Bristol Green Party Logo

Monday, 4th Jun 2018

Green Lord Mayor Cleo Lake's acceptance speech

Cleo Lake - Lord Mayor of Bristol inauguration Speech (22/5/18)

Elders, Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Fellow Councillors, Council staff and all the distinguished guests, family and friends, may I begin by thanking you Cllr Leslie Alexander, now Deputy Lord Mayor, not only for serving Bristol well in your year, but more personally for allowing me to join you and shadow you on a number of engagements, and for giving me some handy tips. I look forward to continuing to work together here and there over the year.

But what is a Lord Mayor? My earliest memory of Lord Mayor can be seen in this photo. I can’t remember who the Lord Mayor was at the time but I was no more than 4 when they visited my nursery school. We made the three cornered hats and large golden paper chains donned round our necks. We looked more like like a motley crew of Bristol pirates, and I guess that’s what most people think of when they think of the Lord Mayor, no not pirates but the chain the robe and possibly the triangle hat with black feathers. Cllr Alexander did mention that school children do ask where’s your hook?!

In fact being Lord Mayor is of course a huge privilege and responsibility – it’s a role of representing the city, of being Bristol’s ‘first citizen’ for a year. I’d like to thank some of the people who got me here – my parents Anne Cormack nee Campbell and my father Melbourne Hezekiah Lake. And the teachers who helped me – those at the nursery, and those who followed at Easton Road Primary Mr Hills and Mrs Willgress and Miss Pinner. Education plays such an important part in helping us reach for the future – I was lucky enough to be exposed to varied ideas, experiences and cultures which enabled me and my classmates (one of which is my Lady Mayoress Bianca Durrant) to travel in our imaginations. I recall our head teacher playing a plethora of classical music at most assemblies - Fanfare for the Common Man comes to mind, I enjoyed country dancing, and one teacher, Mr Hills – a man with a beard, long brown hair brown, brown cords, plaid shirt and sandals with socks,  played the guitar and sang us Caribbean songs like ‘tingo layo’ whilst playing the guitar, and read us Anancy stories. My secondary school of which I had made up my mind to attend from the age of 5, from the school currently known as Colston Girls I wish in particular to thank and give credit to Mrs Hook and Mr Butcher.

I grew up in Easton and enjoyed a great community spirit – from sharing delicious food with our next door neighbours, the Kaliks, at Eid, to enjoying the reggae played by Mr Jimmy at all hours across the road on a Saturday night – this was in a pre noise pollution monitoring or ASBOs era; Mrs Clark and her sister two dear pensioners spoiling us with treats at Christmas, the comforting sound of Bristolian being spoken loudly as long standing residents discussed business and gossiped back and forth and in and out each other’s houses. Bill Ivor and Bills elderly mum at the end of the street who adored my sister and I and who actually unofficially adopted us as her Granchildren just before she died, and we being very young and not knowing what that meant used to address her by saying ‘Hello adopted gran’… Joan an eccentric woman who supported our family endlessly; early days with the Selassie family just on the corner who remain close family friends; the Weetons next door with the immaculate hedge, Dennis with his pond of carp; and last but by no means least Mr and Mrs Smith, in fact my Lady mayoress’ grandparents, who provided us every summer without fail a share of their allotment harvest of plums and beans and various other produce. That was my street, thats where I grew up and that's where I learnt. I cant say that I would have made it here today if I hadn’t of grown up there.

And I hope besides some of the challenges my own family have experienced that my own children may reflect in as a positive way on their childhoods. Thank you to my three children Ashante Romany and Fitzroi who try to support me and I am very proud of you all but must tell you that you must do more around the house to quite literally pick up the pieces this year! I notice we had a Fitzroi in – 1958 Fitzroy George William Chamberlain – but not yet an Ashante or Romany at least not in name but who knows maybe in tribe.

Looking back on our history in this city and the one of Mayor and later Lord Mayor it stretches back 800 years and is now into 802 years. The first Lord Mayor was in 1216 a Mr Roger Cordewaner – I didn’t want to ask any one how to pronounce that because  didnt want to be corrected as its so much fun to say!  I hope my year wont be full of getting peoples names wrong given that I am set to meet hundreds if not thousands of people.

The first woman was elected as Lord Mayor in 1963 Deputy Mayor Cllr Alexander was actually the 10th ever woman to be Lord Mayor given that one woman served twice, so that makes me the 11th female Lord Mayor in the 800 year old legacy.  The others were and I list to honour them:

1963 Florence Mills Brown

1968 Mercia Evelyn Castle OBE, JP

1971 Mrs Helen Bloom

1986 Mrs Joan Jones

1989 Mrs Kathleen Minnie Mountstephen

1994 Mrs Claire Margaret Warren

1995 Mrs Joan Barbara McLaren (dd 08.01.10)

1996 Mrs Joan Barbara McLaren

2001 Brenda Patricia Hugill

2015 Clare Campion-Smith

I hope tradition remains and allows for our names to be etched into stone amidst but in no way over shadowed by all those men’s names. I am a change on the wall a name on a brick but never just another brick in the wall. I, probably a bit like our New Duchess of Sussex if I may for a second compare myself to a royal princess, probably have very little in common with our early forerunners and for obvious reasons none of them that I can unearth were dancers!  I am bringing some changes to the position – I am different from my predecessors – I am a dancer. For the last 10 years been the dance leader for the most incredible group The Malcolm X Elders Forum who meet weekly as a social club, providing activities and a hot lunch giving people a weekly dose of engagement and something to get out of the house for.  They have not just provided me with work and support when I have needed it but they are my friends. My own father was a proud African man born in Jamaica and sadly passed away just hours after my 10th birthday. Engaging with the club also gave me an opportunity to re engage and learn about my roots and culture and is a testament to the power of intergenerational activity – something I look forward to developing this year.

It is of course an honour for my elders and my community at large me being first citizen of bristol in the same year as we celebrate 50 years of the St Pauls Carnival and 70 years since Windrush docked. It is testament to the distance travelled.  So today I stand here quite possibly as my ancestors wildest dreams. Well unless thats my ancestors on my mothers side: Clarence Church Campbell and Pearl Bailey, aka Big Bill Campbell and Peggy Bailey sweetest voice of the West.

granparents (1)

Big Bill Campbell and Peggy Bailey ‘Sweetest Voice of The West’. My Country and Western singing pioneering entertainers and racist grandparents.

My grandfather was  Scots Canadian. He had served in the airforce. And he is credited with pioneering country and western music in the UK.

My Canadian grandad who fought & survived at Vimy Ridge WW1

My Scots Canadian Grandad who fought and survived at Vimy Ridge WW1.

He along with his rocky mountaineers also popularised the phrase ‘Mighty Fine’. But he and my maternal grand mother were also racists. This is an uncomfortable truth and a painful one when as a child the photo that my mother sent to her mother of my sister and I was opened then returned because of the colour of my skin and because the colours of my our skins did not match. In fact my mother was constantly confronted with questions and phrases such as your kids really confuse my kids….


My sister and I with a recused greyhound from Eastville racing track

History is complicated and full of paradoxes, standing here as I do as a proud Bristolian Scots woman of African and Caribbean heritage. I have explored my African roots visiting Ghana several times and more recently Benin and Togo – I do hope there might be an opportunity to travel in my year I look forward to visiting Bordeaux one of Bristol’s oldest twins or maybe somewhere a little warmer or more likely colder especially as travel in office is to be self funded these days and rightly so perhaps… so looking for my roots, maybe? No. Yes! Scotland it is! Tracking down and calling in or calling on or heaven forbid calling out for some reason the Dukes of Argyle. Chiefs, clans and castles all sounds very romantic and a far cry from diamond socks with jeans tucked in a la Bristol circa 1991. It’s a long way to travel Scotland mind, I wonder if you can do it on one charge in a Tesla that’s a top of the range electric car?.. If not then I am minded of that wise thing a man once said I think on an advert: ‘I ain’t looking forward to the journey home neither!’

I’m keen to explore the international relations Bristol enjoys – we’re twinned with a number of places. I’ve been informed by officers in the twining department the necessity of economic benefit when considering new partnerships and well preferably tangible links…. so I’m not yet sure what might be in it for Bristol as such or what tangible links we might have with Scotland, well apart from at least half of the public gallery is more than likely part Scottish – Campbell in fact is a surname found more widely in Jamaica than Scotland itself and we of course share the saltire style flags.

Thinking of heraldry I am so proud of my City, the city where I was born, and I think it is truly something special that we have a unicorn in our symbol – a unicorn, a serpant and the scales… I do intend to incorporate this into a hairdo at some point or an outfit somehow by the way both I and the office of Lord Mayor are open for sponsorship with Cllr Stevens already backing a few hairdos – i’m not sure if thats a problem or do I set the rules now as first citizen?  The role doesn’t come with a manual just a load of anecdotes, conventions and very little budget! Clive which one next?  Serpent unicorn or scales?  I’m not sure yet how to show justice we will have to come back to that one, so let’s go for a medusa inspired style and I will try to turn anyone to stone who doesn’t obey the traffic lights. You see my other role is to Chair Full Council, and councillors must limit their speeches to 3 mins although today it’s 2 mins…

The heraldry or the symbols of Bristol which date to 1569. The significance of these various items is recorded in the City Audit Books of this time:- and I quote, the Unicorns will only do homage to men of virtue; (shrugs) the arms in the crest signify that good government depends on wisdom (the serpent) and justice (the scales) and that these are divine gifts from above.

Many are called but few are chosen – I realise that I have been chosen and whist this may for some be timely I would suggest that its actually later than we think so in the song words of Gaetano Alberto “Guy” Lombardo and his Royal Canadians we had better enjoy ourselves.

Joking aside, part of the role is a diplomatic duty and is this is also something I look forward to – welcoming various delegates to Bristol and continuing to some of our international partnerships with places such as Bordeaux and start to build new ones that perhaps resonate with some of our historic ties. As I alluded to – twining relies heavily on vested communities taking an active role in pulling things together so I have every faith that many of the people here today will support the over due call to link and one day twin cities in Bristol with Jamaica.

Closer to home I will enjoy connecting across Bristol with various communities learning new things and seeing new places – I will also span the breadth of the city and will be connecting in a meaningful way organically and inclusively across all walks of society – from Filwood community centre, care homes, schools, to Merchants Hall and beyond - I believe that I can be a bridge and a major asset to the city. I look forward to working with new groups in new ways, including via one of my passions – dance.  It is my intention to invite dance artists and guests to lead a few moves in future full council meetings – so with respect I think its only right that I address and recognise perhaps the most experienced Lord Mayor in our midst, none other than former LM Cllr Peter Abrahams who has served three times – Cllr Abrahams I have one question for you – how is your cha cha cha?!  I know Cllr Hance is into flamenco and going back to my roots i’m imagining a mosh pit of politicians and I’m scouring the crowd not looking for any ravers but rather …. a line dancer…. come on, get on board for Strictly come dancing Full Council, we could try and literally sweat our assets and encourage more views on webcast, a text donation line maybe…. We must find times to have fun and I will be sure to have a fun year. I honestly believe that Bristol can be a beacon and lead the way on how we can co exist together and be part of the collective narrative. So you have heard a little more about me your Lord Mayor for the year, I can’t promise to take the title from my maternal grandmother as the sweetest voice of the West when chairing full council but I pledge to be firm and fair. I welcome the public gallery of citizens: posing questions, making statements, seeking clarity, providing insights and holding this council to account. But I do believe in order and progress. Let’s channel together the notion of good governance through our founding principles of wisdom and justice, and then maybe for me it would indeed be mighty fine if we may think of our cousin island of Jamaica: firstly, as a cousin, and secondly, in doing so be inspired by and heed their motto that out of many we can be one Bristol, then and only then the spirit of the unicorn may be bestowed upon us and then I know the true magic will happen.

Pie in the sky  Green Group responds to release of Mayors value for money arena reports

'Pie in the sky' - Green Group responds to release of Mayor's 'value for money' arena reports

"What was first touted as a simple ‘value for money’ review is beginning to look like a very expensive piece of political justification for a decision it seems the Mayor has already taken in private..."

Bristol Greens urge local MPs to back important vote on staying in the Single Market

Bristol Greens urge local MPs to back important vote on staying in the Single Market

Bristol Green Councillors have today jointly written to the four Bristol MPs urging them to “support the Lords’ amendment to find an EEA-style solution to the Brexit problem”

Brexit update from Bristols Green MEP

Brexit update from Bristol's Green MEP

Brexit update from Bristol's Green MEP Molly Scott Cato

Green Lord Mayor Cleo Lakes acceptance speech

Green Lord Mayor Cleo Lake's acceptance speech

Full text of the acceptance speech by Bristol's new Lord Mayor

Bedminster Green survey  locals reject tall buildings

Bedminster Green survey - locals reject tall buildings

Southville Green councillors Charlie Bolton and Steve Clarke have conducted a survey of local residents to explore their views on the proposals by a set of developers to construct over 1200 new homes in the Bedminster Green area.

Cleo Lake becomes Lord Mayor

Cleo Lake becomes Lord Mayor

Green Councillor Cleo Lake took up her role as Lord Mayor of Bristol to applause from a packed puiblic chamber where friends, family and members of the local communty had come to see her take up the position of first citizen of Bristol this week.

Watch Bristols MEP makes the case for a Peoples Vote on Brexit

Watch: Bristol's MEP makes the case for a 'People's Vote' on Brexit

Molly talks to BBC Sunday Politics South West about the importance of a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal, especially for students and young people who were unable to vote in the EU referendum.

Job Junior Constituency Assistant  Bristol Office of Molly Scott Cato MEP

Job: Junior Constituency Assistant – Bristol Office of Molly Scott Cato MEP

Molly is looking for a part time (21 hours per week) Junior Constituency Assistant for her constituency office in Bristol. The role will start in approximately July 2018 and will initially be for a fixed term period of 3 months.

Bristols MEP condemns Not me Gove strategy for air pollution

Bristol's MEP condemns ‘Not me Gove’ ‘strategy’ for air pollution

Bristol's Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato has accused Environment Secretary Michael Gove of pointing the finger of blame for the UK’s illegal air quality in every direction but at the government and the chief causes of the problem.

Greens call for Bristol West MP to push for continued single market membership

Greens call for Bristol West MP to push for continued single market membership

Molly Scott Cato, Bristol's Green MEP, has called on Bristol West MP, Thangam Debbonaire, to use the ‘ray of hope’ offered by the Lords yesterday and vote to keep the UK inside the single market.

Why did the Council drop Bristol Energy

Why did the Council drop Bristol Energy?

Did LeaveEU take data from Bristol companies

Did Leave.EU take data from Bristol companies?

Bristol's Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato, has today written to Avon and Somerset Police to ask if the force is investigating new evidence that Bristol companies GoSkippy and Eldon Insurance allegedly shared data illegally with Leave.EU.

Green councillors stand with Friends of Redland Library against closure

Green councillors stand with Friends of Redland Library against closure

At a meeting of Friends of Redland Library last week, Green councillors Carla Denyer and Clive Stevens were amongst the speakers updating residents about the progress of the campaign to save Bristol’s libraries.

Brexit update from Bristols Green MEP

Brexit update from Bristol's Green MEP

An update from Molly Scott Cato, Bristol's Green MEP and the national EU spokesperson

Keeping Bristols parks adfree

Keeping Bristol’s parks ad-free

At a council meeting on March 20 Bristol Council debated a petition to ‘Keep our parks advertising free’, in response to the Labour administration’s proposals to introduce commercial advertising to Bristol's parks and green spaces. Green Cllr Steve Clarke spoke in response.

Bristol Uni announces it will become fossil free

Bristol Uni announces it will become fossil free

The University of Bristol, after extensive talks, announced today that it will withdraw all £700,000 of its investment from the fossil fuel industry. Moving from partial to full divestment is a big step forward for the university, with plans being put in place to ditch all fossil fuel companies from its investment portfolio over the next couple of years.

Council votes for Temple Meads arena location after Green motion

Council votes for Temple Meads arena location after Green motion

Over five thousand people have now signed a petition calling for the Mayor to support a Bristol arena at Temple Meads. Green councillors brought the matter to a vote with a motion to Full Council.

Its time for a drug consumption room in Bristol

It’s time for a drug consumption room in Bristol

Green Councillor Cleo Lake is calling for Bristol to launch a drug consumption room to give drug users a safer space with access to needles and specialist support.

Bristols Three ProEU MEPs release joint statement on Russian poison attack

Bristol's Three Pro-EU MEPs release joint statement on Russian poison attack

“In a difficult week for pro-EU MEPs, when we debated the next stage of the leaving process, it was heartening to feel the warmth and generosity of our European colleagues in solidarity with the UK in the face of Russian aggression."

Greens bring vote on Arena location to Council meeting

Greens bring vote on Arena location to Council meeting

Green Councillors have secured a Council debate and vote on the location of Bristol’s arena at next Tuesday’s Council meeting.

Bristols next Lord Mayor announced as Green Councillor Cleo Lake

Bristol’s next Lord Mayor announced as Green Councillor Cleo Lake

Green Councillors have announced their candidate for Lord Mayor as Cotham Councillor, Cleo Lake

Clean Air Action Plan proposed after years of Green campaigning

Clean Air Action Plan proposed after years of Green campaigning

At Bristol Council today, the Cabinet approved the development of a Clean Air Action Plan to tackle the illegal levels of air pollution in the city, which has been estimated to contribute to over 300 premature deaths per year.

High Court refuses MEPs Brexit case

High Court refuses MEP's Brexit case

High Court refuses to force government’s hand over Brexit impact studies

Bristols MEP is today in High Court over Brexit court action

Bristol's MEP is today in High Court over Brexit court action

The High Court will this morning hear an oral application for permission to apply for judicial review to compel the production, in public, of the studies the government continues to withhold on the economic impacts of Brexit.

Green Group leader lobbies Treasury for end to local government cuts

Green Group leader lobbies Treasury for end to local government cuts

Green Group leader Eleanor Combley today travelled to London to hand in a letter to the Treasury calling for an end to cuts to local government funding.

Greens refuse to vote for Labours cuts budget

Greens refuse to vote for Labour’s cuts budget

At today’s budget Full Council meeting in Bristol City Hall, the city’s Green Councillors have refused to vote for the Labour Mayor’s austerity budget that proposed cuts of £34 million across Bristol, including library and public toilet closures and a large funding cut to Adult Social Care.

Raft of Green amendments passes at Budget Full Council

Raft of Green amendments passes at Budget Full Council

Bristol’s Green Councillors are celebrating today as all but one of their budget amendments at today’s Budget Full Council were passed.

Plot to ditch EU food standards threatens South West producers

Plot to ditch EU food standards threatens South West producers

Bristol's Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato, has warned of a plot by leading rightwing Brexiteers to ditch EU food and safety standards that would allow the import of US meats, drugs and chemicals currently banned in Britain.

New report on Britains broken housing market  lessons from other EU Countries

New report on ‘Britain’s broken housing market’ & lessons from other EU Countries

Bristol's Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato, has launched a report she commissioned on the UK’s housing crisis.

Opinion Blue sky thinking not allowed  frustrations of Bristol City Councils budget

Opinion: Blue sky thinking not allowed – frustrations of Bristol City Council’s budget

Green councillor for Clifton Down Carla Denyer writes for Bristol 24/7 on the restrictions surrounding the budget process at the council, which she says "makes long-term thinking impossible."

We use cookies on our website to improve your experience, by using our website you accept the use of these cookies. Read More Close