Coronavirus could mean Norwich does not pick a new Lord Mayor

Flashback to last year's mayor-making ceremony. Lord Mayor of Norwich, Vaughan Thomas, with his wife

Flashback to last year's mayor-making ceremony. Lord Mayor of Norwich, Vaughan Thomas, with his wife, Lady Mayoress, Vivien Thomas, and the Sheriff of Norwich, Dr Marian Prinsley, with her husband, Peter Prinsley, on the City Hall steps. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

Discussions over whether Norwich will have a Lord Mayor and sheriff for the year ahead are under way - with the possibility the roles may not be filled for the first time since they were created more than a century ago.

Norwich has been able to appoint a mayor and sheriff since Henry IV conferred that right in 1403, with the Lord Mayor title added in 1909.

But the coronavirus pandemic means that the annual mayor-making ceremony, at which a city councillor is given the Lord Mayor title and a member of the community is named sheriff cannot take place.

Norwich City Council meets in May each year to nominate and vote for the new title holders, but that looks unlikely to take place, given coronavirus restrictions which have put paid to physical meetings of councillors.

The city council has been discussing the way forward and an announcement is understood to be imminent, but it creates the possibility that the city may not appoint to the roles - the first time that will have happened.

The Lord Mayor for the past civic year was Vaughan Thomas, Labour city councillor for Mile Cross, while the sheriff was Dr Marian Prinsley, an educational psychologist and past president of the Norwich Hebrew Congregation.

The civic roles see the post-holders represent the people of Norwich as ‘first citizens’, attending hundreds of events each year, ranging from formal openings to 100th birthday celebrations.

They also select a charity to benefit from fundraising, with Citizens Advice and partners the chosen beneficiaries during the past civic year.

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The Lord Mayor’s Procession - a hugely popular event on Norwich’s events calendar - is one of the occasions through which money is raised.

This year’s procession, which had been due to take place in July, had already been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.In Sheringham, the town’s mayor and deputy mayor will carry on for another year, as the lockdown means neither the annual town meeting nor the annual council meeting have been held.

Madeleine Ashcroft will remain as mayor and chairman of Sheringham Town Council until May 2021 and Liz Withington remains as deputy mayor.

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