Mayor-Trowbridge-Chains-Robe-Park

13 April 2024

Last Thursday afternoon, I was back at County Hall for another Citizenship Ceremony.

These are monthly events at which those who have been accepted as new citizens of the United Kingdom swear fealty to the King and are formally presented with their Certificate of Citizenship by the County Registrar. Also usually present are a representative of HM King Charles III (usually one of the Deputy Lieutenants of Wiltshire) and myself, as Mayor of Trowbridge (or the Deputy Mayor, Cllr Denise Bates).

This month’s ceremony was, however, a bit different. Unfortunately, the Deputy Lieutenant scheduled to attend was unable to be there on the day. This meant that I had to cover what I could by amalgamating the normal DL’s “welcome to the country” speech with my usual “welcome to the neighbourhood” offering.

Luckily, most of my regular speech concentrates on the multi-cultural nature of Wiltshire (and British) society over the last two millennia, so covering the DL’s remit to welcome new citizens to life in the UK did not pose too much of an issue.

One thing I’ve never had to do before is actually hand each new citizen their Certificate of Citizenship (usually I present them with a gift after the Deputy Lieutenant has actually handed them their certificate). This time, however, it was me who handed each proud new citizen the proof positive that they are now citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. That’s quite an emotional thing to do, and it’s a charge that I must admit I found quite humbling.

There is no reason why a citizen of almost any country may not apply for UK citizenship, provided, of course, they meet the criteria set by the government of the UK. However, this being Wiltshire and the historic home of the British Army, we do tend to get what must be more than the national average of Nepalese candidates for citizenship coming to get their certificates in Trowbridge each month. Last week was no exception, with two Nepalese folk being among the ten new citizens getting their certificates on the day.

I know I always say this, but I really love these ceremonies. We’re all there to welcome people who want to be part of the UK family. It’s a really positive and empowering experience, and one that I know I’ll really miss when my time as Mayor is over.

***

Last week also saw some major changes in the way the Mayor of Trowbridge is “managed.”.

Actually, the whole of Trowbridge Town Council went through a significant management restructuring exercise last week. This is a positive move that will hopefully mean that all the various elements of the council’s activities are more joined up, more logically managed, and therefore, hopefully, more efficient.

The restructuring has also delivered on the longstanding commitment of the council to split the roles of Town Clerk and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) from that of Responsible Financial Officer (RFO). The new RFO (who was promoted from within the Council) will also act as Deputy Town Clerk/CEO and, along with the Town Clerk (who obviously remains Chief Executive), will manage the managers of the various Town Council departments.

So how does this affect the Mayor? Well, the Mayor’s office has for the last few years been managed and administered by the Town Council’s Information Team (based in the Information Centre at the side of the Civic Centre). After the “reshuffle,” this team has now been absorbed into a new Events and Community Engagement team structure. This new, much larger team will bring together the co-ordination of all civic and community events involving the Town Council, along with all aspects of the Town Council’s communication and engagement with the public.

This events management role includes all the events and entertainment that the Town Council puts on in the Civic (concerts, comedy nights, banquets, community and trade events, etc.); the major events that the Town Council stages in the Town Park and around the town (Active Festival, Armed Forces Day, Uniform Services Day, etc.); and the civic events that the Town Council, particularly the Mayor, are part of (Remembrance Day, the Civic Service, the Civic Dinner, Christmas Lights, Lantern Parade, etc.).

All these events, which used to be managed and co-ordinated by different people and different teams within the Town Council will now fall under the single umbrella of the new Events and Community Engagement team. That, to my mind, can only be a good thing.

The Mayor’s diary, or, in other words, the process by which the Mayor is “booked” to attend any event in the town (whether that event is organised by a local community group, charity, or the Town Council itself), will now be looked after by the Council Secretary.

As far as the public is concerned, booking the Mayor to be at an event will still be done by filling out the (imaginatively named) Mayor’s Booking Form on the council website at https://trowbridge.gov.uk/mayor-of-trowbridge/

The only thing that’s changed is that this form will now be picked up and actioned by a different person in a different room.

***

Having said all that, I feel that I need to pay tribute to the hard-working and highly professional team that used to manage my mayoral diary, manage my events, and generally looked after me in my role as Mayor of Trowbridge. They’ve been with me since I took on this role last May. They’ve helped me get to grips with all the protocols and nuances of “mayoral behaviour.” They’ve worked incredibly hard co-ordinating and choreographing events (particularly the Civic Service and Civic Dinner, both of which were resounding successes). They’ve unswervingly supported me when I needed encouragement and help. In short, they’ve always been there for me, and I cannot thank them enough for that.

So, here’s to Aby, Zoe, Laura, Lin, Louisa, and Ben. Some of whom have already moved on to new roles within the council, one of whom left the council altogether a few weeks ago, but all of whom I wish every happiness and success in their future careers, wherever they may be and whatever form they may take.

I couldn’t have done it without you folks. Thank you!

***

That’s it for now, so until next time… keep safe, and please, be kind to each other.

 

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