CONTROVERSIAL plans could see the Lord Mayor of Chester being a councillor representing a ward from outside the city.
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 next April.
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) has said it is minded not to allow the mayoralties of Ellesmere Port and Vale Royal to continue because they are not historic enough.
Next Thursday members of the shadow CWAC will consider an option to seek borough status for the new council area leading to the creation of a mayor for the whole of Cheshire West who could also become Lord Mayor of Chester.
Shadow council leader Mike Jones (Con, Broxton) said: “I’m really pleased the DCLG is potentially allowing us to combine the two roles which would be very efficient. It’s very exciting because it also means Chester would be the civic centre of the new authority.”
Cllr Jones said ‘narrowmindedness’ over who is allowed to become Lord Mayor of Chester would be “destructive”. In addition, Chester Council Tax-payers would benefit because the £250,000 annual cost of running the Lord Mayor’s office would be spread across the whole of West Cheshire.
Cllr Stephen Mosley (Con, Handbridge & St Mary’s), deputy leader of Chester City Council, who is at odds with his Conservative colleague, said: “I think the city status and the Lord Mayoralty and the Sheriff have been given to the city of Chester and they are positions of honour given by the Queen and we shouldn’t be handing them back.”
Chester’s Lib Dem group leader Paul Roberts (Farndon) believes allowing the Lord Mayor of Chester to effectively represent a wider area, without seeking permission of the monarch, would be 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.”