Waverley Borough Council Home Page Waverley Borough Council Home Page


Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 03/02/2004
APPENDIX K - REVIEW OF THE ROLE OF THE MAYOR



Summary & Purpose
Members have asked officers to carry out a review of the role of the Mayor and, in particular, the Mayoral budget. This report sets out the different roles of the Mayor and identifies areas where a Mayor could face potential financial difficulties in carrying out this public role. Annexe 1 in particular sets out the financial details.

A Past Mayor, Mr M R Goodridge MBE, has undertaken a survey and has put forward proposals that, in his view, would enhance the role of Mayor. These proposals are contained at Annexe 2.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Natural
Resource Use
Pollution
Prevention and Control
Biodiversity
and Nature
Local
Environment
Social
Inclusion
Safe, Healthy
and Active
Communities
Local
Economy
N/A
N/A
N/A
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive


APPENDIX K
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

CORPORATE OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
26TH JANUARY 2004


Title:
REVIEW OF THE ROLE OF THE MAYOR
[Wards Affected: N/A]

Summary and purpose:

Members have asked officers to carry out a review of the role of the Mayor and, in particular, the Mayoral budget. This report sets out the different roles of the Mayor and identifies areas where a Mayor could face potential financial difficulties in carrying out this public role. Annexe 1 in particular sets out the financial details.

A Past Mayor, Mr M R Goodridge MBE, has undertaken a survey and has put forward proposals that, in his view, would enhance the role of Mayor. These proposals are contained at Annexe 2.


Quality of life implications – social, environmental & economic (sustainable development):

Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe, Healthy and Active Communities
Local Economy
N/A
N/A
N/A
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive

E-Government implications:

There are no e-Government implications.

Resource and legal implications:

This report and Annexe 1 set out the potential costs that a Mayor could incur in any one year which cannot be met fully out of existing budgets. Currently, the Mayor’s budget includes an allowance of 7,530 per annum, approximately half of which is spent on the Civic Dinner. In addition, the Mayor has a travel and printing budget totalling 8,030 per annum, the greater part of which is incurred in travel for example, as at the end of November 2003 the travel expenditure totalled 5,600. Currently, the Mayoral role expenditure is often subsidised from other budgets such as Democratic Representation, Public Relations, Housing and other service budgets which in the current financial climate may not be capable of being sustained. As will be evident from the report, the Mayor has to work within a very limited budget and without further additional resources it is likely that there will have to be a reduction in the work of the Mayor.

There are no legal implications.
______________________________________________________________________
Introduction

1. The role of Mayor is a non-political post and the Mayor is the civic head of the Council. Within the borough, the Mayor is second in precedence only to royalty and the Queen’s representative, the Lord Lieutenant. On Waverley premises the Mayor takes precedence over all except the Queen. This high standing is mainly one of honour and dignity, rather than actual legal powers. Taking into consideration the number of engagements to which the Mayor is invited, it is clear that the community values the Mayoral role. The Mayor acts as an ‘ambassador’ for the Council.

2. In addition, the Mayor acts as Chairman at meetings of the Council and has an important role in regulating proceedings and debate. This role is formally set out in the Council’s Constitution. This is further discussed in paragraph 26.

3. In 2001/02, Michael Goodridge (Past Mayor) carried out a survey of the Mayor’s allowances and role, based on his various experiences as Mayor. He has put forward proposals as to how the future of the Mayoral role could be enhanced and his proposals are reflected in this report and at Annexe 2.

Background Information on the role of the Waverley Mayor

4. The Mayor is elected to office in May each year and the position is held for one year. During the year, the Mayor is supported by the Deputy Mayor who is able to deputise should there be a clash of engagements, or if the Mayor is unable to attend an engagement. The Mayor carries out in excess of 400 engagements during the year, generally within the borough but also throughout Surrey. The number of engagements outside of the borough is approximately 50. The Deputy Mayor carries out approximately 50 engagements during the year.

5. There are a wide variety of invitations, some of which are charitable. The Mayor is frequently invited to support events hosted by schools, charities and other organisations.

6. The Mayor also hosts events initiated by the Council which include the launch of new initiatives and the opening of projects. These events are usually organised and paid for by the initiating department and hosted by the Mayor. Other Surrey Mayors invite the Mayor to attend their civic events and any charitable fund raising events they organise.

7. The representative role of the Mayor is apolitical and, therefore, every effort is made to ensure that the Mayor only attends engagements that are not of a politically influential nature. The Mayor is often invited to be a figurehead at events.

8. The Waverley Mayor hosts annually the civic service, civic dinner and civic day which are all paid for out of the Mayoral allowance (7,530). Currently the cost of these civic events totals 4,850 (see Annexe 1).
9. During the year that the Council ran a Better Government for Older People Pilot Project, the Home Office provided funding for a range of events to promote volunteering among and for older people. One of the events arranged by Waverley was a Garden Party for volunteers, hosted by the then Mayor. Such was the success of the event that in the following year, the Mayor secured external funding to have another Garden Party for volunteers. Since then it has become customary for the Mayor to organise and host a garden party on behalf of councillors for volunteers within Waverley. This has been traditionally held at Ramster, Chiddingfold. The cost of the Garden Party is in the region of 1,500. In the past, this event was part-funded by the Housing Department and external contributions. However, since the budget for this has been deleted as part of the Council’s budget reductions in previous years, the Housing Department was unable to fund the event in 2003, and there was no external contribution. As Waverley values the event, because it recognises the very important and worthwhile role of volunteers, the cost was met as a “one off” budget payment from the Democratic Representation Hospitality budget. That budget will not be able to meet this cost in the future and if there is a desire to continue with this event, the Mayor’s Allowance will have to be reviewed to accommodate the cost.

10. Another highly valued event is the Mayor’s Youth Challenge at the Army School of Physical Training in Aldershot. This has proved to be a highly prestigious event for the Borough and we are fortunate that the Army is prepared to commit time and resources free of charge to this very worthwhile event. Approximately 230 young people attend. The organisation of the day is undertaken by the Mayor’s Secretary in conjunction with considerable assistance from the Sports & Recreation Manager and his team.

11. The total cost of this event in 2003 was 3,800. Some external sponsorship is provided. However, whilst the Army provides their services and facilities without charge, the Council is still required to cover the Army’s statutory expenses which are some 2,000 as well as its own expenses. The Mayor’s budget makes a small contribution which was 200 in 2003.

12. The cost of the event for 2004 is likely to remain in the region of 3,800. A sponsor has already committed 1,000 leaving the Council with a commitment to fund 2,800. Members may, therefore, wish to take the opportunity to consider the appropriateness of the Mayor’s contribution.

The Mayor’s Charity

13. Traditionally, at the beginning of the Mayoral year, the Mayor nominates a charity (or charities) and it is the responsibility of the Mayor to raise funds. This can prove to be quite burdensome for an incoming Mayor if ‘fund-raising’ is not their particular strength/priority and may not be helped by the feeling of having to compete with the previous incumbent if that Mayor raised a significant sum. The only fund raising event held at the Council Offices is the Mayor’s Christmas coffee morning which is held in early December. However this event is heavily dependent upon raising money from members of staff and other councillors. Previous Mayors have raised between 1,000 and 5,500 during their year of office.

14. This proposal would have staffing and administrative cost implications both in the setting up and maintaining the trust which would not necessarily be justified given the amounts involved. However, if members were minded to explore this further, officers would prepare a more detailed report.

Financing the Mayoralty

15. It is the responsibility of the Mayor, with the guidance of the Mayor’s Secretary and the Finance Department, to keep within the allocated Mayor’s allowance. Should an overspend occur then the Mayor is personally accountable for the overspend. Because of this personal responsibility, the Mayor’s budget therefore needs very careful monitoring and events that the Mayor hosts are always on a tight budget.

16. The Council has had to increasingly rely on its contractors/ suppliers to provide sponsorship and keep their profit margins to the very minimum. This is becoming more difficult.

17. Further, the Mayor is expected to bear certain costs. These will include out of pocket expenses at functions, for example, purchasing raffle tickets, making donations and purchasing goods at events etc which are met from the Mayor’s personal finances. This adds up to a significant cost over a year, and will vary with each incumbent.

18. The Mayor covers the cost of refreshments for entertaining Councillors following meetings of the Council and other corporate entertaining in the Parlour. The supply of such refreshments has been ad hoc and it is proposed that this should be regularised and that a sum should be identified in the budget to ensure that there is a consistent approach.

19. The Mayor’s allowance (7,530 for 2003/04) is intended to cover the cost of the Mayoral year. As indicated earlier, in reality this allowance is just sufficient to cover the cost of the civic events hosted by the Mayor and the cost of refreshment that is traditionally provided for councillors and officers following meetings of the Council. The allowance does not cover any incidental expenses such as clothing, dry cleaning or hat hire.

20. In addition, there is an expectation that civic events are photographed. Where possible the Communications Section has provided a service on an ad hoc basis. However, the nature of the events and the expertise required does require employing a professional photographer. This can be a significant cost of around 1,000 p.a. Currently this professional service is not always provided.

21. Other Mayoral budgets include a sum sufficient to cover internal printing costs, principally invitations and leaflets. However, it is the wider Democratic Representation budget which covers the cost of supplies and equipment in the Mayor’s Parlour and small corporate gifts. Members need to consider whether a wider Democratic Representation budget is appropriate for this expenditure and whether the current range and quality of gifts should be improved.

Travel

22. Traditionally the Mayor uses his/her own car and drives to engagements. However a chauffeur service is generally used for evening and for more formal engagements. The Mayor may use this service on any other occasion. 23. The cost implications are very significant. If members do wish to explore this further then officers will undertake a full costing exercise for further submission to members.

Mayoral Support

24. The Mayor’s office is run by a part-time secretary employed for 25 hours a week but with the budget facility to pay for extra hours at peak time and attendance at civic events organised by the Council. There is no official support for the Mayor’s Secretary at peak times or for large civic functions and the goodwill of members of other staff is relied upon. 25. As indicated above, the Mayor’s Secretary does have flexible hours to meet peak time demands. There is currently no spare capacity to support the Mayor’s Secretary as proposed although where possible support is provided on a “goodwill” basis.

Council Meetings

26. As mentioned in paragraph 2 above, apart from the ceremonial and representative role, legislation provides that the Mayor must act as Chairman at meetings of the Council. In acting as Chairman there is a precedent that the Mayor will act impartially and apolitically in conducting the meeting. However, the Mayor as Chairman has both an initial vote and a second or casting vote on all motions. When exercising their vote on any motion in front of the Council, the Mayor acts in the same way as an ordinary member and votes (or uses their casting vote) in a way that often reflects political considerations.

Selection of the Mayor

27. It is customary in Waverley that the Mayor and Deputy Mayor are nominated by the majority political group. This has been generally based on long service, but with no formal order of seniority. Usually, the Deputy Mayor succeeds the Mayor, and this convention has proved useful preparation and training for Mayors. However, when political control of the Council changes the incoming administration generally nominates its first Mayor from its membership. 28. The possibility of adopting a non group-based approach to nominating the Mayor and Deputy has been explored previously. This would reflect the non-political representative role, but could affect political balance on the council in the event of a Mayor exercising a casting vote. It would not be possible to bind a Mayor by the constitution or convention to either use their vote in a certain way or refrain from voting.


Conclusion

29. Waverley is geographically the largest borough in Surrey. It will be evident from this, and a Past Mayor’s report, that the current budget does not cover the true cost of the Mayoralty. It allows no flexibility for the Mayor to put forward any innovative proposals. In reality, the Mayoralty is only fully resourced by those individuals who can afford to supplement the budget from their own resources. This is unfair to Mayors and Mayoresses who give a significant amount of their time to the community, in addition to their role as a councillor. 30. A Past Mayor (Mr Michael Goodridge) has suggested in his paper that consideration be given to a number of proposals some of which are contained in this report but which for ease of reference are also separately annexed at Annexe 2. Further areas for consideration include:

The appropriateness of the Mayor’s contribution to the Mayor’s Sports Challenge (para 12);
The future of the Volunteers Garden Party and its funding (para 9);
A provision for incidental expenses to cover Mayoral expenses such as purchase of raffle tickets (para 17);
The provision of a clothing allowance (para 19);
The provision of an official photographer at civic events (para 20);
A review of the provision of civic gifts/ refreshments (para 21); and
A sum ear-marked for Mayor- led initiatives (para 29)

31. Given that the majority of the current budget is allocated to the annual civic events any costs attached to changes arising from the above proposals, including the proposals from a Past Mayor, will require an increase in the Mayoral budget. Indicative costs are set out at Annexe 1 to this report and an indicative sum for growth of 15,000 was included in the initial draft budget. Recommendation

It is recommended that the Committee inform the Executive of its views and give consideration to:

1. the Past Mayor’s proposals as set out at Annexe 2 to the report; 2. the matters set out in Paragraph 30 of this report; and

3. the future role of the Mayor, in relation to Annexe 2 and paragraph 30 of the report.

Background Papers (CEx)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Anne Bott Telephone: 01483 523415

Comms/o&s1/2003-04/047 35159