Message of thanks to Calderdale Mayor after two years at the helm

Easing of restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic brought Calderdale councillors into the historic, splendid surroundings of Halifax Minster where the authority’s mayor-making and Annual Council event could be held in person, allowing social distancing.

Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 3:00 pm
Councillor Dot Foster

Introducing the event, Canon Hilary Barber reminded councillors the Minster is 900 years old and the event reflected early days when the church’s nave was effectively the town square, where the weekly market took place alongside the administration of law and order and political meetings.

Using the Minster had allowed the full council to meet in person for the first time in 14 months, during which Coun Dot Foster (Lab, Sowerby Bridge) had continued in the role of Mayor for a second year because of the pandemic.

After appointing her successor, Coun Chris Pillai (Con, Rastrick), councillors thanked Coun Foster for all she had done during this time, including the last year as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

Coun Foster said: “It has been quite a journey, but it is wonderful to see so many here today.

“When I was first appointed in 2019 I knew I would be in for quite a remarkable year.

“I had no idea I would still be Mayor in 2021 – I was correct in my assumption it would be eventful.

“It seems almost surreal how we crowded together without a second thought and I hope it’s not too long before we can do so again, although it might be some time away,” she said.

Coun Foster had a first year packed with events, less so the second year because of the pandemic.

A definite highlight came very near the start of her first year, when thousands watched her unveil the memorial to the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment at Woolships in Halifax town centre.

“The occasion was perfect,” she said.

That whirlwind first week set the tone for a very busy year packed with a variety of events including town twinning engagements, such as when Halifax’s Remembrance event was followed a week later by one in Aachen, Germany.

Towards the end of that first year the granting of the Freedom of Calderdale to television director and dramatist Sally Wainwright was another big event.

Then, said Coun Foster, “the world came to a juddering halt” with the pandemic, from which we are inching our way out of.

Coun Megan Swift (Lab, Town) proposing the vote of thanks to Coun Foster, said it seemed an awful long time since she proposed Coun Foster as candidate for Mayor and “none of us could have imagined what was to come” with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Her most significant was probably her first, with the unveiling of the statute honouring the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment.

“When Dot spoke about the Dukes and their connection to Halifax, she did the town proud,” said Coun Swift.

Seconding the proposal, Coun Adam Wilkinson (Lab, Sowerby Bridge) recalled the cycling event for her mayoral charities at Halifax’s Piece Hall, which Coun Foster had said had been one of her highlights.

Proposing a vote of thanks to Deputy Mayor Coun Angie Gallagher (Lab, Elland), Coun Victoria Porritt (Lab, Elland) said she had not only undertaken civic duties but in the last 12 months often followed them with a busy shift as a supermarket key worker.

“She has represented the best of Calderdale for the last two years,” said Coun Porritt.

Coun Gallagher said it had been a privilege to represent Calderdale at every event she had been invited to, creating some lasting memories, and learning how important the work of volunteers who organised things was to Calderdale.