On Friday 21st May, we have the Annual Meeting of the Crawley Borough Council. We might not have quite the elaborate ceremony and tradition of Parliament but we have our moments with this particular meeting. A lot of the proceedings are around the institution of the Mayoralty. After all, the Mayor is the first citizen of the Borough.
Mayor Brenda Burgess will address the Council about her Mayoral year and then invite nominations for the new Mayor. The Council will by convention unite in its support of the new and outgoing Mayors of the Borough, offering thanks and congratulations to the current and future office-holders.
Given the importance of this occasion, many photographs are taken and part of our tradition is to provide the outgoing Mayor and her consort with a photograph album of their mayoral year. For every recipient, this is a special piece of memorabilia.
No two Mayors are alike in the attributes and characteristics that they bring to the role. In my experience, I find that I learn more about the individuals in their mayoral years, no doubt because of the very range of public commitments that they undertake. We have been very fortunate in Crawley with our Mayors all bringing something special to the role of representing and promoting the Borough.
In a typical Council year, there could be 300 Mayoral invitations. The Deputy Mayor might take ten percent of these but that will vary according to individual commitments. The Mayor also chairs meetings of the Full Council and attends other Council meetings as a committee member.
The next stage of our Annual Council involves the election of the Leader who then appoints the remaining seven members of the Cabinet. Leaders tend to change less frequently than Mayors, hopefully in the interests of political direction and stability. There can be exceptions to this. Mid Sussex District Council has appointed four different leaders in five years for example.
The final and superficially confusing part of our Annual Council appoints members to committees, policy development forums, working groups and outside organisations. Paperwork supporting this part of the proceedings can be quite elaborate especially if there are a number of contested nominations.
There might be a few votes but we soon get through the business of the meeting. Then there is a reception in the Civic Hall where the Mayor and Mayoress greet their guests. We then contemplate recent events and the forthcoming Council year.
Councillor Bob Lanzer, Leader of Crawley Borough Council
19th May 2010