Knaresborough’s first-ever Green mayor will begin his new role officially tonight, Friday at the annual Mayor-Making ceremony.
Mayor Elect Coun Bill Rigby of The Green Party will be at the centre of this traditional ceremony in front of invited guests, dignitaries, local councillors and representatives of local groups and organisations.
His wife, Shan Oakes, who who stood as The Green Party parliamentary candidate for Harrogate and Knaresborough at the General Election, will be Mayor's Consort while the deputy mayor will be Lib Dem Coun David Goode.
It’s usually a busy job - the mayor’s events vary from local community events to the formal Remembrance Day ceremonies to hosting important visitors to Knaresborough or representing Knaresborough to other communities whether close neighbours or the European ‘twin’ town of Bebra in Germany.
But Coun Rigby, a retired consultant and teacher in education, said he wanted to bring a more relaxed style to his 12 months in the role.
Bill said: “I want events we organise to be as relaxed and pleasurable as possible. There are so many good groups in Knaresborough with good ideas. My role is to encourage them all.”
A vigorous campaigner for issues on the the environment and justice, Bill and his wife Shan run an eco-holiday house in York which promotes sustainable living.
Bill is one of two Green Party councillors. The other is Liz Collins, long standing resident and trader in Knaresborough who used to run Giraffe, the dress shop in the Market Square, now run by her daughter, Bo, and called CALF.
But the town’s new mayor sees his role as being above politics.
He said: “The mayor should act as a facilitator for everyone and encourage progress across a wide range of issues in the town. This is something previous mayors have also been keen to do and have done so well.
“The whole of Knaresborough Town Council works well together. All the parties are represented.”
Bill, who lives at Tentergate Road in Knaresborough, may not be from Knaresborough originally but he is very proud of the town.
He said: “I want to remind the world that Harrogate is an upstart newcomer compared to Knaresborough. Historically, it was a minor part of the original community here.
“Although the town council has modest resources, it tries to maintain the town’s distinctive identity which events like the Bed Race already give it.”
In terms of some of his bigger aims, among a welter of causes he hopes to support, Knaresborough’s new mayor is particularly keen on making progress in two long-term areas - a performance space in the Castle Grounds and developing a renewable energy scheme on the Nidd for hydro power.