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Cost of mayors in south west Hertfordshire revealed
Councils in south west Hertfordshire are spending vastly disproportionate sums on ceremonial roles, according to figures obtained by the Watford Observer.
Figures released by Dacorum Borough Council, Three Rivers District Council and Watford Borough Council showed tens of thousands of pounds is being spent on clothing, telephones, fuel, travel, Christmas cards and flowers to fund the mayor and non-political figurehead roles.
Despite a transparent breakdown of information Dacorum Borough Council is the biggest spender. Between 2012 and 2013 the borough council spent £25,145.75 on the Mayor’s office.
Hospitality, books and publications, charitable donations, event catering packages and mayor, deputy mayor and members’ allowances are just some of these office expenses.
This is on top of £77,983.47 which was also spent on mayoral support, including clothing, general office expenses, mobile phones, vehicle running costs and travel costs.
In a breakdown of the last three calendar years, in total the borough council spent £282,602.69 on the civic role, which includes mayoral office and expenses.
When contacted by the Watford Observer Jim Doyle, Group Manager of democratic services from the borough council, said: "we always looked to provide good value for money".
Mr Doyle said: "The Mayor of Dacorum attends over 400 functions each year. We always look to provide good value for money and, as the first citizen of the borough and official representative of the crown, our mayors are expected to be a very active member of the community.
"The figures we gave included not only the mayor's allowances but all related costs too. It is difficult to compare our costs with other councils as we don’t know what their costs cover."
Over the last three years, Watford Borough Council has almost doubled the amount it spends on chairman and vice chairman expenditure. During all three calendar years the chairman has received a £3,264 allowance, while the deputy chairman has been given a £1,596 allowance.
Between 2010 and 2011 in total £11,396.21 was spent on car hire, printing and stationery postage and miscellaneous expenses including flowers, new frames for the mayor and chairman’s portraits.
This almost tripled the next year in 2011 and 2012 when the office spend for both chairman and vice chairman was £35,619.90. According to figures this decreased between 2012 and 2013 when £24,957.04 was spent.
These totals also cover Watford’s elected mayor Dorothy Thornhill’s events and miscellaneous expenses.
Three Rivers District Council has been tighter with its purse strings according to figures which reveal between 2012 and 2013 £6,564.10 was spent on the role of the chairman and vice chairman.
This includes a chairman allowance of £3,500 and vice chairman allowance of £750, which remained the same over three years. The civic reception, including an evening of food and drink, flowers, entertainment and ticket sales was also included in these amounts. Between 2010 and 2011 figures were slightly higher when £8,358.14 was spent.
Steven Halls, chief executive from the district council, said: "This non-political role is vital not only for chairing the major council meetings fairly and representing the council at a wide range of events.
"The chairman also works hard in supporting the activities of a wide range of groups, promoting awareness of voluntary work in the community and raising significant sums of money for charities. You only have to follow the chairman's blog for a week or two to get an idea of just how dedicated and hardworking he is.
"We have saved £2.5 million through efficiency gains and have had a Council Tax freeze for four years. In line with our wider commitment to cost-efficiency, we minimise expenditure on the functions of the chairman and vice chairman while, at the same time, giving them our full support. I would also like to pay tribute to the wives of the present chairman and vice chairman who also work tirelessly in supporting charitable projects throughout the year."
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