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Councillor K. T. Guy

1989-90 - read about his year.

Councillor K. T. Guy

The Council between 1986 and 1990 had 34 Labour, 28 Conservative and 7 Alliance councillors. Liberals and Democrats had combined to form the Alliance. There was no majority party. This was a Hung Council. At council meetings when the Conservatives or the Alliance were voting the same way and were a member short their votes equalled those of Labour. The Mayor had a casting vote to be used when this happened. The casting vote from a Conservative mayor would get the right result. (I only used the casting vote once). When the Alliance sided with Labour a parity of votes was unlikely.

There was no agreement for the Alliance to vote for a Conservative mayor. At the Annual Meeting of the Council it was not predetermined whether I or Cllr. Simon Gelberg, the Labour nominee would be elected. Only when the votes were counted was it clear that I had been given the honour to serve as Mayor.

My wife Gwen was Mayoress and we set out to meet and enjoy the company of as many Hillingdon people as we could. Maximising the Mayor's Charity was not our prime objective but we did raise £13,500 for the Child Accident Prevention Group, a lifeline for them, and have supported them voluntarily for 22 years to date.

Some of the organisations in Hillingdon invite the Mayor every year to attend their functions. This sets up a pattern of activities for the year but changes do occur. Each week the staff in the Mayor's office produced a list of events for the Mayor to attend. The Mayor cannot be in two places at once and the Deputy Mayor or a Past Mayor may be asked to fill in. The list indicated the times and place of the duty, who is to do it, who will accompany them, the dress code, whether the gown and regalia are required, the transport needed and whether the Mayor is required to make a speech. The London Mayors Association provided guidance on protocols. The Queen did not formally visit Hillingdon but may have passed through in transit to and from Northolt and Heathrow Airports. I wore a morning suit and top hat to a Buckingham Palace Garden Party. We met Princess Anne at a fundraising event for Harefield Hospital.

Ten departments of the Council directly served the residents and each one reported to a committee of councillors. Committee decisions were received at 11 full council meetings during my year presiding as Mayor. The committees needed a chairman to be appointed by the majority party. In 1988/89 and 1989/90, without a majority, no party would do the appointing. The work of the council was delayed until the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor accepted a role alternating as independent, non voting, chairmen for all of the Main Committees. In the year 57 such meetings were shared between myself and Councillor Elsie Boff, the Deputy Mayor.

The Rate Fixing meeting of the council decided on the charges to householders. In this year it was for the contentious Poll Tax. There was a nationally organised, large crowd, of protesters in the Civic Centre forecourt. The proceedings could have been disrupted by triggering the security alarms to make everyone leave the building. The meeting was adjourned to a later date with audio and visual facilities in committee rooms for overflow from the Council Chamber. A wise suggestion from the Chief Executive, Paul Johnson, as the protesters were by then committed to be in other boroughs. A decision was reached at 4am, some time after the TV cameras left.

The RAF exercised its Freedom to march in Uxbridge after absence for years due to security issues from the troubles in Ireland. A photograph in the Mayor's parlour records this. The close relationship between the RAF and the borough ensured that we visited Uxbridge, Northolt and West Drayton base ceremonies and the ATC Squadrons. There was also a Beating the Retreat Ceremony at HMS Warrior. We shot with the London Irish Rifles and visited Pelican Cadets. In return the Services were among 30 groups entertained in the Mayor's Parlour representing a broad spectrum of activities across the borough.

In our 373 Mayoral duties we launched businesses, liaised with Mayors from nearby authorities, spent money at fetes and garden parties and ate meals at dining centres (where ladies liked to fatten me up with extra puddings). Sporting events took us across London. We visited 22 schools where we sat on the floor with younger children. Advice was to say that the gown had artificial fur. We said that it was real fur but that it was very old and the animals would have already died. The children accepted this and liked stroking the fur but adults were aghast. One boy told his parent that the mayor had not visited but that a pirate had. I had worn the mayor's hat crosswise pirate fashion instead of fore and aft. There is a time and place for formality. The Borough silver mace was dented on one of these visits. A Deputy Head was greeted in continental fashion to the delight of parents at a school French event.

A Hillingdon team was entered for the first time in the inter-borough shooting competition and won, something they have done a number of times since. The organisers intended the trophy to be replaced in secure storage. I had another duty and the Deputy Mayor attended the competition. That doughty lady insisted that she would take it to Hillingdon Civic Centre. So many thousands of pounds worth of silver trophy graced the Mayor's Parlour for the next year. The Inter-borough golf had been a male preserve but the Mayor's golfing secretary broke into the role. We visited our twin town of Mantes La Jolie and we committed our mayors to be President of the Town Twinning Association. We abseiled at Cwm Pennant, sailed at HOAC and enjoyed the view from an Aerial Ladder Platform at one of the four Hillingdon Fire Stations visited. We drank vodka with the Polish Government in Exile. We learned how drugs are revealed during a tour at Heathrow. The Mayoress did some of the catering to eke out the Mayor's Parlour finance. Our Christmas Card showed Father Christmas painting his sleigh green.

The mayoralty was not our whole life. I was at the time Hillingdon representative on the London Fire & Civil Defence Authority and the London Residuary Body, governor of three schools and chairman of one. With other life activities this amounted to 91 other meetings excluding going to the theatre when not on mayoral duty. This was all part of a restful time in retirement. Seriously it was fun.

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 22 Aug 2016 at 14:05