Mayoral rift over chain reaction

ONE mayor describes it is a "storm in a teacup". His neighbouring counterpart says it is a matter of principle and etiquette.It seems a diplomatic rift has surfaced between two neighbouring councils over the unlikeliest of subjects – the wearing of mayoral chains.

By Roddy Ashworth

ONE mayor describes it is a "storm in a teacup". His neighbouring counterpart says it is a matter of principle and etiquette.

It seems a diplomatic rift has surfaced between two neighbouring councils over the unlikeliest of subjects – the wearing of mayoral chains.

Yesterday the Mayor of Harwich, Les Double, claimed he had been barred from wearing his chains of office in the adjoining parish of Ramsey and Parkeston and told he needed to formally ask the council's chairman if he wanted to wear his emblematic badge.


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In turn, he said, Harwich Town Council had dispatched a missive saying that if Mick Lowe, chairman of Ramsey and Parkeston Parish Council, wanted to wear his chains in Harwich he too would have to ask consent.

The stiffening of relations between the two authorities appears to have begun when Mr Lowe wrote and asked whether or not he, as chairman of the parish council, would be asked to the Harwich Mayor-making ceremony.

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When he was told that he was not to be invited, Mr Double said Mr Lowe seemed to think he had been snubbed and took umbrage.

It was then the letter arrived telling about the ban on chains, he said.

"I haven't got a clue what he is on about when he claims Ramsey and Parkeston have been snubbed," said Mr Double.

"There are only 65 seats at Mayor-making, and 32 are taken by councillors and their partners.

"That leaves about 25 people as the mayor's guests. They are people like family members, friends and people the mayor works with.

"When I was mayor eight years ago I didn't ask the chairman of Ramsey and Parkeston, and it didn't seem to be a problem then. It was no snub. This is a storm in a teacup," he insisted.

But yesterday Mr Lowe claimed the whole situation was one of principle and etiquette, and was in no way personal.

"It is to do with the role of chairman of Ramsey and Parkeston Parish Council, not me as an individual. I'm not doing it for my own benefit," he said.

"I was trying to make people aware we seem to be by-passed sometimes from certain functions.

"When boats are launched from Parkeston Quay that's within our parish, but the mayor of Harwich gets invited.

"I know it's called Harwich International Port but it's not in the Harwich Town Council boundary."

He added that the correspondence highlighting the asking permission of wearing chains and badges was simply a reminder of council protocol.

"It is etiquette to ask each other when you're going into different parishes whether you can wear your chains of office or badge.

"Harwich Town Council should let us know what's happening."

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