Meet new Aylesbury Town Mayor, Tom Hunter-Watts
The Bucks Herald caught up with the New Mayor for a quick Q and A;
You must be absolutely thrilled to have been elected Mayor, although I believe this isn't the first time?
"It's not the first time I've been Mayor. My son was born when I was first elected, after the tragic loss of Cllr Steve Patrick, and now he's three. It seems much longer than three years. I'm very honored to have been given the chance to take on the role again, and I'm looking forward to working with Cllr Mark Willis, who's full of energy and ideas, and who will be a great Deputy Mayor."
Can you tell us about your job with the NHS?
"I have worked for the NHS since 2002. I am now the Deputy Sister on Ward 9 at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. It's an acute medical ward, which specializes in the care of the older person. I very much enjoy my job, and I have wonderful and hugely supportive colleagues, who come from many parts of the world - a truly British, truly international team. The responsibilities are just what comes with being a nurse - a mix of hands-on care and quite technical practice - applied kindness, in essence. It was International Nurses' Day on the 12th May, and I was proud that my first mayoral engagement was to visit my colleagues at Stoke and show the town's appreciation and my own solidarity. These are tough times for the NHS, as I don't think anyone would deny."
What have you got planned during this year?
"I'm glad to have got started and there are so many things I am looking forward to doing - promoting our town and our wonderful calendar of events, reaching out to community groups and highlighting the good work they do, or just saying thank you. It's the community spirit which makes Aylesbury a great place to live, and as Mayor you discover so much about what people are doing and you try to find ways to help people connect to one another and give their works greater publicity. There is a lot "in the pipeline" and I'll be making plenty of appeals and announcements as the year goes by."
You've recently had a change in political alignment, what prompted that change and are you enjoying life with the Lib Dems?
"I left the Conservatives in large part because of my experiences in the NHS, and the Liberal Democrat group have been extremely welcoming. However, as Town Mayor, I set my party allegiance aside. Like all the other mayors before me, I will try to be a mayor for everybody, for the town. And party politics is only a small part of what a councillor really does, from day to day. On a human level, as Town Councillors we all get on very well and there's a great deal of mutual respect, despite the occasional cross word. As Mayor, I aim to lead a united team."
The power of the Mayor has diminished throughout the centuries but the office continues to have a central part to play within modern Councils. It is a role steeped in tradition and ceremony.
The many engagements undertaken by the Mayor act as a link between the various groups and organisations in the town. The Mayor can share the views and concerns of the community with the Council. The Mayor can also take the Council’s message out into the community and work towards achieving the Council’s social, educational and economic aims.
The Mayor represents the Authority and its area, with the insignia of the mace, robes, and chains of office. The Mayor connects the present day with history and acts as a symbol of continuity.
A bit about the Mayoral role..
THE TWO MAIN MAYORAL ROLES:
Chair of Council
The Mayor also chairs meetings of the Full Council so that its business can be carried out efficiently, with regard to the rights of Councillors and the interests of the community.
The Mayor upholds and interprets the Constitution and ensures that the Council meeting is a forum for the debate of matters of concern to the local community. The meeting is also an opportunity for the Councillors to hold the Committee Chairmen to account.
If the Mayor is present at the meeting he or she must preside. If the Mayor is not present, then the Deputy Mayor can preside if chosen to do so by the Meeting.
It is the duty of the Mayor to ensure that Council meetings are conducted in a seemly manner and in accordance with the Local Government Act, 1972, and Council Standing Orders. In the cases of disorderly or unruly behaviour by the public it is in order for the Mayor to require the perpetrators be removed. In extreme cases an order can be made to adjourn the meeting while the public gallery is cleared.
It is in the power of the Mayor to call a Special Meeting of the Council at any time, subject to prior notice being given, or to alter the time and place of a scheduled Council meeting.
Special privileges accorded to the Mayor include:
Provision for a second, or casting vote in the event of an equality of votes on any question before the meeting. The Mayor makes her or his initial vote and in the case of equality may then use the casting vote;
Precedence of the Mayor (or person presiding) whereby when the Mayor rises during a debate any Member standing shall resume her or his seat and the Council shall be silent.