11:50am Friday 16th November 2012
By Sam McGregor
PLANS to spend £9,500 on a new mayor’s chain, so civic leaders can have their names engraved on it, have been dropped after a row.
Bicester Town Council’s ruling Conservative party wanted to spend £9,500 on a new silver-gilt chain for the mayor.
It would have replaced the current gold chain, which has run out of space for names and which would have been put on display at the council’s offices.
Tory councillors wanted to buy a cheaper replica made of silver gilt with 35 links, which would enable the chain to be brought up to date with the last five serving mayors’ names, and would have enough space for the next 30 holders of the office.
But long standing Conservative councillor Debbie Pickford joined forces with opposition councillors to fight the idea.
Following a heated debate, the council’s current Conservative leader James Porter was forced to withdraw the item.
Lib Dem councillor Nick Cotter objected to the civic expenses budget being “raided” to help pay for the chain when the cash was meant to cover expenses related to civic functions such as Remembrance Day. He said: “I think this is self-importance of a disgraceful manner.”
Miss Pickford added: “In other places when they have run out of links they just stop (engraving names) – end of subject.”
She said as a former mayor, she was happy that her name was just included on a board in the council chamber rather than on the chain.
Councillors heard if the proposals did not go ahead, the current chain would continue being used as normal.
But Jolanta Lis said she was concerned about preserving the current gold chain, which she feared could get damaged.
She said: “I do object to self- importance. I’m not doing it for reasons of self-importance I’m doing it for reasons of protecting this valuable piece of heritage.”
Councillor Jim Tucker raised concerns it might be safer to have a replica as the high price of gold could make the chain a target for thieves.
The plans were withdrawn after a technicality was pointed out by Labour councillor Les Sibley because a similar scheme had been discussed recently.
It is not known if the issue will be debated again.
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