As part of my Journalism course, I am required to carry out interviews and write real-life news stories. So for my latest assessment, I thought who better to speak to than the local town Mayor?!
After doing some research online, I then came to realise that the Mayor of Truro is in fact a man called Steven Webb - who just so happens to be a wheelchair user himself. This of course was music to my ears, as I just knew that we could connect and discuss so many interesting topics.
I then reached out to Steven and he was so willing and helpful to support me with my project. We spoke on Zoom for a good hour and I have since submitted my news-writing assessment.
On reflection, we discussed so many important subjects and I didn’t want all of my footage to go to waste. So with Steven’s permission, I thought I would share some of the highlights / main talking points from our interview.
To kick things off, I thought I would share this fun little segment from the end of our chat, in which I asked Steven 10 random quick-fire questions.
(Please note that this section was just for fun. This was not part of my assessment - as I’m not completely unprofessional! haha)
Steven joined Cornwall Council back in 2017 and has since been elected Mayor for the 2021-22 period. Aged 18, Steven was involved in a diving accident that resulted in him becoming paralysed from the neck down.
Now aged 48, Steven is a keynote speaker, meditation and mindfulness teacher. He also hosts a podcast called ‘Stillness in the Storms’.
“I didn't set out to be a disabled Mayor, I set out to make a difference. I became Mayor, and I just so happen to be disabled. It’s a subtle difference, but a huge one”
The “Healthy Streets” scheme aims to reduce traffic and pollution levels by creating a better environment in Truro, allowing more space for pedestrians to move around freely.
“We are currently looking at Boscawen street as a hybrid solution”
Boscawen street now has a new outdoor seating area with large planters, restricting cars from accessing the main road. The scheme is currently set to run for a 12 month trial period, with the potential for everything to go back to exactly how it was before.
Disabled parking was one of the main subjects that I wanted to talk to Steven about. Although the “Healthy Streets” campaign has had an impact on the bays in Boscawen Street, Steven claims that no spaces have actually been lost.
However, it was agreed that serious improvements are still needed.
“The disabled parking there is terrible, it’s the worst possible design. It’s on a bumpy surface with a gutter right next to it, and you have to travel 100 yards before you can get up on the pavement!”
As a public figure, I felt it was only right to get Steven's views on the latest Covid guidance, as well as discussing the effects of lockdowns on the local community. It was refreshing to hear that Steven still supports the use of masks, whilst also disagreeing with the term "freedom day".
"I think it's a little premature. I don't think it's freedom day for many of the vulnerable"
Steven also mentioned that in the social and economic recovery, it's important that we don't leave any groups out - regardless of disability, age, ethnicity or religion.
Future Plans for Truro
Now that life seems to be moving forward again, it was nice to hear of some of the exciting plans for Cornwall over the coming months.
"In my Mayoral year, hopefully they will build and launch a satellite into space!"
Steven also mentioned the Pydar development, which is worth £170 million! He hopes that the long-term plan will also include a "kick-ass" cultural centre - with the aim to bring all of the community centres together as one, without any individual closures.
The "Town Fund" is another on-going project which plans to sort out Truro's waterfront, via the harbour at Malpas.
One thing that was clear from the start, was the fact that Steven and I shared similar values in terms positivity and disability representation.
"Everyone expects me - in some respect - to be the disabled representative"
I just want to end this post by saying a massive thank you to Steven for his time and support with my news-writing project. Hopefully those of you reading this will also have enjoyed listening to some of the subjects we discussed.
Now that Steven and I have made contact, we plan to collaborate on other projects in the future which will hopefully lead to a more accessible and inclusive community.