The role of Mayor of Oldham has cost local taxpayers more than £800,000 over the past five years, Saddleworth News can reveal.
The job is traditionally carried out by a senior councillor. He or she acts as an ambassador for the borough at functions and events, and also presides over council meetings.
Between 2005 and 2010, a total of £812,123 was spent on the position, according to figures released by Oldham Council under Freedom of Information laws.
That’s a little below the £877,249 Manchester spent on its Lord Mayor over the same period. It’s also significantly less than the £1,585,367 bill for the Lord Mayor of Leeds.
Almost half the figure for Oldham, £388,157, went on staff working in the Mayor’s office. The cost of the Mayor’s official car was £29,989, and an additional £4,520 was spent on other travel expenses.
A further £68,404 went on the extra personal allowance for the councillors who have carried out the job. The annual figure for that payment has risen from £12,956 in 2005/6 to £14,404 in 2009/10.
The data also shows that the most expensive of the five Mayors who served between 2005 and 2010 was Cllr Bernard Judge, who did the job in 2006/7. The Labour member for Royton North cost £182,312 during his time in office, over £20,000 more than the next most expensive Mayor.
By far the busiest Mayor was Cllr Kay Knox, the Liberal Democrat who represents Waterhead. She carried out 716 official engagements during 2005/6, a remarkable 229 more than Cllr Judge, who had the next highest tally.
The figures also show where the Mayors have been cutting costs. No public money at all was spent on official portrait photographs, which were done for free by the Oldham Chronicle. Also, none of the five Mayors claimed expenses for travelling outside the EU.
Here’s a table with a more detailed breakdown of the statistics by year. Only some of the specific categories which make up the overall cost are shown.
The Mayor of Oldham during the 2010/11 municipal year has been Cllr David Jones, a former Labour leader of the council. He’s expected to be succeeded next year by his deputy, Cllr Richard Knowles, a Liberal Democrat who lives in Greenfield, represents Saddleworth South, and was also once the council leader.
The Oldham Council page explaining the role of the Mayor can be read here.
So, the question is: do you think the position of Mayor of Oldham is worth it? Should we keep it or scrap it? Spend less or more on it? If you’ve got a view, please leave it in the comments below this article!