On May 18th One Voice held a breakfast at the Spurriergate Centre to meet the Council Chief Executive. The morning was introduced by Chris Cullwick.
Bill McCarthy has been chief executive of the City of York Council since October 2007. By background he is an economist and previously worked in Whitehall.
Coming to York, Bill has found a city which he believes has a real sense of community and identity. He described himself as a practicing catholic and active in his local parish.
Bill began by saying that he was personally committed to collaboration and cooperation. He talked about 3 shared values or themes which he believed were a basis for the church and the council to cooperate.
The first was stewardship, which he believes is at the heart of the relationship between Christians and our world. Whereas the language that churches and the council uses differs, if we can overcome that barrier there is a basis for working together.
The second was hospitality. Bill spoke of his frequent retreats to Ampleforth and the great hospitality he has always received there. Seeing Christ in the stranger was his declared priority. At a time of changing demographics in York, there has never been a more important opportunity to welcome people to our city, make them comfortable and ensure that we do not see the establishment of ghettos.
The marginalised also need to be understood and practical action taken to engage them – looking after the homeless and disadvantaged is a joint aspiration of church and council.
Bill gave his third theme as good neighbourliness. This theme he declared is at the very heart of being a Christian. The council talk about ‘cohesive communities’ and ‘inclusive York’ – about not leaving anyone out. Currently there is a focus on trying to develop local neighbourhoods. Ward committees are working on neighourhood action plans – practical steps to build strong communities. He invited church participation in Ward Committes and reminded us that we did have one ward (Westfield) in the bottom 10 per cent of depravation.
Bill McCarthy did say that when it comes to solving some of these problems “We don’t know how to do it! We believe inviting participation from all those locally of good will.”
His final comments were that we have much common ground and that we can make a difference together.
Bill McCarthy was asked what prayer requests he had and his response was to ask God for wisdom, good judgement and courage.