Launceston welcomed a new mayor last week, with Cllr Helen Bailey taking over the role from Cllr Leighton Penhale.

On Thursday, May 11, Launceston Town Council hosted a traditional ‘Mayor Choosing Ceremony’. The ceremony welcomed organisations, local dignitaries, and residents of the area to witness the election of their new mayor. 

With a unanimous vote on the motion, Cllr  Bailey, who has served the town as deputy until now, was elected and sworn in as the new mayor of Launceston. 

The new deputy mayor was named as Nicola Gilbert.

In a speech to those in attendance, Cllr Bailey said it was an “enormous honour to be elected as mayor of Launceston,” adding that it is “a privilege to hold this position.” 

Stepping into the role of mayor means leading the town council in efforts and causes which will benefit the area. 

Some of those at the top of the list for Cllr Bailey include the library, museum, skatepark and upgrades to the Christmas switch on.   Speaking to the Post, Cllr Bailey said there are a number of other projects in the pipeline.

She said: “The council have been working on several projects that we are planning to complete in the year ahead.

“We hope to have news on our new library very soon, the museum work is well underway which has taken a lot of time to achieve. The curator Damon with his volunteers will have a fully-refurbished building to show off the rich history of our town and surrounding area, and there’ll be a skate park at Coronation Park. 

“Priory Play Park will see work starting there, the football pitch and goalposts will be completed very soon. 

“The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee commemorative benches will be placed on Stourscombe Green, St Stephens Green, Pages Cross and Lanstephan Play Park from monies raised and grants during the celebrations. Funding is continually being sought to assist the council in being able to offer extra facilities and opportunities for residents. 

“Our town hall will be welcoming a variety of entertainment, and this year we have National Theatre Live starting in September 2023 and running on to July 2024. As a council we shall celebrate all the great things we do so well this year. The role is a voluntary one and as councillors we are very proud of our town with its rich history, its character and people. We continue to work with the council staff team to plan for the future and what we can do to improve and implement for the benefit of residents and visitors. 

“The ‘Town Brand’ will be launched very soon, and the council received a presentation recently. Taking advantage of this and using it on event advertising and business promotion and resident input made this happen — the logo looks back at our historic past and forward to our bright future.” 

During the ceremony, Cllr Bailey said: “Town residents are at the forefront of the decision this council makes.”  

Speaking to the Post, Cllr Bailey expressed her love for Launceston: “Our town has an array of talented people, award winning businesses, independent businesses, voluntary organisations, youth groups and so much more.  Living here has something for everyone to join, take part in and be as involved as you want to be. This is why I love where I live. 

“Moving here 19 years ago from my husband’s hometown in Barrow In Furness was a huge step — the town’s people were very welcoming, kind and genuine. This is the best town to live, laugh and work in the county.” 

Cllr Bailey’s chosen charities for the year are Man Down, and Launceston Leisure Centre. 

“I have chosen two charities as mayor this year, Launceston Leisure Centre and Man Down (Launceston Branch),” she explained. “It was very difficult to pick just two as there are so many deserving of support. There will be different events taking place throughout the year to raise funds for both causes.  Both charities need our support. The leisure centre we were in danger of losing; children need to learn to swim, and it will be supporting all our local schools in lessons as well as the health and wellbeing of our community. Michael Davey and the team at the leisure centre are waiting for the capital funding promised by Cornwall Council to repair the building which will take it a step further as a Community Interest Company and charity to develop and our town will have this facility safely for the future, but we must use it, so we don’t lose it. Please go and see what is on offer, there is a suggestion box for what you would like to see there – have you input. 

“Man Down is a mental health charity supporting men, there are so many men of all ages who suffer in silence and don’t talk.  This group is growing and supports and encourages men to open up if they want to talk, the Launceston group meet at the Orchard Centre, money raised will enable them to run funded activities and evenings for those attending.” 

Cllr Penhale took to the stage during the event to thank everyone for their support during his two years as mayor, as well as wishing Cllr Bailey well.  

“The Castle is still standing, our splendid town hall is still so, the leisure centre has reopened! I think things are looking up for our town,” he said. “While I am certain there is room for improvement, I am also certain that you, Mayor Helen, will do that.” 

Cllr Penhale also praised the generosity of the people in Launceston, calling it “quite magnificent.”  

Finally he thanked Cllr Bailey for her work as his deputy, adding “Helen, my deputy, thank you so much, I couldn’t have wished for better,” before signing off with “thank you Helen, you are now in charge!” 

Speaking about Cllr Penhale’s time as mayor, Cllr Bailey said: “Councillor Leighton Penhale was a great ambassador as mayor for the last two years, Gillian and Leighton were so supportive to Adrian and I during this time, Leighton is very passionate about Launceston, he took great pride in making sure all residents questions were answered and lead the council with determination and kindness. 

“Both have enjoyed this time representing the town and they both have said “enjoy every minute, because they have.” They can now enjoy more family fun with their lovely grandchildren and a few restful holidays which they deserve.”