The limo turned up on time at 18.35 to take me to the first meeting of the new Bexley Borough Council, via the home of Councillor Brian Beckwith who was the Mayor-Elect. With due ceremony and some amusing speeches, he was elected Mayor and I joined the procession into the Council Chamber.
Bexley Council has a special cross to be worn by the Chaplain. I judged that cassock and sash would be appropriate for such a formal occasion and this was appreciated by the Council members.
The Council has had a major political change after the recent elections. From being a Labour Council with a majority of one, it is now a Conservative Council with a majority of 45. It was very good to be at the proceedings which were marked by a gentlemanly reserve on the part of the new majority and magnanimous goodwill from the new minority. This is something that we can still do well in England and I pray that such civil proceedings bode well for the municipal affairs that will affect the lives of the residents of Bexley Borough.
It was a particular delight to talk to Laura and Ros who were in the middle their of A-level exams but took enough interest in local politics to take an evening out to attend the proceedings. It is encouraging to see young people concerned with the democratic process. I also had a chance to practice my French with a young man from Lille who had done an internship with the Council. Many youngsters are disillusioned with "politics" and see it as irrelevant. However, when they have children of their own, they come to see the importance of decisions at local Council level. We need them to be involved and it is good to see a real interest in the common good in some students.