A COUNCILLOR is looking to spark a debate on whether Wrexham’s Mayor represents value for money for the taxpayer.
Cllr Keith Gregory, who represents Smithfield ward on Wrexham Council and is also a Caia Park community councillor, said he thought scrapping the Mayor – whose salary is listed on the council’s website as £21,375 – could save the cash-strapped authority money.
But Wrexham Council’s leader said the people of Wrexham have always “welcomed and embraced” the non-political civic head and that the role has itself raised many tens of thousands of pounds for charity over the years.
Cllr Gregory, who is calling for a debate on the future of the mayoral role and wants as many people as possible to give their opinion, said he was deeply concerned over Wrexham Council giving an ultimatum to all but six of the 34 community councils in the county to take on the running costs of some facilities or potentially face losing them.
Last week the Leader reported school crossing patrols, community centres and play areas could all face the axe unless the costs of running them are taken up by community councils.
Cllr Gregory said since the Leader broke the story he has been approached by many residents questioning whether it was time to look at the need for Wrexham to continue having the ceremonial figurehead of a Mayor.
“I would now like a debate involving as many townsfolk as possible asking whether, in these times of austerity, we should carry on with a Mayor,” he said
“It concerns me that Wrexham Council is looking to save money on items such as services for young children like school crossing patrols and play areas.
“Is there not a case for saving money by scrapping the role of the mayor, and wouldn’t that be more practical than cutting important services for the public?”
Cllr Gregory stressed his call for a debate was not an attack on the current mayor or any of his predecessors.
Wrexham Council’s website gives details of civic salaries paid, with the mayor listed as £21,375 and deputy mayor £16,625.
Cllr Gregory added: “In these tough financial times do we need a mayor? If we did away with the position it would be possible for us to bring it back when the economy improves.”
In response, council leader Cllr Neil Rogers said: “Since 1857 Wrexham has had a mayor who is the civic head of the county borough and has no political role.
“The people of Wrexham have always welcomed and embraced the role of the mayor and his office which has raised many tens of thousands of pounds for charities across the county borough.
“I would welcome a debate in the council chamber which will give all members a chance to participate and would ask Cllr Gregory to submit a motion to council to move this forward.”
When contacted by the Leader yesterday Wrexham’s current Mayor, Cllr I David Bithell, said he had no comment to make.
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