A COUNCILLOR who has served her town for almost 20 years has taken on the role of mayor for the first time – following in her father’s footsteps.
Edwina Hannaford first joined Looe Town Council in 2003, and quickly established herself as someone who would pitch in and contribute as much as possible to projects large and small.
She’s been involved in hundreds of activities and events, from tidying up neglected pathways to helping galvanise the team behind the Looe Live music festival.
Edwina has also represented her ward of Looe West, Lansallos, Pelynt and Lanteglos on Cornwall Council for some years, rising to leader of the Liberal Democrat group and taking on various responsibilities in the county’s senior cabinet, including most recently portfolio holder for climate change.
Now, as mayor of Looe, Edwina says that her priorities will be: listening to residents; involving young people in decisions affecting the town; giving Looe businesses a voice; working with partner organisations to support residents; and focusing on doing the basics well so that Looe is a clean, well-cared for town for everyone to enjoy.
Speaking at the annual and town meeting in Looe, Edwina said that she owed much to all the previous mayors that she’s worked with on the council. These include most recently Martin Gregory, who was thanked by fellow councillors for his three years in post which took in the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19.
Edwina is proud to take up the mayoral chains that her own father, Colin Shore, wore when he was leader of the Town Council between 1996 and 1998.
She describes learning a lot about how local politics worked from her father, who passed away at the age of 90 in 2016.
“Dad and mum would be brimming with pride at this moment and I’m really sad they haven’t lived to see this day,” she said. “They taught me about public service, about putting others first, about civic pride and of course our mutual love of Looe.
“Dad and I did serve together on the Town Council for three years.
“Our home discussions were not so much about national party politics – he never gave away which party he voted for – but about local issues of the day: economic development, the environment, local improvements, parking, tourism impacts, cleanliness of the street. All the same topics we talk about now.
“My father was always very supportive of my political career and offered advice when asked. Dad’s strength was his approachability: he listened to people and was very interested in people. He wanted to help make people’s lives a little better and improve his adopted home town of 60 plus years. He would get his hands dirty, litter pick and sweep up when he saw something that needed doing. He helped provide the Millenium Beacon on the Wooldown and represented the town outside Looe.”
Edwina now plans to take these principles forward in her own way: as mayor she has pledged to work hard, to listen to others’ views, and to work collaboratively with others in a ‘one town, one team’ approach.
She says she’ll also endeavour not to speak quite so much – a tough one, she admits!
She’s exploring the idea of a Looe newsletter, to be delivered straight into people’s homes, town council surgeries, appointing a young advisor to the mayor, and cultivating a local Business Forum.
“I fear things are going to get tougher with the cost of living crisis so we have to be here for Looe – all of Looe,” said the new mayor.
“In any successful organisation, whether is a multi-national business or a football club, it’s all about teamwork, working collaboratively, supportively and respectfully, all knowing they are moving in the same direction.”
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