Godalming College Director of Transition & Progression, Adam Duce was elected as the youngest Mayor of Godalming earlier this year. A few months after his election, and many engagements later, our Student Union caught up with him to find out more about him and his role as Mayor.
Interviewed by Thomas C., Harry H. & Rhiannon W.
Q: What is your role as mayor of Godalming
A: Adam said that his role is more of a civil leadership role. He apolitically chairs the council & full council meetings, and he typically attends around three community events per week.
The events Adam attends are very varied- one day he could be visiting the Green Hub in Milford, which has allotments to aid with young people’s mental health, and the next he could be attending a meeting at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, for example.
Adam also sits as a Waverley Borough Councillor for Godalming Holloway, where he is allowed to demonstrate his political affiliation.
Q: What motivated Adam to become Mayor of Godalming?
A: He is the youngest, first openly gay Mayor of Godalming. He moved to the market town to do his teacher training. He was shocked by the lack of representation of minority groups on Godalming Town Council and Waverley Borough Council. He felt that services in the area were more geared towards the typical demographic in Godalming- families & the elderly- not a lot for anyone else.
Q: How does your political ideology influence your actions as Mayor?
A: Adam explained that one's political ideology will always influence them but at civic engagements you have to be politically neutral as you are representing the whole town. The way Adam's ideology influences his actions is to make sure events are as inclusive as possible so Adam is working on a Day of Peace alongside the traditional Remembrance Sunday service which makes reflection more inclusive at this time of year.
Q: In Godalming Town Council’s Planning & Environment Committee in March, proposed changes by Surrey County Council to the 42 route bus were discussed. This involved possibly changing it to DRT (Demand responsive transport) and just keeping some morning/afternoon journeys for the college. How will this affect students- will it make travel better or worse?
A: Changes to the 46 bus route has had a negative impact on students and Adam isn’t in favour of it and he would like regular routes. He thinks that a Waverley-run service for Godalming that is partnered with Guildford’s service would be great – also to connect Godalming station to the College, a route often filled with students – and would be better than private bus companies doing that job. These changes might happen in the form of a pilot version as early as this year, including the partnership with Guildford’s bus route.
Adam is also committed to Net Zero by 2025. The first step of this was reducing emissions between 2018-19.
Q: What was your reaction to the DHLUC letter from Michael Gove concerning levelling up?
A: Adam said that whilst his role of Mayor isn’t to create Housing Policy, he can use his civic mayoral role to help influence it.
Adam said that lots of planning policy is dictated by Westminster, and that if a council doesn’t build enough houses, it can be sanctioned. However, Waverley Borough Council does have a plan to build 200 social houses.
In regards to the letter, Adam alluded to the fact that it has been very difficult to recruit planning officers given the lack of funding from Westminster means that salaries cannot be competitive.
Q: What youth service provisions are there in Godalming?
A: Adam has recently helped bring about a mobile unit for youth services in Broadwater Park. It has provided a space for events such as Year 10+ Night and Junior Night. Long term, he hopes to get a permanent building for the service.
Q: How has the cost of living crisis affected Godalming?
A: As a Godalming Town Councillor, Adam has collectively supported financing the Godalming Community Store, which he thinks is particularly important to be kept running after the pandemic. He notes that the disparity of wealth is particularly significant in Godalming. There have been other community drives to help during the cost of living such as an affordable pop-up market and other donation-oriented events.
Q: How does Godalming celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month?
A: The Mayor said that pride flags had been put up in Godalming High Street, as well as several well-received pop-up facilities. There has also been a number of small changes to help support the LGBTQ+ community, such as the implementation of some gender-neutral toilets