Welcome to Democratic Durham……….Post election, things go from bad to worse.
At a meeting today of Charter trustees who oversee the 400 year tradition of Mayor of Durham City, the Labour party downgraded the Mayor.
In addition they threw a well respected ex-Mayor and alderman of our City out of the meeting and barred the press against the wishes of the Acting Mayor, and current Deputy Mayor Councillor Hopgood.
Labour will now effectively merge the Mayor and Chairman of the Council positions if they carry through with this at the formal Mayor Making meeting in June.
We suggested that in line with 400 years of history, the deputy Mayor become Mayor, with her year of experience in the role as Deputy, but instead Labour chose to politicise the position and unceremoniously ditch the Deputy Mayor, replacing them with Councillor Pauline Charlton from Evenwood in Teesdale.
One Labour member said their actions would save £100,000 but completely failed to explain how, and did this in front of the employee who is paid from this money – about as disrespectful and out of order as you can get.
Labour will now effectively merge the Mayor and Chairman of the Council positions. Not one of the charter trustees present who are also labour councillors could properly explain how a single individual could attend over 800 separate events as a merged Mayor and Chairman. Indeed at the meeting of the full council today council leader Simon Henig commented on how difficult a role being chairman of the council is, with over 400 events to attend. Presumably doing another 400-600 on top of that is impossible then? So many people who look forward to seeing the Mayor at local events will be let down.
Over the last nine years £200,000 has been raised for charity by successive Mayors.
The only hope now for the protection of the position of Mayor of Durham City and 400 years of tradition is the creation of a Town Council.
I am proud to support the Mayoralty of Durham City, which is why along with other charter trustees we proposed the existing Deputy Mayor to become mayor, and will propose Cllr Hopgood at the forthcoming Mayor Making instead of the Labour proposal.
The position of Mayor is supposed to be non-political. Labour have destroyed that principle.
The Labour proposal for next Deputy Mayor was fully supported by all charter trustees who are Lib Dem councillors, because we at least respect the position as not being political.
When I think back to the magnificent way in which past Mayors have represented our City, including local independent councillor Jeff Lodge who I proposed for freedom of the City before his death, it saddens me that elected councillors would seek to undermine the history of Durham City.