Plug pulled on mayoral chain trip

First Citizen’s civic regalia should not be worn by his deputy on French visit, Axminster councillors rule

THE plug has been pulled on plans to send Axminster’s mayoral chain across The Channel for twining celebrations next month.

If the First Citizen can’t go his regalia can’t either, town councillors have ruled.

Axminster’s French twin, Douvres La Delivrande, is hosting a weekend with both its partners – Axminster and Oerlenbach, in Germany.

It is the first time all three have got together and the occasion will involve some formal gatherings and displays of civic pride, with representatives “properly attired”.

Axminster’s mayor, Andrew Moulding, can’t be there because he is due to have an operation on his knee – so his deputy Jeremy Walden will attend in his place.

But deciding what badge of office he should wear sparked a lively debate at Axminster Town Council’s meeting last week.

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Town Clerk Hilary Kirkcaldie assured members it was perfectly legal for Cllr Walden to borrow the mayor’s chain and red robes as he was attending on his behalf.

Cllr Mervyn Symes thought that was a great idea.

“Jeremy is representing the town and has to be dressed up,” he said.

But former mayor Sue Spiller did not agree.

“I have been mayor and I know what a privilege it was to wear the chain,” she said.

“I don’t believe that it should be passed around so it looks good in photos at a function, whatever that function is. We are in danger of losing sight of the etiquette and protocol that goes with the office of mayor and deputy.”

Cllr John Jeffery said as a comprise Cllr Walden could simply wear the town crest part of the mayor’s chain rather than the whole thing, along with the robes.

Cllr Chris Scott said it was the first time there had been a joint visit involving both of Douvres’ twin towns. It was being built up as a quite “seriously major event” and it would be sad if Axminster was seen to be loitering behind.

“I would say he should wear the chain – I would like to see it complete,” he said.

After a tied vote, Cllr Moulding cast his in favour of Cllr Walden wearing only the town crest medallion – and the red robes if he felt they were appropriate.