THE leader of the new Cheshire West and Chester Council says a decision to reduce the number of mayors will save about £100,000 a year.
Cllr Mike Jones says abolishing mayors for Ellesmere Port and Vale Royal while retaining the title of Lord Mayor of Chester is a good result for council tax payers.
Controversially, the Lord Mayor would also would perform the role of mayor of West Cheshire, within two years, with some arguing the title has been “diluted” via the back door.
A shake-up of civic functions has been made necessary because of local government reorganisation which will see this area covered by the new Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) from April.
Cllr Jones said: “It can only be a good result. The Lord Mayor of Chester costs a couple of hundred thousand pounds a year which would have been paid for solely by the residents of Chester but will now be spread across the whole district and there will be savings in terms of Vale Royal and the Ellesmere Port one.
“You are probably talking about saving six figures, I would think.”
There had been concern that a councillor from a ward outside Chester could well end up becoming Lord Mayor of Chester. But Cllr Jones believes this attitude is “narrow-minded”.
Chester’s Lib Dem group leader Paul Roberts (Farndon) is on record of saying that allowing the Lord Mayor of Chester to effectively represent a wider area, without seeking permission of the monarch, is wrong.
He said: “It’s really the fact that the title was granted to the city of Chester and it’s a very rare honour to get. I don’t think it’s right that it’s then diluted around the place, especially if it’s done by the back door.”
Originally the shadow CWAC had intended to continue existing mayoralties for Chester, Vale Royal and Ellesmere Port even though the councils to which the offices are attached will be abolished.
But the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said it was minded not to allow the mayoralties of Ellesmere Port and Vale Royal to continue because they are not historic enough. Town mayoralties like those in Frodsham, Northwich and Winsford will continue.