Friday, May 18, 2007

Annual Council

Annual Council last night, with a lot of new faces on both sides of the Chamber lapping up the atmosphere.

A timeless element is added to this meeting with the election of the Mayor. The office of Darlington's ceremonial, non-political Mayor goes back 140 years, and there are a slew of former Mayors amongst both Tory and Labour Councillors. They know that it's a gruelling but immensely rewarding job, and much appreciated by local people. Our new Mayor Cllr. Marian Swift will be a first-class ambassador for the Borough.

Of course, if the shadowy businessmen behind the elected Mayor campaign have their way, this will be the last such occasion, as our ceremonial Mayor is consigned to the dustbin of history.

From the comments made on both sides before and after the meeting, I think that if a vote had been taken last night then there would have been an overwhelming majority in favour of retaining the ceremonial Mayor. Of course, it is the people of Darlington and not Councillors alone who will decide, and a lot of work to be done to explain to them exactly what they have to lose.

15 comments:

ian holme said...

Thought the echo reported this week that the elected mayor "model" proposed by dbc includes for a ceremonial mayor, who would take precedence at events and functions.

If it was in the echo, it must be right......surely....???

Darlington Councillor said...

Indeed. The Echo story was misleading, although to be fair that's probably down to a poorly-worded officer's report.

I can confirm that if there is an elected Mayor, then the ceremonial mayor would be abolished. The legislation is quite clear - rather like the immortals in Highlander, there can be only one.

In the place of the ceremonial Mayor would probably be a chairman. They have something similar in Middlesbrough, but I understand only a fraction of the old ceremonial role has survived.

We have a Special Council this afternoon which will consider the consultation process regarding the elected Mayor proposal, which I'll blog on later. I intend to ask a question to clarify this point as I guess many people will have been confused by the Echo story too.

ian holme said...

Nick,
On reading the report itself, it is clear that only the elected mayor can be called mayor, but the name for the ceremonial position is open for discussion. This would also apply to the extent of the role of the cermonial position. Certainly if he/she chairs the council and takes precedence as social events, it would appear very simialr to the current mayor, just with a different name.
Therefore only the name of mayor would be abolished, not the role.

Darlington Councillor said...

I'm not sure it's as easy as saying that "only" the name of the Mayor would be abolished Ian - for many people the name and the office are inextricably linked. Having a chairman (or whatever) simply won't be the same, and in my opinion, something valuable will have been lost, including that link with 140 years of history.

ian holme said...

errrmmm, not quite so reluctant to relinquish the victorian heart of our town though Nick?

Sion said...

It has become apparent how ignorant not only residents but councillors are to this somewhat mad discussion. Hypothetically, lets put it this way: I’m going to stand as a candidate for Mayor and should I be elected, not only will the chains and cloke be thrown away in my drawer, I’m going to abolish the next in line honour for the longest sitting councillor. I’m going to simply employ someone from MacDonald’s to carry out the role of the previous Mayor’s of 140 years of history of this town. And should anyone achieve anything of any importance, such as come second in the world of darts, a bloke from mac-d will shake their hand… wake up Darlington!

Anonymous said...

Don't we like shady businessmen in Newer Labour?

Anonymous said...

Well there we have it. A recipe for Darlington entering the gates of Hades.

Darlington Councillor said...

I think I said "shadowy" rather than "shady" anonymous.

Thanks for your comment Sion - before their mayoral referendum the citizens of Middlesbrough were similarly reassured about the continuation of the ceremonial role. I'm reluctant to blog about this further until I've done some more digging, but I promise I will return to it.

And Ian - well, we disagree on the extent to which the town centre is somehow denuded now of its history. Even if you think that I bear some responsibility for that, however, that's hardly an argument for the civic vandalism that ditching the ceremonial Mayor involves.

Biro said...

Sion why should the man from Mc D's have less chance of being mayor than one of the council cronies that we despise so much, trying to keep all the power of DBC to themselves, its clear you are Labour and like your pals at DBC can feel the noose of rebelion tightening around Labours meal ticket on the gravy train, Democracy is the fair way and if it does mean the chains and robes of pomp being disgaurded then so be it!

CHRISTOPHER WARDELL 4 MAYOR said...

Put it in the dustbin. Bring in the elected mayor. The nauseating sight of Swift as the mayor is only the latest in a long stream of unpopular clowns which includes the embarrasement which is Councillor Fat Butthole.

You and your lot didn't care about erasing history and tradition which was enjoyed and appriciated by thousands of Darlingtonians when you destroyed High Row or voted to demolish The White Horse.

This is a tradition only enjoyed by a privileged few. Whats the matter Moonface frightened you might miss your turn?

I might hasten to add that I for one would hate to see the mayoral lamp post become loose and crash through the roof of Ms Swifts house and onto her bed as she slept........or Mr Wallace if he ever gets a turn.
CHRISTOPHER WARDELL FOR MAYOR!

Darlington Councillor said...

...well, now we know who Captain Democracy and "Truth Seeker" is.

I can honestly say, Christopher, that you are the perfect advocate for the elected Mayor campaign, and I hope you get lots of airtime as the campaign develops.

Anonymous said...

Having enjoyed the style, if not always the content, of our bowler-hatted friend's letters in HAS, I think it is safe to say that whoever "christopherwardell4mayor" is, it is unlikely to be the man himself.

Darlington Councillor said...

So is he or isn't he? Only 'Christopher Wardell 4 Mayor' can clear this up...

Anonymous said...

Okay, Shadowy. Still the question remains.