Chorley's mayor abandons role for this year - and hopes for a better 2021
The current mayor of Chorley will get a second year in the role after coronavirus all but destroyed the calendar of ceremonial and fundraising duties that usually comes with the job.
Veteran Chorley councillor Steve Holgate was sworn in back in June - but his time as the borough’s first citizen has since been as untraditional as the largely online ceremony which saw him installed with few of the normal niceties and little by way of fanfare.
At the time, he pledged to make the most of the role - and still make as much money as he could for charity - within the obvious limitations imposed by social distancing.
While Cllr Holgate can lay claim to some successes, very little in-person activity has been feasible - and the second national lockdown finally put paid to any attempt to keep calm and carry on.
A meeting of Chorley Council has now unanimously supported a move to suspend the community aspects of the role until next May - by which time it is hoped that a fuller mayoral schedule may be a more realistic prospect.
“I don’t like to give up on anything, but if you’re going to do the role justice, you have got to give it your all - and Covid has just made it impossible,” said Cllr Holgate.
“I did what I could to get out and about over the summer when the first lockdown was lifted - and I regularly went into the town centre and spoke to shoppers and traders - I was trying to lead by example.
“I also launched a 'digital mayor' Facebook page - that has been quite successful and I wouldn’t be surprised if it continues. You do get to interact with different people than you would if you were solely meeting dignitaries and charities, as important as they are.
“But I’m delighted to have been given the opportunity to fulfil the role in a more traditional way next year - if Covid co-operates.”
In spite of the restrictions placed on him by the pandemic, Cllr Holgate did manage to raise £1,000 for one of his chosen charities - St. Catherine’s Hospice - by accompanying his family on a moonlit sponsored walk.
The remaining unspent mayoral allowance could also now be added to Cllr Holgate’s charitable pot for all four of the organisations he wishes to support - the other three being Inspire Youth Zone, wellbeing charity Chorley Sheds and Green Living Chorley.
“The demand on charities is so much greater at the moment, just at the time when their income has dried up - and it’s vital they can keep going,” Cllr Holgate said.
He will retain his role as chair of the borough’s full council meetings and would still represent Chorley on the national stage in the unlikely event that he was called upon to do so in the coming months.
“Maybe if there’s a royal wedding,” he laughed.