A Lichfield councillor has said the Sheriff’s Ride should not be given a blank cheque to be hosted in future after the soaring cost of the event was revealed.

The annual tradition sees riders take on a 20-mile route around the boundary of the city.

Lichfield City Council describes the ride as “a unique and extremely prestigious event” on its own website.

But Labour’s Cllr Dave Robertson said the cost of hosting the event had “spiralled” with road closures alone costing £7,000.

He added that while he hoped it could continue, questions should be asked about the price tag on the event going forward.

“The Sheriff’s Ride is an ancient tradition in the city of Lichfield and we are one of very few parts of the country which still holds an event of this type.

“However, costs for this tradition more than doubled in 2019 and were set to continue at a similar level in 2020 before it was cancelled due to coronavirus.

“Most of the cost increase is because of road closures which are needed for the event.

“These are now being charged to the city council, rather than being provided for free by the police, meaning that the budget for future Sheriffs Rides will be more than £12,000.”

Cllr Dave Robertson, Lichfield City Council

A vote on the proposals to push ahead with spending plans for future iterations of the Sheriff’s Ride were passed at a recent meeting of Lichfield City Couciil, but the Labour members opted to abstain.

Cllr Robertson explained:

The Sheriff’s Ride taking place in 1910

“While we recognise that this tradition is part of the history of the city, we didn’t feel that we could justify the Sheriff’s Ride costing more than 1% of the entire city council budget.

“This would be spent on a single event which is attended by so few people from Lichfield.

“Labour councillors on Lichfield City Council do not want to see the end of the Ride, but we also do not think that it should be given a blank cheque from the council.

“For this reason we could not support the extra spending when it was proposed at the council.

“We also voted against the Conservative budget when it was proposed, with the Sheriff’s Ride being part of the reason for this.”

Cllr Dave Robertson, Lichfield City Council


Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

15 replies on “Lichfield councillor hopes to see Sheriff’s Ride continue – but says event should not be given a blank cheque to ensure it can be hosted in future”

  1. Lichfield has so few traditions left that I think it would be a crying shame if the Sherriff’s Ride becomes yet another victim.
    We should be preserving the city’s heritage and traditions, not consigning them to the “dustbin” of history. It is event like this that makes Lichfield a special and historic city.
    I am sure that a solution can be found with the councillors working together on this and possibly those taking part helping to cover costs. Maybe a fundraising drive to cover the policing costs would be the way forward?

  2. The sheriff’s ride costs us more than £12,000 !! Really! With my council rates sky high and increasing AGAIN. With the near loss of swimming pools at the Friary, loss of teaching assistants in our schools, loss of the stroke centre, closing down of support services for the vulnerable, cuts to funding programmes for battered women, MY GOD – woe betide the possibility a few posh snobs shouldn’t have the right to ponce about on horses no matter what the cost borne by the peasants.

  3. share david robertson concerns when i was part of the controlling labour council in the 1990’s we did curb costs -such as freebie lunches etc
    would be interesting to know how many participants live within the city council boundaries -not many i suspect
    so why should local ratepayers subside them

  4. The ride exists due to the goodwill of landowners. If it was abolished then abolish all heritage. Not in Staffordshire but let’s campaign to do away with Ashbourne Shrovetide football with the centre of town shut 2 days. Then off course who needs a May queen get rid of it and so it would go on until nothing left

  5. Let’s cancel that Wakes thing as well, so we can plough much needed funds into the social care budget.

  6. Well mac, Brian and Mike…. There’s also that medieval sandstone monstrosity dominating the city. Would make a cracking housing development!

  7. Philip it could be fitted out with beds and used for the homeless. Darwin house,Dr Johnsons house and a few other historic buildings can go. Tourists could then just come and see Tesco

  8. I feel SD that our council is so removed from its people.
    We have volunteers running round town collecting food donations and they want to spend 12 grand on a few people having a horse ride.
    I love old traditions being upheld but this year and probably next year there is people in desperate need of that money.
    Let’s be sensible with this issue.

  9. What about cancelling the professional Councillor’s salaries and expenses for a week I think that would pay for the Sherrif’s Ride and probably much more. After all are they still meeting during lockdown.

  10. Once tradition has gone it has gone for ever. May day used to be a day of celebration of the coming year with dancing around the May Pole that has died and now May Day is a bank holiday but not on May 1st If you get your way Denise old customs will die.For example of one that has died Mothering Sunday, you buy a Mothering Sunday card or gift if you can, It is now called Mothers Day.
    What ever you do do not let old customs die that is why a lot of overseas tourists come

  11. In response to ML
    Mothers day is still very much alive and kicking.
    I did not say we shouldn’t have the sheriff’s ride ever again. Just use the money on feeding people maybe, during these difficult days.
    I also think we shouldn’t be trying to attract people to our city at the moment.
    Trying to social distancing is hard enough as it is.
    Stay safe.

  12. Denise you have fallen into the trap it is not mothers day that is an import from the USA it is Mothering Sunday which has just about died due to what you have done,got it wrong. Pop along and speak to your local vicar he will put you right. As for not attracting people to come to Lichfield then will all you Lichfiels residents stay in the town and stop coming into the country.
    Once some thing is stopped it never starts again It will not happen this year but the council needs to pledge it will run next year

  13. I can be serious now. The ride dates from 1553. The Queen Mary’s Charter that made Lichfield a ‘City and County’ within Staffordshire.
    The sheriff has to perambulate the 22 mile boundary every September in establishment of this. Modern day riders have to pay (about £35 or more). I believe the sheriff carried out this duty even throughout ww2.
    I think this still has some importance. We still have a City Council as well as a District Council and a County Council. While history now has a low priority in school curriculums it is nevertheless still important in local affairs. Who knows what might happen if the Charter is not honoured?

  14. I am sure nothing will change if a few people don’t go on a horse ride.
    Council tax should be spent on providing services for residents.
    This is 2020 in crisis. We are now writing our own history.
    Money for people. Not traditions at this time.

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