as they are out there every day acting as excellent ambassadors for our Council.
Whilst in thanking mode, mention must be made of the various groups who entertained civic guests at our Carol and Civic services. These were the Hornsea Choir, Pastiche, Hornsea Ukelele Band and Hornsea Nursery School. All were wonderful and much appreciated. The memory of doing the actions to ‘Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer’ still makes the then High Sheriff laugh! Thanks also go to the Floral Hall and Sue Simpson for hosting our Civic Dinner so well and to Richard for his speech and tour. The biggest and most important thank you must go to my wife Jane for putting up with yet another manic year of mingled desperation and delight. I can assure you that she was always a star, whether representing the town or acting as a sounding board!
Over the year I have noted a curiosity about how the Council works and a confusion about what the Mayor does (or should do). With your indulgence I would like to offer my own brief thoughts on these matters.
As you will all be aware, we have a Town Council and a Unitary Authority – ERYC. The responsibilities of the Town Council largely revolves around its assets. These are Hall Garth Park (which contrary to public opinion is owned by the Town Council, indeed if the Council hadn’t acquired it, it would probably be a housing estate by now), Elim Lodge Gardens, Memorial Gardens, Edenfield and Southgate cemeteries, Market Place toilets and our Town Hall and Community Centre. It is not responsible for the police service, the NHS, dog fouling, the promenade, the Floral Hall, fracking, or indeed, Armageddon and the Final Reckoning.
Members of the Council are elected by the public. That means those people who have sufficient interest to register as voters and ability to make that long and arduous trek to the polling station.
Councillors do not elect themselves, although in the case of a ‘casual vacancy’ they can co-opt a Member or Members. Any registered elector and resident of Hornsea can put themselves forward for co-option as they can for election. Members of the Town Council do not get paid. They are not on the Council for their own personal gain. They, as far as I know, are not hand in glove with vested interests nor have they signed a pact with Satan to turn Hornsea into a ghost town. The Councillors that I know and respect all have the well-being and prosperity of Hornsea uppermost in their minds. After all, they live here too. The Council is Independent and works well without politics getting in the way.
This leads me to the role of the Mayor. The confusion here would seem to derive from watching television programmes – or seeing or reading about elected Mayors in other parts of our country. A Town Mayor has two functions. One is, with his or her Mayoress or consort, to represent the town to the best of their ability at home, or in other parts of the local area. It is usual, whenever possible, for the Mayor and Mayoress to attend events. This is to maintain the ‘presence’ of our town. In other years (as in this) the absence of a Civic presence (from elsewhere) has led to remarks and negative comments. In fulfilling this duty, Jane and I have been to Goole, Snaith, Market Weighton, Pocklington, Bridlington, Barton-on-Humber, Hedon, Hull, Beverley, Garton and Driffield. Any invitations we couldn’t honour were – as is customary – handed to the Deputy Mayor and Mayoress. In return Jane and I hosted our Civic Service, Civic Carol Service and Civic Dinner in Hornsea. As part of this process you seek to extol the virtues of one’s home town whilst taking an active interest in the places you visit. Networking is important – sharing information and helping each other out if necessary. Not really a case of swanning around with one’s nose in the municipal trough.
I have thoroughly enjoyed representing Hornsea in this way.
The other role of the Mayor – the ‘day job’ if you like, is working closely with the Town Clerk to ensure that meetings are run correctly, legally and hopefully smoothly, facilitating rather than instigating debate and ensuring that everyone gets a fair say. In my view the Mayor does not establish or set policy, he or she does not ‘lead’ the Council in the same manner that a political ‘leader’ would do. In effect the Mayor is as much a servant of the Council as the Town Clerk. We are a corporate body and the Mayor along with councillors should uphold the decisions of that body rather than seeking to establish his or her own wishes. This, I believe I have done. The confusion I alluded to previously is with the elected Mayors, or Mayors of the French model, who are more of a Chief Executive of the organisation and do, indeed set policy and ‘run’ the town or city by their own – often politically motivated – agenda. It can be seen from this that our Council is a fully democratic body and conforms with the legal requirements as well as its own Standing Orders. The power, if that is what you want to call it, is in the vote. However the Mayor has a casting vote in the case of numbers being equal. This is one of the few occasions when the Mayor’s influence could be said to shape the nature of the Council’s actions.
At home, the recent visit of our French friends from Bouaye, when Jane and I were ‘on duty’ for four days and hosted the Chairman of their Twinning Association in our home was exceptional. Members of the Twinning Committee, Hornsea Lions, Hornsea Rotary, Hornsea Music Society and all the others who took part should congratulate themselves on a fantastic few days when the positive aspects of Hornsea life were enjoyed by our guests. A superb occasion which can only be of benefit to the town. There were many other glorious events in the town. The Christmas Lights switch on (and my stint as Father Christmas up at Freeport!) Hornsea Carnival, the Bike event and the Lets Go Hornsea WWW day were marvellous occasions where the true spirit of Hornsea shone through. Special occasions such as at the Museum and the Floral Hall and with our wonderful British Legion (and Women’s Branch) at Remembrance Day and other events served to
remind us that Hornsea as a community and place to live is splendid.
The usual caveat to all the plaudits above is that if I’ve missed anybody, any event or anything out, it was purely unintentional!
I would like to wish the new Mayor and Mayoress all the best for their year in office. Enjoy.