Row over mayors’ roles flares up at town council meeting

Ian Graham has been re-elected as mayor of Lowestoft. Picture: Mick Howes.

Ian Graham has been re-elected as mayor of Lowestoft. Picture: Mick Howes. - Credit: Archant

A row over the roles of the mayor and deputy mayor broke out at a town council meeting.

At Lowestoft Town Council's full council meeting on Tuesday disagreements flared up over the passing of a motion formalising the informal arrangement between the two councillors.

Under an informal arrangement between mayor Ian Graham and deputy mayor Peter Knight, the civic duties and presiding duties which form part of the role of mayor are split.

This has meant Mr Knight taking on the role of the civic and ceremonial mayor, performing such tasks as attending opening ceremonies or events.

Mr Graham instead has chosen to concentrate on the large amount of administrative work demanded of him due to the young age of the council.

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The motion had been put forward by Mr Graham and was opposed primarily by councillor Keith Patience and Mr Knight.

Much of the discussion surrounded the various historic and civic protocols surrounding the use of mayor's robes and whether it was possible to legally allow for such a move.

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Mr Graham argued that it was not only possible to allow for such a move, but it would improve the function of the council on a day-to-day basis, allowing him to focus on the high amount of administrative work demanded of him.

Mr Patience said it was not standard protocol for councils in general to allow the mayor and the deputy mayor to share robes or chains.

Mr Knight said that while the current situation is not ideal in the short term, it will work in the long term.

He added he had received criticism from unnamed Waveney District councillors about the shared role which he said would only get worse if the split was formalised.

Councillor Amanda Frost said: 'We have got lots of people doing lots of work and why can't common sense prevail?'

Councillor Peter Byatt added: 'There are lots of people who are fundamentally obsessed by protocol.

'Let's continue doing what we are doing now.'

After a prolonged discussion, a motion was passed to keep the situation as it is with only Mr Graham not voting for the motion.

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