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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Mayor’s role could come with no robes

Alsager could soon have a mayor.

But the councillor who is calling for the switch in title from town chair believes that taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for the mayoral robes, estimated to cost around £1,500, not least because of the cost of living crisis.

Instead the town’s civic head would only wear the chain of office that has been worn by the chairs down the years, without any additional ceremonial attire.

Town councillor Michael Unett called for change not only because the town council can use the mayor and deputy mayor title but also because Alsager “has grown even more into a town over that past decade or so” and that “the time is right to sensibly update the title of chair to fit in with the town we serve today”.

Alsager’s civic leader has had the chair title since the town council was formed in 1974.
In a report about the mayoralty to Tuesday’s town council meeting, Coun Unett this year’s deputy chair and who was the chair in 2021-22, said the title “now seems out of place for a town of our size in Cheshire East”.

He explained that Alsager and Handforth are the only town councils in the borough that did not have a town mayor, Handforth having only recently made the change from being a parish council to a town council.

Middlewich Town Council was the last nearby to change the title of chair to mayor.
Speaking from experience in the civic role a few year ago Coun Unett said in his report: “The title of chair can cause some confusion among our residents, to visitors and others when the chair is away representing the town. People automatically assume that because Alsager is a town, the chair of the council is the town’s mayor.

“A lot of time can be spent by the chair of the council correcting and explaining the difference between the two, of which there is very little. The differences are that of title, but a town mayor has the same rights and duties as a local council chair.”

Speaking before Tuesday’s meeting Coun Unett told the Chronicle: “I think we can do things differently. I don’t think Alsager’s town mayor would need robes because of the cost and because they are not necessary for the new title of mayor today. We already have the chairman’s chain of office and that will suffice.”

He added: “The town council is in a difficult financial situation and what we don’t want to do is fritter money away, we want to make sure we offer value for money.”

Coun Unett also said that there remained a lot of “pomp and circumstance” surrounding the mayoral role in towns where they have been in existence for many years.

“Alsager’s mayor would be a really new title in the town and we can be modern with it,” he said.

Veteran Alsager town councillor Rod Fletcher, who became mayor of Cheshire East Council last month, agreed with Coun Unett.

He said: “My personal opinion is that the change is long overdue. The term chairman is outdated and inappropriate.

“I have been the chair of Alsager Town Council on five occasions and when attending events was frequently referred to as the mayor. I would support this change.”

(Photo: ATC).

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