Wednesday, April 01, 2009

All Change

Today was largely taken up with the Annual Meeting of Stockton Borough Council. This is the meeting at which the mayor is elected for the year, the leader and cabinet are appointed and the committees are all set up for the year. This year the business part of the meeting was separated off from the ceremonial part which seemed very odd. We had a brisk meeting with the mayor being proposed and seconded, candidates for deputy mayor being proposed and seconded, votes being taken and then an adjournment to move into a bigger room to have the speeches and presentations of flower arrangements. I'm not sure that anyone gained anything from the changes but no doubt a report to cabinet in due course will say that it was a great improvement on the previous years.
This was the 5th time in succession that I'd stood at the microphone to speak about a Lib Dem councillor- from proposing Suzanne as deputy mayor then mayor, then John as deputy then mayor and now finally to give a vote of thanks to John for all his work as mayor having done the same 2 years ago when Suzanne handed over the chains. Before that sequence I'd also had the experience of proposing Suzanne unsuccessfully before the constitution was changed to ensure that the longest serving councillor gets the opportunity to be mayor regardless of party allegiance.
Giving the vote of thanks to the retiring mayor is a very special opportunity to highlight some of the aspects of the mayoral year which some in the audience might not know about or appreciate the significance of. It's a chance to say a public thank you and to celebrate the achievements of the year. It's also a good opportunity to emphasise to senior officers and members of the ruling group just what is important and worthwhile in what the mayor has done. One of the least known and most successful things which John had done was to meet with representatives of the workforce and recognise the contribution they make to the well being of the borough. That even brought him an accolade from the leader of the Labour Group.
And so 4 years of civic duty has drawn to a close. Over the coming months John and Suzanne will gradually restore a degree of normality to their lives and we will enjoy having them back as fully involved members of the group again.

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