The leader of Morley Town Council has defended a recent decision to spend up to £1,000 on a ceremonial robe for the town mayor, stating it helps promote a positive image of the town to potential employers.
Recently-published town council papers reveal that members of the authority’s Finance, General Purposes and Strategic Committee agreed to commission the robe using money from the authority’s “Special Projects” budget.
One Morley councillor criticised the move, claiming it is “the wrong direction to take”, while government spending cuts for local authorities continue.
Minutes from a committee meeting which took place on Wednesday, March 27 lists one item: “To discuss proposal to commission a ceremonial robe (to be tailored) and agree expenditure of up to £1,000.
“A costing of £1,010.22 provided by a local seamstress, which had been sent to Coun Hutchison, was tabled. It was proposed and agreed that the ceremonial robe be commissioned at this cost, to be taken from ‘Special Projects’.”
Despite council minutes suggesting the exact costing, the leader of the town council claims the amount would be considerably cheaper than this.
Chair of Morley Town Council and Leeds City Councillor Robert Finnigan (MBI, Morley North) said: “The cost at least a couple of hundred pounds less than that.
“I think it’s quite a lot of money but, historically, the robe is there to support the role of the Mayor.
“People in Morley think the mayoral role is important and it should be carried out to a certain level and standard – that is what this is about, not just in Morley, but in the wider area.
“It’s promoting Morley to the wider area, and if we are going to do that, we don’t just turn up in jeans and trainers – it supports the work that the Mayor does across Yorkshire.
“We think that the Mayor’s role is to be an ambassador for Morley, and this can help businesses relocate to Morley.
“This is about promoting a positive image of Morley and can help attract businesses to relocate here. It is a positive and money well-spent.”
Leeds City Council has recently claimed that government spending cuts have taken more than £1 billion from its budgets over the last decade, while another £15 million was shaved from the authority’s budget from central government this year.
Leeds City Councillor Neil Dawson (Lab, Morley South) said: “This is very interesting, as they [Morley Borough Independents] are always condemning us for making cuts.
“I think in these austere times, this is the wrong direction to take.
“I am a great believer in civic responsibility, but spending money in this way is not the right thing to do.”