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> Civic Pomp and Commercial Promotion
Simon Kirby
post Jun 11 2015, 05:19 PM
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Here's a photo from this story about a shop.

We're taxed by the Town Council to provide a town crier for this kind of thing - about 10% of what the town council do is civic pomp of this kind, so in round terms the dressing up box costs us around £100k a year. My question is this then:

If this is the town council's town crier (and it doesn't look like the usual chap) then is this an appropriate use of tax-payer's money supporting commercial retail? Point is it might very well not be the town council chappie because it's not like impersonating policeman, anyone can dress up like a town crier, or mayor, or 17th century pirate or whatever, and if this book shop has paid someone to dress up like a town crier then good for them, but that does rather prove the point that we don't need to be taxed to provide this civic pomp when anyone can pop down to Pageant.


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blackdog
post Jun 11 2015, 06:41 PM
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Definitely not the Newbury town crier - who, I believe, does the 'job' for nothing, zero cost to the taxpayer. Similar situation with the town sergeant and the two mace bearers and, of course, the Mayor and councillors.

The town crier was handing out Camp Hopson leaflets in Northbrook St the other day, I suspect Camp's may have paid him for that.

But why shouldn't the town council help promote the town through opening ceremonies like this (the last mayor certainly re-opened a couple of pubs)?
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Simon Kirby
post Jun 11 2015, 07:44 PM
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QUOTE (blackdog @ Jun 11 2015, 07:41 PM) *
Definitely not the Newbury town crier - who, I believe, does the 'job' for nothing, zero cost to the taxpayer. Similar situation with the town sergeant and the two mace bearers and, of course, the Mayor and councillors.

I understand the mace bearers, etc get a little something - isn't it £20 an appearance - but I'm not particularly complaining about that, it's a relatively small amount. Councillors can claim a £65 annual allowance, but in effect you're right, they give their time freely. It is however far from true that the mayor is without cost. There is a significant direct administrative cost of providing the mayor and the other civic pomp - top of my head it's around £40k for staff costs against the Civic Duties head with broadly the same in overheads

QUOTE (blackdog @ Jun 11 2015, 07:41 PM) *
The town crier was handing out Camp Hopson leaflets in Northbrook St the other day, I suspect Camp's may have paid him for that.

But why shouldn't the town council help promote the town through opening ceremonies like this (the last mayor certainly re-opened a couple of pubs)?

Would you want your doctor or school teacher or vicar wearing an "Eat at Joe's" T-shirt. You trust these people, they represent authority, and you trust what they endorse, so it betrays that trust if it's used to sell you something.

Simple answer is for the BID to provide the town crier, mayor, jack o'the green, lords of misrule, hobby horses, fools waving pigs bladders on sticks, and whatever else brings a bit of colour to the town, as it has no place in the administration of local government.


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On the edge
post Jun 11 2015, 08:36 PM
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I have to say, I'm far from convinced that the dressing up bit plays any part at all in our democratic process. In fact, in my view, when it's rolled out for commercial purpose, it seriously detracts from its dignity; free or otherwise. One would hardly expect a High Court Judge to do all togged out personal appearances. Or indeed his Sheriff and other court officials doing their turn in the street - even if they did it for nix. This dressing up bit also helps perpetuate the pretence nonsenses that dog our democracy such as ceremonial counties, powerless Mayors, etc. It's also wrong, particularly in these straightened times that we should pay so much for this. I think Simon K has suggested before, that those who want to dress up could do so via Newbury Society, or at least join a drama club.


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