Sunday, 3 June 2012

A New Civic & Political Year for The City of Lincoln

Freeman of the City of Lincoln

Mayor Cath Brothwell hands over to Cllr Karen Lee

I write still enveloped in the warm glow of an historic election victory for Labour and this week’s elevation of Karen Lee to the Office of Mayor of Lincoln, only the 12th women ever.On a personal note the election of my wife Sue Burke to Minster and the good showing of my son Sean in Hartsholme made this a heart-warming week. I know Sean will be back fighting another election soon.I went with Sue to her first function which was the service for the Freemen of the City at St Peter at Gowts Church in my own council seat in Park Ward. The Freeman go back to the days of King Edward the Confessor and are our predecessors as councillors in that they used to govern the City of Lincoln. This was of course before our more modern form of democracy.
Sue & I in Robes for Mayor-Making
Mayor making is in itself an event as historic as you can get, the civic role of Mayor of Lincoln having existed since 1206. Councillor Kathleen Brothwell had done a marvellous job and in an emotionally charged moment handed over her staff of office to the 806th Mayor of Lincoln. This was my third  Mayor Making but the experience is always up lifting and we all knew that Karen and Neil her consort will do a great job.
Also taking up her seat for the first time at Mayor-Making which is also the first council meeting of the new civic year was Councillor Adrianna Ellis, daughter of Cllr Geoff Ellis and Granddaughter of veteran councillor Dave Jackson. Dave spoke movingly of his pride in seeing his family’s new generation take up the cause.
Lincoln as a community is strongly family orientated compared to many other places and I think that this was a strong factor in the public’s adverse reaction to the Governments cuts which tend to hit the weakest in society and I feel our vote here and across the country reflected this. In my adjoining ward Jill Clayton-Hewson joined her husband on the council , along with Adrianna, Sue, Jackie Kirk and Rosie Kirk increasing the number of women on the Council substantially.
It was good to see a range of representatives from the City’s  various faith communities present at Mayor making including Bishop Christopher, Father John Kyne and the Imam Dr Tanweer Ahmed. It was fascinating to talk to Father  John and our new Bishop about the diversity of our City and the hopes and commitment of that community we represent.
An interesting and typically Labour movement thing here is the equal determination of believers and those of no religious belief sharing the same tenets of social justice the majority of all of us know to be right. One of my aims has always been to promote the concept that secularists and people of  faith should respect each other because usually they share the same beliefs about social justice.
St Catherine's Church & Heritage Centre 
This reminded me of another election about 100 years ago when St Catherine’s Methodist Church (in Park Ward) produced from its congregation a highly motivated and radical group of individuals  supporting the Cooperative Movement who were elected and changed the direction of the City Council towards the provision of education, cultural and social services support for all.
 I have found over the last year that there is this same sense of radical change within the Labour Group and a determination among all of us to deal with the inequalities in our City such as homelessness and housing waiting lists.  The election of our new colleagues have renewed our belief in the rightness of our cause of creating a fairer and more just society.
I will also have new horizons to reach out to over the coming year. I will still be working as the City’s Children and Young Person’s Advocate but also, as Chair of the Equality and Diversity Group.In that role I will  be working to ensure that the Council as an employer and as a service provider  acts fairly and serves the whole of the community of Lincoln.
 I know that in addition to completing my thesis as a budding (if not rather late) mature student with the Business & Law School I want to celebrate the success of our University staff and students.
The next year will be exciting and challenging in equal measure. Our new prospective parliamentary candidate  Lucy Rigby is already highlighting the immorality around the lack of budgetary control on at the Priory Academy at a time when our other schools are struggling on reduced budgets.
Rachel Reeves MP for Leeds West & Lucy Rigby Prospective Parliamentary Labour Candidate for Lincoln  
 I wonder if the fragile, indeed brittle Coalition of yellow and blue Tories will last the full term, I really hope not, we need a Government committed to putting people back to work and increasing by production and investment to get the economy growing again.
I am optimistic about the future for Lincoln. The people of Lincoln have a very strong sense of fairness and I look forward to working with all of our communities to create a just and fair society. 

Based on an article published by the Lincolnshire Echo 24th May 2012

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