Halesworth mayor idea knocked back

A proposal to create an office of mayor in Halesworth has been played down by the chairman of the town council.Suggesting a mayor was part of a 10-point plan put forward by Rev Edward Rennard.

A proposal to create an office of mayor in Halesworth has been played down by the chairman of the town council.

Suggesting a mayor was part of a 10-point plan put forward by Rev Edward Rennard.

But the rector's idea was rejected by Alan Holzer – currently in his second two-year term as chairman – as being less effective and too expensive.

Mr Rennard had said he believed the ceremonial office would create a more visual leader for the town and help provide a focal point for those campaigning for better community facilities.

"Having a mayor can make a bigger impact and could have a galvanising effect on campaigns for the town," he said.

"It is also a way of providing a public face for the town and a focal point for organisations within the town."

Most Read

But Mr Holzer told a meeting of town councillors that he was far from convinced that having a mayor would make any difference.

"What we have in Halesworth is a chairman who serves for two years, not a mayor who would do just one," he said. "And, in effect, by choosing a deputy chairman for two years we have an apprentice system for that person to learn the ropes.

"If anything, a chairman has more power than a mayor could."

He also said the expense of bringing in a mayor was too much.

"The only real difference between me and (mayors) Chris Scott at Beccles, Michael Ladd at Southwold and Martin Evans at Bungay is that I wear ordinary clothes," he added.

"To get all the regalia would cost thousands of pounds."

The former teacher said he would be more receptive to the idea if the mayor was an executive office with an appropriately sized budget, such as exists in Halesworth's twin towns of Bouchain and Eitorf.

He also played down suggestions that the town's church could be turned into a community meeting place.

"It's not a new idea, it's been talked about before about 10 years ago and there was opposition to it," he added.

"I think what Edward has brought up is interesting, but none of it is new."

Bill Pagan, a former chairman of the council, said that if the town took on more responsibility for its own affairs, and was given more power by Waveney District Council, then he would be interested in revisiting the idea.