Welcome to this, my first Mayoral Blog following my election as Mayor for the 2015/2016 civic year. Having been Deputy Mayor for the past two years, I know only too well of the demands placed on the incoming Mayor but perhaps, as I mentioned in my acceptance speech at the recent Annual Council Meeting, I have served a longer apprenticeship than is usual. However, I follow in the steps of Cllr Simon Raikes and his wife Christine who have, with such aplomb and fervent commitment, supported a wide and diverse range of charities, organisations and events. I hope I will be able to bring the same level of enthusiasm to the role.
Sevenoaks is a thriving market town having been given it’s market status in the 13th century. Until 1999, a weekly cattle market was held in Hitchen Hatch Lane but as with many long established and historic venues, its status was eroded by commercial development. Thankfully however, we have retained and expanded our Wednesday and Saturday town markets, venues that are supported not only by the local community, but by an ever increasing number of visitors to the town. And, with the introduction of the recently established Vine Food Fair - with a three times a year format - our town roots are again in the ascendancy.
I mention the market expansion as just one of the Town Council’s initiatives but of course there are many additional events planned throughout the year. 2015 will again see the introduction of the red Route master bus providing a summer service around the town from Knole. With its striking livery, ease of use and super value, the upper deck is attracting more and more families to Sevenoaks and the town amenities. This year also sees the return of live music at Sevenoaks Vine Bandstand on Sunday afternoons from late June to the end of August.
The Vine is also attracting further amenity investment by the Town Council with the £100,000 conversion of the former 113 year old band practice hut into a community café, with a planned toddler play area next to the café. Funded by a £50,000 grant from Cory Environment Trust, this is just one of the exciting new projects in support of the Council’s family-friendly policy.
New for 2015 sees the introduction of the Sevenoaks Town Council Mayor’s Cadet award. The introduction of this award is to focus on the important role performed by uniformed cadet groups within the local community as well as offering an opportunity for a young person to be involved in the work of the council. Rotated annually between the cadet groups, the Mayor’s Cadet will support the Mayor at Civic Events, meeting and greeting guests and VIP’s and take part in Mayoral processions.
I am very pleased to announce that Able Cadet Nicholas Leonard from Westerham Sea Cadets is the Mayors Cadet for this civic year and I look forward to welcoming Nicholas at future events.
During the past four years both as Chairman of the Sevenoaks Town Partnership and latterly as Deputy Mayor, it has been a privilege to meet many people connected in some way to the organisations, businesses and charities within Sevenoaks. We have a real mix of people skills in the area; established retail traders, small business enterprises and entrepreneurs, all working together to make Sevenoaks the place to live, work and do business.
My main charity this year is Rockdale Housing Association who provide around 250 managed units offering residential care and sheltered accommodation. Through my fund raising events and with the help of business sponsors and you, I would like to support Rockdale in caring for older people in our community. In addition, I also wish to support organisations providing care for young people and those less fortunate.
I hope you will be able to support the Mayor’s events in the coming months and the Town Council activities that will be publicised in the coming year.
Wishing you and your family a pleasant, fun filled summer in and around our lovely town. If you see me out and about, please do come and say hello.
Cllr. Stephen Arnold, Mayor of Sevenoaks