March 30, 2022 4.00 pm

Fears over safety of Boston mayor as impact of cuts reviewed

“If somebody fancies a bit of extra cash you might as well bump off the mayor and nick the chains”

A former mayor believes cuts to the civic post have affected the security and image of the first citizen in Boston.

In 2018, £90k of savings were made to the Boston Borough Council office including asking the mayor to drive him or herself to events except in special occasions, and also asking them to take on responsibility for the £200k chains.

However, Independent 20/20 Councillor Stephen Woodliffe, who was mayor in 2016 believes the savings may have gone too far.

Next Thursday, the authority’s Corporate and Community Committee will be asked to review the position and suggest any changes.

Committee chairman Councillor Woodlife, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that without the support mayors could potentially be targeted by criminals and that there was an image problem.

“More pressure has been put upon the mayor.

“The mayor has to now effectively dress themself which in terms of presentation is not really a good idea – the mayoral chains are heavy and to do it properly and carefully requires someone else’s assistance.”

Councillor Stephen Woodliffe in his time as Mayor prior to the cuts in 2018. | Image: Supplied

Councillor Woodliffe was mayor in 2016 – before the cuts came in.

He said mayors were concerned about caring for the precious items like the 250-year-old mayoral chains.

“The chains are solid gold, so they’re worth a lot of money… they’ve had to undertake significant risks.”

He said some had reported having to take chains home with them, which he feared insurance would not cover.

“Members have expressed concern that they were put at risk when they were carrying out mayoral duties and there wasn’t due consideration for their safety because you’re walking around with £200,000 worth of kit on you, you’re vulnerable aren’t you?

“It’s about safeguarding and looking after the mayor and his consort in situations which might be somewhat dangerous. If somebody fancies a bit of extra cash you might as well bump off the mayor and nick the chains.”

He added that mayors driving themselves to events did not present the best image adding that if he had turned up in his Toyota Corolla it wouldn’t give the same impression as the “impressive” mayoral car.

“Presence is very important if you’re going to market your borough in the way that you’d want to in this world where you are competing, certainly with other major boroughs and cities the image you present is critical.”

Councillor Anton Dani during his tenure as mayor. | Image: Supplied

Councillor Anton Dani spent two years as mayor during the pandemic.

He told Local Democracy Reporters of situations in which he would get changed into the chains in car parks, sometimes with the support of his wife othertimes without, and walk to an event wearing them.

He said he would often wear a jacket over the top, in some instances hiding them away while at events.

“That was for me, a scary part, if somebody wants to chase you or follow you because you can be attacked and that was my first encounter with a dangerous situation. Luckily, touch wood, nothing happened,” he said.

He was lucky enough to have a smart car during his time and spent his own budget making official looking magnetic stickers in order to make it presentable.

He also organised sponsorship from a local taxi firm to ferry him about in exchange for promotion.

He feared some mayors may not be able to do late night events due to the lack of support.

The report before councillors next week said the savings in 2018 were required as part of the authority’s transformation  programme and had since been incorporated into the council’s budget.

“The role of the mayor is of great reputational significance to the council, and is an office that requires a suitable level of support.

“It is, however, important also to be mindful of the potential public reaction to increasing the budget for civic support in the current financial climate.

“The council’s medium term financial plan makes no provision for additional spending on civic arrangements.

“As such, any increase in on-going revenue expenditure on civic arrangements will need to be funded – either through an increase in income or a reduction in spending on other services.”