Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document
Meeting of the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 06/07/2004
MINUTES of the MEETING of the CORPORATE OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
held on 6th July 2004
(To be read in conjunction with the agenda for the meeting)
Mr P D Harmer (Chairman)
Mr P B Isherwood
Mr M A Clark (Vice Chairman)
Mrs S R Jacobs
Mr M H W Band
Mr J C S Mackie
Captain P G Burden
Mrs A E Mansell
Mrs C Cockburn
Mr W M Marshall
Mr M A Edgington
Mr A Rayner
Mr B A Ellis
Mr R C Terry
Mr P Haveron
Mr K Webster
Mrs M V M Hunt
Mr V Duckett, Mrs P Ellis, Mr P Betlem, Dr M-G Lane and Mr D C Inman
were also in attendance
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies for absence were received from Mrs M V M Hunt with Mr J M Savage attending as substitute.
DISCLOSURE OF INTERESTS
Mr V Duckett disclosed a personal interest as the current Mayor of Waverley.
REVIEW OF THE MAYORALTY
The Chairman explained that the Committee, as part of its annual work programme, had agreed to conduct an in-depth review of the role of the Mayoralty in Waverley.
The officers had arranged to invite Mayors of other boroughs and Councillor G Bridger, the Mayor of Guildford Borough Council in 2003/2004 had kindly agreed to attend. Three former Waverley Mayors, Mr J M Savage, Mr M Goodridge and Mr J R Sandy had also agreed to make submissions to the Committee.
The Chairman explained that Members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee should concentrate on gathering information at this meeting and could discuss their views and conclusions on the information at their next meeting in September.
PRESENTATION BY COUNCILLOR MR G BRIDGER, FORMER MAYOR OF GUILDFORD BOROUGH COUNCIL
Mr Bridger explained that the Mayor’s key roles were to act as the public face of the Council, to carry out a variety of representational roles, and in Guildford Borough to identify a theme for their year and to visit a whole range of local organisations in the borough.
Mr Bridger outlined the support services for the Mayoralty in Guildford, which included a car provided for the sole use of the Mayor, together with a chauffeur who spent approximately 50% of his time driving the Mayor and the remainder assisting in the Council’s print unit. The total cost of travel was around £46,000 including the chauffeur.
The Mayoral allowance was currently £8,800 which was spent on matters such as clothes, gifts and donations, but the majority of entertainment expenses were met from general hospitality expenses from a budget which totalled £58,000.
He estimated that the total cost of the Mayoralty in Guildford Borough was around £100,000, but stressed that this should be put in context as representing a cost of around £2.00 for each Council Tax payer a year or, in terms of the total budget of Guildford Borough Council, around 0.1% of the Council's budget.
In response to questions by Members, Mr Bridger explained that Guildford did not have Town Mayors as in Waverley Borough, but did explain that the historical role of the Mayoralty in Guildford was extremely important and that he was aware of the significance of being the 441st Mayor of the borough.
He had personally carried out 500 engagements during his Mayoral year, but the highest number carried out in the past he understood was around 800.
In response to a question about the Mayor’s role in politics, he explained that the Mayor was expected to refrain from political activities and be politically neutral, but still would, on occasions, vote on party lines if he/she felt it appropriate during Committee meetings.
Mr Bridger also explained that he felt there was an educational role representing the Council, especially in schools and that, as he had mentioned earlier, his Mayoral year theme had been to present Guildford Borough as a Centre of World Excellence in areas such as education. He had arranged a series of public lectures covering different aspects of the Borough.
Mr Bridger also explained that he had an important role in representing Guildford Borough in town twinning and had visited Guildford’s twin town of Freiburg in Germany. Mr Bridger explained that the Mayor was also able to call on the promotional expenditure budget for Guildford Borough of around £37,000 for events such as the Civic Day and his series of lectures.
PRESENTATION BY MR J M SAVAGE, MAYOR OF WAVERLEY 1998/1999
Mr Savage read from a presentation explaining his unusual, if not unique, role where he and his wife had been involved over several years both as Mayor and Deputy and Consort to both.
He outlined the ceremonial role of the Mayor where the Mayor had precedence in the borough over everybody except the Lord Lieutenant or Queen.
He felt it important to maintain the dignity of the office, to represent both the Borough Council and the wider borough community and to carry out a range of ceremonial meetings.
He also outlined the importance of chairing Borough Council meetings and knowing procedure rules and Council meeting protocols.
He explained that the majority of his time in his Mayoral year had been spent on a very large number of events, mostly within the borough, including fêtes, concerts, annual general meetings of local organisations, centenaries and speech days of schools and opening a range of buildings in the borough. He had also been involved in twinning visits to Waverley’s twin of Mayen-Koblenz. He explained that he hoped that some of the previous activities on town twinning could be revived, as they have had to stop because of lack of funds.
He paid tribute to the invaluable support from the Mayor’s Secretary and explained how time consuming it had been to prepare speeches which were expected by organisations at functions which the Mayor attended.
Whilst he felt it would not be appropriate in Waverley to have a dedicated car for the Mayoralty, he felt that a clothing allowance, particularly for women Mayors of the Lady Mayoress would be helpful and a recognition of the extra expenses they incurred.
He outlined the very constructive relationship he had enjoyed with the three Town Mayoralties and said that he hoped that the role of the Chairman of Cranleigh Parish Council could develop and that Cranleigh could become more involved in Waverley civic events.
He did not feel that an elected Mayor under the Local Government Act 2000 would be appropriate for Waverley.
He felt that improvements could be made to the Mayoralty in Waverley and suggested that the Civic Dinner and Civic Day, which were currently very expensive and time consuming could be replaced by smaller-scale events which were less formal. He was also keen to develop the twinning and felt that the very small cost of this was more than justified by its role in promoting goodwill.
In response to questions from Members, Mr Savage felt that the role of the Town Mayors was complementary to that of Waverley and a former Town Mayor explained that their major Civic Dinner of the year had been used as an opportunity to invite representatives of organisations within the area. Mr Savage also felt that Waverley's civic events were possibly too inward-looking and that the invaluable recognition offered by the Mayor’s Volunteers’ Garden Party could be developed in other events.
Some Members of the Committee suggested that it might be appropriate, given the role of the Town Mayors, for Waverley’s Mayor to concentrate on developing duties within the parish areas and Mr Savage felt that this could offer a way of developing pride in the borough outside of the town areas.
Mr Savage also suggested that more recognition of the roles of past Mayors might be appropriate, such as putting copies of photographs of past Mayors in the corridor to the Waverley Council Chamber.
Mr Savage, in response to a question, felt that the Mayor’s attendance at events within the borough was much welcomed by organisations, but conceded that, in part, this was because of the help it gave to organisations in securing publicity.
In conclusion, Mr Savage felt that the tradition and ceremonial role of the Mayor was important but that the role in the community and the appreciation of the community of the contribution of the Mayor was the most important area.
MR M GOODRIDGE – MAYOR 2001/2002
Mr Goodridge outlined his role both as Deputy Mayor on two occasions and Mayor of Waverley and of Godalming Town Council. He concurred with the previous speakers in defining the key roles of the Mayor as their ceremonial position, acting as ambassador for the borough, visiting schools and explaining the role of both the Mayoralty and the Council to the community.
He explained that he had, at the conclusion of his Mayoral year, carried out a comparison with other Borough Councils and District Councils in Surrey and felt that the support offered to the Mayor in Waverley could be improved to develop the role. He felt that the two main areas for improvement were the Mayoral allowance in Waverley, which in his year had totalled £7,000 but, of this, £5,500 had been spent on the Civic Dinner and the Civic Day. He also felt that there was a need for a clothing allowance for Lady Mayors and Mayoresses.
He estimated that he had had to contribute considerably out of his own pocket in the sum of around £3,000 - £4,000. He felt that, at times, particularly for evening engagements, it was important to take a driver and felt that there were practical difficulties which made it desirable to have better support for Mayoral transport but accepted there were reservations about a dedicated Mayoral car.
He explained he had enjoyed a positive relationship with the three Town Mayoralties but contrasted their Mayoral allowances with their number of functions compared with Waverley. He did not feel that an elected Mayor would be appropriate in Waverley.
In his report, he had set out six areas which should be reviewed as follows:-
Car and travel arrangements
Charity account to be set up for each Mayor to use during their year
Enhancing civic ceremonies, including provision of a mace
Support for the Mayoress, including a past Mayoress’s badge
A clothing allowance
Mr Goodridge also felt that there had been an important role for the Mayoralty in twinning but felt that this was not fully developed at present.
In response to a question as to which role, either that of an ambassador for the borough or fund raising for the selected charities was the most important, Mr Goodridge felt that the role of ambassador for Waverley Borough was the most important of the Mayor’s roles.
Mr Goodridge expressed interest in the idea of replacing the Civic Dinner with a more inclusive event and thought that using it to offer recognition to a larger number of people who had contributed to life in the borough was worth exploring.
Mr Goodridge then answered several questions on the desirability of more ceremonial events and felt that, on balance, the role of the Mayoralty should have been rethought when Waverley achieved Borough status and that a modest increase in ceremonial events might provide more dignity to the office and better publicity to explain its role.
Mr Goodridge also felt that he had an important role as Mayor in explaining the role of the Council and of local government generally to the community, especially to secondary schools where he had taken part in lessons on citizenship.
Finally, Mr Goodridge paid tribute to the support offered by the Mayor’s Secretary and also to the role of his wife in acting as his partner and support over the 500 plus events that they had attended. He saw the role very much as a team effort by the Mayor and his/her consort.
MR J R SANDY – MAYOR 2000/2001
Mr Sandy said he had been privileged to be Mayor of Waverley during the millennium year and outlined its ancient history and continuing significance. He felt that it was important to take a non-political role, to act as a representative of the Borough and of the Council at a whole range of organisations and to take part in educating various groups on the role of the Council.
He also explained the role he felt that the Mayor could play in supporting Waverley staff and giving support to a range of new initiatives.
He outlined the key roles of the Mayor as follows:-
1. To present the Waverley Borough to the community.
2. To represent the Borough nationally and in the Surrey County area particularly.
3. To encourage success, both within the community and in Council initiatives.
4. To offer compassion where local organisations were having difficulties and to encourage them to develop.
5. To help innovation within the community and the Council.
6. To encourage local organisations by supporting them.
In summary, he felt the key role was as a servant of the public.
He felt it was important to work together with Town Mayors and the Chairman of Cranleigh Parish Council and was encouraged by the very positive working relationships.
In terms of financial and other support, he did not feel it was appropriate to have a Mayoral car and/or chauffeur dedicated for use of the Mayor but did feel it was important, at evening functions, to have a car available from the excellent local hire firms.
He felt that the Mayor had a role both in raising money for his selected charities and in encouraging sponsorship for local initiatives such as help with the Army School of Physical Training with the Youth Day. He had however found himself out of pocket over the year and felt that a recognition of the role of the Mayor’s Consort, such as a modest clothing allowance, would be welcome.
The Mayor had found it very rewarding to recognise success by staff and felt that roles such as presenting examination and qualification certificates to staff was a way of the Mayor showing how much he valued the support of Waverley staff.
In conclusion, Mr Sandy felt that the Mayoralty offered an opportunity for Councillors to encourage development in the borough and benefit the lives of people in the community.
The Committee thanked all four Mayors for their invaluable and informative presentations and agreed to consider the very relevant issues raised at its next meeting on 14th September 2004.
The meeting concluded at 9.14 p.m.