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Concerns over reduced funding and capacity for the Lord Mayor of York

The decision to reduce the funding and capacity for the role of the Lord Mayor of York will have a significantly damaging impact on the city’s hospitality, tourism, communities and education, a group of the city’s leading business people have said.

York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, along with the Hospitality Association of York and the director of York BID today join forces in calling for the scaling back of the Lord Mayor’s role and activities to be scrapped owing to the damage it will cause to the city centre’s economy.

As part of its efforts to save £14m from its expenditure, City of York Council has elected to enact a reduction in the Lord Mayor and Sherriff’s personal allowances. These will include less use of regalia and ceremonial items, reduced use of the mayor’s car and axing the mayor’s Mansion House accommodation.

However, local businesspeople have expressed their displeasure at the move, saying it will cause more issues than it solves, by reducing visitor numbers and damaging the city’s tourism and hospitality sector which are still struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

Andrew Pericleous, chair of York & North Yorkshire Chamber’s Hospitality Forum, said: “I am deeply concerned regarding the recent decision by the council to reduce the funding and capacity of the Lord Mayor of York’s roles and duties.

“This decision, though it may seem administrative, has the potential to significantly impact our city’s tourism, local community engagement and educational outreach.

“York’s allure as a tourist destination is deeply intertwined with its rich history and vibrant culture, both of which are proudly represented by the Lord Mayor, who serves as a symbol of York’s heritage and hospitality. Diminishing their role risks diluting the essence of our city, potentially deterring tourists and impacting the hospitality sector that relies on their presence to attract visitors.

“The Lord Mayor’s presence at local events, celebrations, and charitable initiatives brings people together and strengthens the bonds within our community. Cutting back on the Lord Mayor’s duties undermines this sense of unity and deprives the people of York of a vital representative figure.

“The Lord Mayor’s involvement in schools is instrumental in inspiring and educating the next generation of leaders. Scaling back the Lord Mayor’s role in schools deprives students of valuable insights and experiences that contribute to their personal and academic development.

“Finally, York’s identity is shaped by its traditions, institutions, and the people who represent it. The Lord Mayor embodies the spirit of our city and upholds its values through their actions and engagements. Any reduction in the Lord Mayor’s roles and duties risks eroding the very essence of what makes York special, jeopardising its reputation as a welcoming and culturally rich destination.”

He added: “As stakeholders in York’s hospitality sector, we have a responsibility to advocate for the preservation of our city’s heritage and identity. Together, we can ensure that York remains a vibrant and thriving community for generations to come.

“Let us stand united in our commitment to protecting York’s heart and soul.”

Adam Wardale, Chair of the Hospitality Association York, said: “ This decision is deeply disappointing, not only will it impact the many charities and good causes that The Civic Party and Lord Mayor raise vital funds for, it will also alter the identity of our city.

“York’s heritage and traditions are a major draw for international visitors, in today’s competitive world for inbound tourism, our history is a major strength and alongside our historic buildings, The Civic Party and Lord Mayor are a key part of that.

“We appreciate the council are under pressure to review budgets but would ask that this decision is deferred to allow for consultation with local residents, stakeholders and businesses.”

Andrew Lowson, speaking in his capacity as York BID’s executive director rather than the BID board, said: “‘I was at the recent celebration of the Chinese New Year in the Mansion House and witnessed the gratitude of the community towards the Mayor’s attendance.

“The Mayor and Sheriff bring attention to minority communities, charities, schools, businesses and of course our cultural offer.

“I cannot think of any Councillor or Council Officer who does a role like this so publicly.  The big picture needs to be recognised with this decision.”

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