‘Opulence’ over chains is criticised

COUNCIL has agreed to spend nearly £1,500 on what have been described as non-essential repairs to the mayoral chains.

At Monday’s council meeting elected representatives were asked to decide whether or not to approve extra repair work to the mayor and deputy mayor’s chains.

The mayor’s chain is to be sent away to have a lost shield replaced, at a cost of £746.39 which will be covered by the council’s insurance policy.

While the chain is away being fixed councillors were asked to consider whether to pay for additional repair work to be carried out on damage to the mayor’s chain as well as fit new collars for both the mayor and deputy mayor’s chains.

UUP Councillor Alderman Arnold Hatch proposed that council should take this opportunity to carry out repairs to both chains given that it was many years since anything was done to the chains.

Mayor Alan Carson said it was a case of spending the money now or spending it down the line, by which stage, Mr Carson said, it would probably cost even more.

Mairead O’Dowd and Johnny McGibbon from Sinn Fein both spoke to say only the repairs covered by insurance should be carried out at this stage.

Councillor O’Dowd said it was a case of spending money which council doesn’t need to spend to fix things that aren’t broken but are in a state of disrepair.

Councillor McGibbon proposed carrying out only the repairs that were covered by insurance.

A recorded vote was taken on Alderman Hatch’s proposal. 11 voted in favour of carrying out the additional repairs valued at £1,427.76, five voted against, and there were two abstentions.

Councillor McGibbon’s second proposal was disregarded.

Speaking after the meeting Councillor O’Dowd said: “This additional work would have been covered by insurance if it were needed to keep the value and safety of the chains at an appropriate level.

“We therefore have to conclude that the expense is being incurred for purely superficial reasons at a time when all departments are being instructed to identify savings.

“Other parties on Council have called for cutbacks in facilities, restrictions in the collection of waste and reductions to the wages bill yet none of them supported our call to stop the pilfering of the ratepayer’s money on non-essential cosmetic opulence.”