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.
- Treat the honour with humility
- Be natural – don’t put on any airs and graces
- 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
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.