Town council’s chain of shame

PUBLISHED: 07:00 12 August 2013

Archant

UP TO £2000 of Ottery town funds are to be spent on replacing the mayoral regalia despite a warning that the decision would ‘wreck the reputation’ of the council.

Councillors voted eight to five to update the mayor’s chain, which is more than 40 years old, after a heated debate on Monday. There was disagreement over whether the symbol of office should be replaced or repaired, where the money should come from and if there should be a public consultation first.

Councillor Paul Lewis said he thought the time had come to update the regalia to reflect the stature of the job that goes with wearing it.

He said: “I’m not asking for an elaborate thing. The current chain is falling apart and it still refers to Ottery Urban District Council and a chairman, not mayor”

The majority of the council agreed, and Councillor Ian Holmes proposes that up to £2000 of council money, spread over a number of years, should be spent on a new chain.

But several councillors disagreed, including mayor Glyn Dobson who said he was honoured to wear the chain as it is. He said: I think it has a lot of tradition and history and I’d be reluctant to change it. If we do change it I wouldn’t like to see the money come out of the town coffers.”

Councillor Roger Giles went further, saying that spending money on a new chain would ‘wreck the reputation of the council’ and would be ‘entirely inappropriate’ at a time when some people were struggling to pay their bills.

Councillor Robin Mitchell suggested that instead of using parish funds, councillors who did not plan on claiming their annual expenses allowance could put it towards a new chain.

Cllr Holmes agreed, saying that a number of councillors would be happy not to claim their allowance and use it to fund the new regalia instead.

This was dismissed as ‘financial chicanery’ by Cllr Giles who said the allowance was there to be used to pay for expenses, not to buy things that would be unpopular.

He asked that the people of Ottery be consulted before any money be spent but his proposal was defeated nine to two, with many members saying the cost of consulting the parish would just increase the cost involved.


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