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U-turn over £13K gold chain plans

Town councillors have made a U-turn on plans to spend nearly £13,000 on civic regalia following a public backlash.

Wilmslow Regalia

Town councillors have made a U-turn on plans to spend nearly £13,000 on civic regalia following a public backlash.

Wilmslow Town Council was heavily criticised after deciding to splash out on a gold plated chairman’s chain and other regalia to be worn at meetings and civic events. The Express received angry letters and residents complained to councillors, calling it a waste of taxpayers’ money at a tough economic time.

Councillors have backed a motion to rescind the decision and look at it again in the future.

Council chairman Keith Purdom described the backlash as the biggest the council had faced in response to a decision.

Councillors Ellie Brooks, Ruth McNulty, Don Glover, Gary Barton and Paul Barton called for a special motion to rescind the decision and look at it again in the future.

At Monday’s meeting, 13 of the 14 councillors voted in favour of the motion.

Coun Trevor Jones, who has been at the centre of the row after defending the decision, abstained from the vote.

This week he was the victim of a prank in which a makeshift cardboard Victoria Cross with ‘WTC’ on it and a wooden spoon was attached to his front gate.

He has now challenged the person behind it to a ‘duel with wooden spoons’. Coun Purdom said after the meeting: “We changed the decision because the strength of feeling against the regalia was clear.

“I was surprised about the reaction.  It was the biggest response in our time as a council.

“But I have talked about wanting greater engagement with people in Wilmslow and we have listened.

“If I had my time again, I would have handled the matter differently.

“The timing of the decision was insensitive.”

The chairman currently wears regalia on loan from Cheshire East which was formerly used by Wilmslow Urban District Council.

Councillors voted by nine to four to buy new regalia at their June meeting.

This included £5,100 on a sterling silver chairman’s chain finished in 23.5ct hard gold plate.

A pendant for the chain would have cost £2,769, a vice chairman’s pendant £2,769, vice chairman’s ribbon and enamelled bar at £107, and ten medals for past chairmen would have been bought at a cost of £1,956.

Dave Cash, a resident who urged councillors not to spend the money at the June meeting, welcomed the U-turn.

He said: “The decision was made at the wrong time and they hadn’t thought it through.

“It’s an outdated idea and Wilmslow could have been bold and said it doesn’t need regalia.”

Coun Trevor Jones has been outspoken on the regalia issue throughout, at one point comparing buying cheaper regalia to cutting costs on Victoria Cross medals.  He discovered the prank Victoria Cross on his gate on Carlton Avenue on Thursday, July 11, at 7am, and reported the incident to police.

He said: “This invasion of privacy occurred under cover of darkness. I deplore this act and trust that all fair-minded people would condemn such a blatant move to intimidate me and affect my family’s sense of safety.

“It’s time to draw a line under this emotive issue.  But should the name of this after-hour’s activist become known, I intend to challenge that person to a duel at dawn on The Carrs with their weapon of choice – wooden spoons.

“Then this incident can be seen with the disdain it deserves.”

Police confirmed reports that a cardboard Victoria Cross medal had been left at Coun Jones’s house on July 11.

 

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