MAYOR’S MOMENT: Past, present and future

Billy at the talk about the suffragettes at Littlehampton Museum
Billy at the talk about the suffragettes at Littlehampton Museum

This week has seen me at a number of meetings including attending by invitation of Arun District Council their special meeting of the overview select committee.

The district council had called upon Katy Bourne, the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, to attend the meeting following increasing calls from residents and businesses across the district to review its policing priorities and to urgently invest more human and financial resources in front line policing.

Being a district meeting the aim was to provide district councillors with an opportunity to raise issues of concern, and extended the invitation to Bognor, Arundel and Littlehampton town councils to send a representative to raise any issues that they too wished to present.

It was interesting to hear the issues and concerns raised and the responses given including three questions I raised myself, however I was disappointed with the response I received when looking for reassurance on how the police commissioner would reassure and restore the public’s confidence in the policing provision within the town and district, which I will feed back to the town council as their representative at this meeting.

With 2018 being recognised as the Year of the Woman and many activities taking place across the country to celebrate a century of women having the right to vote following the campaigning of the suffragette movement, I was pleased to attend a talk hosted by the Littlehampton Civic Society at Littlehampton Museum.

The museum is currently displaying an exhibition entitled Vote! Littlehampton and the Suffragettes, which runs until March 2.

It was pleasing to see so many people interested in this subject, so much so that the initial venue in the museum’s gallery was obviously going to be too small and hence had to be relocated to another room within the manor.

The talk concentrated on two local women who lived in Littlehampton from the 1920s – Mary Neal and Cicely Hale – who were both members of the suffragettes and were actively involved in the movement.

It was very interesting to hear of the work that they undertook and the important part that Littlehampton and its residents had in changing the rights of women of the day and paving the way for generations to come.

We are fortunate to have several blue plaques at various locations within the town commemorating these ladies, and the society is hoping to establish more in the future as it discovers more key locations within the town in this historic story.

It was lovely that we were joined by several family members of these ladies and it was also a delight to see some of the audience having made the effort by dressing in period costume, hats and sashes of the era.

After the talk we were encouraged to take a short walk down to Marina Gardens for a ceremonial tree dedication.

My evening ended by supporting a joint venture between two local groups which, prior to this year, I had not known so well, but during my year as mayor have seen how active they are within the town – the Littlehampton Twinning Association and the Edwin James Festival Choir.

As both these groups have members which support both societies it is fitting that they joined together for social and fundraising events, and on this occasion I was invited to join them for their race night at the Sea Scout hall in Lineside way.

Although not being a betting man, and not knowing quite what to expect it was certainly a fun-filled evening with players taking their hobby horse down the track based on the role of the dice.

The event was well attended and all enjoyed the refreshments of hot soup, buffet and desserts supplied by both groups with a selection of beers and wines given as a gift from our twin towns.

I was delighted that the horse I was “riding” in one of the races successfully came home first and further more when twinning treasurer David Twinn donated his winnings on the final race towards my mayor’s charity appeal.

I look forward to joining both these groups for their next social and fundraising event – a quiz night next month.

I know there are many more groups I have not yet had the pleasure to meet with officially and would really like to.

If you’re involved in one of these groups and would like me to attend an event, meeting or gathering I would be delighted to hear from you.

Please call my office on 01903 732063 with details so they can check my diary and hopefully get me booked in to come and pay a visit.

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