Taxpayers to foot mayor's chain bill

By Liz HearnshawTAXPAYERS will foot the £5,000 bill for a set of mayoral chains after councillors rejected a proposal to meet the cost from their own pockets.

By Liz Hearnshaw

TAXPAYERS will foot the £5,000 bill for a set of mayoral chains after councillors rejected a proposal to meet the cost from their own pockets.

But supporters of the move said the average band D household in Bury ST Edmunds would only have to pay an extra 40p to meet the cost of the controversial chains.

They added that represented the best possible value for money and would provide the Mayor of Bury St Edmunds with an identity and help maintain tradition.

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The cost of the chains provoked controversy just two months after Bury Town Council's inaugural meeting, with members questioning the logic of providing a second dignitary for a community which already has the Mayor of St Edmundsbury.

But town council members have now rejected a suggestion they dig deep into their own pockets to meet the £5,000 price tag - an option seen by Abbeygate ward councillor Paul Farmer as the best way forward.

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“I am sorry that councillors did not support my suggestion of our contributing to the cost of the mayoral chain,” said Mr Farmer.

“This gesture could have helped to diffuse an issue that has unfortunately been blown up out of all proportion.

“I still support what the council has decided for a one-off cost of less than 40 pence for a band D household.

“The residents of Bury St Edmunds will get something which will help give an identity to the mayor, whoever he or she is, for years to come.”

But David Nettleton, who was elected to the town council as the sole member of the Stop Wasting Our Taxes group, remained opposed to the insignia, which he felt was unnecessary.

“The council is wasting taxpayers' money, which I already pay, so I am not going to waste my own personal money contributing to something which I have always been against,” he said.

“I am not convinced this is necessary and cannot see when the chain will actually be used. We already have a borough mayor and I do not see why Bury St Edmunds needs another.”

Mr Nettleton added: “However, I am glad there has been no more talk of robes as they are very antiquated and would have cost extra, which would not have done the reputation of the town council any good.

“We are supposed to be a modern council and I think we should look forwards, not back.”

But town mayor Bob Cockle said the chains would be purchased from a local jeweller, ensuring business generated by the council remained in Bury St Edmunds.

“A sum of £5,000 has been agreed for the mayor and deputy mayor's chain of honour, following quite a debate,” he added.

“I intend to do business with a Bury jeweller, in the same way that we are banking in the town and will buy furniture for our offices from local companies.”

Mr Cockle continued: “The vote in favour of the chains was unanimous, apart from one councillor, and we think this provides the best value for the taxpayer.

“There has been a lot of controversy about the cost of this, but we agreed from day one that nothing would be spent until we had gone into great detail. We have based this figure on quotes we have received from local jewellers.

“Already the mayor and deputy mayor are attending functions as just men in suits. By tradition, there should be some kind of recognition.”

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