Councillors reject call to replace council chair with mayor for Keynsham

Published on: 03 Jul 2015

A call to create a mayor for Keynsham has been rejected by town councillors.

The issue split opinion on the town council, with some members calling for a working party to look into the issue, others saying it should first be put to the public to decide and others opposing the idea completely.

The discussion on June 23 at a town council meeting followed a proposal from Labour councillor David Biddleston, who said he felt having a mayor rather than a council chair could raise the profile of the growing town among residents and with other local authorities.

Following the debate, he said: “I had hoped that a mayor for Keynsham might have raised the profile of the town significantly and had written to other local town council mayors to ask if they felt that the role had benefited their community. Without exception, their responses were very positive.

“I asked the town council, therefore, if they might agree to the idea in principle before we put together a group to discuss how it might best operate and consult with the community on whether they were interested in having a mayor. In the end, quite narrowly, the council were not in favour and a motion was made not to continue with the project."

The cost of purchasing a mayoral chain, in the region of £2,500, was among concerns, although Mr Biddleston pointed out it was not necessary for a mayor to have one. Other bones of contention were the increased expense and time pressure of appearing at more functions. 

Conservative councillor Brian Simmons said he felt the proposal was a “waste of time” and added: “The has never been a mayor in Keynsham – it has always been chair, not mayor. Would we end up with a horse and cart, a mace-bearer, frock coats and pantaloons? It looks nice, but does it do anything to benefit Keynsham?”

A motion to take no further action on looking into the issue was passed.

Mr Biddleston said: “Naturally, although I respect the views of my fellow councillors, I was disappointed. I had felt that a mayor for Keynsham might have encouraged the community to engage greater with local democracy and for residents to have an immediately identifiable representative which could serve the town well at business and other functions.”

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