'Shock' at rising cost for town's mayor

HOUSEHOLDERS will have to pay extra in their local precept for the privilege of having a mayor to represent their historic market town.

Richard Smith

HOUSEHOLDERS will have to pay extra in their local precept for the privilege of having a mayor to represent their historic market town.

The costs of running a major's office in Woodbridge have soared from £1,833 in 2007-8, to £4,100 in the current year.

Now the town council is to spend £7,850 on the mayor's expenditure in the next financial year and this increase is one reason why the local precept will rise by 8%.

But the town council has emphasised that in previous years mayors have often subsidised their running costs, particularly the large annual reception, and it is only fair that the costs should be met by the public.

In 2007-8 the mayor was given an allowance of £235, and £425 for a reception. Next year the budget for these costs are £4,500.

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Other planned costs are: printing, £500; newsletter, £1,500, orders of service and other costs, £1,000 and postage, £350.

The town council's total budget has increased from £164,430 in 2007-8 to £191,626 this year and £207,316 next year.

The budget and precept was approved at a full meeting of the town council. Les Binns, mayor of Woodbridge, emphasised that the mayor has to account for all his expenditure.

After the meeting, Nigel Barratt, chairman of the town's finance and staffing committee, said: “Mayors have tended to subsidise and pay for some of the costs out of their own pocket.

“For example, if you want to hold a reception which the mayor always does, for quite a large number of people and for it to be comparable to other small towns, you are talking about £8 to £10 a head.

“So either you put on a very small, mean sort of reception, or you actually spend some of your own money on it.

“The whole point of the reception is that it is not a shindig or fun thing for the mayor - you are inviting the great and the good, various voluntary and charitable groups, as a thank you for the work they do for Woodbridge.”

Mr Barratt, a former mayor, added: “We are also trying to get a better idea of how much it costs to have a mayor. Some of the costs we are now showing in the budget have been costs we have always had but they have been in a different part of the budget.

“We also have to produce a mayor's newsletter two or three times a year as part of the quality town status.

“It has come as a little bit of a shock that a mayor's office is costing this sort of money, but we do not think we can do it any cheaper.”

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