Bath's Expensive Mayor

February 08, 2012 2:46 PM

Bath resident Malcolm Ward has been keeping a close eye on the expenses of the City Mayor. Since 1996, when Bath City Council was incorporated into Bath & North East Somerset, the Mayor of Bath’s office was maintained for ceremonial reasons by the setting up of the Charter Trustees, which was granted a portion of local taxpayers’ money.

‘At that point in 1996, legislation set the mayoral precept at £60,000,’ said Ward in a letter to the local newspaper. ‘Subsequent inflation would have taken this figure to just under £100,000 in the current financial year. Somehow, in just over 15 years, the Charter Trustees have raised the precept to £209,000.’

And what exactly do we get for this money? ‘Throughout the year the Mayor is required to perform two basic functions,’ says his website. ‘The Mayor is the Chairman of the Charter Trustees,' which grants him the money, and City Ambassador, whose ‘events range from civic receptions to carol services.’ Amongst these onerous task are visits from Bath to its various Twin Cities. On these jaunts, ‘the Mayor is normally joined by the Clerk and two other Charter Trustees.’

Bath is twinned with four cities: Aix-en-Provence, France; Alkmaar in the Netherlands; Braunschweig, Germany; and Kaposvar in Hungary. Bath also has a partnership agreement with Beppu, Japan, and is a sister city to Manly, Australia. Recently, I attended a Bath Mayoral meeting at which a charming gentleman from Ghana was trying to sell the idea of twinning with his city of Cape Coast, apparently based on his own pleasurable time spent in Bath as a student and some reference to the chocolate trade. The Mayor is considering it. Quite who gains from this—apart from the Mayor and his mates who go on jolly trips—I do not know, but one penny of taxpayers’ money spent on this nonsense is one penny too much!

The Mayor of Bath announced recently that he is freezing his current expenses. But, as Malcolm Ward pointed out, these have already ready risen considerably more than inflation. He should be cutting his precept. At the end of a recent meeting of the Charter Trustees, perhaps sensing some antagonism from the public gallery, the Mayor asked everyone to join him for drinks afterwards. Mr Ward refused. ‘If I had gone to the parlour,’ he said, ‘I am sure I could have more than recouped my coming year's contribution to the mayoral precept.’Bath resident Malcolm Ward has been keeping a close eye on the expenses of the City Mayor. Since 1996, when Bath City Council was incorporated into Bath & North East Somerset, the Mayor of Bath’s office was maintained for ceremonial reasons by the setting up of the Charter Trustees, which was granted a portion of local taxpayers’ money.

‘At that point in 1996, legislation set the mayoral precept at £60,000,’ said Ward in a letter to the local newspaper. ‘Subsequent inflation would have taken this figure to just under £100,000 in the current financial year. Somehow, in just over 15 years, the Charter Trustees have raised the precept to £209,000.’

And what exactly do we get for this money? ‘Throughout the year the Mayor is required to perform two basic functions,’ says his website. ‘The Mayor is the Chairman of the Charter Trustees,' which grants him the money, and City Ambassador, whose ‘events range from civic receptions to carol services.’ Amongst these onerous task are visits from Bath to its various Twin Cities. On these jaunts, ‘the Mayor is normally joined by the Clerk and two other Charter Trustees.’

Bath is twinned with four cities: Aix-en-Provence, France; Alkmaar in the Netherlands; Braunschweig, Germany; and Kaposvar in Hungary. Bath also has a partnership agreement with Beppu, Japan, and is a sister city to Manly, Australia. Recently, I attended a Bath Mayoral meeting at which a charming gentleman from Ghana was trying to sell the idea of twinning with his city of Cape Coast, apparently based on his own pleasurable time spent in Bath as a student and some reference to the chocolate trade. The Mayor is considering it. Quite who gains from this—apart from the Mayor and his mates who go on jolly trips—I do not know, but one penny of taxpayers’ money spent on this nonsense is one penny too much!

The Mayor of Bath announced recently that he is freezing his current expenses. But, as Malcolm Ward pointed out, these have already ready risen considerably more than inflation. He should be cutting his precept. At the end of a recent meeting of the Charter Trustees, perhaps sensing some antagonism from the public gallery, the Mayor asked everyone to join him for drinks afterwards. Mr Ward refused. ‘If I had gone to the parlour,’ he said, ‘I am sure I could have more than recouped my coming year's contribution to the mayoral precept.’

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