A FRESH call has been made for Wrexham Council to scrap the post of mayor.
Nominations for the election of the next mayor are due to take place tomorrow.
A row broke out last year over the cost of the civic team after figures revealed the total bill for having a mayoral office in the last three years was more than £400,000.
Some called for the council to stop having a mayor, at least on a temporary basis, while Wrexham Council struggled with cutbacks to services.
The council is facing more than £13 million of savings targets in the year from April, and has approved a move to call on community councils in the county to take on the running costs of some facilities or potentially face losing them.
At the time Cllr Keith Gregory was a main voice arguing the mayoral spend was not justified at a time of unprecedented cuts.
And ahead of tomorrow’s meeting he has made it clear his views haven’t changed.
“At the minimum the role should be frozen until the council gets over the severe financial difficulties it is currently facing,” said Cllr Gregory.
“There are so many cutbacks going forward now, I think it is wrong to be spending money on the mayor in this environment.
“Just look at what is happening in Plas Madoc with the closure of the leisure centre.”
Cllr Gregory stressed his opinion was not personal toward the mayor or his successor in any way.
“I recognise that councillors in the role of mayor do carry out good work,” he added
“But the residents don’t want pomp and ceremony. They want good council services. I am getting a lot of feedback from people on this matter.”
Responding to Cllr Gregory’s comments, council leader Neil Rogers said: “A report is being put to the council on Wednesday and the matter will be taken from there.”
Previously Cllr Rogers said the public “welcomed and embraced” the non-political civic head and that the role had itself raised many tens of thousands of pounds for charity over the years.
A report going to tomorrow evening’s meeting recommends current Deputy Mayor Cllr Alan Edwards should be nominated for the office of mayor for 2014-15, taking over from current Mayor Cllr I. David Bithell.
It is also recommended Bryn Cefn representative Cllr Barbara Roxburgh should be nominated for the position of deputy mayor.
Cllr Roxburgh defended the traditional roles
She said: “I am a traditionalist. Wrexham needs a mayor to help promote itself.
“It is a long standing tradition and very important to the people of Wrexham and the whole county borough.
“I think that compared to other local authorities Wrexham spends less on the mayor’s office.”
In his report to the council, Cllr Rogers, who is chairman of the review of political management arrangements working group, says: “In March/April each year a report is presented to council, seeking nominations for the election of a mayor and the appointment of a deputy mayor, for recommendation to the council at its annual meeting in May.
“The main object is to reach agreement between all members of the council to ensure the formal decision at the annual meeting is unanimous. The dignity of the office of mayor and of the council generally would be impaired by any public disagreement on such a matter at the annual meeting.”
l In October the Leader reported that the post of mayor of Wrexham had cost more than £400,000 in the last three years.
According to figures obtained from Wrexham Council under the Freedom of Information Act, the budget for the civic office totals £410,901 for the 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 financial years.