Mayor-Trowbridge-Chains-Robe

7 April 2024

OK, after all the excitement of a few weeks ago, culminating in the Mayor’s Civic Dinner on Saturday 23rd March, these last two weeks have, in contrast, been almost totally bereft of any mayoral engagements whatsoever.

I say “almost” because there were two invitations from local groups that were missed and I didn’t attend. I can make excuses and cite the move to a new internal booking and attendance confirmation process for the Mayor as being the cause of these errors. I can say that everyone involved, including me, was getting to grips with the app that this new process relied on and missed some of the stages it set out in the “mayoral booking process.” The bottom line is that all of us, including me, dropped the ball, and these two invitations never made it through to my diary.

For that, I’m truly sorry. When I started this “job,” I always said that my priority would be the community and civic life of the town we all call home. We let two of our local community groups down a couple of weeks ago, and none of us found that acceptable.

So, we’ve gone back to the process we had up until just before Easter. As one member of the team said a couple of days ago, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”. That’s true, and although we genuinely believed that the new process would make managing the Mayor’s diary easier and more efficient, that proved not to be the case.

The one thing I will say is this: When we make a mistake, we own up to it. We don’t make excuses, try to hide behind jargon, or blame others.

We made a mistake; we’re sorry, and we’ve fixed it.

***

March’s Mayor’s Civic Dinner wasn’t just an opportunity for us to highlight the work of and raise funds for two marvellous local charities; it was also a celebration of civic pride.

So, what I’m going to do this week is, instead of reporting on events I’ve attended (because there aren’t any), I’m going to try and think of some ways in which we could all better express our civic pride and help make our town somewhere we can all be proud to live in.

Maybe some of you will read this and think, “I could do that.”  Maybe more of us will start to think, “Maybe we should all do that.”.

Because if we, the residents of this town, don’t take pride in our community, how on earth can we reasonably expect anyone else to take any pride in it, maintain it, care for it or ensure it’s a clean and safe community in which to bring up our children?

***

For instance, did you know that in Germany, residents are all expected to look after the stretch of pavement immediately in front of their homes?

They sweep it, weed it, and clear it of litter. They do this because it’s one small way in which they can take care of their environment and contribute to their community’s wellbeing.

What would it cost us to take thirty minutes every couple of weeks to remove the weeds and rubbish from the pavement outside our front doors?

Many communities in France take responsibility for their local road names and signs. They organise community action groups that go out with buckets of soap and water, and they clean the street signs and waypoints. Again, all it costs is a bit of time every month or so and a bucket of water.

How about litter? We have to acknowledge that here in Trowbridge, we have a problem with litter. Litter in the streets of our town centre, litter in our open green spaces, litter on the verges of roads, and litter under hedges. Why? As fast as we ask our Town Council teams to clean this blight up, more magically appears.

Our Neighbourhood Services team goes out first thing six (sometimes seven) days a week and sweeps the town centre. But by mid-morning, there’s usually litter lying around again!

Fast food containers and disposable coffee cups just thrown on the ground, often within sight of a litter bin, are often the worst offenders. It’s not the containers that are the offenders; it’s the anti-social individual who can’t be bothered to carry their rubbish to the nearest litter bin and throw it away properly who is the offender (literally)!

Too many of us refuse to take personal responsibility. We expect things, like keeping the streets clean and litter-free, to be done for us.

“It’s someone else’s job, and we all pay our council tax to have our town kept clean” is a mantra I’ve heard time and time again. But then those same people will loudly complain when we’re expected to pay more and more each year for someone else to carry out that “service.”.

These are just a few ideas, a few thoughts, and a few suggestions. Maybe if we all took a bit more pride in our community, we could all live in a community we could all be truly proud of.

Now there’s a novel thought!

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