A very warm welcome you all, especially our honoured guests, Deputy Lord Lieutenant Joanna Hilditch, Chairman of Herefordshire Council Brian Wilcox, Distinguished past mayors; Honorary Townsmen and Women; and the mayors from our neighbouring market towns and counties. Maintaining strong bonds between us is very important and it is something I intend to continue in my year of office.

It is a great honour to be elected by my fellow councillors as the 464th Mayor of Leominster, my sincere thanks to Cllr Roger Pendleton for his sterling work in the preceding mayoral year. I also welcome the election of Cllr. Clive Thomas as the deputy mayor for this year. I would particularly like to thank Cllr Pauline Davies for her help and support, I know we all miss her insight into our civic life and her presence in the council chamber and town, Pauline our thoughts are with you in your recovery from a stroke earlier this year.

I also extend a heartfelt thank you to our clerk Paul Russell, and our officers Lena Dansjo, Liz Watson and Jackie Whittall for so ably keeping a grip on things, especially as we are gathered again just two after the royal visit. The team are now full steam ahead to ensure that Armed Forces Day on the 30th June will also run like clockwork.

In anticipation I would also like to thank Rev’d Mike Kneen who has agreed to be my Chaplain for the coming year. A warm Thank you to you and your team for all that you do for Leominster.

This is the second mayor making to take place in our Community Centre and I follow in the footsteps of Cllr Pamela Housden who held this office back in the 1980’s. The Community Centre, formerly the Leominster Junior School is celebrating it’s 160th birthday this year on Saturday 9th June, as part of the 2018 Leominster Festival. Still serving at the heart of the community, the centre is now home to some 40 groups who meet here on a regular basis. Some weeks there are close on 900 participants passing through these rooms. Some of these groups, members and volunteers are represented here tonight.

Our town council and our community groups are now more important than ever with the challenges we face to keep local services running. The town council continues to rise to the challenge as we continue to take services and open spaces in house. We are cutting grass, supporting local buses, securing money to provide youth services through forging a new partnership with Vennture. We have just invested £50K in brand new play equipment on Sydonia Park. Our environmental team, most ably led by Julie Debbage, continue to go the extra mile and together with Leominster in Bloom we are determined to achieve a second heart of England gold award for our town this year.

I see the job of mayor as much more than just a ceremonial role. Wherever possible I will promote, champion and support our combined efforts to make Leominster shine. We must continue to nurture an active citizenry – residents who take a real interest and get involved in helping to make Leominster a better place. As a town council we will do this through our continuing public engagement events, such as the recent budget and Sydonia consultations. As mayor I will be accessible to all who want to speak to me at the town council offices.

We will continue to engage with traders and businesses, and I am delighted that our local business group continues to go from strength to strength. I look forward to working even more closely with you all over the coming year.  I am excited about the new business recycling initiative we are developing in partnership with Binnit.

My determination for this year is to see the Town Council working together as a proactive team to compliment the team that our clerk Paul Russell has put together to work with us. There is a Buddhist saying that describes this united team work – ‘many in body, one in mind transcending all differences’. It is the spirit of mutual respect, understanding, support and of valuing each others input. Yes we will have our differences as individuals sometimes but in our hearts we are of one mind and that is to do what is best for Leominster, our town, our residents, our businesses and our beautiful parish.

We can be so much more effective when we work as a team and we have shown this time and time again. I feel very positive about the coming year with all the changes and increased responsibilities it will bring, and I know that I can depend on you all to join me in making Leominster a town we can all be proud of.

Mayor’s Charity: SHYPP Supported Housing For Young Peoples project

SHYPP is part of the West Mercia housing and the Foyer in Leominster provides a range of accommodation, support and training for young people aged 16 to 25 to enable them to become brilliant young adults, whatever stage of life they are at when they arrive.

© 2018 Leominster Town Council