Here are my remarks this evening to my last meeting of Brighton & Hove City Council after having been presented the LGiU Judges’ Special Award for Contribution to Local Government by the Mayor.
It has been a huge privilege and honour to serve on this council for the past eight years and as your leader for these past three years. I believe I leave the city and our council are in a better condition than it was four years ago.
We don’t always agree, nor should we, it is in debating our differences that we have represented our city as the tough decisions have been made.
But I am in no doubt that you are all here because you want to make a difference. I very much hope that continues with whoever the next 54 councillors of this city will be in May. I also hope that the good grace and humour with which we usually treat each other can continue – our common passion for the city, in putting city before politics is what should unite us.
The next council faces an incredible prospect, bittersweet in many ways. Budget cuts continuing beyond what any modern councillor has experienced. No councillor would have wished to deal with such significant and unrelenting budget pressures. Yet at the same time few could have dreamed that finally devolution could be moving so quickly after such a long wait. Juggling those two changes will I’m sure be challenging, exciting and hugely important for our future.
As your leader I have had the privilege to attend a number of events and conferences in the UK and Europe which have always left me with a clear impression: Brighton is a global city, one which has a fantastically good and strong reputation around the world. Every mayor I have met knows Brighton and most have visited. Treasure this, few cities our size have anything like the reputation or recognition we do.
Also we are all fortunate to have an incredible cadre of officers working for us. True public servants who work so hard with such passion, integrity, creativity and talent. Let’s keep nurturing them and showing our appreciation.
I’m extraordinarily grateful for the privilege you have bestowed on me in being your leader these past few years. I have done my best to serve this city and the council in all that I have done. Any achievements and progress I have made for our collective endeavour has only been possible due to one person who very fortunately is here with us today: My wife Ania who through her endless love, advice and support has made me able to do what I have done. Thank you.
Colleagues, I wish you all the best, thank you once again. Good luck for the future. In me you will have a lifelong champion for the great city of Brighton & Hove.