In Mayor Les Rowland’s first speech as Mayor of Wirral (which starts at 6 minutes & 39 seconds into the video above , he said he was “delighted and proud to follow in the footsteps of so many who have held this position of Mayor, the first citizen of the Borough”. He spoke of the charities and organisations he and the Deputy Mayoress had visited in the previous year and that the “the work that goes on around us unseen every day is truly amazing”.
He thanked the previous Mayor (Cllr Steve Foulkes) and Mayoress (Elaine Nolan) for “their efforts during their Mayoral year” and that they would be a “hard act to follow”. The Mayor gave them his blessings for their forthcoming wedding.
Mayor Les Rowlands thanks Sue Carroll, her team, Nick and the drivers who “looked after them during the year with dedicated professionalism”. He also thanked Tony Hope and his team.
His theme for the year would be the “growing elderly population on Wirral”. Mayor Les Rowlands spoke about his 86-year-old mother and how proud he was of her.
Continuing he explained the theme in more detail, “Growing old has its numerous problems, but by far the worst is the loneliness that comes with age. To have someone to talk to even once a week, I have often heard said it is wonderful. So this year I would like my Council to encourage everyone across the Borough to take a look around their community, identify elderly person to adopt for a quick chat or offer to get a bit of shopping. Believe me it will mean so much just to know somebody is there.
I will be throughout the year inviting the elderly and lonely to the mayoral chamber for a cup of tea and a chat. I would like the time to visit homes for the elderly and show our ongoing support and commitment. I would like my Council to encourage throughout the many policies the building of stronger links and the strengthening of our elderly communities.”
The first charity he would be supporting would be the North West Air Ambulance, who were “truly a life saver”. His second charity was the Clatterbridge League of Friends who raises funds for Clatterbridge Hospital. The third charity would be the Wirral Alzheimer’s Society who support people with dementia.
Mayor Les Rowlands thanked people for their patience and for their support throughout the year. Over the next few days he would have the pleasure of meeting the Queen at the palace and that they were invited on board the Queen Mary  by Cunard to thank Wirral and Liverpool for hosting the Three Queens event.
He invited everyone to stay for the rest of the evening’s entertainment, which including a choir and a singer and he hoped people would have a great evening.
Nominations were invited for Deputy Mayor. Councillor Phil Davies proposed Cllr Pat Hackett as Deputy Mayor, Councillor Jeff Green seconded the proposal of Cllr Pat Hackett as Deputy Mayor. There were no other nominations, so Councillor Pat Hackett was elected as Deputy Mayor.
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Once the new Mayor of Wirral Council Councillor Steve Foulkes returned and he made his declaration of acceptance of office, he made a speech the first part of which is below.
MAYOR OF WIRRAL COUNCILLOR STEVE FOULKES
Right, I’ll probably use the microphone. OK, I’m awful sorry, hang on, I’m doing that. Please be seated. It works!
Well I’d just like to say that there are many, many councillors and this is a tribute to former Mayors particularly Gerry Ellis who’s given me this opening gambit which was when some councillors suggested that I end up in something long and flowing, some meant the River Mersey and not the Mayor’s robes and that’s my tribute to Gerry, to Gerry’s.
Before I do make my acceptance speech though, I think I must place on record my gratitude and thanks to Dave and Sue for the friendship that they’ve given me in the last thirteen months, the guidance and just the thoroughly fantastic job they have done on behalf of the people of Wirral. They’ve been an absolute credit to themselves and the Borough so let’s hear it for them.
It would be a really hard act to follow, but I think you’ve earned a good long rest, so have a good rest and a good holiday and enjoy. I’ll also pass on my condolences to Kate Wood’s family and I will be attending Kate’s funeral on Wednesday, a sad way to start the evening however.
I will accept the office and I’d have loved a unanimous vote and I’ve accepted office on a majority vote and I’ve lost office, quite sadly at times, on a majority vote. So I will be accepting the office tonight.
I’d like to thank my group, my leader Phil for the nomination and a fantastic speech he gave, if not a little too revealing about my former name as Mad Max. That won’t go down very well, but we’d asked for an in depth interview and we got one, so thank you very much.
I’d really like to place on record now while I’ve got the chance is my employer Unilever. They’ve been very supportive of me over a number of years as a politician. As a community minded company they have been really supportive and I have to place on record thanks to them.
I’d like to say a special thanks, this is the second time George gets a mention tonight. I came into politics as George’s agent when we won Claughton and he’s been a real close friend ever since. In fact I refer to him as my other brother sometimes and we’ve been that close at times and he’s been a stalwart. My other ward colleague Denise Roberts, who has really been great and supportive to us and more importantly and that’s what it’s all about is the people of Claughton who have voted for me on a regular basis and have returned me to office over twenty-four years. I’d like to thank them.
So what a really great venue for this what to me is a very special occasion of course but it is a special occasion for the people of Wirral. A great venue and a new look New Brighton. This is at the heart of New Brighton and a development that was done and developed and delivered in the teeth of a recession and I think it just shows what Wirral people can do, what Wirral Council can do if it is of one mind, if it has a vision, if it has a cause. Just go out there tonight if you get a chance, in the early evening and see how much we’ve achieved in those circumstances bringing new life and new jobs I hope we can do more of that in future.
Actually we were quite lucky to get in here tonight. I don’t know whether you noticed the sign or not on the way in, clairvoyant’s evening cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. I don’t know whether anybody spotted that on their way in. You’ve heard a little bit about my background and you know it is character building and I do hope when we get out there and talk to people I will describe how poor we were. We were poor and I’m not ashamed of that. In fact we were so poor that all our clothes had to be bought from the Army and Navy surplus store. You know it’s tough, you try going to school dressed as a Japanese Rear Admiral.
I can tell you it’s not easy and there was a big family you know, we had to scrap over food and things like that and actually my real name should’ve been Tuesday because when I was born Dad looked at Mum and said ‘let’s call it a day love’. Actually Elaine jokes because I haven’t got a middle name. Elaine jokes and says you know by the time I was born she’d run out of names so they couldn’t give me a middle name.
Well as Phil said, our council house which I’m always grateful for, a little bit crowded but loving and this is where I go a bit errm. Not a day passes really you know I don’t think about my Mum and Dad, Eric and Gladys and I just hope that they are really, really proud of what I’ve achieved and what I’ve done today and I miss them. Not a day goes by without a thought for them but that’s my emotional bit over with I suppose.
Right, my Mayoress, my Mayoress will be my beautiful fiancee Elaine who I love dearly and dearly being the operative word because the cost of her last outfit I tell you! It’s utterly amazing but a few years for me have been tough, there’s no doubt about it, politically you put your head above the parapet, times get tough and it has felt like I’ve been besieged at times and I actually don’t think I could have coped with those tough years without Elaine by my side and I thank her very much for that.
Elaine’s a hard working mum, with two lovely children Jack and Molly, you’ve seen Molly already, who have become my best mates during difficult times. They’ve shown maturity in themselves and a friendship to me that is a credit to them and should be an example to everybody in this room. I’ve got to give Jack a special mention, he’s chomping at the bit to go because he’s got two A-levels tomorrow and he really wants to get on and revise. He’s taken time out and good luck tomorrow mate with everything and those exams.
If you haven’t heard, if you haven’t heard, it’s open news now. Me and Elaine have named a date. We’re going to get married on August 17th 2015, ok? I’m sorry Councillor Blakeley, but the best man’s job has already been allocated. So after our Mayoral year, we will be married and what an exciting year it promises to be. The return of the Open and the International Business Festival just for two as an example of this Borough with a real chance, a real opportunity to promote itself and put its best foot forward.
Mayors are supposed to sort of pick themes. I’ve had a little think about what we should be doing. So as Mayor I’ve selected one theme which is ‘Wirral a place to do business’. We can’t latch on to the Golf Open and all the other investment that’s going on. At last we will see some work taking place on the Twelve Quays site. If this is not the greatest opportunity we’ve ever had to entice new business into the Borough I don’t know what it is, so the Mayor’s Office, including the Deputy we will be there, ready, willing and able to meet, greet, do whatever is necessary to entice businesses into this Borough. That’s a pledge I will make as part of the year.
The other sort of theme is ‘councillors count’ and what does that mean? Some can’t count, but councillors count, in a, I know when we had the electronic voting we certainly couldn’t count but I remember, I’ve always thought that no one ever speaks up for councillors. You know they’re misunderstood, maligned, not really appreciated what they’re doing. Having been in virtually every role that it’s possible to be as a councillor, I do actually think we need someone to just champion them and all it will be as part of the theme of the year is explaining the role, the job they do. Don’t forget what councillors have, they have an electoral mandate which very few people have. They are actually able to speak with authority for the very diverse communities we have on the Borough. So I will be championing the role of councillor as best as I can during that year and the last theme is a very simple one it’s just about saying thank you.
A report on the first five items of the Council’s Extraordinary meeting of the 30th April 2013 | Declarations of Interest, Mayor’s Communications, Petitions, Minutes and Leader’s Announcements along with HD video
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The meeting started with the Mayor asking the Mayor’s Chaplain to say a prayer. After the prayer the Mayor thanked his Chaplain for his work throughout the year. He directed people’s gaze towards the returning councillor David Elderton, saying that he [David Elderton] was always one for making dramatic entrances (Cllr Elderton was using a Zimmer frame to get to his seat).
Declarations of Interest
He asked for declarations of interest, nobody declared any.
The Mayor asked for apologies, one was given for Cllr Sylvia Hodrien, he then said that as this would be the last Council meeting he would be chairing, he invited everyone back for drinks in the Round Room, pointing out that the Mayor and Mayoress were paying for the drinks so “don’t drink too much”.
Also mentioned was a service at St. Bridget’s Church at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, all councillors had been invited but not many had replied, after the service would be a light buffet, which again the Mayor and Mayoress were paying for. He then went on to present the Andy Day Memorial Cup for a backbench councillor who had “done good things”, he said that the councillor it was going to this year had supported him in his mayoralty, whether by turning up to events or making donations. The cup was awarded to Cllr Steve Williams.
Petitions were the next item on the agenda. Cllr Walter Smith had a 95 signature petition against antisocial behaviour in Mayer Park, Bebington. Cllr Irene Williams presented a petition of forty-four more signatures against the closure of the Eastham Centre. Cllr Tony Smith presented a petition of 250 against the “bedroom tax”, Cllr Leech also presented a petition of 273 signatures against the “bedroom tax”. Cllr Sullivan presented a petition of 130 signatures asking for improvements to road surfaces and markings. Cllr Williamson presented a petition of 577 signatures against the “bedroom tax”.
Cllr Phil Davies said that he was pleased to see the return of Cllr Elderton, who had been seriously ill, and that it was “great to see him here this evening”. He paid tribute to the Mayor and Mayoress, saying what a fantastic job they had both done, how it was a pleasure to accompany them at several engagements and how the Mayor and Mayoress had had a fantastic reception from the people of Wirral. He was impressed with the Mayor’s “warmth, spirit, generosity and kindness that you’ve shown to residents from all parts of this Borough”, said that the Mayor had a passion for Wirral and paid tribute for the work he’d done for the Mayor’s charities. Cllr Davie described the Mayor’s sense of humour and jokes as “unique” and that “most were quite funny”. He said that the Mayor and Mayoress do a wonderful job on behalf of the Borough and wanted to thank both of them.
There was applause, when the applause ended Cllr Green said he wanted to associate himself with the kind remarks of the Leader of the Council, he thought that the Mayor and Maggie had done “an absolutely fantastic job” and he’d been fortunate to attend many events. He said, “It is uncanny how you can break through and speak to everybody”. Cllr Green said that the Mayor was impressed by all the charity work and voluntary work that goes on on the Wirral and how much they welcome the support of the Mayor. He wanted to pay tribute to his “selfless service” and what he’d given up to maintain the position of Mayor and that the service the Mayor had shown was an example to them all. This was followed by more applause.
Cllr Tom Harney wanted to echo the comments of his colleagues and that the one bit of their constitution the public understand is the Mayoralty and that the impact he makes on communities is enormous and valued by the people. He’d been to a number of events and that the Mayor had approached people with good humour, with a combination of dignity and formality. Cllr Harney said that it showed the Council’s visible support to communities in the Borough. He thanked him for the good-humoured way that he had conducted Council meetings. This was followed by more applause.
The Mayor said it was “very, very kind”. Cllr Elderton thanked Cllr Phil Davies for his very kind remarks and said that Barbara and himself had been overwhelmed by the support from officers and people they don’t know in detail very well. It had been appreciated and had gone a long way to helping him to get better. He thanked people for their support and said it was really appreciated. This was also followed by applause.
The Mayor said they were delighted to see him back, he thanked people for their kind words and described the Mayoress as “absolutely fantastic and supportive”.