This year has been a strange one for me to say the least, from being re-elected to being asked to become Faversham’s Deputy Mayor… for someone who is more used to pulling pints or making an Oat milk Cappuccino it’s certainly a step in a very different direction to wearing a chain of office.
The question I have been asked more than any this year is why? Why did I want to become a councillor? Why did I take the role of deputy mayor? Well, I guess from my point of view the question is more why not!
At 32 I am the youngest person ever to hold the title of Deputy Mayor of Faversham and admittedly you are more likely to see me in a Newcastle United shirt, jeans and pair of Doc Martens than a suit (although I can scrub up when needed) do trust me the honour of holding this position hasn’t passed me by, we have had many great mayors and deputy mayors over the years, but since I moved here in 2013 I have never felt that a mayor or deputy mayor has represented me, not in as a person of Faversham but as someone who is younger, someone who at times has struggled to pay rent or someone who has questioned if they may need to use a food bank at some point or sadly one of the thousands of younger people who suffer from servere depression and struggled to talk about it for years until it gets too much.
I want to be a councillor and deputy mayor who people can approach and talk about anything, I have been open and honest with my struggles and have found Faversham to be so accepting of someone being open and honest about their struggles, but also have found by being open and honest myself that others have approached me and spoken openly for what they say is the first time about struggles they have been or are going through. I hope that starting this culture of openness means those people can be more open and start their own conversations.
I understand that being either Mayor or Deputy Mayor means you can’t be party political while in official capacity, but I will still be political calling out the issues I see and have experienced in Faversham, trying to give those who traditionally don’t feel they are represented by the Town Council a voice and will use that voice to shout at any level of government to get the best for all Faversham residents.
Since being re-elected and inducted as Deputy Mayor I have been re-selected to chair the Town Council’s Community Committee and continued the work on the £30,000 investment in youth the Town Council has committed to, looking at how we can improve youth provision across Faversham. Working with local organisations and residents’ groups to improve Faversham and how we can bring our community together.
One or the campaigns I am most pleased we have taken on as a committee is one, one of our younger residents has bought to us, asking the Town Council to explore the possibility of a pump track being built in Faversham, this is a campaign that I will stress is not ours but one started by one of our younger residents and we are doing all we can to support this campaign by sharing their petition online, and writing to Swale Borough Council to ask for their help in this campaign.
Outside of council work I am proud to have worked with my colleagues in Abbey ward to actively work with and mobilise the local community to stop the planning application for Abbey Fields, which was a great community success down to years of hard work of local residents and councillors alike.
The rest of this year looks exciting as both a Councillor and Deputy Mayor with exciting events and activities across the year to come.
If you see me around town feel free to say hi and have a chat, and if you want to chat about anything in this blog please feel free to email me email@example.com
Councillor Josh Rowlands
Deputy Mayor of Faversham