A Word From The Mayor Of Felixstowe
Welcome to my first article for Spotlight. I was delighted to be asked to contribute. The staff behind the magazine have a genuine passion to promote the positive news stories delivered by the different organisations across the town, whether these are voluntary or business.
I am keen to emphasise the value of organisations like BASIC, FACTS, the CAB and the Salvation Army, as well as some of the fantastic independent businesses providing great goods and services.
The editor suggested it might be useful to write about the role of mayor, a good place to start, as I think it is assumed people understand the role. The mayor is elected once a year by the town councillors; in Felixstowe this is done each May. The mayor is the civic representative of the town and should conduct the role independent of their political party. They chair seven town council meetings, one of which is the ‘Mayor Making’ ceremony. Supported by the mayoress, the mayor is there to support and promote charities and organisations within the town. This can include presenting prizes, attending specific functions, or leading civic events such as Remembrance Day. On Christmas Day, the mayor starts the St Hospice Christmas Day Dip, visits Felixstowe Hospital and then onto the Salvation Army. The mayor and mayoress also represent the town at other civic functions and receptions across the county.
In truth, we will support as many functions as we can. If the mayor cannot attend, the deputy mayor will. Requests for the mayor’s attendance are made to Lorna, the mayor’s secretary, who can be contacted by email: [email protected].
It was an honour to become the mayor of this lovely town. We are fortunate to have some very dedicated individuals, all of whom have that common purpose of both supporting and promoting the town.
It is customary for the mayor to nominate and support two charities throughout the year, and a variety of fundraising events are usually held to support them. Disappointingly, I have been unable to hold any events this year for my nominated charities, the CAB and Felixstowe Carnival, both of which make a fantastic contribution to the town for different reasons.
However, I have kept myself busy supporting Visit Felixstowe by conducting numerous Zoom interviews with independent shopkeepers and ahead of the summer some local ‘celebrities’ about why they like Felixstowe. To view these please visit the VisitFelixstowe Facebook page. Some of the independent shop owners have shown incredible resolve as they had only just opened their business before we went into lockdown.
They have all worked hard to adapt their businesses which has included offering home delivery services where they can. If I can get one message across this year it would be a plea to support your local shops. Please remember it was the local cafes and businesses that stayed open during the pandemic, not the chain stores. I appreciate they all have different business models, but I can only promote the fantastic establishments we have both in the town centre and on the seafront. My only criticism is that the cafes have not helped my waistline!
Another part of my role this year has been working with EAST Suffolk Council, the Chamber of Commerce and Helen Greengrass, Change Director for Felixstowe Forward regarding the pedestrianisation of the main shopping area. The early feedback was very encouraging; however, we will be keeping this under review. The general consensus is that people have felt a lot safer. This was however during the summer months when more people perhaps used the town centre. We will have to remain flexible during the winter months and think of ways to attract people into the town when it is wet and a lot colder.
There was some very positive feedback about the decision to allow additional seating outside pubs and cafes. I have certainly enjoyed the experience! What has also been encouraging is that people seem to have respected social distancing.
I, together with all the town councillors, recognise how difficult the last six months has been and unfortunately, it may get tougher for families, individuals and businesses as we head into winter. I have been incredibly impressed and humbled by the exceptional response from charities, individuals and organisations during the first wave and I do not doubt that support will continue throughout the winter and beyond. Isolation, mental health and a lack of income were three significant areas of concern during that first wave. If you can support a friend or neighbour, even in a small way, it will make such a difference to them. The East Suffolk Council Communities Officer, Chloe Lee is working hard to introduce a network of contacts web page. Whilst it may not be ready just yet, the information and co-ordination is in place.
Please contact any town or district councillor or Chloe and we can refer you to the appropriate support network. Chloe can be contacted via her email address: [email protected].