At the annual Council meeting where the new Mayor is elected, on 21 May, Richard and Trish got new jobs. Richard is to chair the new Audit and Governance Committee while Trish is a member of the important Housing, Economy and Business Committee. Steve Cook, who was Deputy Mayor when Richard was Mayor in 2016, was elected Mayor. Richard moved the nomination. This is his speech.
“Madame Mayor, I wanted to begin my remarks by echoing what many others have said about the grace, dignity, hard work and commitment you have brought, with Councillor Heron, to the Mayoralty this year.
So let me turn now to another Councillor who, I know, will bring commitment and hard work to the Mayoralty in this coming year, if Council accepts my nomination tonight.
It gives me great pleasure to nominate, to be Mayor of the London Borough of Sutton for the year 2018-19, Councillor Steve Cook.
I cannot resist beginning by saying that if you do accept this nomination it will be the second time in three years that the Mayor of Sutton has been a Muswell Hillbilly, as Steve and I discovered we share a common birthplace, a maternity hospital (sadly later demolished) in Alexandra Park Road in Muswell Hill, in north London. And for those too young to recognise the reference, “I’m a Muswell Hillbilly” is a song made famous by The Kinks pop group, who hail from Muswell Hill, and famous Muswell Hillbillies include Steve and myself, obviously, Ray and Dave Davies of The Kinks, Adam Ant and Alvin Stardust – so a really distinguished company of people.
Let me tell you about Steve. Steve was born on the Queen’s coronation day, so every birthday is the anniversary of the Coronation, of Sir Edmund Hillary climbing Everest and of the D-Day landings.
He left school as a teenager after the tragic death of his father and after he had himself suffered a major, life threatening illness. He became a runner in the Soho film business and was such a great success that by the 1980s he had his own large scale, thriving post production studios, in Soho, in London, and in Los Angeles.
But Steve is a drummer, and in a particular milieu, Steve is famous, famous for the Steve Cook Soul Band, formed in 1975. The Steve Cook Soul Band was effectively the “house” band at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane for over twenty years, the industry favourite for charity balls and awards ceremonies, performing at numerous awards and film industry functions.
I am told that at its height it had 17 members including musicians and go-go dancers.
There are many stories about the band. There is a story that in the 1980s they played at the Istanbul Advertising Awards ceremony, followed by a live televised gig at the Istanbul Hilton, and an international incident was narrowly avoided when the skimpily clad go-go dancers were featured on the front page of the Turkish equivalent of the News of the World.
The band lasted from 1975 until its last gig in 2010 – 35 glorious years.
Steve became a Councillor in 2015 after being Chair of the local residents’ association which successfully campaigned against a huge McDonalds drive-through in Wallington.
Now in some London Boroughs there is a tradition that whoever is Deputy Mayor one year then becomes Mayor the following year. We have not constrained ourselves in that way in Sutton but of course Steve was, with Councillor Patel, Deputy Mayor just over a year ago, so he has the experience to avoid the traps and be a great Mayor. And his wife Pauline, who had a distinguished career in education in Sutton – headteacher at Robin Hood infants school for twenty years and at Thomas Wall Nursery school for eight year – brought great dedication to the role of Deputy Mayoress, and will be an excellent Mayoress.
Madame Mayor, I nominate Councillor Steve Cook.”