TODAY was Annual Council when we reflect on the recent local elections, hand over the chains of the Mayoralty to a new councillor and give thought to our priorities for the year ahead.
I was absolutely delighted to be invited to offer a vote of thanks to our outgoing Mayor John Hudson and Mayoress Kathleen Hudson.
Politics doesn’t – or it certainly shouldn’t – come into the role of Mayor.
This post is above party politics and, as the first citizen, your responsibility to represent all communities and interests is huge during that term of office.
I reflected on what has been an incredible year for both John and Kathleen. They have fulfilled their duties with grace and passion and in a manner that also showed the real strength of their partnership.
When John set out on this journey at the same time last year he made one key pledge to us: to be a Mayor for the whole of the borough.
Having known John for many years we knew his tenure would be interesting, and we also knew it was guaranteed to be fun, but no one could have guessed just how much the activity and commitments of their mayoral year would have meant to the borough.
In numbers it has seen:
- 3 Royal Visits
- 9 Full Council meetings chaired
- 25 events held
- 33 school visits hosted in the Civic Centre
- 360 individual engagements and appointments
- £44,500 pounds raised for local charities.
The time and energy that both have them have put into this term has been staggering and anecdotally it seems certain that the people of Oldham have simply welcomed them to their hearts.
John and Kathleen didn’t just want people to attend their events, they wanted them to enjoy them and remember the good time had – which they certainly did by all accounts.
To have raised a staggering £44,500 after costs for local charities and good causes takes some serious effort – especially during these hard economic times.
But it’s not always just the big events that are the mark of a good mayor. It’s the school visits, the community events and the people getting to see the Mayoral role for what it is: the ultimate ambassador for the borough that we love.
My favourite quote was from a bloke in the toilets who gave John, in my view, the highest praise he could at one event, saying: “He’s all right that Mayor! He’s just a common bloke like the rest of us.” What more could you ask for as a reference from the people that matter most?
I want to thank John and Kathleen for everything they have done for their chosen charities, for the reputation of Oldham Council and – most importantly of all – for the confidence of our borough.
As Councillor Fida Hussain now takes on the role of Mayor, he will know he has big shoes to fill for sure.
But I also know he will approach it with the same passion and humour needed to get through a mammoth year ahead.
For myself, as a political leader, my main task at Full Council today was to present the priorities of the new administration following the local elections.
These came from the 30 pledges that were in our party manifesto for a fairer Oldham and it gave me great pride to put these forward.
Obviously I believe they are good and positive things in themselves – and I hope that other people equally saw them as worthy.
But I also know that these pledges will touch people across Oldham and make a difference to their lives: however big or small.
Thanks for listening,