A political row has erupted over calls for Chorley Mayor Pat Case to start ‘earning her money’.
Figures obtained by the Chorley Guardian show the borough’s first citizen has attended only half the number of events as her predecessor this year – but earned almost exactly the same salary.
Between May and August, Conservative Coun Case attended 27 events and sent her deputy, June Molyneaux, to four.
In the same time period last year, Coun Ken Ball had already been to 53 mayoral functions.
The deputy leader on the council went on to attend more than 300 with Mayoress Nora Ball during his year in office.
Although Coun Case has taken a £1,000 cut from the mayor’s £9,750 salary, and slashed the mayoral budget from £100,000 to £80,000, Labour party leader Coun Alistair Bradley said she’s still not doing enough for her wage.
He said: “She’s doing half the work for pretty much the same salary.
“We feel that her decision to attend fewer events really de-values the role of mayor.
“Ken was always busy and represented the people of Chorley actively, but we have concerns about Pat’s approach. I appreciate that the mayor’s budget has been trimmed, but that shouldn’t mean she should be able to do half a job for her salary.”
Former Mayor Coun Ball, who is also leader of the Liberal Democrats and deputy leader of Chorley Council, has also accused Coun Case of letting the people of Chorley down.
He said: “I only missed four events out of everything I was invited to, and Nora missed two because of illness.
“We tried to go to everything, and sometimes we went to four functions a day.
“When you take the mayoralty on, you know what’s expected of you, and you should be prepared for that beforehand.
“I think that people are missing out if the mayor isn’t going to the events she’s invited to.”
Coun Case said one of the reasons for her attending fewer engagements was because she doesn’t want to go out of the borough, but Coun Ball said that was never an issue for him.
“We didn’t get many invites for places outside of Chorley, and when we did, it was a good way to publicise the town.
“You get back what you put in, and Nora and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Now, leader of Chorley Council, Coun Peter Goldsworthy, has jumped to the new mayor’s defence.
He said: “The number of events the mayor has attended has been affected because she has been in hospital and away on holiday.
“We encourage the mayor to attend as many events as possible, and both the mayor or her deputy are due to attend all the events they have been invited to over the next month.”
Coun Case also maintains she’s just saving money.
She said: “What I’m doing is not immoral or wrong.
“The only functions I have refused to attend are ones outside the borough, unless they have Chorley connections.
“If I attended all the ceremonies I was invited to, it would total well over 50 by now, but I’m not going to do that just to get the figures up.”
She added: “I’ve been in Italy on holiday for two weeks, which I am entitled to, and I spent a few days in hospital after having back injections.”
She added: “I make serious, sensible decisions about how to spend my time as mayor.”
When she took over in May, Coun Case vowed to wear the mayoral chains as little as possible to save money.
She’s worn the chains to all 27 events she’s attended so far, but said there are other occasions which aren’t officially recorded where she hasn’t worn them.
“Those type of comments are unfair, and it’s turning into a political campaign. The role of mayor is supposed to be non-political,” she said.
“I attend some events as a county councillor, such as the opening of a children’s centre, so those are not included in the figures, and I don’t wear my chains then.
The £1,000 she requested be taken out of her salary has been put into a hospitality fund for the council.
“My view is that mayors have been overpaid in the past,” she said. “I’ve gone to a lot of trouble to make sure this role is cost effective.”