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Author: Mayor Allah Ditta

Mayor’s Week: 27 March – 3 April 2020

Mayor’s Week: 27 March – 3 April 2020

The majority of us are approaching the end of a second week of staying at home.  We are gradually developing new routines and different ways of keeping in touch with one another, where face to face conversation isn’t an option.

As by nature we humans are a fairly social species, staying at home can be really challenging.  It may sometimes also feel that being at home = doing nothing constructive.  But I do want to urge you all to stay with it – because for every day that you follow the guidance and socially distance yourselves from others, you are indirectly helping to save at least one person’s life.

My heart goes out to everyone who has lost a loved one during this crisis.  This virus will only continue spreading from person to person if we let it – we are all in the front line fighting this same battle.

Of course, many people who are running essential services to keep Worcester functioning do not have the option to stay at home.  In addition to all the amazing staff at the NHS, I’d like to thank all City Council staff who are working hard to collect our bins, keep areas clean, make sure homeless people have a roof over their head and make sure our hard-hit businesses get the support they need.  Their roles may not be as visible as those in our hospitals, but their work is nevertheless vital.

In times of crisis, our city has and I believe always will come together.  The last few weeks have seen thousands of individual acts of kindness take place in Worcester.  Whether you’ve been able to buy a loaf of bread for a neighbour, chatted to someone in isolation or waited patiently in a queue to pick up someone’s medication, you have played a part in this city’s recovery.  We can and will get through this – and when we do, our communities will be even stronger as a result.  Keep it up, citizens of Worcester!  And for now, Stay at Home – and Stay Safe.

Mayor’s Week: 6 – 13 March 2020

Mayor’s Week: 6 – 13 March 2020

It’s been one of those weeks that I wish had included a couple of extra days, instead of the usual seven – a comment I make both on account of the number of engagements and the satisfaction that stemmed from them.

Bollywood it wasn’t, but on Thursday I turned into a film star for a video to promote Polish Independence Day:  soon to be seen a screen near you!

I was delighted, too, to mark the achievement of Kevin Haines and Mark Bates, two gentlemen who’ve served a total of half a century with the City Council’s Operational Services team.

It’s a bleak day when you don’t learn something new – and the news that the 49th Regiment of Foot, an infantry unit raised in 1743 (later the Worcestershires), fired the first shots in what became the American War of Independence.  I learned this snippet at a dinner held to commemorate the 250th Anniversary of the Boston Massacre.

A particular privilege of being Mayor is the pleasure of showing youngsters (and sometimes not quite so youngsters) some of the Guildhall’s mysteries – three times this week, my guests being students from RGS Springfield and New College, and two high-profile Palestinian ladies.

Two large-scale civic events also dominated the week – Kidderminster Mayor David Ross’s glitzy Ball held in the Town Hall on Friday and the Annual civic service in Gloucester Cathedral and reception in the Guildhall.  For some reason, both times I found myself humming ‘Nobody Does It Better’ and thinking of Worcester.

Another annual event that goes from strength to strength is the National Careline Retirement Show that I had the privilege of opening on Saturday, but I have to say that Sight Concern’s ‘Walk the Mile Blindfold’ initiative, planned for next month but for which I took part in a pre-publicity photoshoot on Tuesday, is particularly poignant.  The week’s other engagements included the Bishop Lloyd Charity’s governors’ meeting, a 90th birthday celebration and an induction event for new Council staff.

I can’t sign-off this week without a word on the hot topic of the day: Coronavirus.  Please heed all the warnings, and stay safe.

Mayor’s Week: 28 February – 5 March 2020

Mayor’s Week: 28 February – 5 March 2020

Now where was I…?

Ah yes, mayoral duties left in the very capable hands of my deputy, Cllr Jo Hodges – who, I have on the very best authority, did a splendid job in my absence: thanks, Jo.

As for me, I went back to Kashmir for a week as I’d wanted to see at first hand the effects of the earthquake that devastated so much of the country – and it is far worse up close up than you could ever see in the media.

I must confess that I was quite unprepared for the sights we – that is, myself and Council Leader Marc Bayliss, could have imagined (both of us, I should add, paid for the trip ourselves).

Worcester is home to a number of Kashmiri families, not one of which has not been personally hard-hit by the disaster.  This is precisely why I set up my emergency fund initiative to help those who have been worst affected.

Before I left, the crucial topic of the day was Worcester’s floods:  and when I returned, it still was!

My first two engagements were affected by the direst conditions I can recall: I was stuck in standstill traffic on Carrington Bridge, watching the time come and go for my appointment at the Inspire Neurocare Grand Opening event.  I’m relieved to say that this will be re-scheduled for later this year.  Later on the same day, crisis-hit Bewdley was forced to cancel its much-anticipated Tenbury’s Got Talent show, due to unprecedented flooding in the town.

My third post-break engagement fared no better, either.  Due to what can only be described as an unfortunate communication breakdown, I also inadvertently missed Sunday’s ABF Soldiers Charity Annual Curry Lunch at Dancox House.  To realise that I’d missed an appointment scheduled for two hours earlier came as a serious jolt – and I was still feeling very contrite during the Worcestershire Civic Service at the Cathedral that evening and into the next day, as Sabira Mollah of Unity Arts and I checked progress on the Mayor’s Banquet, taking place on 1 May.



Nothing that I’ve done this week – indeed, throughout my entire mayoral year so far – can have made a fraction of the impact of the week’s Big News.

Of course, I’m referring to the floods, and my thoughts are with everyone who’s been affected.  And let’s face it, that means us ALL.

Whether or not it’s down to environment change nobody can know for sure, but one initiative that earned my respect this week was the WASUP (World Against Single Use Plastic) clean-up operation on the canal when the message was forcefully pushed home: that we can no longer expect somebody else to take responsibility for the future of our planet. We must all do our bit.

It’s been an exceptionally busy time, including a meeting with representatives of my four charities to discuss more fund-raising activities; and hosting more than a hundred students from Freiherr-vom-Stein Gymnasium from our twin town of Kleve.

I also witnessed one of the most inspiring presentations I’ve heard in many a long year: an appraisal of the Government’s long-term People Plan for the NHS and integrated health and social care, delivered by Professor David Croisdale-Appleby at the University’s Riverside Building.  Every word struck a chord with me.

The weather once more played its dead hand on an occasion that would otherwise have proved a very welcome highlight: Worcester Re-Enactors re-living various stages in the city’s history at the annual Living History pageant.

Meanwhile, I do so hope that the Reverend Darren Smith’s Love the Arboretum event celebrating all aspects of life in this vibrant quarter of the city, will be become an annual feature.

And so to more mundane things. Monday’s briefing ahead of the full City Council meeting on Tuesday proved a muted affair as the weather and its impact had led to the postponing of much of the agenda to next month, with just the constitutional necessities up for discussion.

As for me, I’m taking a week off, with mayoral duties left in the very capable hands of my deputy, Cllr. Jo Hodges. Bye for now.