Leeds mayoral cost tops £300,000

The cost of operating the office of the Lord Mayor of Leeds is currently running at over £300,000-a-year, figures have revealed.

And with the council facing massive spending cuts following a reduction in Government grant, a councillor is urging a review of the costs associated with the high profile civic role.

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The Lord Mayor is the city's figurehead and carries out hundreds of engagements each year.

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Staffing – at 204,000 – accounted for most of the costs, while the food and hospitality bill for the Lord Mayor and guests was 38,000.

The figures for 2009-10 also showed that the extra allowance paid to the councillor fulfilling the mayoral role was just under 17,500.

Over 11,000 was spent running the two officials cars used by the Lord Mayor and the deputy Lord Mayor, estimated cost of office space was 16,600, official photographs 1,425, travel expenses 3,829, the cost of the civic banquet held after the annual general meeting at which the

Lord Mayor was installed was 12,555 and other spending - including office running costs, civic gifts, donations and subscriptions - accounted for 17,765.

A clothing allowance of 5,500 was also paid.

Coun Jamie Matthews (Lib Dem, Headingley) said: "I want to open a public debate about the issue.

"A lot of people think the Lord Mayor has powers and makes decisions but it is largely a ceremonial role usually given to a long-serving councillor."

Coun Matthews added:" Do we need to spend over 300,000 on a ceremonial role when social services and children's services budgets are struggling?

"If there is overwhelming support for this level of spending then so be it but I don't think all of it is justified."

Coun Keith Wakefield, council leader, said all council costs were being examined for savings and that included those of the office of the Lord Mayor.

Shilton Flynn.

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