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Debate over £15,000 cost of updating gold regalia
SWINDON’S new mayor Mick Bray has joined a campaign for the names of retired mayors to continue to be added to the gold mayoral chain – at a cost of more than £15,000.
Since the borough was created in 1974, mayors have had their names engraved on to the links in the existing solid gold chain, which the mayor wears at formal occasions.
Now several councillors are calling for the situation to be put right because they say it is important to give all mayors equal recognition and keep up the traditions of the mayor’s office.
The council says the work to add in the names would involve replacing the chain’s inner ring, which has the names from further back, so that blank discs could be incorporated. The existing inner circle would be taken out and put on display in the mayor’s parlour, alongside other mayoral chains dating back to around 1900.
The project would be funded from council reserves and is particularly expensive because the gold price has rocketed.
Coun Bray, who thought more links could instead be added to the existing chain, said: “I would like to see the names added. It’s nice that the chain of office is something that’s worn by every mayor and every mayor I feel should have the right to have their name on it.”
Coun Ray Ballman, the previous mayor, said it would be preferable to take some of the very old names out and put in blanks for the new mayors, rather than buy a new ring. She said: “It’s not the fact I’m not on it, it’s the fact the other mayors aren’t on it either which does seem a shame.”
Kevin Small (Lab, Mannington and Western) said if Swindon wants a mayor, it has to be done right. He said: “As far as I know the money is there and I would be the first to admit it’s never the right time to purchase it but the longer it takes the more expensive it becomes,” he said.
But Stan Pajak (Lab, Eastcott), who was mayor from 2002-03, said: “I wouldn’t want to spend £15,000, I think it could be better spent.”
Coun David Renard, deputy council leader, said leader Rod Bluh believed the cost could not be justified in this economic climate but if the issue came before full council there was likely to be a free vote.
A council spokesman said: “We are considering whether this can be justified in the current economic climate.”