Lichfield District Council's civic chains

A new row has broken out over the future of the civic roles at Lichfield District Council.

Lichfield District Council House

The funding for the chairman and deputy chairman was reduced 12 months ago, with further changes agreed at a meeting of the council this week.

But a number of former civic leaders at the local authority have criticised calls to reform the roles in emails seen by LichfieldLive.

One wrote: “Much of the pre-amble revolved around the committee’s presumed ‘public perception’ that the civic role is an excuse for wasting public money on ‘jollies and banquets’.

“We all know that public perception about many things to do with the council and governance in general, such as, for example, planning permission, is misguided.”

Another former chairman said the cross-party task group that is behind the proposed changes was flawed as it has no former civic leaders amongst it.

But Labour opposition group leader Cllr Sue Woodward said she was perplexed by the opposition to reducing the cost and improving the value for money of the civic roles.

“Of all of the challenges facing the council at this time of financial pressure, I was amazed that this item generated so much heat,” she said. “The council is cutting services to residents or increasing charges, such as with the forthcoming charge for brown bins, and we barely hear a peep yet here are former chairmen opposing the tightening of budgets around civic visits.

Cllr Sue Woodward

“Rather than spending their time and energy on events, I would urge them to spend more time listening to what their local electors say about all this.

“As I said at the meeting, I have never, ever been lobbied to increase the civic budget and the number of civic visits – and I doubt if any single member has either.”

Cllr Woodward added that she recognised the role of the chairman but said the focus on managing meetings and promoting the council’s objectives did require some investment, but in the right areas.

She said: “This is an important and serious role and the Cabinet agreed with the recommendation that chairmen should be trained to do the job. This clearly hit a nerve though with these and other past chairmen who have not been.

“These comments calling for a rejection of the Cabinet’s decision shows an incomplete understanding of the council’s constitution as the council are not empowered to overturn a decision and this has to be done via the Call In process – clear proof that chairmen need training on how the Council works.

“As only 56% of members replied to a recent questionnaire on members’ training needs, too few of the current membership see the need for any training but I believe that, however long an individual has been a councillor, we all need ongoing training in the fast-moving local government world.”


Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

11 replies on “New row over future of civic roles at Lichfield District Council”

  1. I am opening a letter this evening. It would be lovely to have some photos of someone with some chains as I do it.

    This would not be a total waste of money, as you could you the photo in some pointless self promotion exercise.

  2. So effectively one former chairman is saying the plebs don’t know what’s good for them so we really shouldn’t listen to them. If only Lichfield Live would reprint these words on polling day next time out.

    These ivory tower comments are why local government is alienating local residents. What sort of effective method of government is it where jumped up little retired men in cheap suits are allowed to make decisions which impact so heavily on people’s lives? Where was the outcry when they swung the axe on community transport? Or when they slashed jobs? Or when they gave away public land? Why, they were busy ensuring they protected their own little existence by fighting for silly outfits and chains.

    Also, we as a public don’t elect a chairman so how do these failed excuses for human beings pretend to know what Joe Bloggs thinks of their very important public role and chauffeur? Anyone ever seen them talking to real people? Probably not as they’re too busy having photos of themselves taken looking like idiots (see the story on the fire station just above this one). Do it… offer residents a vote on whether they want brown bins collected or a buffoon having a jolly with his other chain gang pals. That would be really democracy and the little men in their bling would despise that.

    Lichfield District Council should look ask Cllr Bacon how well valued the civic function is after her wonderfully on the button plan for a taxpayer funded civic gallery at Burntwood Town Council was laughed out by her colleagues after a backlash from local residents.

  3. The mind boggles. At what point do normal people say ‘this sounds like a good idea. I’m sure people will back me being driven round to the opening of a fridge or envelope’? Proof that they’re out of touch if ever it were needed.

  4. Yet another example of how councillors enjoy blowing smoke up their own arses. It is an absolute joke when we have Chairmen/women (And their spouse) touring the area at the cost of taxpayers. They lack the dignity to show their value to the taxpayers. I do not believe the Lichfield Chair has visited Burntwood since his selection.

    Councillors are more than happy to moan about the comments the public make, but yet they do nothing to actively get people involved. We have a widening gap between the people and the councils, and yet we get the same crap each election.

  5. Has anyone done a ‘value for money’ study/comparison? How do you measure the value of these positions? To keep rolling out the same lines that they provide a civic duty and ‘bring in business,’ how do you prove value for money?

  6. Exactly what needs to be done Darryl. But that would expose the flagrant abuse of taxpayer funding that the council allows by finding a driver for these roles. The council keeps saying it is aiming to become a corporate organisation to tackle funding issues…let’s see if they follow through, as any corporate organisation would not allow money to flood into a role without evidence of its balance sheet value. At a time when employers make workers travel on the cheapest possible train or flight even if it means a longer journey, why does the council feel a chauffeur is appropriate for these jumped up little men in suits?

  7. Lots of pertinent points here; might be good to highlight the fact that the Cabinet decision was to *reject* the ridiculous ideas presented by some of the councillors, and continue trying to achieve savings while supporting local charities (not just social events!).

  8. I see in another local newspaper that former Chairmen of LDC enjoyed a dinner at St John’s in Lichfield. I wonder who paid for that? Did it come out of their Councillor Allowance or has the Council funded it. No doubt they congratulated themselves on what a wonderful job they have done desecrating the City.

  9. At least the money going to St John’s House stays in the local economy (mostly.) – Fabricant doesn’t frequent anywhere except chain brand Caffe Nero, ignoring the tens of local independent shops he could spend his tax-payer dollah.

Comments are closed.