At the meeting of Sutton Council on 23 May, when the new Mayor is elected and the membership of committees are changed, Trish and Richard took on new responsibilities. Trish continues a s a member of the Housing, Economy and Business Committee, is elected to the Standards Committee, and will sit on the Merton and Sutton Joint Cemetery Board. Richard stands down as chair of Planning Committee and is elected Mayor for the next year.
Here is the text of Richard’s acceptance speech.
“I have during the six years that I have been a member of this Council served under five Mayors, three of whom are currently members of the Council. All of them did the job with great distinction. Gloria and I will do our best to continue in that tradition.
I have many people to thank, but can I particularly thank our musicians. My good friends John, George, Rachel, Stephen and Andrew. When I was first elected to the Council there was a tradition of having some music during the natural interval that occurs in the middle of these annual meetings. It somehow lapsed but I was determined to revive it with – of course – brass musical instruments.
Last year there was a review of the functions of the Mayor. The review report noted the long tradition in the cities, towns and boroughs of our country of the office of a Mayor, and in London the history can be traced back to 1189. But the report included proposals to bring the Mayor of Sutton into the 21st. century by promoting the Mayor through, and I quote the report, “twitter, facebook and a Mayoral blog on the Council’s website.” I hope this will become required reading for all of you and I will try to find something interesting or amusing to say each week, and you can give me marks out of ten.
Of course, these different Mayors, stretching back to 1189, had a wide variety of ceremonial and policy functions. The promotion of charities to aid those less fortunate in life is however a recurring theme throughout, and a role of the Mayor that continues, which brings me to the subject of charities. I am pleased to be able to tell you of the two charities I propose we support this year.
These are Sutton Shopmobility and the Altzheimer’s Society. The Altzheimer’s society has a strong presence in Sutton and the Council has worked hard on the theme of being a dementia friendly organisation. I have a personal interest as both of my late parents had severe dementia late in life and were cared for by family members who were greatly helped by the society. And it is the families and carers who often most need most support.
Shopmobility is probably thought of by many of you as a provider of mobility scooters to help people shop in the town centre, but the organisation has a much wider role and outreach to help all those with mobility problems, and there are many in the borough who would be completely housebound without this help. And we have Councillor Patel’s mobility scooter here to show us how important it is. In the audience tonight are some representatives of the charities and I hope Councillors will want to discuss the work of these charities with them later thisevening.
I would also like to appeal to all Councillors and indeed to everyone in this room to make a resolution to support the Mayor’s charitable appeal, and support at least one of the Mayor’s charity events this year, to support these worthy organisations.
Now, finally, I am advised that the Mayor may appoint a Chaplin and I am delighted that the Reverend Justine Middlemiss has agreed to be my Chaplin. Justine covers a number of churches in Sutton including the splendid Victorian church, Christchurch, in my Ward, which has splendid acoustics – as I know from playing the trumpet, a small part in a big band, in the church.
Now, Justine asked me a very pertinent question when I spoke to her about being the Mayor’s Chaplin. She asked me what do I want a Chaplin for? Well, part of the job description is to give the Mayor spiritual guidance and spiritual uplift. And being as human as everyone else, there are moments I feel a bit down and in need of spiritual uplift. Whether or not I need much spiritual uplift in the next year may depend a bit on you – I am talking to the Councillors now – and on whether you are well behaved and orderly when I come to chair these meetings.
But I have an advantage. For the last two years of my life I have chaired Planning Committee. And if there is any one member of the Council who sometimes needs a bit of spiritual uplift it is the chair of Planning Committee. So can I say how delighted I am that a Councillor of the calibre of Councillor Bourne is succeeding me in taking on this portfolio. She will do the job much better than I did. And Sam, if you find, as I did, that from time to time you need a bit of spiritual uplift – I will loan you Justine.
Now in a moment, if I can dispose of the rest of the agenda with dispatch, and I know Councillors will want to help me do this, we are going to enjoy the traditional reception put on by the incoming Mayor at these annual meetings. This is not a celebration of me, Councillor Patel and Councillor Cooke moving into these positions. It is a celebration we have once a year of the civic traditions of Sutton and our shared commitment to public service to the benefit of our residents. We know that there are sometimes pointed exchanges across the floor of the Council but there is much more that unites all of us in this room than that divides us. It is a mutual respect and a mutual belief that we all share in the virtues of public service, we would not be Councillors unless we had that shared belief, and tonight I would like you to share with me a celebration of these virtues.
That concludes my remarks under item 5, except to say it is a great honour to be elected Mayor of the borough. I am deeply touched. Gloria and I will do everything to repay the trust you have shown in us. It will be a great year for all of us, and I sincerely thank you.”