A Labour councillor has questioned the decision to protect funding for the Sheriff’s Ride at the same time as plans to increase council tax bills in Lichfield were approved.

Cllr Dave Robertson
Cllr Dave Robertson

Members of Lichfield City Council voted to agree to put up the amount it takes from residents via the precept by 2% at a meeting last night (24th January).

The Conservative-controlled council also confirmed that the budget for the annual Sheriff’s Ride was also be maintained.

It means that £12,680 will be allocated to the civic event.

Labour’s Cllr Dave Robertson said taxpayers would struggle to see the justification for the level of funding at a time when they were being asked to pay more.

“True to form, the Conservatives on the city council did outvote the opposition to increase the council tax precept by 2%.

“Their precious Sheriff’s Ride kept all of its budget though, so I’m sure they’ll sleep sound.

“The expensive version involves us paying almost £12,680 for the Sheriff and a bunch of others to form a mini cavalry detachment and doing a lap of the city – the 2021 version did all of the pomp and ceremonial bits without the horses and only cost £33.”

Cllr Dave Robertson
The Sheriff's Ride taking place in 1910
The Sheriff’s Ride taking place in 1910

The Sheriff’s Ride – which dates back hundreds of years – takes place each September and sees riders head out on a 20 mile ride around the boundary of the city, ending with the group met by the Sword and Mace Bearers in Lichfield.

A description on the city council website says it is “an extremely prestigious event”.

The increase in council tax on Lichfield City Council’s share of the bill equates to around £1.35 a year for an average Band D property.

Cllr Robertson said:

“I am disappointed that the Conservatives didn’t accept reasonable proposals which protected services and kept council tax down.”

Cllr Dave Robertson

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53 Comments

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  1. Well said, Dave. Sadly, it was a case of same old, same old at Lichfield City Council last night. In spite of a very sensible amendment put forward by Labour and supported by the LibDems, the Conservatives preferred to protect funding for the Sheriff’s Ride and put up Council Tax by 2%. So much, for “we’re all in this together”, to quote Tory George Osborne! Even after years of cuts, dressed up as “austerity”, the Tories are still set not learning. Too busy partying no doubt to listen!

  2. How out of touch is this council??? Who benefits from the Sheriff’s Ride? We have people in Lichfield who can’t heat their home adequately and others who have to rely on foodbanks.

    This is mental. Also, doesn’t the Council have £4.5m in funds?? Well above it’s required level.

    I’ve totally had it with this council. They do virtually nothing to appease residents.

    Build build build, tax tax tax.

  3. Have the council no regard for council tax payers who will all be facing increased living costs this year due to food and fuel price increases. Surely these vanity events should be postponed until the economy is in better shape. Most people aren’t interested in these outmoded traditions and want their money better spent.

  4. What utter waste of funds the conservatives have allocated. This begs the questions of why so much money is needed and exactly what that money is spent on. I cherish history, I enjoy traditions but not when homeless and vulnerable people are suffering right beside us and the money spent on this sheriffs ride, could change their lives an prevent elderly starving soul. Many in lichfield cant even afford to switch on the heating, and still those who applied for heating grants, cant even get the heating grants because of our council not increasing staff to see through the huge backlog of people applying.
    Anyone who votes for the tories in the next election, would be condoning this.

  5. £12,680 for Sheriff,s Ride.
    Would like to see the Breakdown of how this Money is Spent.
    Think Food Banks and supplementing Heating Costs would benefit more from Stuffed Shirts and Posh Luncheon.
    Shame Fawlkes is still not around to deal with LDC.

  6. How about this Council stop wasting money and put it towards initiatives that are actually going to benefit the city. I still can’t believe how there is absolutely nothing in Lichfield for young people to do. Places smaller than Lichfield, like Uttoxeter, have Cinebowls (a complex of a cinema, ice skating and bowling). We have nothing in Lichfield.

  7. @Margaret – also worth noting that this is LCC not LDC, with no final say on planning or overall council tax bills (and no millions of pounds in reserve).
    I, together with the other Liberal Democrat councillors, voted in favour of Councillor Robertson’s proposal.

  8. The waistlines get bigger and the snouts get longer.
    Yes the “entitled” can have their cake and eat it but the majority have to make life changing decisions. Meanwhile Pinochio’s nose in No 10 gets longer and longer by the day.
    For goodness sake please write to your MP and councillors about these issues.

  9. What is the breakdown of costs for this ride?
    Seems like a huge amount to me.
    These old traditions are lovely but I would rather the money went on people in need.
    I have read on here that the council have eight million in reserve.
    Can any of the councilors verify that please?

  10. I wonder if there is a poorer performing governing combination of a city council / local authority/ district council that LCC, LDC and their chums at SCC? I honestly can’t remember the last action any of them took that was either successfully executed or beneficial to the people of Lichfield and Burntwood. What we need is an MP who is prepared to challenge these out of date stuffed shirts.

  11. The Sheriffs Ride is past its sell by date, there must be better things to spend money on and the Tories should see the light and end it. Councillor Robertson needs to get off his high horse though, Labour had the chance to lead by example in Burntwood but chose instead to raise their precept by 4% just a few weeks ago. We’re really not ‘in it together’ whether the rosette is blue or red are we Councillors Ball and Robertson? Or is it OK when Labour does it, but not when the Tories do it? It is always the same, those in opposition criticise the actions of those in power to get a bit of cheap publicity and to look like a better alternative. Then they get power themselves and do exactly the same as the last lot, or worse. No wonder people don’t trust their elected representatives, with very few exceptions and no matter what party they fly the flag for, they’re all as bad as each other and take the electorate for small minded fools with short memories. Unfortunately their tactic works.

  12. @Denise, the reserves at LDC are closer to £8million. LCC is a smaller Council but is expecting to have reserves of just over £2.5million at the end of this financial year. Just over £719,000 of that can be used for day-to-day spending

  13. There’s a pleasant lunch with musical entertainment at Darnford, where the runners and riders reconvene. The annual traditions are what makes Lichfield unique, but I can well appreciate that feelings will be running high.

  14. Dr T – I saw the Sheriffs Ride about 40 years ago, it was a bunch of posh people having a pony trek with police following and the traffic was stopped.

    Now I suppose gridlock could become a local tradition if the current roadworks carry on like they are but basically, this tradition does nothing for locals, it’s a posh jolly paid for at our expense.

    It certainly doesn’t help put food on the table or pay the gas bills, they should pay for it out of their own pockets, walk the route or abandon it.

  15. I have nothing against annual traditions like this that are part of the history and culture of the city and the surrounding area. However, as others have stated, why do all of us have to fund such events when only a small number choose to participate?

    There are many organisations, charities, CICs and voluntary groups in this area which do amazing work that offer real, important and practical help to a larger section of our community than this ride does. Yet they are largely having to do this by generating their own funding and often without much, if any, input from local councils. The irony is of course that a lot of these groups and charities only exist because councils and the public sector can no longer support such services to the level they are required.

    The Sherriff’s Ride should continue. But like the vast majority of groups operating for others in the area, the Sherriff’s Ride should fund itself.

  16. Lichfield Litter-Pickers do a superb job in all weathers. They actually improve the environment.
    Are they not deserving of a pleasant lunch? If not, why not?

  17. Hi ML, then these days it’s a lot of posh people, other people trying to be posh and hob nob with the sheriff & their crew, plus the kids pony club.
    I think there are more important things that council tax should be used for, so I repeat ‘It certainly doesn’t help put food on the table or pay the gas bills, they should pay for it out of their own pockets, walk the route or abandon it’.

  18. Why can’t the participants of Sheriff’s Ride fund the event themselves?
    If you can afford to own a horse or pony, which is not cheap from all accounts, then surely they could raise the finances for this event over the course of the year. Maybe open the event up to sponsorships to cover the cost.
    When so many community groups rely on volunteers, fund raising, donations and sponsorship, this automatic funding seems bias and very unfair.

  19. Burntwood Town Council agreed to increase Council Tax – when inflation is predicted to be 5% – by 4% or just 3.15 pence a week (£1.64 a year) with planned increases in services now we have sorted the neglect of basic responsibilities by the previous Conservative administration.

    The County Council is going to add £40 a year along with the Police and Fire Commissioner likely to demand an extra £8.70 – with the District Council likely to vote for the maximum £5 a year they are allowed to do.

    By the way no horses or civic cars were harmed in the making of our budget at BTC.

  20. Kitty let’s abandon the ride,,knock down the cathedral,knock down Johnson’s house and Darwin house it’s all historical and no longer relevant to the woke generation

  21. Hi ML again, your comments are bizarre.

    History and heritage are vital and important but this council is hell bent on ruining those here regardless of the sheriffs ride. Do you vote tory?

    This is about council tax being used to fund a pony ride which just happens to have happened for 450 years – let those who like it pay for it themselves. It’s a vanity issue not vital for voters.

    What’s woke got to do with it? (I am not invoking Tina Turner).

  22. I suppose some would say events like this, the bower, the food markets attract tourists to Lichfield. Personally I don’t care as all the events do is make driving around Lichfield and parking more difficult (before everyone jumps on me for daring to drive, I have limited mobility). So I’m with ML on this one, we either support historic traditions or we give up on them altogether, not pick and choose which ones we allow. It would be interesting to know how much the bower costs to stage.

  23. Kitty the sheriff s ride is an ancient tradition if you don’t like tradition go and live somewhere that doesn’t have tradition. Why pick and choose tradition other all or none. Out of interest I am not a Tory or the other side but you are obviously a woke

  24. The Cathedral just spent £350,000 on a statue! I just hold my head in my hands. This is so wrong and painful Where are we heading?

  25. @StevenNorman that’s an old record you are playing there ‘the last lot were terrible, we’re much better, we’ll do so much more and all we need to achieve this is to reach a bit further into your pockets’. Not the first time any of us have heard that I’m sure. If they were that bad at the basics is there an investigation, criminal proceedings maybe? Or are you exaggerating for effect? What are Labour going to actually do? All I’ve heard about is a market which is not exactly a difficult thing to put on and should generate income rather than cost.

    To summarise all this, the Tories criticised the Labour plan to increase tax at Burntwood by 4% saying there was no need and suggested a cut instead. Labour defended the increase as reflecting inflation and justified due to all the extra goodies we are allegedly going to get. The Tories still don’t agree and go to the press to moan about it, make it seem they wouldn’t take as much money as Labour and try to appear more concerned for peoples finances in these difficult times.

    Switch to Lichfield and the Tories abandon the idea of a cut that they liked so much for Burntwood as Lichfield is THEIR council so they go for a 2% increase. Labour do not like this, even though it is less than inflation which you seem to use as a barometer in your comment AND it is less than Labour’s own increase a few miles down the road.

    Councillor Robertson takes to Lichfield Live to say there was no need for an increase in Lichfield and to concentrate criticism on the Sheriffs Ride, an event for Tory toffs, to really get the Labour base worked up. If only Labour were in power we can infer, there would not have been an increase in Lichfield this year as the terrible Toff event would have been stopped. Labour, we are led to believe, care more than the Tories about peoples finances in these difficult times. The Tories think their increase is justified and can point out that it is less than inflation.

    It’s almost like Labour and the Tories changed ends at half-time in what is a very predictable match with no winners. In the end and despite all the press releases and finger pointing both Labour and the Tories increased tax and neither can criticise the other for doing so without looking like hypocrites.

    If councillors spent less time trying to score cheap points off each other with transparent tricks and more time doing what they are supposed to do then residents could perhaps judge on results rather than rhetoric at the ballot box.

  26. Typical get lost and go somewhere else if you don’t like it comment. Given every time criticism of unnecessary expenditure, or some crusty comment is challenged. Defending the indefensible.

  27. Lol, I’ve not said get rid of it I’ve said it shouldn’t be funded by council tax! At least not in the current climate where people can’t afford to pay their bills and the council tax gone up.

    But as you’ve personalised this you should know that I was born in Victoria hospital and went to school here. I’m a Lichfieldonian so shall remain here, thanks.
    I am proud of my heritage and of Lichfield when it isn’t demeaned by the mp. Finally, I don’t know what ‘a woke’ is.

  28. ML – ‘Tradition’ is sometimes a euphemism for protecting vested interests. Note I said “sometimes,” rather than make a false binary.
    “Go and live somewhere else,” that is brilliant! We should have said that before the referendum, if you don’t like the EU go and live in a place not part of it.

    I grew up enjoying EU rights and freedoms. It is bad enough that you have taken these from me but unforgiveable that my grandchild, due to be born in May, will be deprived of them. This child will not deserve their life chances being damaged.

  29. @Kitty: You belong in this community, and nobody has the right to suggest otherwise. I would like to think everyone who lives here can feel welcome and able to express their views without being subjected to this kind of censorship. This is what it means to live in a democracy – you are entitled to hold different views to other people and to vote as you see fit. If people are met with the “you don’t belong here” line if they dare to disagree with someone else then that is a threat to free speech.

    We are so lucky to have Lichfield Live and be able to post comments on here on the things that matter to our community. It would be an awful shame if a minority who think they can come on here and subject others to abuse put other people off from contributing.

  30. I was wondering how long it would be before the hysterical ‘anti-woke’ nutter would turn up expecting all of their beloved flag-waving British traditions be destroyed after one be considered cancelled because it’s expensive and old fashioned.
    It’s just a fancy horse ride mate, you’ll probably never be invited because you’re not posh enough.
    Can we stop calling anything even remotely reasonable ‘woke’?

  31. Kitty – I’m with you 100%. I love Lichfield’s history and traditions, but I hate the sense of entitlement and privilege that persuades city councillors that such events are worthy of such a large amount of public funding.

    As for the person criticising you, I seem to remember he loathes all disabled people and their “flash cars” (which pretty much sums up his understanding of the world). I’m also with you 100% – I think he’s one of these secret Tories who keep voting these entitled, privileged MPs and councillors into office.

  32. £12,680 is loose change. They should be more like our foreign secretary, Low Lumen Liz, and charter a jet to travel to Australia.

    A snip at the price of at least £500,00.

    The most expensive business-class ticket for the foreign secretary’s entire itinerary on Qantas, which offers lie-flat beds on board the Boeing 787, would have been £7,712.

    What were people saying about entitlement?

    https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/liz-truss-australia-private-jet-flight-b2001692.html

  33. Personally l find the constant references to Tories from certain posters (and it’s nearly always in a derogatory tone) rather tiresome and often derails the issue being discussed.

  34. Thanks guys!

    Well, some of the comments on this topic reveal a lot about some Lichfield voters & why we All needlessly suffer the current mp don’t they!

    I mean somewhere above somebody said I must want to knock down the cathedral. 🙄

    I still don’t know what ‘a woke’ is but having thought about it, it must mean local-locals are frightened of local traditions being stopped because locals can’t afford bills. Better to have annual local pony rides than local people feeding themselves & paying their bills.

    Local Lichfield traditions…for local people 🤪

  35. @belleview. I’m sorry I was rude to you on another thread. It was uncalled for and I regret it. You have as much right as anyone to express your views and be treated with civility.

    I tried to post this apology earlier but it hasn’t appeared, so I am hoping LL will allow me to post it now.

  36. The Sheriff’s Ride has taken place for hundreds of years. I hope it will do so for many more. It is part of Lichfield’s heritage.
    The costs would have been covered for many years by the sum wasted in compensating Bromford following the withdrawal in 2020 of the council’s illegal agreement of 2018 to dispose of open space land at Leyfields and Netherstowe.
    Riders are not “posh” or “toffs” as Kitty and others suggest. They are ordinary people willing to forgo other luxuries and treats in order to pursue the hobby they love. Some save up just to hire a horse for the day and pay the large entrance fee to take part. I would be interested to know how much Kitty and other complainers spend on holidays, entertainment,takeaways, fashion, beauty products, cars etc.
    Residents of Lichfield are indeed fortunate to live in this beautiful and interesting city.

  37. Thierry Ennui – the references to Tories are there mainly because it is Tories making these decisions.

  38. I too agree all of our Traditions should be maintained. But the Sheriffs Ride appears to be high Maintenance! Educate me I find the costing outrageous. How and where is the £12000 + costing figure spent? Pony Clubs supply Ponies and Riders presume FOC. Presume Horses could be Hired.?Police cost minimal? Plus Tea and Coffee Sherry and a Bit of cake on Reception,.. £12000 + !!! NAH…

  39. I’m not assuming anything Wilf. Thankyou for your correction. I’m simply stating facts and giving another view on others’ perceptions of all things connected with equestrians.

  40. £12,000+ on a glorified jog around the countryside? Surely this should be 100% funded by the participants, I am just speechless 🤔

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