The Head of Democratic and Customer Services, Andrew Colver, will provide the Panel with an overview of the Mayoral costs.
The Head of Democratic and Customer Services, Andrew Colver, was invited to the Panel to provide the background to the Mayoralty arrangement and an overview of the change in costs over the years. Members were reminded that the Mayor acted as the Queen’s representative in the Borough and the mayoralty had been part of civic life in Rushmoor for 42 years. The primary duties of the Mayor were listed, these included attending functions and religious services and undertaking official openings and presentations in the Borough and chairing Council meetings. The Panel was informed that the Mayoralty was well supported within the community and the demand for the Mayor’s attendance had continued to be high, with the Mayor attending over 300 events per year.
Members were advised that the Mayor’s main adviser was the Chief Executive with further support from his Executive Assistant and the Democratic Support Team. The Mayor was also supported by the Deputy Mayor, who deputised for the Mayor at some events. This gave Deputy Mayors a chance to experience the Mayoralty before their Mayoral year.
The Mayoral allowance was used to cover expenses of the role. The Mayor also received a £1,000 allowance for chairing Council meetings. It was noted that this had been a part of the recent review by the Remuneration Panel of the Members Allowances Scheme and the report was expected in the following few weeks.
The Panel was reminded that as part of a service costs review in 2010/11 there had been a restructure of the Mayoral support. It had been seen as important to ensure that the Mayoralty should ‘fit for purpose’.
The Panel was informed of the current staffing arrangements, which were provided directly through Democratic and Customer Services and divided between two staff. Their roles had included administrative work, i.e. the Mayor’s diary, organising specific events and dealing with the finances. The Macebearer had important ceremonial and security roles to carry out. This post was under review following the retirement of the post holder and this support had a potential to be provided from staff within the Council but in most occasions the Mayor and Deputy Mayor were expected to drive themselves to events and engagements.
The Panel noted that the Council supported four fundraising events each year, and also organised civic events, e.g. Remembrance Sunday. It was heard that these events took substantial resources to put on but supported the Mayor’s chosen charities.
Members were provided with some comparative cost data that had been obtained from other similar authorities, which had shown only a few differences between the budgets.
The Panel was informed that a Mayoral Protocol was in the process of being prepared and aimed to outline the Mayor’s roles and responsibilities, what the Council would provide and working and financial arrangements. It was noted that the protocol would provide clarity and guidance and would be included in the induction process for the Mayor elect.
It was concluded that the Mayor had played a large part in shaping the Council’s public image and the Mayor regularly received positive feedback and repeat requests. The Council was in a challenging financial position but recognised the value of the Mayoralty. The Mayoralty would continue to receive support from volunteers and it was believed that the protocol would help to provide clarity.
Andrew Colver answered questions on a number of issues including the Mayoral Car and condensing support from Members. It was requested that the ‘demand’ for the Mayor be recorded by staff in the future. It was also agreed that the possibility of providing a Members’ badge should be investigated.
The Panel NOTED the presentation and requested that the issues raised be examined further.