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Plea to Replace Mayor’s Car Made as New Mayoral Candidates Are Nominated

Published on: 26 Nov, 2021
Updated on: 30 Nov, 2021

The mayoral nominees for 2022-23 Cllrs Dennis Booth and Masuk Miah

Cllr Dennis Booth’s (R4GV, Christchurch) nomination as the next Mayor of Guildford, 2022-2023, was approved during this week’s Executive meeting of Guildford Borough Council. And some councillors hope that he will be able to arrive in style at his civic appointments by bringing back the mayoral car.

Also approved was Cllr Masuk Miah’s (Lib Dem, Stoughton) nomination as deputy mayor.

Both nominations are subject to ratification at the next full meeting of the council.

Cllr Miah told The Dragon: “I am very pleased to have been put forward as a candidate for next year’s Deputy Mayor of Guildford and grateful for the support I have already received from others.

“I hope to use my time in the mayoralty team to foster even better relations between the communities in Guildford a town which has accepted me and been my home for 35 years.
“And I am looking forward to meeting more of my fellow Guildfordians and getting a better appreciation of all the various activities that go on across the borough.”

See also: Cllr Masuk Miah Gives a BAME View on Local Race Relations

Nominations for the mayor and deputy mayor positions, which can only be held by serving councillors, are agreed between the political groups at the council and an uncontested, formal election is held at the “Mayor Making” during a ceremonial council meeting at the Guildhall each May.

Cllr Paul Spooner

During a short debate on the item at this week’s Executive meeting (November 23), Cllr Paul Spooner (Con, South Ash & Tongham) praised the prospective deputy mayor saying: “I fully support the idea that Cllr Masuk Miah is put forward. I had the pleasure of being with him in the Bangladeshi Caterers Association awards just a couple of weeks back, and to see him in action, from a civic perspective was a real pleasure. I think he’ll be a very good match for Guildford.”

The mayor’s car with GBC employed chauffer in 2016

But then he continued: “However, I can’t let this go by without putting a dig in … can’t we get the mayoral car back? I genuinely believe that the civic pride that comes for the mayor in being able to turn up in a chauffeur-driven car makes a significant difference to the status for this borough. And whilst I accept that, there are obviously significant issues in relation to funding, can’t we make an effort to go out there and get it supported, even if we do have to have a sponsor put on the bonnet.

He was supported by Cllr Catherine Young (GGG, Clandon & Horsley) who said: “I’m going to agree with Cllr Spooner because, sorry, I know I don’t usually, but I actually think it’s really important. And it is about promoting Guildford.

“It really is quite significant when [the mayor’s car] turns up into your local community and the mayor gets out, I just think it is really important. And I’m sure we could get some sponsorship.”

Cllr Catherine Young, happy to be the mayor’s driver.

Asked jokingly by the council leader Joss Bigmore if she would volunteer to drive it she said she would, “as long as it was big car and electric”.

But Cllr Bigmore (R4GV, Christchu) brought the meeting back to earth saying: “In the grand scheme of the budget situation, there is no way we can commit any more money to a mayor’s car. I will revisit the situation should we get a surplus.

“If we have a volunteer driver and a volunteer car, and it is guaranteed to cost the council nothing, of course we will look at it. But I think you know the resources are extremely, extremely stretched at the moment.”

Cllr Booth was invited to comment.

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Responses to Plea to Replace Mayor’s Car Made as New Mayoral Candidates Are Nominated

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    November 26, 2021 at 9:43 pm

    I’m not sure if it’s a one-off cost or brings ongoing annual spend as a mayor’s car would, but it seems strange to me that a clique continue a bid for city status.

    The costs involved have not been outlined and although they keep bleating it will be good for the town (borough) not a single specific benefit has been announced.

    We don’t even meet the limited criteria set by the government, though they haven’t been enforced since they came in ~100 years ago.

  2. Anthony Mallard Reply

    November 27, 2021 at 11:00 am

    I read, with interest, the pleas for the reinstatement of a mayoral car. There are points in favour as well as a more persuasive argument, on financial grounds, against the costs of the provision of such a vehicle and its ‘on’ costs.

    But it has apparently been agreed, without any meaningful consultation (whatever happened to the Nolan Principles?) that the borough should apply for city status. This, if granted, will doubtless result in many changes to road signs and the many other aspects of the council that are marked with the, by then, redundant ‘borough’ suffix or prefix.

    Both the mayoral car and city status are, in truth, vanity projects. Both have significant costs attached to them and, in the current financial circumstances, both are unnecessary. Money is tight and there are more important calls upon it that truly affect the quality of life of residents, especially the elderly and disadvantaged.

    Editor’s comment: GBC’s leader has said that the city status bid will be paid for through sponsorship. We will ask if that will cover the oncosts of changing signage, stationery, updating IT systems, etc.
    Those asking for a return of the mayor’s car also suggested that the costs could be covered through sponsorship.

  3. Sue Reeve Reply

    November 28, 2021 at 7:12 am

    I would hope that any vehicle would be fully electric, given the climate emergency. There is no possible reason for it not to be so.

  4. Amanda Creese Reply

    November 30, 2021 at 10:31 am

    I fully agree with the comments from Anthony Mallard. City status, mayoral cars are all vanity projects.

    Guildford Borough Council should concentrate on projects that actually make a difference to the residents lives such as: reinvigorating the High Street, ensuring that developers comply with targets for affordable housing, promoting the cultural life of the town, such as the libraries and the museum.

    How about a mayoral electric bike to show Guildford’s determination to improve its carbon footprint?

  5. Adam Aaronson Reply

    December 2, 2021 at 10:39 am

    As Guildford has a considerable number of vineyards and distilleries within its environs, it is likely that on several occasions a mayor will be required to visit these establishments during their term of office.

    It would be rather churlish of a mayor to decline the offer of tasting the new vintage at High Clandon or Albury or to sample the latest offering from Silent Pool or Mews Gin, on the grounds of not wanting to drink and drive. So it seems that having a chauffeur-driven car would be eminently sensible, to enable the mayor to avoid offending some of Guildford’s finest.

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