Do you know? I wasn’t sure. And that was just the first of many questions I was asked by my team when I announced the Mayor of Watford was coming to visit We Are Acuity last week. Others were “How do we greet him?”, “Should we bow or curtsy”, “Will he be wearing a big chain?” & “Will he be able to fit his big car in the office car park?”.
The reality was I didn’t know the answers. It surprised me somewhat. Why didn’t I know more? It felt like something from the past perhaps. I knew the story of Dick Whittington becoming the Mayor of London. I’d been to the Lord Mayor’s Show at least once. But what did it all mean today to me & the team in Watford?
I decided to do a bit of research before the visit. This is what I discovered…
The Mayoralty originated way back in the 12th century. It’s regarded as one of the most ancient offices in British history.
The word "Mayor" derives from the Latin word "Magnus" which means great & was acknowledged as the "First Citizen" of the town in medieval times. He would have had a Council to assist him & would have been in charge of the towns civil and criminal courts.
But by the 20th century, with the advent of party politics as well as changes to the subdivision of the country for local government, the role of the mayor had changed to one that was more social & ceremonial. Mayors became appointed due to their long service to the council or some other local distinction & this is probably how most people perceive the role of the Mayor. Big chain, big car.
But Watford’s Mayor is different. How? Our Mayor is elected. Hang on I hear you say. I was just beginning to think I understood this local government thing. Well bear with me.
The subdivision of our country for local government is where things start to get really complicated. It’s probably why I really didn’t (& still probably don’t) fully understand how it all works. And of course, England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland all do things differently.
Division into Counties began in the Middle Ages. The manorial system of sub-division then turned into Parishes. Districts arrived in the 1890s. Current structures began in 1965. Districts could become Boroughs with the Local Government Act after 1972.
In 1974 #Watford became a Borough allowing the appointment of our own ‘local officers of dignity’. In May 2002 we led the way as the first town outside London to say 'yes' to an elected Mayor.
Whilst many councils have a civic mayor or chairman of the council who carries out ceremonial duties & chairs meetings, they can’t make decisions about council business. However, as Watford has an elected mayor, they’re responsible for the day-to-day running of local services. So, there you have it!
And that’s why we felt it so important to meet our Mayor. It’s crucial for local government and local business to be connected. The two have a symbiotic relationship. So thank you Peter Taylor and Cherie Norris for taking the time.
Or if you'd like to read more about Local Marketing have a look at our blog page "Local Thinking': https://www.weareacuity.com/local-thinking-our-blog