This year there are three local Labour councillors serving terms as Mayors in Milton Keynes. The three were recently pictured together at a fundraising musical night in Newport Pagnell and took the opportunity to explain about the role of Mayor.
These local Mayors are very different to the elected Mayors in places like London or Manchester. Those directly elected mayors, such as Sadiq Khan or Andy Burnham, are more like the Leader of a Council or authority.
So what are these local Mayors?
Every year every council must elect one of the members of that council (a Councillor) as their Chair for the coming year. For five council’s in Milton Keynes, including MK Council itself, the Chair is also the “Mayor”. Mayors are expected to impartially chair the council’s meetings and as civic leaders they represent their council and community at events within and outside their local area.
Pictured (L-R) The Mayors of Wolverton & Greenleys, Milton Keynes and Newport Pagnell.
The Mayor of Milton Keynes is by far the busiest of the local Mayors attending around 600 community and formal events during their year in office. This can include activities such as opening new facilities or businesses, attending Annual Meetings, opening fetes, attending performances of art, visiting schools, hosting high profile visits and wreath laying at remembrance events. They will often be invited to events by other Mayors to build connections between towns.
Councillor Martin Petchey, Mayor of Milton Keynes for 2018/19, explains: “Like most MK Mayors, I spent the previous year as Deputy Mayor, deputising for the Mayor on many occasions so I’m fortunate to have had that experience to prepare me for my own busy mayoral year.”
Mayors will also use their year of higher public profile to raise awareness and financial support for a charity of their choice. Councillor Paul Day, Mayor of Newport Pagnell says “I’m using my activity to raise money for the Winter Night Shelter this year. They do a fantastic job providing shelter for the night for those living on the street, often helping them find a home too.”
Councillor Ansar Hussain, Mayor of Wolverton explains why his council has introduced a Mayor just two years ago. “Many areas have had a Mayor for many years, but Wolverton & Greenleys as a relatively new council did not. With so manycommunity events in our town, the council decided that we should introduce the Mayor role and it has been well received by those groups who have invited me to join them at events and the wider public.”
Martin Petchey summed up the apolitical nature of local Mayors. “Although most parish and town Councils do not have political party groupings, MK Council does. However all Mayors are expected to step away from any party positions and concentrate on being Mayor for that year. It’s not what many people enter into politics to do, in fact I’m not sure if anyone does, but it’s an absolute honour to be the Mayor of your own area and represent all the public. I’m very proud to serve Milton Keynes in this way.”