A day in the life of Havering’s Mayor
09:00 30 August 2014
For the Mayor of Havering, there’s no such thing as a typical day. Most will be filled with three or four engagements plus casework and meetings – taking up as many as 365 days a year.
Cllr Linda Trew was appointed to the position in June and will be the borough’s civic and ceremonial head for 12 months.
Award ceremonies, charity fundraisers, public events, business openings and raising money for her chosen charities are regular items on her agenda.
Discussing a school prize-giving, she said: “I go and give out prizes and talk to the children, which I love doing. I think it’s so important and I find, when we do anything with children, it really seems to make an impression. Children come to the chamber and ask questions like, ‘Do you live in a palace?’ ‘How many cars do you have?’”
On one day, a school ceremony was followed by a visit to Havering & Brentwood Bereavement Service before a meeting and exhibition at the London Film Museum.
The next day was filled with meetings and the casework every councillor undertakes, as well as a visit to Westminster to discover what is expected of London’s mayors.
“My husband was told he should walk three paces behind me – that was interesting,” said Cllr Trew.
“I’m supposed to sit behind the driver. That goes back years to when I might have been assassinated.
“They also went through what you should wear. They like gloves and they say you should always have a hat in the boot of the car.”
I noted that this image of grandeur did not match the woman in front of me.
Cllr Trew replied: “It’s really down to the individual. You have some mayors who stick to the protocol and may be austere. I’m not like that, but I really value the tradition of it.
“When the children come in, I portray how important it is because this is their heritage.”
For Cllr Trew, the most important role of her year in office is promoting the borough of Havering.
“Being mayor, you can use your clout. You can say to other mayors, ‘Come along and support us’.”
Cllr Trew receives invitations to hundreds of events each year and tries to attend them all – with the deputy mayor standing in if she is unavailable.
Many of these events involve the voluntary sector and she explained the importance of its role.
“I was really surprised how many volunteers there are. Because of my year as deputy mayor I had an inkling, but it’s phenomenal.
“Without our voluntary sector this borough would come to a standstill because we do not have the money to do what’s needed.”
One of the more nerve-racking aspects of the mayoralty is chairing meetings of the council.
During her second meeting in the chair, Cllr Trew had to use her gavel to bring order to the chamber.
She said: “It’s a responsibility. I’m always mindful that we are being televised. I’m thinking we have residents at home that are thinking, ‘they are all idiots’ – I tried my hardest to keep it level. I have already had a conversation with the chief executive and the leader and said we have to do something that doesn’t allow a meeting to be monopolised.”
The mayoralty is a diverse and busy role that Cllr Trew described as “taking a year out of life”.
She added: “To my way of thinking, the whole thing is raising the profile of Havering.”