Worthing mayor’s charity faces axe

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PUBLIC money should not be used to raise cash for charity.

Worthing Borough Council issued the warning as it planned to slash spending on the mayor and his/her office by 25 per cent.

Each year, the mayor raises tens of thousand of pounds for charity, even though fund-raising is not an official part of the role.

Councillors have been told this cannot go on amid public concerns about “junketing”.

A report said: “While this (fund-raising) is admirable, it is a voluntary activity which is not formally part of the role of the mayor and the council needs to be extremely careful about using public funds for this purpose.

Council costs

“Some past mayors have been ably supported by a charity team, but the mayoral office and members of the democratic services team have supported the mayor in his/her endeavours to ensure a successful year.

“Officer time is not offset in the funds raised during the year and therefore the council is using public money to contribute to the fund-raising activities of the charities.

“This level of officer support is no longer sustainable with the need to save money. In the current climate there is a public perception of junketing.

“This is an opportunity to define the role (of mayor) and make it fit for purpose and ensure it meets the legitimate expections of residents.”

Cutting back

A working party, which included current mayor Ann Sayers and two previous mayors, drew up a series of measures to slash spending without damaging the dignity of the office.

The working party proposed:

– Officer support for the mayor be reduced by two days a week.

– The mayor should attend just one civic reception and one church service a year.

– No attendance of events outside the borough unless essential.

– No more support for charity events.

– A limit on mayoral hospitality for French and German visitors from Worthing’s twin towns.

– A review of whether a chauffeur-driven official car was needed.

– No relatives be invited to the annual royal garden party at Buckingham Palace.

Refreshments

It also recommended only tea and biscuits be provided at council and committee meetings, while outside organisations holding functions on council property should pay for their own refreshments.

The council spends £791,460 a year on democratic services.

Of that, almost £90,000 goes on supporting the mayor.

Council leader Paul Yallop will now consider the options.