With the uncertainties of Brexit, a lack of an Assembly as well as the raising demand for social change, tourism and equality, the new Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council has promised leadership.
In her address to the Chamber at last night’s Annual Meeting (Monday), Cllr Brenda Chivers also agreed to make Tiny Life her key charity following her family’s ‘personal experience’.
Praising the outgoing mayor, Cllr Joan Baird, Cllr Chivers continued: “I want to start my contribution by thanking the outgoing Mayor, Cllr Baird on behalf of us all for the excellent job she did representing the Council and its people over the past year, and to pay tribute to her hard working and selfless attitude.
“I also want to pay tribute to Cllr McLaughlin who ably assisted Cllr Baird in his role as deputy Mayor. I also want to congratulate Cllr Clarke on becoming the deputy Mayor and I look forward to working with him over the coming 12 months.
“Being the Mayor of this Council is a great honour and I want to thank my party for allowing me this privilege. I want to thank my family who have always supported me in all that I do and whose continued support I will need throughout this year.
“I understand my new responsibilities as this Councils first citizen and this is a challenge which I relish. With the Assembly not running, with the uncertainties surrounding Brexit, with economic austerity from Westminster, with the rising tide of demands for social change across the island of Ireland people are expecting more leadership from their local Councils. As first citizen I intend to work alongside the excellent team of officers and all Council staff and all councillors to provide this leadership.
“Causeway Coast and Glens Council, it’s geographic landscape, it’s people has so much to offer. In my year as Mayor I hope to bring a sharp focus on all that is positive about this area. But to do so with purpose. A purpose that brings benefits to our ratepayers.
“I want to promote this region as a place where businesses cannot just survive but thrive. We need to work hard to attract jobs to our major towns of Ballycastle, Ballymoney, Coleraine and Limavady but also promote the potential of SMEs in those four towns and beyond in what is largely a rural Council. With the potential disasters of Brexit looming large over everything I want to work with the business community here to make sure their voices are heard and their opinions are listened to. As a Council we need to identify aspects over which we have control to help drive this Council forward economically. Promotion is key, good planning is crucial and the required infrastructure whether that means transport or technology is critical.
“Obviously tourism and the promotion of tourism here will be a major focus of mine this year. From Glenarriffe to Greysteel we have Ireland’s most beautiful coastline on our doorstep and all the major attractions that come with it. Tourism spend is a major economic benefit to this Council and I want to help this industry to continue to grow. We have more visitors therefore we need to continue to improve and develop our product in a smart an innovative manner that meets this demand.
“I am very conscious that in 2018/19 are years which bring centenary commemorations and celebrations. Others may try and make politics out of our shared but divided history but I intend to mark these events, events such as the ending of WW1 and the sitting of the first Dail and many more in an inclusive, respectful and dignified manner.
“I am aware that I am the fourth female Mayor out of only four Mayors that this new Council has had. To some that may signify success in the battle for equality. I am conscious however that on this the Centenary year of women getting the vote and centenary of Countess Markievicz becoming the first woman elected that the pursuit of equality has some way to go.
“I intend to be a Mayor for all citizens in this Council area, regardless of your sex, religion, colour of your skin, sexual orientation, the language you speak, or the sport that you play. I want to make people from all communities feel ownership of this Council and to help make sure that all communities feel valued by this Council.
“A particular privilege that the mayor has is to help promote and nominate Charities and this year I will be making Tiny Life my key charity. From my own family’s personal experience I know and understand the great work carried out by this charity.
“In conclusion I just want to add that I am particularly looking forward to traveling right across this Council area to help highlight, promote, and celebrate the good work that our communities and organisations within our communities are doing. I make this appeal from the outset. If you are involved in a group and that group is involved in community, youth, charity, environmental, cultural, or sporting work please feel free to invite me along.”