Council confirms Lord Mayor will continue in office for another year.

No news on position of Sheriff

The Council has issued a statement saying that the current Lord Mayor Janet Looker will continue in office for an additional year. There was no consultation on the proposal which was made at a “behind closed doors” meeting.

The statement reads,

Lord Mayoralty to be extended due to Coronavirus

For the first time in over 80 years The Lord Mayor of York, Cllr Janet Looker and her consort, will stay in office for an extended term.

Following the unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic, group leaders, The Lord Mayor, and Cllr Chris Cullwick (who was due to become the Lord Mayor this month), have agreed that Cllr Looker will continue as Lord Mayor for another year.

The Government’s emergency legislation for local authorities removed the requirement to hold Annual Council this year, meaning the next Annual Council will be held in 2021

There has been no announcement on the position of Sheriff of the City. The position has been shared by two individuals during the last 12 months.

The vast majority of the events normally attended by the Civic Party were suspended at the beginning of March. It is unclear when they will recommence although it is not thought likely that many will take place before the autumn.

The current Lord Mayor is understood to be observing strict social distancing conventions and has had a low profile in recent months.

NB. It is the first time since 1933-35, when Herbert Edward Harrowell was Lord Mayor, that a Lord Mayor will serve a term of two years. Since WWII, only one Lord Mayor has served over a continuous 12 months when the date of Mayor making was changed from November to May, Therefore the Mayor inaugurated in November 1945 stayed in office until May 1947.

When in a hole …

Mansion House, Lord Mayors flat is on the top floor

Mansion House, Lord Mayors flat is on the top floor

Most York residents will have watched their TV screens with incredulity over the last 48 hours as details of a leaked exchange of Emails, involving York’s Lord Mayor,  reached the media .

There are three pieces of advice given to any incoming holder of this important office which dates back to 1217.

  1. Treat the honour with humility
  2. Be natural – don’t put on any airs and graces
  3. Treat the role as a “job of work” not an extended social event

It is good advice. Advice that often leads to holders having an outstanding year of office reflecting credit both on the post holder and on the City. Last years Lord Mayor could rightly claim to have hit exactly the right note.

Others may carry some political baggage or reputation into the Mansion House with them. The sooner that is discarded the better.

So why should things have gene so wrong this year?

The fact that the Mansion House was to be refurbished this year, and that the Lord Mayor would not be able to use the grace an favour top floor flat, has been known for many months. When this last happened, an office suite in the Guildhall was made available to the then Lord Mayor for robing and hospitality. With the Guildhall empty at present this was an obvious solution to any accommodation issues.

Another controversial Lord Mayor - George Hudson - wearing the chain of office

Another controversial Lord Mayor – George Hudson – wearing the chain of office

In any event these days around 50% of office holders continue to live at their home address. There is normally no need for overnight accommodation in the City centre.

The second point made in the Emails concerns the appearance of the (second) mayoral chain of office. The chain itself comprises fragile gold links. It is used only rarely these days because of concern about wear and tear on individual components. The argument relates to a second, imitation, gilded chain. The gilt does need to be renewed from time to time and has in the past been kept up to standard through a public appeal for donations. In difficult financial times it is probably unreasonable to expect gilding to be undertaken at the expense of the public purse.

The civic regalia and silver collection should be kept in good condition and the Councils review committees should ensure that a regular inspection of all items is undertaken and their condition recorded.

A reopened Mansion House will provide an opportunity for more people to see the historic artifacts while also providing a a chance to generate more income to help with their conservation.

In the meantime – unless the present post holder is found to have broken the code of conduct – the matter needs to be put to rest. The Leader of the Councils comments on “Look North” – implying that refugees had a greater need for accommodation than the Lord Mayer – had more than whiff of hypocrisy. He would be more credible if he had stuck his head over the parapet 2 weeks ago when public opinion on the refugee topic was rather different.

So the Lord Mayor should trim her commitments for the rest of the year.  Organisations in the City will understand that only so much is possible.

Many may, in any event, be less likely to issue invitations to the Civic party at least until this unwelcome publicity has faded from the memory.