What I want to achieve in the next year as Chairman of Suffolk County Council
By Councillor Robert Everitt, Chairman of Suffolk County Council
When I entered local government in 1981, as a parish councillor in the village of Wickhambrook, I learned a very important lesson: you only get out of life what you put in. I spent over 20 years living in Wickhambrook with my family, getting involved in many aspects of village life, and enjoying every minute of it.
In 2000, we moved to Bury St Edmunds, and in 2003 I was elected on to St Edmundsbury Borough Council. I have spent the last 19 years trying my best to improve the environment and lives of my Minden Ward, Tower Division residents.
I also had the great privilege of becoming Mayor of St Edmundsbury Borough Council between 2014-15. While Mayor, I launched the Love to Read campaign, in which we invited grandparents and other people with free time to go into schools across the borough to read with pupils. Encouraging children and young people to take up reading from an early age is so important, not only because it can lead to greater opportunities, but also because it can be very enjoyable.
The next honour of my local government career is my appointment as Chairman of Suffolk County Council on 19 May 2022. This is a neutral, non-political, and non-executive role, which I will hold for one year, the main responsibility of which is the upholding of the council’s constitution. I will do this by presiding over council meetings, ensuring business is carried out efficiently, and maintaining a proper forum to debate local matters. It is also an ambassadorial role.
As Chairman, I will represent the Council at civic and ceremonial events, encourage greater partnership working with various private, public, and voluntary agencies, and act as an ambassador and champion for Suffolk generally. It will be my pleasure to represent the council across the whole of Suffolk, meeting as many residents and businesses as time will allow and promoting public involvement in council activities.
I have already had many engagements since my appointment two months ago. I was pleased to take part in the Jubilee Parade at the Suffolk Show and to attend the lighting of the beacon to celebrate the Jubilee at the Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds. On Suffolk Day, I attended the proclamation and Suffolk Medal Investiture at Framlingham Castle. In June, I put my sea legs to the test by joining one of the lifeboats in the Festival of the Sea flotilla, made up of more than 70 boats that set sail to cross the River Orwell and River Stour.
During their term of office, the Chairman chooses a charity to support, and I have chosen to support the Bury Deaf and Hard of Hearing Association. They offer support and advice for people with various levels of hearing impairment and help to put those who require specialist assistance in touch with the appropriate organisation. Please visit their website to find out more about the brilliant work they do.
I will also be looking for opportunities to support other worthy organisations and causes during the year. For example, I am also interested in promoting the universal dyslexia screening bill proposed by Matt Hancock. I have dyslexia myself and I know how important it is for children to have their dyslexia identified as early as possible so that they can get the support they need.
Finally, I want to encourage young adults to consider careers in local government. There are hundreds of paths available. Firefighters help to keep us safe, carers provide vital support to those who need it, and culture and library staff strengthen community life. There are careers available in public health, looking after our collective health and wellbeing; in town and county planning, shaping how local areas develop; and in our parks, protecting and enhancing our environment. A career in local government can be profoundly meaningful and rewarding.