Agenda item

Communications by the Mayor


The Mayor invited volunteers from the COP 26 Climate Vigil to present a quilt, which sought to build on COP 26 and the annual UN Conference of the Parties climate change conference.

One of the volunteers explained that the quilt gave residents the opportunity to show solidarity with the aims of COP 26, express their hopes, dreams and suggestions for a carbon neutral future, and send a message that the people of Cheltenham wanted action taken on climate change. Based on the principles of Craftivism, they had held a vigil in the Promenade for every day of the conference, and were delighted by how many people stopped to write their messages. She thanked everyone who had contributed, and hoped that the quilt would be on permanent display as well as a moving display around Cheltenham. It was a living testament that should offer stimulus for further creativity and action. They held another short vigil during this year’s COP 27, and continued this every 27th of the month on the Promenade.

Speaking as the Cabinet Member Climate Emergency, Cllr. Lewis thanked all the volunteers and contributors for their work on a strong visual reminder of how we needed to take the climate seriously, and looked forward to building on this in the New Year.

She then expressed her condolences to the families of Lord Nigel Jones and former county councillor Mike Skinner, both of whom had recently passed away. She had the pleasure of knowing and working alongside Mike, who was the most gentle soul, a true gentleman, and a dedicated and hard-working councillor. The late Andy Pennington had introduced her to Nigel back in the early 90s, and she remembered watching the declaration on TV in the Bell the night he was elected as Cheltenham’s MP. Nigel worked extremely hard for the town and its residents, and was very popular and a genuinely nice man, as well as a great support of Cheltenham Town FC. He was a true ambassador for the town who would be sadly missed by all who knew him. She opened up the floor for Group Leaders and any other Members who wished to express their own thanks.

Cllr. Harman added that Mike Skinner was an absolute gentleman as well as a quiet and hard-working councillor who did a lot behind the scenes in St Mark’s in particular. He had also worked with Nigel Jones for a long time, recalled the 1992 count when he was first elected, and had fond memories of their time together at the cricket festival. Despite their political differences, they always got on well.

The Leader of the Council reiterated what both the Mayor and Cllr. Harman had said. Nigel was a great friend and had a great influence on many members of her group in one form or another and would be sorely missed by all, and she sent best wishes to his family in this tough time. Cllr. Payne echoed the reflections of fellow councillors on the passing of two really important people in the community.

Cllr. Flynn added that it was Nigel who had persuaded her to enter politics in the first place more than 20 years ago, and that he was a good, caring man held in high regard in West Cheltenham in particular. She would miss his presence in the world. Mike Skinner was also a lovely man who worked very hard for his community, and she had been grateful to be able to attend his funeral. She passed on her thoughts to both of their families.

The Mayor added that she had had the privilege of accepting an award and plaque at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) awards for the work done on Leckhampton Hill and Charlton Kings Common. This had been a partnership project with Charlton Kings Parish Council, Friends of Leckhampton Hill and Charlton Kings Common and the Cotswold National Landscape Teams together with Cotswold wardens and volunteers. The award demonstrated sustainability and resulted in significant improvements to the environment and facilities for communities, with the introduction of two breeds of cattle onto Leckhampton Hill, improved access for all, and securing almost £175k grant funding from the National Grid Landscape Enhancement Initiative. She thanked all those involved in delivering this.

She added that the Royal British Legion had thanked the council for its support with the Remembrance Sunday service and other remembrance events during the year. She highlighted the contributions of Jennie Ingram, Bob Bishop, the sound team and Parks and Gardens had been willing to engage proactively to ensure that this and other events ran smoothly. It was important to give those working in the background the recognition they deserved.

The Mayor welcomed the new Monitoring Officer, Claire Hughes, to her first Full Council meeting. She sent best wishes to Reverend Gary Grady, who was highly respected in Warden Hill, as he awaited an operation, and thanked all those who had contributed to the Mayor’s charities. Finally, she reminded Members that the carol concert would take place at St Marks’ Church on Thursday 15th December at 7pm, and wished everyone a happy Christmas and all the best for 2023.