Meet Rich Nichols — the first mayor of Emersons Green
Published on: 07 Sep 2015
IF those of you who live in Emersons Green have been diligently reading your parish newsletter, then you may be aware the area has a mayor.
And while Rich Nichols - the first mayor of Emersons Green Town Council - is delighted to take up the role, he is the first to admit he won’t be making all the decisions in the fashion of Bristol mayor George Ferguson.
But what the 39-year-old hopes to achieve is an improved profile for the town council as well as for the area.
“The role itself hasn’t changed greatly from the previous role as chairman,” Mayor Nichols explained.
“But with the boundary changes, Mangotsfield Rural Parish Council has become Emersons Green Town Council, and town councils are entitled to call their chairman the mayor. The decision to have a mayor was taken at the one meeting I missed when I was away. It was nice to get a text during my holiday to say my title had changed from chairman to mayor!”
So is the title aspirational?
“I think so, yes. It’s nice for the area to have a mayor and hopefully it will raise the profile of the council so that more people use us.
“The chairman never gets asked to open anything but a mayor might get asked as it sounds much more grand! I haven’t been invited to open anything yet but even if I don’t, I’m happy if it helps raise the council’s profile.
“Some people don’t realise it’s the same role as before and get mixed up with the Bristol mayor who has been voted for independently as a mayor. But it won’t be me making all the decisions, it’s still the council as a group of people who make decisions. I’m just the figurehead for the council.”
Even though Mayor Nichols won’t be calling all the shots, as a member of the town council he still has a strong voice and votes to cast. He also has a vision for the area’s future.
“I’d like to see Emersons Green have more of a village feel. Another priority is to help integrate the new residents of Lyde Green into the established community of Emersons Green.
“We also want to engage with the public more to highlight what the town council already does and to see what else can be done to help people. At this year’s Mangotsfield Festival we had a gazebo so people could come in for a chat and to meet councillors and that was a great success.”
The town council certainly supports residents in one particularly contentious issue - grasscutting.
South Gloucestershire Council’s decision to reduce all grass cutting to just two cuts a year has not been a popular one.
“As a council we weren’t very happy with this decision so have decided to pay a private company to cut areas belonging to either us or the district except roundabouts and areas along the ring road which we are not allowed to cut.
“We have experienced a few teething problems with maps and exact locations but are pleased to have taken the step to try and keep the area tidy.”
For the past three years, the father-of-three has been honing his civic skills as a councillor at Mangotsfield Rural Parish Council, including a stint as vice-chairman.
He is certainly is a busy man. As well as working in his unpaid role of mayor, he is a full-time firefighter at Kingswood Fire Station and also runs a local nursery with his wife. Will he be able to fit any official opening ceremonies in?
“I have actually applied to reduce my hours in the fire service!” he said.
Whether we see Mayor Nichols at the opening of a new village shop anytime soon remains to be seen but nevertheless, he is just happy to serve his community.
“The council is made up of volunteers; there’s no paid employees apart from the clerk. We are there to be used so if being a mayor helps make more people aware of us so we can help more people that would be great.”