Position of Mayor "treated disrespectfully" since Harrogate council office move, councillor says

Harrogate Borough Council's headquarters.
Harrogate Borough Council's headquarters.

The position of Borough Mayor has been "treated disrespectfully" since Harrogate council moved to its new headquarters at St Luke's Mount, a councillor has claimed.

The comment came as members of the general purpose committee discussed a proposal to convert the council's Minster Room, which is currently used as a large meeting room, into a Mayor’s Parlour on a permanent basis.

Unlike the council's former Crescent Gardens headquarters, the new civic centre doesn't have a room specifically designated for the Mayor's use.

Former Harrogate Mayor, Coun Nick Brown, said without a permanent Mayor's Parlour at the new headquarters "there is nowhere suitable you can take important guests".

Ripon Independent Coun Pauline McHardy agreed with him.

“Since we moved down here, (the position of) Mayor has been treated disrespectfully,” she said.

“I just think it's terrible the Mayor of Harrogate does not have a room in this building.”

When the prospect of booking the room in advance for mayoral events was raised in place of converting it permanently, Coun Brown said it wouldn't be practical.

“This isn't something that is going to be booked weeks in advance...it could be spur of the moment, which happened frequently with me,” he said.

Coun Tim Myatt said that taking the room away from wider use "would be a big loss to the council" and proposed more work be done on the proposal.

A report is now set to be done on the prospect of changing room's use, to be presented to council at a later date.

The issue was part of a mixed-bag of changes proposed for the Mayoral Handbook, a document which is intended for use as an in-depth guide providing guidance, protocols and practice on the role of Mayor.

Councillors also voted in favour of dumping a proposal to reinstate a £2.5k budget for "twinning arrangements"; the funds would have been used to offer invitations to delegates of the the borough's partner towns.

Coun Brown, speaking in favour of reinstating the budget, said "it's a poor show" to be able to accept invites from partner towns, but not be able to reciprocate.

"It's not my style of doing business quite frankly,” he said.

Coun Myatt responded that he was "very hesitant to add anything to the Mayoral budget at a time when we're having to say no to our residents about certain things such as extra bins".

Councillors also ditched a proposal for a "Mayor's cadet" after it was revealed that the role wouldn't be limited to one young person from a local cadet group, but could potentially include cadets from multiple groups across the district.

“This could turn into a minefield...we could end up with a dozen Mayor's cadets,” Coun Christine Willoughby said.

Coun McHardy agreed.

“We’re opening up a can of worms and I think our staff have enough to do...We've managed all these years without a cadet and I struggle to see what the benefit would be," she said.

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter