Mayor-Trowbridge-London-Twinned-Town

6 August 2023

Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends!

Well, what can I say about Monday?

It was a great honour on Monday to be invited to a reception held by His Excellency Mr. Hakim Hajoui, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to the Court of St. James, in celebration of the 24th anniversary of the enthronement of His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco.

The reception was held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hyde Park, London. It was attended by members of the diplomatic community, UK government ministers and civil servants, members of local authorities, representatives of the voluntary sector, the arts and cultural world, and me.

I had a lot of very interesting chats with a lot of very interesting people, including the Ambassador himself, who mentioned in his speech, “Over 800 years of friendship between Morocco and the United Kingdom. In my ignorance, I could not work out what connection we had with Morocco in the early 13th century. So, I asked His Excellency to explain that apparently in 1213, King John found himself in need of an ally to help him keep control of his kingdom, and, having already made himself very unpopular with the rest of the European powers, he sought assistance from Morocco and specifically the fourth Almohad Sultan, Mohamed Ennassir. This appeal for help ultimately came to nothing, but it did establish a connection between England (obviously, there was no “United Kingdom” in 1215) and Morocco. That connection has grown into friendship and, as such, lasts to this day.

All in all, it was a very worthwhile day that emphasised the close links not just between the UK and Morocco but, on a more “local” level, between Trowbridge and our twinned town of Oujda (the capital of the Oriental Region in north-eastern Morocco).

We have a strong Moroccan community here in Trowbridge; we still have the largest Moroccan community outside London, and we were the first UK town or city to twin with a community in a Muslim country. These are things we should be proud of and celebrate.

Tuesday evening was a meeting of the Town Council’s Town Development Committee. This is the committee that acts as a consultee on planning applications. We’re not the planning authority; that’s Wiltshire Council, so we don’t have the final say on any planning application in the town, but we are consulted (along with other statutory consultees, neighbours, and relevant heritage groups), and our opinion is considered.

Wednesday started with a meeting with the TTC Events Team and a member of our Ukrainian refugee community, who are attempting to organise a celebration of Ukrainian Independence Day in Trowbridge on the 24th of August. I realise it’s only a couple of weeks away, but we’re doing everything we can to help her put something on, so keep an eye out for news on our usual publicity channels soon.

I did make time to catch up with family on Saturday. People tend to forget that a Trowbridge Town Councillor’s (and the Mayor’s) role is totally voluntary and unpaid. We all do this because we want to and because we believe we can help improve our town. I only mention this because I was surprised last week to hear that some people in Trowbridge are still under the impression that their town councillors get paid. Let me assure you again that we don’t. We give our time willingly, freely, and without reward. I’m not looking for thanks here, but neither do I want people to be under the misapprehension that we’re taking taxpayers’ money for being a town councillor, or indeed mayor. We’re not!

Oh, and what else did I do on Saturday? I wrote this blog, of course!  

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

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