Thank you Vince and Amber
Where has twelve months gone? It seems like only yesterday that I sat in that chair and nervously signed the Declaration of Acceptance of Office to be the Mayor.
Probably every Mayor says this but it has been a most amazing twelve months in my life. I have enjoyed every minute of the experience and have met so many wonderful people that all contribute to this wonderful town called Oswestry.
I began my year of office following the Elections and with the loss of some familiar and longstanding faces. Change, however, is always taking place in Local Government and we were delighted to welcome a number of new Councillors. A real challenge for me has been to try and integrate old and new and I would like to again sincerely thank every Member for the way that we have worked together over the last twelve months, and for the many successes that I believe we have achieved. I have said before that, yes, there have been some differences, but at all times we have always worked for the best interests of Oswestry and shared a very busy agenda.
There have been many highlights of my year. Seeing Oswestry win the Market Town category in the Heart of England In Bloom, and then be nominated to represent the Heart of England region in Britain In Bloom in 2018 has to be a highlight in any year. This is a real reflection on the Oswestry In Bloom Committee, the volunteers, our staff, our contractors, and our local residents. So many people contribute to this town looking so good and hopefully we can impress the judges and appear in our own TV show in 2019!!
The subject matter that I seem to have presided over has been so wide ranging; business improvement district, economic strategies, Police & Crime Commissioner grant, Youth Music Festival, Christmas Lights Switch On, Christmas Live - they all highlight a snapshot of what this Council has involved itself in in the last 52 weeks.
Looking forward, we have our very exciting Oswestry Balloon Carnival in August and 35 hot air balloons taking off from Cae Glas Park, a huge continental market through the town, and live music around the streets will make Oswestry the place to visit over the August Bank Holiday.
Young people have certainly been part of my agenda. I have worked for many years with Woodside School and the Marches School, and also with various other youth projects and within the resilient communities' project. I firmly believe that our young people should have this investment in my time and support, and at the end of the day hopefully some of them will become community leaders in the future.
This Council has always been very open and transparent and I believe that we have demonstrated that over the last twelve months. We have over 2,700 following us on Twitter; our Facebook page is an example for any local council to use, and we have a website that attracts over 25,000 visitors each year. We have also encouraged people to come along and use the 15 minutes public session time at our meetings and we have always been prepared to answer the challenging question.
Partnership has underpinned the year. I have attempted to continue to build up the relationship with Shropshire Council; they need us and we need them, and the next few months are so important in terms of the new Town Centre Partnership, the Tourism and Transport Group, the Local Economic Growth Strategy, and the refresh of the Local Plan. These are major discussions about the future of Oswestry and it is important that we are at the table alongside Shropshire Council.
We have been a very strong voice in advocating local issues. That agenda has reflected upon local council tax, acting as a scrutiny body for other partners, and having a strong voice in local health matters particularly around accident & emergency services, regional health centres, maternity, and ambulance provision, and performance. As the Future Fit consultation is launched, then we must be a very strong voice to ensure that Oswestry gets the best deal and the deal that it deserves.
It is time for me to say a few thank you's. The first one is to the press; thanks in equal amounts to Sue Austin at the Shropshire Star, Iain St John at the Chronicle, Colin Channon and Emily Davies at the Advertizer, and James Bond at BBC Radio Shropshire.
As well as my fellow councillors I would like to thank all the staff at the Council for their considerable support, kindness and patience throughout the year, particularly Sandra Trevor for keeping me in order and making sure I turn up at the right place at the right time with the right attire.
To my family - their love and support has been significant and so important to me over the last twelve months.
Maybe the most important thank you is saved to last and that has to be to Amber for being the Mayoress. What a performance this young lady has given over the last twelve months. I believe that she has been a role model as a Mayoress providing tremendous support to me, and really promoting the town, the Council, and our County wherever she has gone. It has been a pleasure to stand in the shadow, particularly when TV and Radio have been around, and to watch how Amber has conducted herself and demonstrated just how important and visionary young people are in their community. It has been a special year for me, having her company by my side and I hope that in years to come that she will look back fondly on these twelve months and understand the impact she has made upon so many people. To record our partnership I have a very special presentation that I would like to make to someone who I believe is a very special young lady.
Once again fellow Councillors, ladies and gentleman, all I can say is thank you for the significant honour that you bestowed upon me. It was an honour, a privilege and twelve months that I will never forget."
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