New mayor of Hadleigh talks ‘not looking backwards’, helping youth and fight to save final bank
Stepping into a new role as town mayor is a challenge in itself – but pair it with a global pandemic and a national lockdown and you’ve got a job on your hands. So what is the new mayor of Hadleigh hoping to achieve?
After just seven weeks in the position, recently elected Hadleigh Town Mayor, Frank Minns, said his new role is “brilliant” and he is looking ahead to the future.
Mr Minns, 61, moved to the thriving market town more than five years ago with his husband Colin, after growing up in Ongar in Essex and living in Greenwich in London in recent years.
He said he has not regretted the move once and says the town is a “marvellous place to live”, fondly reminding him of where he grew up.
“It is just about the right size and it’s got that core, whether you live in the high street like me or up by the Bypass, everyone seems to gravitate to the high street and you meet new people all the time,” he said.
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Mr Minns comes equipped with a range of skills having spent more than 19 years in the Royal Navy after graduating from university. He then spent 14 years working for his husband’s gardening business in London before relocating to Hadleigh, where he retired and plunged himself into volunteering work.
Wanting to help the town he loves, Mr Minns decided to try and sit on the town council, narrowly missing out as an independent councillor in the May 2019 elections. He then opted to stand as part of Hadleigh Together in this year’s by-election in February, where he was elected.
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‘The future of this town rests with its young people’
Hot on Mr Minns’ agenda as the town’s mayor is helping young people, who he believes are often looked at as a problem.
“There is a terrible tendency for people to look at antisocial behaviour and young people in this town as a problem and say, ‘what can we do to stop them misbehaving’,” said Mr Minns.
“But actually what we should be saying is ‘what can we do here that young people want’, as they have a right to have facilities.
“What we don’t want is people who are growing up in this town who think that the sooner they get out the better, we want to make them want to stay. And that is not done by only thinking of them as trouble makers.”
Mr Minns highlighted the work of Porch Project, a Suffolk youth charity, which has recently moved into a larger premises at the southern end of the high street and has undergone a huge refurbishment.
MORE: Hadleigh Porch Project reveals brand new lookHe said: “The Porch project looks fantastic, but it is quite small. They have so many good ideas and we need to make it possible for these good ideas to benefit more people in the town.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the single most important thing we should be looking at is to help young people in Hadleigh. Not just because they are going to be hit hard by the virus, but because the future of this town rests with them. And that’s what we need to focus on.”
Mr Minns expressed his concern about the mental health of young people through the second lockdown and said this is something we need to focus on.
How Hadleigh can move forward
When asked about his future plans for the town, Mr Minns said he wanted people to focus on what’s ahead, not what has come before, referencing the drama surrounding the one way system which caused uproar among business owners.
MORE: Controversial barriers to be removed from Hadleigh High Street“I’m trying to stop this looking backwards and pointing the finger at people for things that have gone wrong, as that doesn’t matter anymore,” he said.
“We know what we want to do and how we want the town to develop, so that’s how we should move forward.
“If we don’t think about things like The Hadleigh Show and The Hidden Gardens going ahead, then this lockdown is just going to be even worse than it already is,” he added.
“The show will be an important part of morale coming back to the town, as everyone has such a great time. Morale is the single most important thing that we need to keep going for the next couple of months.”
He praised the work of the food banks and Hadleigh Carers, who he said were “brilliant” for helping others in the first lockdown.
Mr Minns himself was shielding back in March and said it was astonishing the amount of people who appeared to help others.
He said: “That’s what makes me feel like we live somewhere special.”
Mr Minns said that despite the current climate, it is brilliant that new businesses are opening up in the high street.
He recognised the new Fork Kitchen and Deli, The Flying Guardsman cafe, the new zero-waste shop Adore Nature and the sale of the old Boots store, which closed earlier this year.
He is continuing to fight the closure of the town’s TSB, which is its last-remaining bank, having gained support from South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge, Suffolk County Council and Babergh District Council.
He said he will not stop voicing the concern’s of the town’s elderly generation.