When the outgoing mayor, Coun Anne Jones stands down at the annual Mayor Making ceremony next week, along with her consort and husband Steve, she will look back on a successful year of hard work for community groups accomplished with style and humour.She said: “I do love my clothes ordinarily so it was no hardship to dress-up every day and to represent this beautiful borough to the best of my ability as the ‘First Citizen’. “It is for others to judge if I succeeded and if I was an effective mayor or not but I have attended hundreds and hundreds of events and I have tried to make my visits meaningful and not just a ten-minute pop in.”
The new mayor, Coun Bernard Bateman MBE, is looking forward to his forthcoming time as mayor with a set of priorities reflecting not only his life in politics but also his depth of experience in business and his long-term appreciation of the role played by the military in local life.Whatever the year ahead brings, it is sure to be a busy one for the new mayor.
Coun Anne Jones, a Liberal Democrat, said: “Once you are invited to stand as Mayor you have a reasonably good idea in advance what you are committing to but the busy schedule does comes as a surprise. “The role does take over your personal and family life for the whole 12-month period.“On top of that, the consort has told me on many occasions that it takes me 40 minutes to leave an event due to my lengthy farewells!”
Fortunately, the incoming mayor Coun Bateman is used to being busy. Having been both chairman of North Yorkshire County Council and Mayor of Ripon in his time, the new role will complete a unique set of titles.Coun Bateman has held several managing director positions and spent many years at Wolseley PLC, one of the Ripon area’s biggest employersSuch is his CV, in 1988 he received the MBE from the Queen for services to industry.As well as senior roles for the Conservatives in the politics of the Harrogate district - he’s a former Ripon mayor - he was also governor of Ripon Grammar School for 18 years.Throw in his work for local charity organisations, and it sounds like quite a challenge but Coun Bateman is determined to carry on with most of his normal responsibilties, as well as all his mayoral duties.
Coun Bateman said: “When I was mayor of Ripon my wife wondered how I would be able to combine it with everything else but I carried on running a business and I still attended all the mayoral events. I really enjoyed it.”With his background and expertise, the new mayor is set to be a business mayor for all of Harrogate distict.Coun Bateman said: “I want to see the borough move forward, I want to see the local economy move forward.“We need to look into why Harrogate isn’t getting all the conferences it should be getting. I’ve spent all my life in business and I will be a business champion.”
It seems the role of mayor can still be more than ceremonial.After an action-packed year Coun Jones says the actual role of mayor is as important to the community as it ever was.She said: “I cannot express sufficiently how delighted the community is to have the Mayor visit events, they truly value the civic representative, and I have felt that warmth and affection on a daily basis. “The Special Olympics Yorkshire & Humberside swimming gala at the HYDRO last year was a joy.“If only I could have bottled the excitement, enthusiasm and pure joy of the event.”During her 12 months, Coun Jones used her profile to raise funds for two local charities close to her heart -Henshaws Specialist College and the Arts & Crafts Centre and Arch Resolution Services.
For his civic year ahead, Coun Bateman and deputy mayor, his wife Mrs Linda Bateman, have identified two main charities to support.The new mayor intends to work in conjunction with Coun Robert Windass, recently appointed chairman of North Yorkshire County Council, to support Candlelighters, which has helped children with cancer and their families since 1976.The other charity he will support will be the Army Benevolent Fund.Coun Bateman says his support for this oldest of military charities goes beyond recognising their service to the nation.He said: “I believe in treating the military with the greatest respect. There are quite a few army and RAF stations in our borough and the Army Foundation College“They contribute a lot to our community and the military presence brings in Â£800 million to North Yorkshire each year.”
As a Ripon councillor, Coun Bateman is keen to represent the whole district.He said: “As far as I am concerned the role of mayor has to be borough-wide. The rural areas are just as important as Harrogate.“I really want to work closely with parish councils. They do a phenomenal job and they are unpaid. Parish councillors give their time for free.”
When his time is up 12 months from now, Coun Batemen will discover what outgoing mayor Coun Anne Jones now knows - time opens up again.Coun Jones said: “Regaining a regular routine will take some adjustment as I not only cease to be mayor but I also stood down from Harrogate Borough Council after 16 years of service. “I have already been invited to be involved in a variety of things, which I will consider in due course. I must confess that a hobby I am looking forward to returning to is my golf at Harrogate Golf Club as I have missed playing!”