Marlborough's new Town Mayor sets out his stall - aiming for an improved High Street for shops and shoppers
Marlborough has a new Town Mayor - the 706th in the town's history. Councillor Noel Barrett-Morton was sworn in during the traditional Mayor Making ceremony in the Town Hall on Monday (May 9.)
As is the tradition, a distinguished audience was assembled for the ceremony - with the county's Deputy Lord Lieutenant, Robert Hiscox, the county's Under Sherriff, David Lewis, and a clutch of former mayors. But it was probably the first time such an audience has needed an interpreter.
Councillor Barrett-Morton opened and closed his speech of thanks with Gaelic phrases - he does, after all, hail from Ireland. 'Céad mile Fáilte' means 'A hundred thousand welcomes' and 'Go raibh maith agat go léir' means 'Thank you all'.
We just hope that the interpreter Marlborough.News summoned to help with these phrases has got his Gaelic right.
The new Town Mayor, whose year in office will include those tricky weeks in the run up to unitary and town council elections, spelled out his two roles as mayor: as First Citizen and the Queen's representative, and as chairman of the Town Council.
On the latter role he reminded councillors that they were not there to score points off one another: "I want to be Chairman of a can do Council."
He outlined his aim of forging an even firmer connection with 4 Military Intelligence battalion. He praised the work being done by Councillors Farrell and Cook with the Youth Council and the youth club evenings - and he hoped the council would give them continued support.
He explained how the council was facing new tasks as Wiltshire Council's role shrank from providing services - including, of course, the urgent issue of the town's public loos.
He is also keen to make the town 'Coach Friendly' to encourage visitors and get more shoppers into the High Street. He also wants to work closely with the town's Chamber of Commerce and the independent traders to improve the economic environment of the High Street and surrounding streets.
"We will", he added, "also strive to have a greener and cleaner town - we are getting there."
He has appointed Rev Dr Janneke Blokland, the Team Curate based at St Mary's Church, as his Chaplain. And his charities will be the Wiltshire Air Ambulance and Wiltshire's Swift Medics - the emergency response doctors.
Councillor Alexander Kirk Wilson, who proposed the new mayor's election, had in his pocket a print out of Marlborough.News' interview with Councillor Barrett-Morton from which you too can find out more about the Town Mayor.
Councillor Mervyn Hall was elected to be Deputy Mayor - much was made of his being a lifelong Leicester City fan. Councillor Fogg was sure that in his new role the Deputy Mayor will be "Just as successful as his football team."
No one noticed that beneath his formal dress he was sporting a Leicester City tie. What is more, the town's new Beadle and Town Cryer, Mike Tupamn MBE, is also a Leicester man. They are not just ensconced in the BBC's Match of the Day studio - they are everywhere!
The work of the outgoing Town Mayor, Councillor Margaret Rose, was praised - and the large sum (£11,000 and rising) she raised for her charity of the year, The Brain Tumour Charity, was given a rousing round of applause. Her work restoring the Victorian cemetery was given special mention.
In her reply to a vote of thanks for her year in office - proposed by Councillors Marian Hannaford-Dobson and Councillor Stewart Dobson - Councillor Rose mentioned her idea for a 'Young Citizen' award which will be made for the first time at this year's Christmas lights switch-on. And she praised the many community groups she had worked with: "They are the unsung heroes and truly worth their weight in gold."
After her speech she made presentations to the council staff and others who had helped her during her year in office. This included a bouquet and a bottle-shaped package for the Town Clerk, Mrs Shelley Parker: "Something for when we are all driving you mad."
Just to return to those former mayors who attended the ceremony. Seven former mayors were sitting in the audience - and another seven former mayors are still serving as councillors. Make that eight if you count Councillor Fogg's two terms as Town Mayor.