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HJD
post May 19 2014, 08:20 AM
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Did any forum members go to the Ceremony yesterday, just wondering .........
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Simon Kirby
post May 19 2014, 08:36 AM
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QUOTE (HJD @ May 19 2014, 09:20 AM) *
Did any forum members go to the Ceremony yesterday, just wondering .........

No.

Having a Mayor serves no purpose, it is a waste of tax-payer's money, and a distraction from the legitimate business of local government administration. Having a "crowning" ceremony is nothing more than a piece of self-congratulatory flummery. Time to shed ourselves of the ceremonial town council mayor. If it's civic colour you want at the opening of your garden party then great, invite the Newbury Society to dress up a local worthy as a seventeenth century pirate, but for goodness sake don't tax me to pay for this self-serving nonsense.

The town council is failed, and virtually everything it does is tainted with self-serving arrogance and ineptitude - it needs to address that honestly and openly and account for its failings, and not hide behind this pantomime.


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massifheed
post May 19 2014, 09:18 AM
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QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ May 19 2014, 08:36 AM) *
Time to shed...


Can't we have one thread from you that doesn't involve allotments?!? wink.gif


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On the edge
post May 19 2014, 09:35 AM
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It gets better, we have a Mayoress and a Deputy Mayor as well. Presumably if the Mayor finds doing nothing too onerous! Why are we just concentrating on this one defunct official? Shouldn't we have a ceremonial ARP Warden as well? And, perhaps more to the point in these hard economic times, a ceremonial Beadle to look after the poor and needy? It was a bit odd this happened on a Sunday morning, when if they were really going for Town Centre attractions Saturday would have been better for a fancy dress parade....


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MontyPython
post May 19 2014, 11:06 AM
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QUOTE (On the edge @ May 19 2014, 10:35 AM) *
It gets better, we have a Mayoress and a Deputy Mayor as well. Presumably if the Mayor finds doing nothing too onerous! Why are we just concentrating on this one defunct official? Shouldn't we have a ceremonial ARP Warden as well? And, perhaps more to the point in these hard economic times, a ceremonial Beadle to look after the poor and needy? It was a bit odd this happened on a Sunday morning, when if they were really going for Town Centre attractions Saturday would have been better for a fancy dress parade....


Wasn't "The Muppet Show" traditionally on a Sunday tongue.gif biggrin.gif
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On the edge
post May 19 2014, 11:38 AM
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QUOTE (MontyPython @ May 19 2014, 12:06 PM) *
Wasn't "The Muppet Show" traditionally on a Sunday tongue.gif biggrin.gif


Oh well done!!! That's a belter laugh.gif laugh.gif laugh.gif


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On the edge
post May 19 2014, 11:38 AM
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QUOTE (MontyPython @ May 19 2014, 12:06 PM) *
Wasn't "The Muppet Show" traditionally on a Sunday tongue.gif biggrin.gif


Oh well done!!! That's a belter laugh.gif laugh.gif laugh.gif

SORRY, ACCIDENTAL DUPLICATE. But Monty's observation good enough to repeat!


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Simon Kirby
post May 19 2014, 12:05 PM
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QUOTE (massifheed @ May 19 2014, 10:18 AM) *
Can't we have one thread from you that doesn't involve allotments?!? wink.gif

laugh.gif


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Ruwan Uduwerage-...
post May 19 2014, 01:08 PM
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Dear Forum Members,

QUOTE
Having a Mayor serves no purpose, it is a waste of tax-payer's money, and a distraction from the legitimate business of local government administration.
states our learned colleague Simon Kirby, and I have to say that we disagree on aspects of this statement.

The reality is that the public seem to rather like the Mayor, otherwise why would hundreds of organisations ask for their attendance each year?

Does the Mayor need to be a function of the Town Council though is a separate matter?

Personally I would very much favour a process where the public elect their the Mayor to undertake civic duties and then there would be no opportunity for the Mayor to politically influence the running of local government and therefore limit the need for those interested in a political agenda to seek such office.

How this would work, at this moment I have no idea, but if more Forum members became Councillors then potentially we could have a revolution in the council chamber over this very matter.

Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera,
Newbury Town Council - Councillor for Victoria Ward & Deputy Leader
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MontyPython
post May 19 2014, 04:32 PM
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QUOTE (Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera @ May 19 2014, 02:08 PM) *
The reality is that the public seem to rather like the Mayor, otherwise why would hundreds of organisations ask for their attendance each year?


There seems a major disconnect here.

a. Hundreds is a minority even in Newbury.

b. The reason the Mayor gets invited is an attempt to get publicity for their organisation, not a love for the fact we have a mayor.

So what evidence is there that the public like having a mayor?
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Simon Kirby
post May 19 2014, 05:16 PM
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QUOTE (Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera @ May 19 2014, 02:08 PM) *
... states our learned colleague Simon Kirby

Why the need to mock me? I'm perfectly civil to you, in public and private, so attack my argument however you like, but don't patronise me.

QUOTE (Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera @ May 19 2014, 02:08 PM) *
The reality is that the public seem to rather like the Mayor, otherwise why would hundreds of organisations ask for their attendance each year?

Does the Mayor need to be a function of the Town Council though is a separate matter?

Personally I would very much favour a process where the public elect their the Mayor to undertake civic duties and then there would be no opportunity for the Mayor to politically influence the running of local government and therefore limit the need for those interested in a political agenda to seek such office.

How this would work, at this moment I have no idea, but if more Forum members became Councillors then potentially we could have a revolution in the council chamber over this very matter.

The issue isn't whether or not people like the mayor, the issue is whether it is proportionate, cost-effective, and proper for the town council to provide the mayor at a cost to the public.

Cost first: The council spends a total of £112k under the Civic Duties head; £18k on running costs, £38k on staffing, and £54k of back-office overheads (including another £33k of staffing costs).

That £18k of running costs breaks down as £3,000 Honorarium, £3,000 Mayor's Allowances, £2,050 for the Mayor Making ceremony, £500 for regalia and uniforms, £500 for the civic robe replacement fund, £1,000 for civic hospitality, £700 for the Remembrance Day, £2,500 for the Freedom Parade (whatever that is), £3,000 for Twin Town entertaining, £500 for civic events, and £400 for civic awards, and a £575 retainer for Watership Brass.

So it appears to me that those benefiting most from the Civic Duties are the council and its councillors, dressing up and generally lording it over the rest of us. It hardly improves the council's engagement when the councillors are actively encouraged to think they are socially superior.

I don't dispute that there are hundreds of events that the Mayor gets to go to each year - and it really is an impressively full schedule, but is there a public benefit proportionate to the cost? - because the cost of running the Mayor and all that pomp is outrageously high.

The Mayor's attendances are largely middle-class social hob-nobbing - plenty of military and religious events of one sort or another, and some inter-town civic schmoozing, but the benefit is almost entirely to the schmoozing elite, like the Newbury Society Cheese and Wine Party, the Newbury Twin Town Association AGM, a panel unveilling at the Council's own Clock Tower, or a concert at Douai Abbey.

Hardly seemed appropriate to me for the Mayor to lend the approval and civic dignity of the Town Council to the opening of the new William Hill betting shop in the Market Place.

I agree that a town can benefit from some civic dignity, but that's what the Newbury Society is for, and if that's your hobby then great, schmooze away, but it's hardly a proper function of local government, not when that same pantomime character chairs the full council - and we're all expected to stand as they come in like the entrance of the Queen of Sheba!

Separate the flummery from the serious business of local government administration; drop the ceremonial mayor and style yourself as a parish council.


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Ruwan Uduwerage-...
post May 19 2014, 11:08 PM
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QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ May 19 2014, 06:16 PM) *
Hardly seemed appropriate to me for the Mayor to lend the approval and civic dignity of the Town Council to the opening of the new William Hill betting shop in the Market Place.


Mockery was certainly not intended as you know that I have respect for you and your thoughts. You are though very well read and I rarely have to double check anything that you have referred to.

The William Hill attendance is of concern, as there is growing concern about the level of gambling in society, and do we really need to encourage such behaviour? I have to say that I missed this.

Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera
Newbury Town Council - Councillor for Victoria Ward & Deputy Leader


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Simon Kirby
post May 20 2014, 05:28 AM
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QUOTE (Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera @ May 20 2014, 12:08 AM) *
Mockery was certainly not intended as you know that I have respect for you and your thoughts. You are though very well read and I rarely have to double check anything that you have referred to.

The William Hill attendance is of concern, as there is growing concern about the level of gambling in society, and do we really need to encourage such behaviour? I have to say that I missed this.

Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera
Newbury Town Council - Councillor for Victoria Ward & Deputy Leader

Thank you.


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JeffG
post May 20 2014, 08:43 AM
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QUOTE (Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera @ May 19 2014, 02:08 PM) *
The reality is that the public seem to rather like the Mayor, otherwise why would hundreds of organisations ask for their attendance each year?

QUOTE (MontyPython @ May 19 2014, 05:32 PM) *
a. Hundreds is a minority even in Newbury.

How many organisations do you think there are in Newbury, then?
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The Optimist
post May 20 2014, 11:47 PM
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There are a lot of people who are attracted to the ceremonial position of mayor.

Given this, establish an elected mayor who is not paid, receives no allowances and gets no expenses covered (i.e. make it a fully voluntary option) and I doubt that you'd have a shortage of candidates who would love to feel important and put on the gold chains, the mayoral robes and the bicorne.

Even if you cut down just the honorarium, the allowances and the ceremony, that's half of the cost saved per Simon's figures which I haven't checked but suspect are entirely accurate. People would still get their pictures of the mayor cutting a ribbon in the NWN and the position would be filled.

Unless it is suggested that not a single person would want to stand if there isn't any offset of costs? I can't believe that some people wouldn't pay for the privilege of being mayor.

Maybe I'm wrong, wouldn't be the first time smile.gif
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NWNREADER
post May 21 2014, 12:04 AM
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Mike Rodgers' vision was of The Mayor being more like The Speaker in Parliament; elected by all Members for their personal ability to represent the town apolitically. An Ambassador.
As for the cost, while not a constituent I am mystified how the Admin costs are allocated. Diary and correspondence management is not such a huge task in this digital world. Otherwise the 'Councillor' costs are the same as for any Member.
Or am I naive?
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On the edge
post May 21 2014, 06:02 AM
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The Optimist is right, some would pay for the privilege of being Mayor. In past days, they did and for some the burden was onerous, so the system was changed.

The Mike Rogers vision was indeed naive. That is because we've let party politics into the parish council., Once you've done that, it is impossible to have an apolitical leader / mayor. That's what the present row is about.

So, then, why not have an independent Mayor? That would mean divorcing the office from the Town Council and just appointing someone to dress up and attend functions; nothing else. Thus eliminating the purpose of the role. You would then be better off appointing an actor, who would at least be photogenic.

The real answer is to do away with the apolitical pretence. The Mayor should be the Council chair, so either formally agree the pecking order - in which case no votes are needed when the actual appointment is made OR let the majority party choose. However, the thing you can't do is pretend the office isn't political.

To my mind, the Town Council would be an ideal candidate to be run in the same way as London. An elected Mayor (who would also replace the CEO function) and fewer Councillors. We would then be getting a bit closer to democratic accountability.


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Simon Kirby
post May 21 2014, 08:58 AM
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QUOTE (On the edge @ May 21 2014, 07:02 AM) *
The Optimist is right, some would pay for the privilege of being Mayor. In past days, they did and for some the burden was onerous, so the system was changed.

The Mike Rogers vision was indeed naive. That is because we've let party politics into the parish council., Once you've done that, it is impossible to have an apolitical leader / mayor. That's what the present row is about.

So, then, why not have an independent Mayor? That would mean divorcing the office from the Town Council and just appointing someone to dress up and attend functions; nothing else. Thus eliminating the purpose of the role. You would then be better off appointing an actor, who would at least be photogenic.

The real answer is to do away with the apolitical pretence. The Mayor should be the Council chair, so either formally agree the pecking order - in which case no votes are needed when the actual appointment is made OR let the majority party choose. However, the thing you can't do is pretend the office isn't political.

To my mind, the Town Council would be an ideal candidate to be run in the same way as London. An elected Mayor (who would also replace the CEO function) and fewer Councillors. We would then be getting a bit closer to democratic accountability.

As a creature of statute the position of town mayor is unambiguously simple: The parish council of a town can, by Sub-section 245(6) of the Local Government Act 1972 resolve to style itself a "town council", and the chairman of such a town council is then entitled to style themself "town mayor". None of that makes an iota of difference to the status or powers of the council or its chaiman, it is simply a matter of style. A town council is equally capable of resolving to style itself "parish council", or perhaps more appropriately "community council", and in those situations the chairman of the council isn't called anything special. The chairman of a town council is not even obliged to style themselves "town mayor", they can call themself "chairman of the council" and not make any kind of song and dance about theur status whatsoever, though as the point of styling the council a "town council" is simply to qualify the chairman of the council to the style "town mayor" it's unusual to find a town council that doesn't call its chairman "town mayor".

Technically the style of the chairman of a town council is "town mayor" and not "mayor". The "town mayor" is purely a ceremonial style and has no powers other than to chair the parish council; all of the powers of a parish council are held by the council collectively and corporately and no individual councillor has the authority of the council.

A "mayor" is entirely different, and has executive authority, but parish and town councils can't create one of these, and it is disingenuous for town mayors to drop the qualifying "town".

So the town mayor is nothing more than the chairman of a town council as designated by Section 15 of the Local Government Act 1972. There is absolutely no requirement for the chairman of the council to be non-political and Sub-section 15(8) makes it clear that the chairman of the council remains in every respect a full members of the council. Quite the contrary - there are legal obligations on councillors to decide matters before them in the interests of their constituents and it is not lawful to fetter the ability of a council to exercise that judgement, so ideas of the chairman of the parish council being in some way non-political like the Speaker of the Commons is just vanity.

The answer for Newbury then is for the town council to make a resolution under Seb-section 245(9) to revoke the style of "town council" which will disallow the style "town mayor" for the chairman of the council, and then if it isn't content to call itself a "parish council" and wants something a bit more urban it might resolve under Section 12A to call itself a "community council".

There is no legal prohibition on the use of the name "mayor", so there is nothing whatsoever to prevent any civic organisation arranging an annual vote from amongst its members of more widely for the post of ceremonial mayor, or any other whimsical character such as Queen of the May, Lord of Misrule, Jack of the Green", etc. This is just the kind of thing that civic societies exist to do, though while the Big Fat State franchise provides one there is simply no room in the market for these other groups, but without the town council mayor the way would be open for the Big Society to fill what by all accounts is some good demand for civic pomp.


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Ruwan Uduwerage-...
post May 21 2014, 09:08 AM
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Simon,

As always you make some extremely pertinent points that I actually agree with, so I make the offer again to come and join those of us in the Chamber who also wish to bring about the changes that will enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the Town Council for the residents of Newbury.

Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera,
Newbury Town Council - Councillor for Victoria Ward & Deputy Leader
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Andy Capp
post May 21 2014, 09:21 AM
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QUOTE (The Optimist @ May 21 2014, 12:47 AM) *
There are a lot of people who are attracted to the ceremonial position of mayor.

Given this, establish an elected mayor who is not paid, receives no allowances and gets no expenses covered (i.e. make it a fully voluntary option) and I doubt that you'd have a shortage of candidates who would love to feel important and put on the gold chains, the mayoral robes and the bicorne.

Even if you cut down just the honorarium, the allowances and the ceremony, that's half of the cost saved per Simon's figures which I haven't checked but suspect are entirely accurate. People would still get their pictures of the mayor cutting a ribbon in the NWN and the position would be filled.

Unless it is suggested that not a single person would want to stand if there isn't any offset of costs? I can't believe that some people wouldn't pay for the privilege of being mayor.

Maybe I'm wrong, wouldn't be the first time smile.gif

The problem I see here is it would make the role exclusive to those that can afford to perform the role without pay; in other words, the well off. At the moment, the mayor can be almost anyone who qualifies as a councillor.
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