Monday 12 May
This is the start of our last week as Mayor & Mayoress of Pendle and it doesn't seem like 12 months ago since we started does it? The question that we have been asked many, many times is “are you enjoying your year?” And now that we have now been to over 375 engagements I can answer that it has been most interesting and we have been able to meet lots of fascinating people of all ages.
Tuesday 13 May
It’s been a very warm start to the week and on walking through my fields I found some large mushrooms which I identified later on the internet as St George’s.
Mayflower make a fine showing
Nick, who farms the fields at the back of me put some of his sheep and lambs on to my land. The sheep help keep the grass down and organically fertilise it so that the land is in excellent condition and we get lots of wild spring flowers. It’s a good time to be in this special part of the world as the grass is lush, the trees are showing their new leaves and the hawthorn and elder trees are just ready to show their blossom.
We distributed cards and gifts to the Mayor’s support staff, Jacqui, Neil and Colin who has helped out a lot this year. Also Christine and Carol in the general office who takes the telephone calls and sorts the post. They have all done a great job of ensuring that we get the engagements on time.
In the evening I went into the town hall for the induction meeting of new Pendle councillors, this year there are 13. I can remember over 20 years ago coming into the Town hall for my first time as councillor for a meeting with Colin Simmons, who was the then Town Clerk of Pendle. I know that I had a very steep learning curve and new councillors today will still have to learn quickly.
Wednesday 14 May
Barbara and I went down to ancient St Mary le Ghyll Church, which is on the outskirts of Barnoldswick for me to hand over £1500 for their bell appeal.
The historic St Mary le Ghyll Church
The magnificent horse and carriage arrive to remind us of Mayoral Sunday
Laying the foundation stone for the new ACE centre in Nelson
Here's what I said;
Can I welcome everyone to Pendle for this special day in its history.
The new ACE centre is the next part of the regeneration of Nelson town centre which includes Number One Market Street, The bus/rail interchange, Wavelengths Inside Spa and the soon to be started remodelling of the high street bringing traffic back into the heart of the town.
The impressive £5m Arts Community & Enterprise Centre will replace the old Silverman Hall and of course the old Civic Hall. This new development replaces what had been a depressing eyesore in the Town Centre for many years.
It will bring lots more people into Nelson in the evening and is set to improve the night time economy.
It will include
Flexible performance space for Theatre, cinema or conferences
Dance and Drama studio
A top class bistro
Office and Studio space to bring lots more new jobs into Nelson.
PEARL the partnership company set up including Pendle Council and Barnfield Construction has done a marvellous job at bringing the project forward so quickly. The high quality of design will do much to help the regeneration of Nelson. It will help to make Nelson once again a vibrant and thriving place to work, shop and play and we can now start to see a great future for the town.
This is the last engagement that I have to do as The Mayor of Pendle, so
It is my extra specially great privilege to lay the foundation stone for the exciting new ACE centre.
Thursday 15 May
On my last day as mayor I nipped into the town hall for an early "wash-up" meeting on last week's Community Volunteers Event. Last Friday we got a two-page coverage in the local press with loads of pictures. We decided that it was a great success and we agreed what we could do to improve and that we would do all we could to make it an annual event.
I picked Barbara up in the afternoon to get back to the Town Hall for the Annual Council Meeting. As usual it was decked out in flowers and there were lots of guests in the public gallery. I start the meeting by calling for nominations for the Mayor and Councillor Beckett proposed Coun. Shelagh Derwent who represents Blacko. The speeches are all humerous but tradition dictates that the new Mayor doesn't hear them as she is still in the Mayor's parlour. The council then votes to accept the new Mayor and she is called in. I then vacate the Mayors seat. The new Mayor makes her declartion of office and tells everyone what she intends to do over the year. I then proposed the new deputy Mayor; my fellow ward councillor Marjorie Adams. Marjorie will then become the Mayor of Pendle in 12 months time.
Here's what I said;
I am pleased to propose Coun Marjorie Adams as deputy Mayor for 2008/9.
She has now represented Coates ward for over 10 years and is well known and respected in Barnoldswick and in Pendle. She also serves on Barnoldswick Town Council and lots of other community bodies.
I have known Coun. Adams for over 5 years and I find her to have a strong community commitment, an ability to tackle difficult jobs and is more than able to handle any situation. All of these attributes will be very useful as Deputy Mayor and when she becomes Mayor in a year’s time.
I shall be able to say a lot more about her next year but I hope that she enjoys her coming year as the Deputy Mayor of Pendle.
Tradition then has it that there is short speeches about the outgoing Mayor; this year it was made by Coun Margaret Bell for the Lib Dems, Coun Iqbal for Labour and Coun Pauline McCormick for Conservative.
I stand up in the council chamber to make my speech
The council then has a vote of thanks for the outgoing Mayor, to which I replied;
It is my great pleasure to be the first to congratulate our brand new mayor Councillor Derwent. I hope that Shelagh and the new Mayoress Ann McGeorge both enjoy their year as much as we have enjoyed ours.
Can I start by thanking my sister Barbara for doing such a splendid job as the Mayoress of Pendle. She has worked tirelessly for the borough and on top of that she has had to put up with me yawning every time that I got into the Mayoral car. She informs me that her Mayoress’s Charity Committee have over the year helped to raise the magnificent amount of £16,500 for our local charities.
Can I thank Jacqui, Neil and Colin, supported by Christine and Carol and not forgetting Pat Hudson who left at Christmas. They have all worked hard over the year, often above and beyond the call of duty, ensuring that we always got to where we needed to be at the right time. Can I also thank other council officers for their valued assistance during the year, in particular, Vaughan Jones and Deborah Carrins in Economic Development, Sue Madigan in communications and Richard Townson who took over the reins when Pat left.
We had decided from the start, that, whenever we could, we would attend events within Pendle and only go to a selected few outside of the Borough. But even so we attended over 375 events, over an extremely busy 12 months. I can’t list everything, but here is a little flavour of some of the things that we did;
I may be the first Mayor to have walked on the roof of the Town Hall and sat in old police cells in full regalia. I also enjoyed going around - Wallace and Grommet style - on a motor bike and sidecar to switch on the Christmas lights across the borough. And have been photographed in the press in lots of other unusual situations including with a giant green preying mantis.
We have probably now seen enough buffets to last us for the rest of our lives, but both Barbara and I have just about managed to keep our waist sizes the same as when we started. A contribution to this is our promotion of walking in Pendle’s wonderful countryside. We started by inviting residents to join us hiking the 45 mile Pendle Way. When we had completed the route, the walkers asked where we should go next, I suggested that we turned around and walk it the other way. Which we duly did.
We have also walked the 13 miles of the scenic Leeds & Liverpool Canal towpath from the Burnley boundary to the Craven boundary, which I can tell you is 28,388 footsteps. Also to promote the Pendle Walking Festival I stood on top of Pendle and our other hills of Boulsworth and Weets, dressed in my suit and with the chains on. The picture that appeared in the Nelson Leader featured me standing by the trig point on top of Pendle.
On one a subsequent visits to one of our Parish Councils, a parish councillor remarked that he had seen the picture in the paper and thought it was disgusting. “Did you see the state of that trig point?”, he said. So, he told me, he had gone up Pendle Hill, shortly after the picture had appeared and given the trig point a new coat of white paint. I subsequently got complaints from walkers on the hill that they couldn’t see the trig point in the mist!
I have tried to do my best to wave the flag for Pendle and my Mayor’s Blog (internet diary) was one way of doing this and has had weekly entries listing everything that we have done. It has now been viewed by well over 500 people. I haven’t managed to count how many times it says Pendle in the text but it must be in the thousands. I was contacted by a Mr Nutter who had viewed my blog from Indian Territories, Tulsa, USA. I replied to him that possibly some of his Nutter ancestors may have been witches and others could have been hung drawn and quartered. I also made contact with another Mayor with exactly the same name as me; Mayor Allan Buck, from Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada. Incidentally, whilst going around our area, I have been told on many occasions that I must be that Allan Buck who was the drummer in The Four Pennies, who had a top of the charts hit with Juliet in the 1960’s. All that I could tell them is that; I can’t play the drums.
This year we held the first Pendle Business Awards at the Fence Gate. It was a great night and very well received by our many successful local businesses. I have also held several business lunches to encourage our up and coming local businesses and have also visited many of their factories and offices. At Christmastime we went around the borough’s town centre buying our presents and encouraging everyone in Pendle to also shop locally.
Last week, we hosted the first Pendle Community Volunteers Awards, to honour the unpaid and unsung heroes, who give their time freely for the community. The ceremony was held here in this chamber and was crammed to the rafters with our community groups.
We have opened up this Town Hall on many occasions and held receptions for many different groups including Friends of the Parks, the local winners of the best kept villages in Lancashire, and lots of schools, youth and senior citizens groups. At one of the school visits, when I asked if they had any questions, one of them pointed at the chains and asked “who polishes the necklace”. And “was I the President of Pendle”? Another youngster asked if that was picture of the Queen, to which I answered “yes, and who is the other picture”, - “Prince Charming” came back the reply.
I am most interested in the regeneration of our towns in Pendle and of course we were very honoured to receive Prince Edward to the opening of the new Number One Market Street here in Nelson. We have also launched lots of other new regeneration projects including of course the new shopping palace; Boundary Mill Store. Last week we opened the new Discover Pendle Centre and this week we laid the foundation stone for the exciting Arts Culture and Entertainment centre in Nelson.
On an extremely cold day, only a few weeks ago, we visited all of the Parks in the boroughs and later held a reception for their successful Friends Groups here at the Town Hall.
We have also joined birthday celebrations for quite a few of our senior citizens, including Hetty who was 100. She said that if she had known that
there was going to be such a fuss being made, she would have gone out for the day.
I have attended meetings of all of the 16 Town and Parish Councils within Pendle to let them know what we were doing. And we have also visited all of our secondary schools and toured the imaginative new Pendle Vale School for the Future development. We have also managed to visit, or invited them here to the Town Hall, many of our primary schools in Pendle.
We visited the House of Lords and had strawberries and cream with their lordships, we had a splendid dinner in the Commons, we had cucumber sandwiches on the lawn at Buckingham Palace and recently we had a St Georges English Tea Party in the cells under the Town Hall. And when we hosted the Mayors Tour of Pendle, where we welcome Mayors from Lancashire and Craven and show them around our borough, instead of a lavish lunch, we stopped off for fish and chips at Kelbrook Chippy.
Now that we have completed our 12 months of office can I on behalf of my sister Barbara and myself, say thank you to everyone for making our year so memorable. And, one last thing, we have cut lots of ribbons during our time in office, almost always with a pair of blunt scissors, so we should like to present our new mayor Shelagh with a brand new pair of sharp scissors so that she doesn’t have the same problem.
Barbara and I were then presented with our Past Mayor of Pendle badges.
The new Mayor of Pendle presents Barbara and I with past Mayor and Mayoress badges
Following this, the meeting adjourns and we all go over to the Silverman Hall for a buffet tea. I hope that this is my last buffet for a long while!
The Annual meeting of Pendle Council then continues at 6.30pm, where who runs the Council is decided. As the Council is now hung or balanced, with 20 Lib Dem, 16 Conservative, 10 Labour, 2 BNP and 1 Independent. After much debate and two adjournments, the council voted 18 to 17 that the Lib Dems continue to run the administration. Lib Dems will hold the Leader of the Council; Coun John David, and all of the places on the Executive, which is the committee that runs Pendle. The leaders of the Conservative and Labour groups had been invited to be on this but declined. The outcome of all that, was that I gained a place on the executive, with responsibility for Economic Development and Tourism. I have many year experience in this area so I was pleased that I will be able to continue my work of improving our town centres and increasing our business and jobs in Pendle. However because the LibDems do not now have a majority, I lost the chairmanship of the Licensing Committee to a Conservative, but will continue to serve on that committee. I also lost my seat on the Standards Committee.
Friday 16 May
Luxury - my first day off in a very long while – and absolutely nothing in my Outlook diary! During the last 12 months I have only taken one week’s holiday and that was last June. So I took the opportunity to do very little, apart from looking what needs doing in the garden, buying a few shirts and stuff at Boundary Mill and watching a bit of rugby league on TV in the evening. Around here we often get interesting aircraft flying past, several times a year we can usually see the Red Arrows going somewhere and today we had an old Dakota airplane which flew low over the house. A fitting end to an interesting week.