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History and long pockets veto new robes

PUBLISHED: 21:41 14 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:50 03 March 2010

A CAMPAIGN to dress up the Mayor of Woodbridge in a set of robes in keeping with other Suffolk mayors has failed to attract enough money to buy an outfit.

A CAMPAIGN to dress up the Mayor of Woodbridge in a set of robes in keeping with other Suffolk mayors has failed to attract enough money to buy an outfit.

The issue over mayoral robes in Woodbridge has aroused some strong feelings with one former mayor warning that a ''pantomime-style costume'' is not required while supporters say that it is embarrassing for mayor Les Binns to look second best compared with other civic leaders in all their finery.

One member of the public was so outraged when he saw Mr Binns without robes at his Civic Service that he immediately offered £50 towards a set.

The issue was then raised at a full meeting of the town council and councillors decided not to consider buying robes. The voting was six councillors for the motion, three against and two abstentions.

Councillor Neil Montgomery has made a contribution towards the unofficial fund raising campaign and there have been other donations, bringing the total to nearly £200. However, the cost of robes varies from £350 to £1,200.

Mr Binns's personal view is that the ceremonial dress would recognise that Woodbridge is an historic market town and he said: ''There has been a lot of support verbally but they do not want to put their hands in their pockets. At occasions I have been to, people are all supportive and some of them have made veiled hints they might contribute.''

One reason why some councillors voted against robes was because the mayor's post was only introduced in 1974 when local government was reorganised and they said it was not an historic appointment in Woodbridge.

But Mr Binns said:''I think a town 1,000 years old warrants something and I have been told that there used to be aldermen in Woodbridge. In Ipswich and where I come from in Hull, these were people who were very senior councillors, had given years of service to the town."

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