Mr Mayor. Dean and Rector! Councillors – old comrades and new warriors! Live-Stream Viewer!
Mister Mayor – the chain has fallen over your shoulders earlier than you had expected. I am sure of two things – you will enjoy the full support of your Council, and you will be as intelligent, thoughtful and balanced a Mayor as you are a human being – we all look forward to your leadership. No pressure there, Steve!
Your election tonight comes as the result of electoral will, the brutal swiftness of which has prevented our former colleague, Jan Allen, from taking up the Mayoralty. I am sure we all feel a strong sense of sympathetic support for her as she comes to terms with disappointment. Jan threw herself into the life of the Council with relish, enthusiasm and bravery, and was excited by the prospect of being Mayor. May I thank her for her robust deputising, her cheerfulness and resolute belief in the glass half-full!
May I also extend, on behalf of the Council, its gratitude to those who stood down at this election. Several are former Mayors. In particular, may I single out Mrs Ros Cox. She has given a substantial part of her life to public service, both on Truro City Council and, consecutively, Carrick district council. She has been a prominent figure in the life of Truro – sometimes controversial, sometimes combative, but always with a keen mind, a stout heart and deep conviction.
In May last year I sat in my office at home with the Mayoral chain draped over my guitar case to conduct the first virtual Mayor Making. We have not met face-to-face again until tonight.
It is a testament to both members and staff that we have, hopefully, come through the lockdown with a Council that is active, evolving and coherent. The Town Clerk has been shielding, and conducting public business from his Conservatory – many of us, last Summer, watched Zoomy-eyed as his garden hedge slowly but inexorably advanced behind his head to engulf him in his glass bubble!
All our staff have done exceptionally well in very difficult circumstances. Both the Council, and most importantly, the town, are immensely grateful. Some staff have endured great stress and in one case an assault, whilst going about their duties. Others have altered their working patterns and job descriptions to ensure that lockdowns, closures, un-lockings, re-openings, consequences, emotions and partnerships have all been positively dealt with.
During the year I had to undertake a meeting with the Fairy-Mayor of Under-Trurra, after the Coosebean fairy doors were vandalised.
Happily, I can report that the Fairy Doors are restored (and discreetly watched over) thanks to John Rowe, and that relations between Under and Over-Trurra are cordial and cooperative. Mr Rowe’s diplomacy enabled us Mayors to meet!
Coosebean Woods, whose transfer to Truro City Council I secured after a lengthy campaign, has become, like the footpaths and farming landscapes which are as much part of Truro as Boscawen Street or High Cross, accessible and appreciated as never before during this now-fading age of internal combustion! The Parks Team enjoys great esteem – its constant attention, commitment and skills keeping Truro colourful, oxygenating and full of bees…. (….and hedgehogs!)….and fairies!
I have enjoyed a very robust partnership with my chaplain – we have remembered together, and sung Nativity together in High Cross; we have amused and philosophized, we’ve winnowed the pastoral from the civil and tried to plait them back together, we’ve empathised with grave-tending widows, we’ve laughed a good deal, and hopefully, along the way, helped to keep spirits up and willpower focused – we are lucky to have a man of such insight, intellect and caring amongst us – thank you Roger the Rector! Here’s a plate!
I have long noted the lack of civic giftware with embarrassment. It was on receiving this plaque from HMS Tamar that I determined to create a stock of gifts for future Mayors to dispense, sparingly and with civic discretion. I am very grateful to Barry Pettit, wood-turner of this Parish, for his use of wood from Coosebean, to produce a dozen civic plates – each slightly different. As all good craftsmen and artists should be, he was properly paid for his work, a sum which he donated to his chosen charity.
We are now affiliated to HMS Tamar and I have presented the ship with a Cornish language Bible and a St Piran’s Flag. Quite what ‘affiliation’ means will become clear as we all work it out together. I am keen that Truro should do this by including all other Cornish towns – onen hag oll means what it says! Tamar bys vykken!
Lastly, I consider that the most critical, long-term and very difficult matter to emerge from the Battle of COVID is the plight of young people.
- Schooling (including leaving school) has been disrupted;
- Exams have not been taken, and qualifications distorted;
- Training and work opportunities (including apprenticeships) have disappeared;
- In some cases, home-life, affected by home-working, furlough and lockdown constraints, has been difficult (in some cases, I understand, abusive);
- Social opportunities have been extremely limited;
- The economic prospects of a State burdened with an unexpectedly high level of public and corporate debt are limited, and likely to remain so for a considerable time.
Is it surprising that frustration, disenchantment, cynicism and libidinous high spirits have found expression, in some cases, in anti-social behaviour, introversion, and some addictive experimentation, as well as undermining mental health?
This is not so of all young people, many of whom have excelled and coped. It is the case with a critical number, whose welfare, social environment and employment must be our key focus – so that this cohort-at-risk doesn’t end up with blighted or unfulfilled lives, and whose anger and marginalisation do not result in behaviours which provoke reaction.
I commend those who work with young people, and I express their frustration at constantly highlighting critical problems and yet still being denied resources (not just money) to get a grip on the scale and diversity of the tasks they face. Management needs to respond to those it manages – I fear that if people, initiative and money, do not flow quickly to support our young people at this unique time, then we risk the alienation of a generation.
Thanks to all our administrative and managerial staff, community workers, librarians, visitor advisers, caretakers, cleaners and to Mr & Mrs Lionel Knight. Thanks also to Keith Hill (the Mayor of Boscawen Street), Ronnie Tann and Mrs Joyce Brown, to Jimmy and Maureen, Richard Argall, Carolyn Evison, the British Legion, Young People Cornwall, the Twinning Associations, and all who have worked in essential shops throughout the lockdowns, the foodbanks and churches, for their citizenship and fierce native love of Truro.
Thank you for the privilege of being Mayor. Thanks especially to my wife and Consort, Sue, who has contributed greatly to the success of events and days, few though they have been. Equally, I thank her for straightened ties, uncomplaining ferrying of the Mayoral carcase, pinned and un-pinned chains, and for being a supportive, feistingly loving Consort, companion and wife!
Lastly, thanks to my family and especially to my Mother, who, whilst in exile in England, lives and breathes Kernow in every heartbeat and breath – 93 and still clenching her fist in rebellion!
May I report to the citizens of Truro that their town, although affected deeply by the need to counter the pandemic, is in good heart, has good prospects, has good and productive relations with its neighbours, and is greatly loved.
Exaltatum Cornu in Deo
Truru bys vykken
Kernow bys vykken
17th May 2021
Mr Mayor! I give into your safe-keeping the Key, symbolic of the need at all times to safeguard, secure and maintain the ancient traditions and privileges to which Citizens of Truro are entitled.
I charge you that in due course you will pass this Key on to your successor in office, with a good conscience that you have kept faith with the Citizens of Truro, in preserving the said traditions and privileges.