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Calls made to protect mayor's office in Weymouth and Portland
NEW calls have been made to protect the mayor’s office in Weymouth and Portland.
The borough council is considering cuts to the mayoral budget to save money which could include getting rid of the dedicated chauffeur and car.
Council chiefs say the role of mayor is safe – but the cuts could mean the person carrying out duties may have to make their own way to engagements.
The move has already come under fire from former councillor Andy Hutchings who described it as a ‘cut too far’ and a ‘serious downgrading of the office’.
Another former councillor, Jess Nagel, who was mayor from 1989 to 1990, echoed these comments at a full council meeting.
She told councillors: “The mayor can’t function without the chauffeur.
“He’s not just a chauffeur – he’s the mayor’s officer.
“He’s the mace bearer and is really the mayor’s right-hand man.”
Councillors also heard from another former mayor and councillor, Graham Winter, who said the mayor was the ‘first citizen and ambassador’ who would find it difficult to get around without a car.
The calls come at a time when Weymouth and Portland Borough Council is under pressure to find savings following funding cuts from central government.
The mayor is a non-political role and the person filling the post acts as the figurehead of the borough, hosting visitors and attending functions.
The mayor, supported by a deputy, will undertake around 400 engagements a year throughout Dorset and select chosen charities for the year.
Explaining the possible cut to the mayoral budget, current mayor Margaret Leicester, who chaired the full council meeting, said: “These are all suggestions that have to be looked at, given the amount of money that has been allocated to us.
“We are having to ask members of the public what services they want retained. It comes down to: Do you want rubbish collected or do you want the Pavilion? These are things we have to look at.”
Coun Leicester added: “I would ask people to have some sympathy for us.
“We have some stringent conditions to work under.
“And it’s going to get worse.
“We’re trying to make the most of what we’ve been left with.”