As 2014 draws to a close it is the perfect time to take a look back over the first six months of my year in office. It was a great honour for me personally to be elected the 808th Mayor of Lincoln in June this year.
Holding such a prestigious title brings with it a wide range of duties to perform, including attending various church and civic services in towns around Lincolnshire and beyond; meeting, greeting and representing the city to a variety of dignitaries from county, country and all over the world – including our twin cities – visiting schools; attending graduation ceremonies, sports events, opening local festivals and many, many more. Here’s a sample:
At Boultham Park I opened a Peace Garden which has been created in memory of those who fell in the Great War. It is a lovely spot with two benches and an information plaque placed on a rebuilt wall around which there will be extensive planting of flowers. It is a place where people can sit to consider those who sacrificed their lives for us in that terrible war.
This year I’ve been fortunate to visit both Radomsko, our twin city in Poland, and Neustadt-an-der-Weinstrasse, our twin town in Germany.
Poland is certainly in transition both in terms of its social and economic development. What I found is not in dispute is the Poles’ commitment to Europe. They find the desire of some sections of British society to “pull out of Europe” both difficult to understand and very worrying. In the light of Poland’s troubled history, one can well understand why they should do so.
The few days we spent in Germany helped enormously to consolidate the clearly deeply and sincerely held bonds of friendship and co-operation that now exist between Lincoln and Neustadt. I personally hope that these bonds are maintained irrespective of what may happen in any future referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the EU.
Laying a wreath in Neustadt’s cemetery, hand-in-hand with the Oberburgermeister of Neustadt and the Mayor of Macon, France, Neustad’s twin, was a moving experience as was the peformance I attended of Karl Jenkin’s “Armed Man “ Mass, before which I addressed the large audience with a short speech in which I celebrated our twinning. I also underlined the need for European co-operation in times of international stress such as those which now beset us.
Another important event in 2014 was the signing of the Twinning Agreement with Nanchang, China, which took place in the Guildhall. Our Chinese friends are certainly enthusiastic about twinning with us and made this very evident throughout their short stay.
A particular pleasure for me has been to open Lincolnshire Credit Union’s new offices in City Hall. I cannot think of a better place for the Credit Union to operate particularly since the City Council is dedicated to tackling poverty in the city.
The Civic Party spends a great deal of its time with the armed forces, for example the RAF at Cranwell and Scampton and the Anglian Regiment (the “Poachers”). That Lincoln, in the heart of “bomber country”, should have this close association with the RAF is unsurprising. The RAF has a great feeling for the city just as we have great respect for them and for all they have done to secure our safety and well-being.
We were invited for the day by the Anglians down to Duxford, where the Imperial War Museum is situated, and spent some considerable time talking not only to current soldiers but also to Poachers’ verterans when it was the Lincolnshire Regiment.
When we visited Scampton, we were treated royally, including a Red Arrows display, which, to be honest, is an amazing but quite terrifying spectacle, particularly when two jet planes are racing head-on at a closing speed of 800 mph and are doing so very near to where one is standing! The Civic Party was very pleased to be able to meet some of the Red Arrows personnel.
I was delighted to support World Hello Day this year and getting out and about to meet so many organisations that do admirable work in the city. I hope to see this event continue to grow in Lincoln as encouraging people to say ‘hello’ and all associated events can do wonders for community spirit.
On Remembrance Day in November, I laid a wreath at Newport Cemetery to honour those who have given their lives for our country.
More recently I switched on the Christmas Lights with Britain’s most successful winter paralympian, Jade Etherington, an enthusiastic, engaging young woman. With us on stage was 9 year-old Catriona Lee who won my Christmas Card Competition.
Then, along with colleagues from Neustadt, it was a real pleasure to officially open our spectacular Lincoln Christmas Market, which, I am told, some 250,000 people attended.
Throughout my Mayoral year I have been raising money for two charities; Development Plus, a major voluntary sector community development organisation, and Lincoln Dial-a-Ride that provides affordable transport for the elderly and disabled who live in and around Lincoln.
I look forward to continuing this as we head into 2015.
I hope this has given you a small snapshot of my work and that of the Civic Party – the Mayoress, Kath Brothwell, the Sheriff, Dave Jackson and the Sheriff’s Lady, his wife Barbara – without whose support my very busy mayoral schedule would have been impossible to complete.
Finally, may I wish you all a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!