Mayoral chain row in Suffolk Town
NEW York has one, London has one – but a Suffolk town has two.But a row is brewing in Bury St Edmunds about the role of the town mayor and whether to spend thousands of pounds on his regalia and golden chains.
NEW York has one, London has one – but a Suffolk town has two.
But a row is brewing in Bury St Edmunds about the role of the town mayor and whether to spend thousands of pounds on his regalia and golden chains.
The plans for the chain of honour are threatening to divide Bury Town Council just two months after its inaugural meeting.
Some see the adornment as belonging firmly in the past but others view mayoral chains as an essential way of singling out the council's figurehead.
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Bury's other civic leader, borough councillor David Lockwood, mayor of St Edmundsbury, attends a host of functions every week resplendent in his robes and gleaming chains. Town council mayor Bob Cockle turns up in a suit.
Mr Cockle said he believed a badge and chain of office was an essential part of his role despite quotes of £8,000, which will be paid from taxpayers' money.
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He said: "Councillors are concerned that I have turned up for several functions in just a suit with no chains. A mayor should be appropriately dressed.
"I am aware of mayors from towns near Bury who have paid a lot of money for their mayoral chains as once they are bought, you have them for life.
"I think it would be a good investment and a way to identify the mayor although we will certainly not waste taxpayers' money."
Town councillor Stefan Oliver, of the Westgate ward, agreed that a mayor should not be seen without his chains, but said £8,000 was far too much.
Mr Oliver said: "We ought to get a chain as it gives the office a certain dignity and the position of mayor would be recognised by everyone.
"The town mayor has to go out in the company of other mayors without a badge of office and I certainly think we ought to have one. I do not think we should pay £8,000 for the chains – there are more important matters in the town to address."
But David Nettleton, town councillor for the Risbygate ward, questioned the logic behind spending so much money on the chains and having two mayors covering the town.
He said: "I am not in favour of this massive expenditure for mayoral regalia. "If we must have something, a simple chain would be okay but this idea of robes went out 100 years ago.
"I am quite happy with a mayor of St Edmundsbury as this is a reward for long service whereas we have only been on a town council for a few months.
"I think the council should have some kind of emblem but not one that is going to cost thousands of pounds. We should be spending money on the town.
"£8,000 is definitely too much money and I also believe we should just have a chairman, not a mayor. New York and London only have one mayor, so why does Bury St Edmunds need two?"
St Edmundsbury mayor Mr Lockwood said: "The town council should have something to signify who the mayor is as otherwise Mr Cockle will go to a function and no one will know who he is.
"But certainly the money they are talking about could go on better things and maybe the mayor could just have a medallion on a ribbon while the council continues to grow."
Town councillors have agreed to look at more costings, after a meeting this week before a final decision is made.