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Author: Mayor Jo Hodges

Mayor’s Week: 1 – 7 August 2020

Mayor’s Week: 1 – 7 August 2020

Has anyone tried the Government scheme Eat Out to Help Out?  Dave and I did on Monday. It was not planned and we had forgotten it came into force on that day, but we were having breakfast in a Premier Inn where we had been staying for a few nights and when we were settling the bill to pay for the breakfast, two of us ate for the price of one. A rather nice ending to a spontaneous break of a few days near the sea.

If you get the chance please take advantage of the scheme, because as well as helping you by paying for half your bill it also helps the cafes and restaurants who badly need our custom to retain their businesses.

I am delighted to discover that Worcestershire Community Foundation, who have been supporting community groups and charities across the county during the COVID19 pandemic, have distributed £400,000 to 125 organisations county-wide since March 2020. These include foodbanks, hospices, community centres, homeless centres and volunteer groups. WCF has also raised £20,000 of local funding from individuals, businesses and local trusts.

We all hope that this support of Worcestershire communities will continue long into the future, so if you feel that as an individual or as a business you can donate to this fund please go to www.worcscf.org.uk

During my few days away, I realised that you can get a break from home and see different surroundings without endangering yourself or others. It is so important to remember the advice we have all been following since March to wash your hands frequently, stay socially distanced by one metre plus, avoid enclosed spaces where possible and wear your face where required, including in shops and on public transport.

We live in a beautiful country and many people are staying safe by holidaying in the UK this year. As coronavirus cases start rising in some areas of the UK it is vital that each one of us does not endanger ourselves or others by our actions. Let’s keep Worcester a safe place in which to live and visit.

 

Mayor’s Week: 26 – 31 July 2020

Mayor’s Week: 26 – 31 July 2020

This is turning out to be strange year as far as being Mayor is concerned.  When I became Deputy Mayor in May 2019, I realised that traditionally it could result in me being made Mayor in May 2020 – and I would probably be very busy up until May 2021. I expected that that I wouldn’t have time to take a holiday and anticipated a busy but very happy and satisfying year of mayoral activities. How different life in the Parlour has turned out to be.

I am actually taking a short break and as I write this, the sun is shining and I am looking forward to a reprise from Council work.  I have a few engagements in the diary alongside my committee work and other responsibilities in my ward and for other organisations.  However, life is much quieter than I ever thought it would be.

Exciting things are going on at Worcester City Council with the Future High Street Fund submission, which we hope will see us awarded up to £25m for renovations and improvements to our city centre area.  I am pleased to be a member of the Policy and Resources committee which met on Tuesday to oversee the bid and how the money will be spent. Potentially, it is something which Worcester can look forward to.

The Guildhall is open for visitors; 15 people are allowed in at a time, and the Tourist Information Centre is open too, so come along and see us and let’s try to bring some life back into the city centre.  The Guildhall attendants are organising a Welcome Back Worcester showcase from Monday 3 August in the Guildhall forecourt so that the Council, Worcester Festival and Freedom Leisure can show what they have been doing since lockdown was eased.  It’s worth a visit and will help to bring Worcester back to its pre-coronavirus days.

Please take care and keep yourselves safe, think of your neighbours and keep them safe too, and remember one day this will all be over and we will return to normal life.

MAYOR’S WEEK: 19 – 25 JULY 2020

MAYOR’S WEEK: 19 – 25 JULY 2020

The Mayor cuts the ribbon to re-open the Museum of Royal Worcester
The Mayor cuts the ribbon to re-open the Museum of Royal Worcester. L to R: Museum Director, Sophie Heath; Sir Michael Perry, Chair of Trustees; Cllr Jo Hodges, Mayor of Worcester; trustee Debbie Birch with children Alice and Danny

The gradual return to normality is underway and tourist destinations are once again open and ready to receive visitors, albeit in a reduced way. I welcome this step forward in the long slow recovery and wish our own attractions such as The Commandery and the Art Gallery and Museum good luck and hope their visitor numbers are recovering.

With this in mind, it was particularly enjoyable on Friday to celebrate the re-opening of the Museum of Royal Worcester. I had the opportunity to chat with staff and volunteers about the museum which is actually housed in the building that was my primary school. Several of my extended family worked at Royal Worcester in the manufacture and decoration of the world-famous china. We are so proud of our porcelain in Worcester and that it used to be made only yards from the Guildhall. I was delighted to be able to take part in a Favourite Object campaign in which I was able to speak about a favourite piece from the museum’s fabulous collection.

I attended a meeting of the trustees of Worcester Community Trust (WCT) this week and I am amazed that the trust has been able to reach so many people all over Worcester during the period of lockdown. It may have been the delivery of a care package to someone who was unable to get out of their home, or help for someone suffering domestic abuse, or contact with someone who was lonely and felt they had no-one to turn to, but for each case WCT was there to provide support and assistance. Thank you so much to all those kind and caring volunteers and staff at WCT and also to all Worcester people involved in other organisations who have gone out of their way to make the life of others comfortable and bearable. Thank you so much for all you have done.

As we emerge from this period of our lives, we at the Guildhall are positive about the future and already thinking about and planning for the months ahead. I hope you are too, but please remember that the virus is still with us and just as deadly and wear your mask whenever you are in a shop or enclosed space to protect others.

Mayor’s Week: 12 – 18 July 2020

Mayor’s Week: 12 – 18 July 2020

It’s business as usual at Worcester City Council.  On Tuesday evening I chaired a full Council zoom meeting attended by all 35 councillors, senior officers, two judges and a member of the public.  Council agreed to make His Honour Judge Burbidge the Honorary Recorder for Worcester after the retirement of the present incumbent, His Honour Judge Jukes.  We debated four motions which councillors brought to the meeting and approved five reports from committees.  It was a productive evening’s work and shows that in spite of the difficulties we are all experiencing, we can still carry on our business as usual.

I was very pleased to video the opening speech for the “Worcester Festival 2020 – Virtually the Same” which will take place in August.  Chris Jaeger presented me with a festival peacock (rather smaller than the one we have become accustomed to seeing around town at festival time).  Chris has some super ideas for events on line as well as a limited number of live events so please join in on the festival website (www.worcesterfestival.co.uk) and enjoy competitions, workshops and fun activities.

On Friday morning I joined Mr. Tofiq Malik at the Elgar Retail Park to open the Wren Kitchen showrooms.  I was very pleased to be able to cut the ribbon to open the showrooms and celebrate with the owner this new opportunity for jobs and a boost to the economy.  It is a very positive step in the recovery from our present economic difficulties.  I then came into town and Dave and I joined our friend Robin at a birthday barbecue taking place at his block of flats.  Thank you for inviting us, Robin.

I hope everyone is preparing for the new rule of wearing a mask when in shops or supermarkets which will be introduced on Friday 24th July.  I knew the masks I made myself in the early days of lockdown would prove useful.

State schools broke up for the summer holidays yesterday – so now our schoolchildren are officially on holiday.  Most have worked really hard during the three or four months of lockdown to keep up with their education. Good luck to all of you in your future studies.