May 17, 2021 2.14 pm This story is over 29 months old

A mayor in a time of crisis: Lincoln councillor looks back on “great honour” of two year service

The first female to hold the titles two years in a row

The first mayor to hold power for two years in succession since the First World War – and the first female to do it ever – is to pass on her mantle on May 18.

Councillor Sue Burke, the City of Lincoln’s 813th mayor, will pass the chains of office to Councillor Jackie Kirk on Tuesday during a meeting at Lincoln Cathedral’s Chapterhouse.

Mayors are supposed to only sit for a single year, however, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Councillor Burke was in her position for two.

The last mayor to sit for multiple years was Charles Thomas Parker, who reigned from 1915-19 while the First World War raged on.

Councillor Burke joins a group of just 14 of the 813 ceremonial mayors so far to sit for successive years, and she is the first female to do it.

She told Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Jaines that it had been “a great honour” and that she had “met so many smashing people” in her time in the role.

“For me, it’s, it’s very moving, that I served two years but I am truly sorry that it’s because of the pandemic,” she said.

She acknowledged the “rather difficult” year people had had during the pandemic, a time which had seen her first year’s calendar cut short.

The new Mayor of Lincoln Councillor Sue Burke and Sheriff of Lincoln Jo Rimmer with their deputies and members of the civic party. Photo: Steve Smailes

“It’s been very difficult, because my first year suddenly stopped, as did the world for everybody, and that was a bit of a shock.

“We had had lots of things planned for my mayoral charity Leap – which helps homeless young people – and I’m afraid we’d left it to the end of the year, we’d got some great things planned… but they didn’t go ahead so I was a bit sad about that.”

“I’ve been able to contribute to some Zoom meetings, however,” she said, highlighting in particularly Holocaust Memorial Day, Diwali and Carol services which had all moved online and given her “wonderful memories of people that I’ve met”.

“That’s been nice and the way that communities have managed to get together has been a highlight.”

In an era where council meetings were taken online, she said chairing council meetings had been “an experience”.

Mayors need to be politically neutral during their time in office and they also lead the full council meetings once a month (typically held in the historic chamber in the Stonebow).

Photo: Steve Smailes

Thankfully, she said she had never had to hit the mute button on a councillor, or pull a Jackie Weaver and boot someone out in the past year.

“The rules are that you respect the mayor and if they say sit down, you sit down and you stop.

“Figuratively speaking that’s the same with Zoom and basically people know if they’re out of order or not”

She denied, however, taking the opportunity to wear the Mayoral Garb around the house.

“No they won’t let me, aren’t they mean?” she joked.

“They won’t let me keep the chains, they get locked away at night,” she laughed.

Councillor Sue Burke will leave the role on Tuesday, passing the mantle to Councillor Jackie Kirk. | Photo: Steve Smailes

She said some memorable in-person events had been laying wreaths at the War Memorial on the High Street on Remembrance Sunday.

“Because it was quiet, there was no singing, it felt very, very special. It felt very thoughtful, a moving event,” she said.

In her role as Mayor she also attended Lincoln Cathedral for Evensong to remember the Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip after he died.

“That was very moving and it was an honour to be there and feel I was representing the people of Lincoln, because not many people could go.”