Stoke-on-Trent's thrifty Lord Mayors help to save £107k
CEREMONIAL duties carried out by the city's Lord Mayor have cost more than £464,000 since 2008 – but were cheaper than budgeted every year.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council proposed scrapping the historic ceremonial role of the Lord Mayor as part of this year's £24 million budget cuts. Officers claimed it would save £130,000.
But new figures show the Lord Mayor's office – including car hire, chauffeur, hospitality costs, allowances and secretarial support – costs an average of £116,000 a year and has never cost £130,000.
Finance records covering 2008/09 to 2011/12 show:
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A total of £75,559 has been spent on hospitality and entertaining guests in the Lord Mayor's parlour;
Funding a chauffeur to take the mayor to and from civic events has cost £114,755, while the cost of renting the mayoral car and paying for its fuel cost taxpayers £56,952;
The Lord Mayor's office spent an average of £26,727 less than it was given in each of the last four years – making it £107,000 under the total £571,280 budget.
Plans to abolish mayoral visits and events, relegating the Lord Mayor to a basic role of chairman at full council meetings, were dropped after a campaign backed by residents and members of the ruling Labour group.
Serving Lord Mayor Terry Crowe, who holds the chains until May, said his office is on course to spend less than budgeted.
He said: "I have tried to run the office as thriftily as possible.
"We've attended over 300 events now and could be on course for a record-breaking year. If we can do that and within the budget, that will be great.
"I've been in politics for a long time and what has surprised me is the warmth of the people to the Lord Mayor – not to me personally, but to the position.
"We get many people coming up to us at functions, people we've never met before, and they all want a picture with the Lord Mayor and are so glad the decision was made to keep it. I have been humbled."
Terry Follows, independent member for Trentham and Hanford, attended more than 420 events as Lord Mayor in 2011/12.
He said: "We have the only Lord Mayor in Staffordshire. It's something we've got to nurture and be proud of. It's an honour bestowed on us by royal command.
"I had a fabulous year, met some wonderful people and many unpaid heroes."
Councillor Paul Shotton, cabinet member for finance, said: "The position has been in the city since 1925 and as first citizen they have an important role in promoting the interests of the city.
"The work can range from civic receptions and parades to visiting schools or delivering a card to mark a 100th birthday, as well as raising money for charity and attracting business to the city."