"My acceptance speech this evening gives me an opportunity to outline a theme for the year and introduce the Mayor’s Charity.
This year will be a little different as I have chosen 2 charities to become the Mayor’s Charity. This may be uncommon in Milton Keynes but is often seen elsewhere. Both charities while being known locally also project a very positive image of Milton Keynes further afield, they are both a tribute to our area and in whom we can all be proud. These charities are Willen Hospice and Bletchley Park.
Willen Hospice will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year, for all of those years it has been an amazing provider of care for our community stretching as far as Winslow and Leighton Buzzard. There can be few people from our area who have not known of someone who has received fantastic care from the tremendously dedicated team either in their own home or in the Hospice in it’s tranquil setting on the banks of Willen lake. The team also does much more in supporting the families and friends of those with terminal illnesses offering much practical support and counselling. The Hospice however receives limited funding from the NHS and relies heavily on all the great fundraising efforts that go on within our community. This year I therefore not only hope to raise money for the hospice, but also to keep it in the forefront of the public’s mind to keep the wider community effort ongoing.
My second charity is Bletchley Park. The park is one of the hidden secrets of Milton Keynes although historically it has probably done more to change the way we live our modern lives than anywhere else in the world. Bletchley Park whilst being a site of significant importance also has a history that is of national importance. During the Second World War Bletchley Park became the home of code breakers who were tasked with cracking codes to decipher our enemies’ plans, most famously German Enigma codes. Some of the best minds in the world were located at the time at Bletchley and billeted all round our borough, in total the efforts of over 10,000 people are credited with shortening the war by as much as two years, saving thousands of lives. As if this alone were not enough, as so often happens in conflicts things are developed for one purpose, then become very useful in another circumstance. As part of the code breaking, mathematicians designed and built the world’s first programmable computer and although this was used for breaking codes during the war the principles are the same ones that still operate in the computers that we use and by which we seem to run our lives these days. Unbelievable as it may seem, at Bletchley Park the computer was born.
For young people struggling to understand the importance or significance of Maths there is much to inspire and be gained by a visit to Bletchley Park that make the subject come alive. Throughout this year as well as raising funds to aid the Park’s every day running costs, I will also hope to open the door to a wider public interest in the Park locally as well as further afield.
Each Mayoral year also has a theme and whilst there is plenty I would like to do, it will come as no surprise to many that one of the main themes this year will be cycling. I don’t claim to be a dedicated cyclist but I do enjoy cycling and it has a huge amount to offer in terms of fitness, enjoyment, reducing congestion on our roads and helping the environment. So it is my aim this year to use my time as Mayor to support officers of the cycling team in this council to push cycling up the agenda with local people and local businesses. Milton Keynes has some of the best infrastructure to enable the modal shift from the car to the bike but this still needs to be promoted and that shift needs to happen. So in this year don’t be surprised if I get the opportunity to turn up to an event on a bike.
Becoming a parent for the first time myself a few years ago, made me realise the joys and responsibilities of parenthood.
One of the very great privileges I have enjoyed since first being elected in 2006 has been to serve on the Council’s Corporate Parenting Panel.
The children and young people that we as a council are responsible for need a lot of extra care and support. For new comers to this Chamber, the Council is a corporate parent to 252 children in its care. We have the responsibility to ensure that the difficulties in these children’s lives are not compounded further by disadvantage in our care and it is the duty of each and every one of us to ensure their best possible start in life and it is our most important duty.
I wanted to involve the looked after children I meet more in my year, so some months ago launched a competition to find out what they would do if they were Mayor. Some drew pictures, some wrote poems and some wrote short stories. The winning entries are published in the programme tonight, I would urge you all to look at them and think about them because the young mind can tell us an awful lot about what we should be doing as decision makers and what we can do to enrich their lives further. I would now like to offer my thanks to the team that helped me both launch the competition and judge it & who do a huge amount for young people. These include Paul Mitchell the MK Dons Community Ambassador, John Moffoot, Hilary Bendle, Pat Callear as well as Kay. Also to Alistair Gibbons for his support and that of the rest of the team including Carolann James tonight. Pat Callear, a valued member of that team has recently retired from the council after 23 years of very dedicated service to the children and young people of this area, she was proud to be a social worker and whilst we search for a replacement, we must never forget that for many such officers this is not just a job but a vocation and one that they undertake sometimes under some very difficult circumstances.
The place where we live and represent, Milton Keynes is a fantastic “can do” place. It has so much to offer, and so much to be proud of so if there is another thing I would like to do it is to publicise Milton Keynes further afield. This year I will aim to invite as many people as possible to Milton Keynes, to show them what a great place this is. To show them what a fantastic mix of urban and rural areas we have and although the city is only 40 years old, how we have history here that goes back thousands of years.
.......So this year will be busy one but with a strong team of helpers and supporters I hope together we can achieve a huge amount for our area and deliver many benefits."