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£10,000 council robes bill is attacked as ‘outrageous’

A Deal resident has attacked the town council for planning to spend more than £10,000 on new ceremonial robes and regalia.

Lee Kettlewell, of St Leonard’s Road, has criticised the expenditure as an “outrageous waste of public funds” and “all the more ludicrous because current robes are already available and not all councillors will choose to wear them”.

The council agreed to the civic and ceremonial policy in April 2015 which states that in cases where the mace is out it is normal civic protocol for all councillors and the town clerk to be robed – such as Remembrance services, memorial and civic town events.

Cllr Adrian Friend in the Mayor's Robe which is believed to have been replaced last year
Cllr Adrian Friend in the Mayor's Robe which is believed to have been replaced last year

Following this on Monday, July 13, members of the finance and general purposes committee considered the condition of ceremonial robes and hats and were supplied with a detailed report.

The council has a mixture of robes made out of different material and colours that were obtained about nine years ago from a borough council which was disposing of them.

The report listed the faults with each robe and hat, which showed that all of them are now in disrepair.

Members had three options: remove the robes from service; budget for a three-year replacement programme, starting with 2015/2016; or replace them.

They chose to replace all 13 councillors’ robes and buy 10 male and three female councillor hats and one male and one female mayor hat, using money from the mayor’s parlour refurbishment budget.

The council chose this option to ensure that all robes match and also because of a 10% discount on offer if they agree to use Michaels as the supplier.

Town Clerk Lorna Crow confirmed that negotiating with the supplier is still taking place but the initial figure that the council is working to is £10,107, although it is hoped a further discount can be agreed.

Mr Kettlewell said: “I am sure I will not be alone in thinking that this is an outrageous waste of public funds.

“How ironic it is that this gesture of supposedly saving Deal Town Council money seems actually to facilitate the excessive expenditure on robes and finery which are antiquated and unnecessary.

“Better that the money was spent on deserving community projects or for the benefit of all who live in our town.”

Cllr Trevor Bond says the town council needs to look smart
Cllr Trevor Bond says the town council needs to look smart

Committee chairman Cllr Trevor Bond said: “Most councils have a set of robes they wear because it’s very important when you represent the town for civic events. I believe it’s part of office.

“Deal Town Council’s robes are a mix match of colours and there has not been an ongoing maintenance programme. Due to good financial management and the possibility of discount, I think it’s time to replace them now. We should take the opportunity.

“The community out there is doing a lot to make our town look smart. The last thing we want to do is not have our council looking smart.

“It does sound like a lot of money but it’s for 13 robes. Hopefully, they will last a good 10 or 20 years, which is a particularly good investment.”

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