Calls made to retain mayoral role for new West Suffolk council

Eva Wollaston Greene, the first woman mayor for St Edmundsbury in 1927/8. Picture: MARTYN TAYLOR

Eva Wollaston Greene, the first woman mayor for St Edmundsbury in 1927/8. Picture: MARTYN TAYLOR - Credit: Archant

With the days counting down to the end of the consultation over the civic leadership for the new West Suffolk Council two influencial people have put their weight firmly behind retaining the mayoral role.

Margaret Marks, the current mayor of St Edmundsbury. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

Margaret Marks, the current mayor of St Edmundsbury. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT - Credit: Archant

Historian Dr Francis Young and Martyn Taylor, chairman of the Bury Society, say that the formal role of mayor should be kept in place and not to let history and heritage “slip away.”

Residents are currently being urged to voice their views over the merger between St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council.

Borough status has to be awarded, it cannot be transferred from one to another and both councils made sure the government agreed that the new authority has the power to apply.

Residents are now being asked whether the new council should apply to the Privy Council for borough status for the new West Suffolk area.

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If borough status is successfully applied for, the council also wants to hear residents’ views on whether they want a mayor or council chairman as civic figurehead.

If West Suffolk Council successfully applied for borough status, it could have either a mayor or chairman as its civic figurehead. The new council will be created in April 2019.

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Dr Young said: “I think that it’s very important for the identity of Bury St Edmunds but also the identity of the surrounding villages and West Suffolk that a formal role of mayor is retained.

“What matters is the continuity of tradition but it’s not just traditon for the sake of the past, it’s also a tradition that embodies a royal authority that’s conferred on a mayor of the borough.

“The fact that the mayor wears red is the colour of the crown and is a royal representative.

“Bury fought long and hard to get that borough status, a civil war was fought over this.

“Bury has a strong sense of civic pride, it is a town that is proud of its history and the mayoralty and the borough status is something that belongs to the people of Bury St Edmunds.

“The office of mayor gives that focal identity to the town’s civic pride and there is somebody you can point to who is the representative of the people of Bury St Edmunds and that person can trade their lineage back to the 17th Century and before.”

Mr Taylor added: “Once Bury St Edmunds loses its borough status it will be extremely difficult to get it back.

“In 2001 a poll conducted within the town showed that a majority of electors were in favour of its own council, hence the Bury Town Council was born in 2003.

“Co-existing alongside St Edmundsbury Council and Suffolk County Council it opted for a chairman/chair instead of a mayor. If the proposed West Suffolk Council does not apply to the Privy Council for its borough status could not the Town Council take on this mantel?

“Whatever happens it is incumbent on those who care for this wonderful town of ours not to let our history and heritage just slip away.”

People are able to have their say up to September 2 and can answer questions online at or

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