Bicester: Mayor's chain to be gilt not gold in money-saving bid

CIVIC DIGNITY: Bicester mayor Dan Sames wearing the current chain

CIVIC DIGNITY: Bicester mayor Dan Sames wearing the current chain Buy this photo

First published in News by

WITH growing pressure on the public purse, town councillors in Bicester have downgraded the mayor’s chain from gold to silver gilt.

The ruling Conservative party on Bicester Town Council has agreed to buy a new silver gilt chain costing £8,636.52, including VAT which can be reclaimed, to replace the current gold one.

But a row over the decision could lead to a local referendum.

The current chain’s 47 links are full and the past five mayor’s names have not been recorded on it. But it was deemed too expensive to buy 15 new gold links, at a cost of about £20,000, so an “austerity” chain has been approved instead.

Monday’s council meeting was the third time the issue has been discussed by councillors.

Town councillor James Porter said: “There are those who will try to say this is about personal gratification and an ego boost – it is not.

“It’s about providing the town with continuity, a foot in the past and moving a foot into the future.”

He said £5,453 would be used from the Othello Fund – cash from the sale of an Othello bust by Italian sculptor Antonio Canova which was sold in the 1980s – and the rest would come from general reserves.

Fellow town councillor Dan Sames, the current mayor, said: “What we are proposing here is good for the town’s reputation and value for money in these austere times.”

In a heated debate in November, long-standing Conservative councillor Debbie Pickford joined forces with opposition councillors to fight the plan to replace the chain.

Opposition councillor Les Sibley said: “It’s a shameful move by this town council. It’s purely to satisfy the vanity of five town councillors. I think it is absolutely wrong to use taxpayers’ money to pay for this.”

Former mayors’ names are added to a board in the council chamber in Garth House, which Mr Sibley said was “sufficient record”.

And fellow opposition councillor Nick Cotter said he would consider calling a town poll “if this council is so arrogant about spending taxpayers’ money on this vanity project.”

The new chain will have 35 links. The past five mayors’ names would be added and there would be space for the next 30 holders of the office.

* The meeting heard Banbury Town Council is also looking to buy a replica chain for town mayors to wear so its “irreplaceable” Victorian one can be kept secure.

Council leader Kieron Mallon said the move was a cross-party decision to protect the chain, which dates back to 1870. Mayors names are not inscribed on it. Price estimates are currently being sought.

HISTORY OF THE CURRENT CHAIN THE current 18 ct gold mayor’s chain will be put on display in a locked cabinet in the council chamber.

It was donated to the town by Albert Taylor in 1960 after he won £147,000 on the Littlewood football pools.

At the time there was no chain for the chairman of the then Bicester Urban District Council.

The chain was passed on to Bicester Town Council in 1974 when local government reorganisation led to the creation of Cherwell District Council.

In 2008, then Bicester mayor John Cozens lost the £5,000 centrepiece of the mayoral chain on the way to a charity dinner at Oxford Town Hall. It was never found and the council had to claim on insurance to replace it.

THE current 18 ct gold mayor’s chain will be put on display in a locked cabinet in the council chamber.

It was donated to the town by Albert Taylor in 1960 after he won £147,000 on the Littlewood football pools.

At the time there was no chain for the chairman of the then Bicester Urban District Council.

The chain was passed on to Bicester Town Council in 1974 when local government reorganisation led to the creation of Cherwell District Council.

In 2008, then Bicester mayor John Cozens lost the £5,000 centrepiece of the mayoral chain on the way to a charity dinner at Oxford Town Hall. It was never found and the council had to claim on insurance to replace it.

Comments (7)

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11:17pm Thu 14 Feb 13

Myron Blatz says...

Why not have a sash, with a badge, or even just a badge? I mean, not even flush-toilets have chains any more.
Why not have a sash, with a badge, or even just a badge? I mean, not even flush-toilets have chains any more. Myron Blatz
  • Score: 1

1:11am Fri 15 Feb 13

Alfie Nokes says...

why get a new one? this one appears to have six additions to the original, why not drop three aside below and have a second row adding new silver gilt plates?
why get a new one? this one appears to have six additions to the original, why not drop three aside below and have a second row adding new silver gilt plates? Alfie Nokes
  • Score: 1

1:16am Fri 15 Feb 13

Alfie Nokes says...

and why exactly are comments not welcome for the "Science Oxford workshop focuses on climate change" story (immediately below this article at time of writing), where "children experimented with water, acids, and thermometers to understand global warming at a Science Oxford workshop."?

http://www.oxfordmai
l.co.uk/news/1022621
6.Science_Oxford_wor
kshop_focuses_on_cli
mate_change/
and why exactly are comments not welcome for the "Science Oxford workshop focuses on climate change" story (immediately below this article at time of writing), where "children experimented with water, acids, and thermometers to understand global warming at a Science Oxford workshop."? http://www.oxfordmai l.co.uk/news/1022621 6.Science_Oxford_wor kshop_focuses_on_cli mate_change/ Alfie Nokes
  • Score: 0

10:27am Fri 15 Feb 13

steve1955 says...

What a waste of money if they are so keen on wasting this sort of money for a bit of bling pay for it themselfs spend the taxpayers money on BIcester and is people not some councillor who thinks they look good if they will get the money back who is paying for that more taxpayers i expect maybe the eco developer with a years free advertising should pay?
What a waste of money if they are so keen on wasting this sort of money for a bit of bling pay for it themselfs spend the taxpayers money on BIcester and is people not some councillor who thinks they look good if they will get the money back who is paying for that more taxpayers i expect maybe the eco developer with a years free advertising should pay? steve1955
  • Score: 1

1:03pm Fri 15 Feb 13

Severian says...

Can't they get the Eco-town to pay for a new chain. After all, every other proposal that seems to come forward is in some way claimed to be as a result of this.

P3Eco and Cherwell District Council have agreed that lots of people should share in the uplift in land values that comes from giving planning permission to the Eco-town. With those hundreds of millions of pounds of increased value (literally) they could surely give Bicester £10k for our councillors to look more self important?
Can't they get the Eco-town to pay for a new chain. After all, every other proposal that seems to come forward is in some way claimed to be as a result of this. P3Eco and Cherwell District Council have agreed that lots of people should share in the uplift in land values that comes from giving planning permission to the Eco-town. With those hundreds of millions of pounds of increased value (literally) they could surely give Bicester £10k for our councillors to look more self important? Severian
  • Score: 0

7:45pm Sun 10 Mar 13

BicesterRes says...

From what I have read and heard the chain has been engraved with the names of Mayors on it since its inception. It is not a 'vanity' project but a tradition that I think should be upheld, especially considering the new growth in the town. We need to keep links with our past. Also its nice to see a Mayor arrive with something on to denote his/her position. They don't just potter about doing nothing. They go out and represent Bicester. I would like to think Bicester is putting itself forward as somewhere worthwhile.. not as somewhere they can't even afford a chain.
The idea of a gilt chain is a good idea in many levels. It still gives the Mayor a presence, whilst they don't have to carry a very valuable, very heavy chain. We could have the original for the one or two main civic events as many towns do who have very valuable items of regalia but then it could be stored securely in insured premises. From what I understand the bulk of the cost, at least 80% , is coming from a special fund which is specifically for the purpose of civic regalia and not from us the tax payers.
From what I have read and heard the chain has been engraved with the names of Mayors on it since its inception. It is not a 'vanity' project but a tradition that I think should be upheld, especially considering the new growth in the town. We need to keep links with our past. Also its nice to see a Mayor arrive with something on to denote his/her position. They don't just potter about doing nothing. They go out and represent Bicester. I would like to think Bicester is putting itself forward as somewhere worthwhile.. not as somewhere they can't even afford a chain. The idea of a gilt chain is a good idea in many levels. It still gives the Mayor a presence, whilst they don't have to carry a very valuable, very heavy chain. We could have the original for the one or two main civic events as many towns do who have very valuable items of regalia but then it could be stored securely in insured premises. From what I understand the bulk of the cost, at least 80% , is coming from a special fund which is specifically for the purpose of civic regalia and not from us the tax payers. BicesterRes
  • Score: 0

8:08pm Sun 10 Mar 13

steve1955 says...

BicesterRes
You can put your hand in your pocket and pay for it then?
The new tradition in Bicester and other towns in Britain 2013 is the coming of the food bank lets get real tradition is great but now is real.
BicesterRes You can put your hand in your pocket and pay for it then? The new tradition in Bicester and other towns in Britain 2013 is the coming of the food bank lets get real tradition is great but now is real. steve1955
  • Score: 0

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