The power of the Mayor has diminished throughout the centuries but the office continues to have a central part to play within modern Councils. It is a role steeped in tradition and ceremony.
The Mayor represents the Authority and its area, with the insignia of the mace, robes, and chains of office. The Mayor connects the present day with history and acts as a symbol of continuity.
Prior to the twentieth century the choice of Mayor was in reality very restricted, but today the First Citizen can (and does) come from any class, gender or ethnic background. This new diversity reflects the more open and democratic society we now live in.
The many engagements undertaken by the Mayor act as a link between the various groups and organisations in the town. The Mayor can share the views and concerns of the community with the Council. The Mayor can also take the Council’s message out into the community and work towards achieving the Council’s social, educational and economic aims.
The Mayor has two distinct roles:
The Mayor is the first citizen of the town. Within the town, he or she has precedence over all but members of the Royal Family and the Queen’s deputy, the Lord Lieutenant. In their Civic Role the Mayor meets with individuals and communities to honour them for their contribution to the life of the town, and to promote civic pride. The Mayor is also a member or patron, ex officio, of a number of organisations. The role of Mayor is distinct from that of Councillor and the Mayor acts in a non-political manner when carrying out the civic role. The Deputy Mayor will attend functions when the Mayor is unable to do so.
Chair of Council
The Mayor also chairs meetings of the Full Council so that its business can be carried out efficiently, with regard to the rights of Councillors and the interests of the community.
The Mayor upholds and interprets the Constitution and ensures that the Council meeting is a forum for the debate of matters of concern to the local community. The meeting is also an opportunity for the Councillors to hold the Committee Chairmen to account.
If the Mayor is present at the meeting he or she must preside. If the Mayor is not present, then the Deputy Mayor can preside if chosen to do so by the Meeting.
It is the duty of the Mayor to ensure that Council meetings are conducted in a seemly manner and in accordance with the Local Government Act, 1972, and Council Standing Orders. In the cases of disorderly or unruly behaviour by the public it is in order for the Mayor to require the perpetrators be removed. In extreme cases an order can be made to adjourn the meeting while the public gallery is cleared.
It is in the power of the Mayor to call a Special Meeting of the Council at any time, subject to prior notice being given, or to alter the time and place of a scheduled Council meeting.
Special privileges accorded to the Mayor include:
Provision for a second, or casting vote in the event of an equality of votes on any question before the meeting. The Mayor makes her or his initial vote and in the case of equality may then use the casting vote;
Precedence of the Mayor (or person presiding) whereby when the Mayor rises during a debate any Member standing shall resume her or his seat and the Council shall be silent.
There are certain events which have a town-wide significance and incorporate ceremonial elements. These events are co-ordinated by the Mayor’s Assistant who can be contacted at the Town Council on 01296 425678.