Farewell Message & Thank You from Bradley Stoke Town Mayor Tom Aditya (Weds 20th May)

“Dear honourable councillors, town clerk, colleagues, residents and friends,

I welcome you all to the Annual General Meeting of the Bradley Stoke Town Council. Today for the first time in history, we are meeting through this online Zoom platform. I don’t know much about the safety and security of this digital platform or its legality. However, I hope our Town Clerk will take care of those aspects well.

This year, we are in a very exceptional situation. We couldn’t distribute our Annual Reports to our residents nor could we summon our Annual Town Meeting. They were all cancelled or deferred due to the covid pandemic lockdown.

But this year have been the fastest year of my life! Twelve months have flown by. I knew that I was in for a hectic year because of my other responsibilities and assignments as Chair of an organization that works for inter-cultural and inter-faith community cohesion and social harmony as well as a member of the Avon and Somerset Police Strategic Advisory Group and the Bristol University Court. But the happenings in this year have been extraordinary.

I hope I was able to support and help the vibrant community of Bradley Stoke during this civic year. I would like to say a big thank you for all your help and support during this civic year. I very much appreciate the support you have offered me and your contributions and suggestions in running the Council meetings and committees as well as to the Bradley Stoke community as a whole. I also thank my children and family for their support and understanding, for their help in delivering my Mayoral duties. I really do believe that our administration has worked extremely hard to ensure Bradley Stoke benefits from superior services, cost effective practices and sensible decisions, making it a benchmark of this region.  

I am delighted to recall that owing to our intense requests, an amount of £250,000 has been earmarked to fund enhancement works at the Three Brooks Lake in Bradley Stoke. I am also glad to update that the re-development works at the Brook Way Activity Centre Site has been completed and is available for public use. It was symbolically inaugurated by me as Mayor, few days ago. Our efforts to address the traffic issues of our roads will continue. To resolve this issue on a long-term basis and to cope up with the increased traffic, I personally proposed to widen the Bradley Stoke Way into a four-lane road. Hope it will come to fruition later.

As I’m passionate about the community, I have tried to support and attend as many events and meetings as possible. I had the privilege of being the guest of honour of many events, receptions and engagements not only at the local level, but also at the regional and national levels. I was also invited to events abroad as well. Hence, the name of our town ‘Bradley Stoke’ has been heard many times amongst the international forums. Thanks to all the invitations. I have visibly felt the blend of diverse cultures and the sense of fraternity amongst all. We achieved much during the year, but there are many things which I couldn’t complete properly this year due to time constraints of the lockdown.

To conclude this civic year nicely, we had been preparing for the Senior Citizens Networking Tea party on the 24th of April, which was my humble initiative to tackle the issues of social isolation and loneliness that affect many in this town, as well as to provide a supporting networking link for the distressed. We were also planning to celebrate VE Day on the 8th of May with much community participation, engagement, games, parades and street parties. We were planning to incorporate all the schools, voluntary groups, community radio and community organisations in this town and nearby places to engage in that event. We were streaming various engagement programmes for individual schools as well. To make the event colourful and popular, I was also planning to invite some celebrities for that event. Likewise, I was also aiming to hold a multi-cultural, multifaith gathering in Bradley Stoke to promote social harmony and community cohesion as part of VE Day. But because of the coronavirus lockdown, we had to cancel all those programmes. It was disappointing to cancel all these plans, but we had no other way.

The coronavirus has changed many of our lives. These days, I am juggling interactions with many stranded international visitors and students, especially from the ethnic minorities. Their condition is very distressing. As I am part of a few community initiatives, we are helping many in difficult situations around the UK. We are arranging free accommodation and food. It is a big task. After putting pressure on their embassies and governments, luckily, many of those stranded are now getting tickets for their repatriation flights and I hope things will be better soon.

In the midst of this lockdown travel ban, I was able to airlift a seriously ill cancer patient from Nottingham to India and was able to help save his life. It was big news in the Indian media and TV. With news coverage that reached more than 1.3 billion people in India, we received a lot of praise. Even though the role of Town Mayor is insignificant in the international realms, it appears to act as a good door-opener for helping those in distress in the community, not just locally, but also far and wide. Bradley Stoke Town Council and all of you have an important share in this.  

As you may have noticed, many of the NHS doctors and nurses are from the Kerala community, which I belong to. Hundreds amongst them have caught coronavirus from their work. Some of them had only mild virus symptoms and have recovered. Unfortunately, twenty-seven of our group members have passed away.  I am personally helping families of those who are sick in hospitals. There are a number of such families. For the last 45 days, two of my close friends are on ventilators. I am liaising with the ICU clinical teams. Hence, the life has been stressful most of this time during this lockdown.

During the lockdown, I have had phone contact with Sharon and Del in order to coordinate things needed for our Town Council. Thanks to Sharon and all members of the staff for their support. When the epidemic broke out, I was thinking of opening a telephone help-desk from our Council to signpost help and advice. But I realised that other voluntary organisations are already doing this in other forms, and therefore I stepped back from that move. However, other voluntary organizations which I am involved are still continuing that mission.

Even though our country rolled out the best economic package possible to help people, as well as swiftly built up many hospitals and testing centres, we could have done better if there was coordinated activity to stop the spread of the virus, involving all kinds of public organisations from the national level to the grassroots level. I feel that our country could have been better off if we had early intervention techniques such as screening of incoming passengers at airports and entry points, corona hotspot travel-bans, mandatory quarantining of all incoming travellers, tracking, tracing and mapping using digital platforms of all corona patients and people who had physical contacts with them, and quicker dispensation of proper medical care to all patients. May the world recover from this pandemic soon. I pay my respects to all those who have lost their lives due to this epidemic. I hope time will heal the wounds that formed during this pandemic.

Many councils including the South Glos Council postponed their AGM and some councils like Bristol City Council have made arrangements for the existing civic officials to continue. I feel that we should also have postponed our AGM towards the first week of June, as it is presumed that the government may ease down the lockdown by that time with ‘safer social distancing methods’ and ‘controlled gathering techniques’. If so, it would have helped me to proficiently hand over the Mayoral Chain to my successor as well as to easily give out cheques to this year’s charities. I thank all who had supported the Mayoral charities during the last year. Let me give my profound greetings to my successors. As Town Clerk explained to me, we will arrange a proper handing over ceremony immediately after the lockdown.

I would like to conclude my farewell speech with these three thoughts for our town and its future.

Firstly, we must always be guided by the standard of excellence.  That is, we have the responsibility to seek excellence in everything we do. We must look well into the future and ask ourselves if what we are considering will be deemed excellent in 25, 50 or even 100 years from now. As the Athenian Oath states, we have a duty to leave our town not only as beautiful, but more beautiful than we found it.

Secondly, the long march for racial understanding and justice is not finished. Yes, we achieved much. And I am thankful for the magnanimity and goodwill of all those who had assimilated the changes and was ready to recognize people like me in the public sphere here. But still, I could perceive issues of racial prejudices and cultural misunderstandings amongst a few. We must do more and work harder to better understand, love, care for and respect each other.

Thirdly, we are at the dawn of a new age that is confronted with the coronavirus pandemic. It is every citizen’s duty to heal and protect.  As the old African proverb states, we did not inherit our land from our ancestors, we hold it in trust for future generations.  

Even though stepping down from the Mayoral role, I am available to offer help and support. Please feel free to call upon me if I can be of any help.

As my final act as Mayor, I am glad to inform that an amount of £8,237.23 had been raised for the Mayor’s charity over the past year, which will be split equally between the three organisations: The Great Western Air Ambulance Charity, the National Autistic Society-South Glos branch and the BMFF Blood and Organ Donation campaign. I symbolically handover that amount to the representatives of the respective organisations through this online digital platform now.

Thanks once again. Please take care and stay safe.”

Cllr Tom Aditya, Mayor of Bradley Stoke 2019-2020

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