|A man called Gavin Harding became the first mayor with intellectual disabilities in Great Britain.
He will be mayor of a town called Selby, where many people live.
Harding said he is very happy and proud.
Harding said that times are changing,
Last week, Gavin Harding was chosen as the very first mayor with intellectual disabilities in the United Kingdom, The Guardian reported. He will carry out his mandate in the town of Selby, a community in North Yorkshire where 14,350 people reside.
Harding already demonstrated his political talent during his work as deputy mayor, his second term as Labour town councilor, and by increasing his number of votes from 590 to 1039 during local elections. After delivering such positive election results, fellow member of the council nominated him as mayor.
Harding will be working on behalf of all Selby residents – he will lead town council meetings and attend local community events. Talking of his appointment he said that “I had to keep pinching myself, saying is this real … it’s a great honour being mayor of Selby, my home town. It’s a big town in North Yorkshire with a great community and great people in it.”
Harding also mentioned how much times have changed concerning the political inclusion of people with disabilities, saying that when he went into mainstream school in 1986 – one of few people with intellectual disabilities to do so – it would have been impossible for someone with an intellectual disability to become mayor. He acknowledged Labour’s 2001 strategy for people with intellectual dissabilities, ‘Valuing People‘, for changing lives.
Harding is ambitious about his work as mayor: “I want to make sure as chair of town council meetings that we act in the best interests of the public as much as we can and serve the community”. He said his priorities for the coming year to be better policing, putting police cuts to a stop and the relocation of the police station to council offices, as well as attracting a different range of shops into Selby and having more facilities for young people.
When asked on whether or not his achievements would stimulate more people with intellectual disabilities to try to become mayor, he said: “There is nothing stopping people with intellectual disabilities“, also mentioning self-advocacy to be a useful tool for learning how to represent one’s self and other people.
Stephen Shaw-Wright, who will be serving as deputy mayor under Harding, said: “Gavin is a shining example of what can be achieved with the right support and encouragement. I hope more people can see that playing an active part in society should not be dictated to by what you are told you can do but by what you can achieve.”
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