|HAS BURNISHED THE IMAGE OF THE BOROUGH|
The public face of the Royal Borough is the Mayor.
If performed well it is arduous. It requires dignity, patience, a sense of humour and an ability to make a diversity of people feel comfortable.
But performed badly the Mayor becomes an embarrassment and can disgrace the Royal Borough.
Ex-Councillor Barry Phelps, during his mayoralty, took pleasure in upsetting people. He left a trail of unhappiness behind him and Warwick Lightfoot had to try to pick up the pieces when he succeeded Phelps as mayor. Phelps even complained about the Chelsea Pensioners singing when he went to their concert and told of his ‘views’ on Americans when he visited their embassy. As with his dreadful email images(sent, via the RBKC server, of very young boys in suggestive positions) he bought the Royal Borough into disrepute.
The Dame has been to a number of functions last year when Councillor Mills was mayor and this year where Cllr Buckmaster has represented the Royal Borough. They have very different styles, Councillor Mills brought a great sense of fun to every function she attended:Councillor Buckmaster lacks her easy informality, but at each event....and some of them have been, perhaps, a little tedious, he has performed with a gracious charm, showing an interest in all those he came into contact with.
So Councillors Mills and Buckmaster will be very difficult acts to follow.
Thanks to a leader who has long outlived his usefulness, the Royal Borough is not enjoying the greatest of public perceptions.
Whoever follows Christopher Buckmaster will have much to live up to and he/she will need to be a consolidating and conciliating force.
According to the rules the majority party candidate for mayor is selected by the votes of his or her fellow majority party councillors, and the majority party having a large majority their candidate is inevitably chosen by the full council.
In reality the process is very different. Cockell selects the person who, as he puts it, 'he thinks he can work with'. The majority party whips then telephone around to say, 'the leader has chosen Barry Phelps or whoever, you have no objection do you?'
This is how democracy at work in the Royal Borough!
There are rumours in the Town Hall of who wants to be the next mayor and that Cockell is likely to give this self-selection his approval.
The Dame has been sworn to secrecy but she will say that this candidate would be a worthy successor to the disgraced ex-Councillor Phelps...and could even prove to be an even more disruptive mayor.....
The Dame hopes, that this time, when the phone call comes Conservative Councillors will say, 'no, we will not browbeaten: we will come to a consensus agreement as to the best man or woman for this vital public relations role.'