As part of an independent audit of Middlewich Town Council’s working practices, which took place in late 2019, concerns were raised about a number of the town council’s financial irregularities as well as the legality of the recently created ‘Community Mayor’ role.
The Community Mayor initiative was designed to establish a figurehead for the town, independent of the council and to ‘give the role back’ to the community who would assist in selecting an individual who dedicates themselves to the town.
This community-minded individual, it was envisaged, would represent Middlewich at events throughout Cheshire and fundraise for their chosen charities throughout their mayoral year.
Middlewich Town Council says that whilst advice was sought during the establishing of the role – and the councillors responsible acted in good faith in doing so – the independent auditor advised that it was not possible for the town council to legally create the role of community mayor.
The council’s subsequent advice from professional bodies also supports this view and as a result the project in its current format has been forced to come to an end.
A spokesperson for Middlewich Town Council said: “This is a cause of great sadness to the town council and of course Dave Roberts, the first community mayor and Linda Boden the deputy community mayor.”
They added: “Whilst the project will cease for the present time, the council will be looking at alternative ways in which to have a community representative to take on the role generally carried out by the town mayor – that is to be the public face of Middlewich at events throughout Cheshire.”
Chairman of Middlewich Town Council’s internal committee, Cllr Helen Watkinson said: “Personally I am very sad and disappointed with this outcome but we must comply with the legislation which is there to protect the title of mayor.
“The roles that David Roberts, Lynne Hardy and Linda Boden and her husband John, carried out have been excellent.
“Fulfilling every expectation of what the town residents wanted a community mayor to be. Thank you to all for your continued support of this project.”
The town council emphasised that the cessation of the project is in no way a reflection on Dave Roberts, Lynne Hardy or Linda Boden.
The trio are said to have represented the town exceptionally over the last 6 months and Middlewich town councillors would like to thank for their time and efforts.