As 2016 dawns, I am grateful to the Sleaford Standard for the opportunity to both reflect on the past year and look forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in 2016.
But let me start by saying that it has been an honour and real pleasure to serve as Mayor of Sleaford with my wife Judith as Mayoress, over the past seven months. I had not realised quite how busy a mayor of a town can be but every one of the events or functions we have participated in has been very worthwhile and noteworthy. I have looked upon my role as principally to promote our town throughout Lincolnshire and I have been very pleasantly surprised to learn just how well thought of Sleaford is by those who live elsewhere. Whenever I have come back from an ‘away’ event I have been encouraged to look at the town in a new light and it has increased the pride I feel in the place where we all live. The other huge benefit of being mayor is that one learns so much more about what is going on within Sleaford itself and Judith and I have been very impressed and frequently humbled by the energy, compassion and humanity displayed by so many people and groups as they work towards helping and supporting others. And on that note, you will have seen the sad news of the death of Geoff Brocklebank, committed charity worker, Town Crier of note and also a well deserved Sleafordian of the Year – he will be missed.
For the Town Council, 2015 has been essentially one of change. The elections in May brought in a new intake of councillors – it is always good to have a new infusion of ideas and talents – and they are already beginning to make their mark. The biggest change though has been the move to establish a Town Hall in Quayside House, very close to the National Centre of Craft and Design. For the past ten years or more, the Council has been looking for a more fitting home where we can contain the administrative offices and also hold all our regular council and committee meetings. The initial view by the council and visitors alike is that the premises will suit the town very well indeed.
Although we can learn lessons from the past we should never dwell there and I believe that the Town Council will have an exciting range of opportunities and challenges ahead in 2016.
As an opportunity may I refer again to the new Town Hall. The Council Chamber’s tables arrived on 11th December and the first Town Meeting was held in the building five days later. But the building is very versatile and we are especially excited by the prospect of using available space in support of the whole community. We can envisage the building forming the core of community activities right in the town centre use and our challenge will be to maximise use to the benefit of all.
I am sure that those other aspects that the Council will be concentrating on next year will likely be classified more as challenges than opportunities. Principally we must provide as much input and support as we can into ensuring that all the planned new building around Sleaford is complemented by a commensurate increase in the infrastructure and facilities that all our residents will need. This challenge will not be just for next year but is likely to require careful monitoring and pressure from the Town Council for many years to come. Another challenge is something that we are becoming ever more familiar with and that is ensuring that we continue to champion the views of the people of Sleaford in trying to achieve the best transport and traffic solution for the town. A little closer to home and something we shall have greater control over, will be the challenge to ensure that we continue to improve on the services and amenities that the Council provides and the town needs and deserves.
I am very aware that many members of the Council staff and Councillors have worked very hard in this year of change, sometimes in very testing circumstances and I would like to thank them for their support throughout.
Finally and on behalf of all of us at Sleaford Town Council may I wish everyone in our town a Happy and Prosperous New Year.”
Councillor Garry Titmus - Mayor of Sleaford.