Our first Green mayor won’t dress to impress

Councillor Jon Barry, mayor-elect of Lancaster.
Councillor Jon Barry, mayor-elect of Lancaster.

He wants to swap mayoral chains for bike chains and has come under fire for his casual approach to style.

Future city mayor Jon Barry’s dress sense has sparked a row after the current mayor tried to give him fashion advice.

Councillor Barry, who is due to become the first ever Green mayor of Lancaster in May, said the traditional grand civic attire of robe, hat and chain is “not really me”.

He has vowed to cycle to mayoral engagements, wants to have a special mayor’s shirt made, wear a badge instead of the mayoral chain, and attach a trailer to his bicycle with the logo ‘I’m the mayor’.

The keen cyclist, leader of the Green party on Lancaster City Council, often dresses casually for council meetings.

He said: “I’m keen to break new ground.

“I might not do it quite the same as other mayors.

“While I probably won’t turn up in a hoodie. I won’t be as smart as most mayors, but I will be smarter than I normally am.

“Having a great big car come to pick you up at your house, to take you to an event, is a nightmare.

“I’ll also be looking into alternatives to the mayoral chain, maybe a badge, a special mayor’s shirt and a flag.”

But Coun Barry’s unorthodox approach sparked uproar when Susie Charles, present Mayor of Lancaster, urged him to treat the office with respect.

Speaking at a council meeting to vote for the mayor-elect, Councillor Charles said she would back Coun Barry as long as he promised to dress accordingly.

Coun Charles, a Conservative, said: “I wanted to reiterate that as the mayor you are the first citizen of the district of Lancaster.

“When you go out as mayor, people are happy to see you and always dress up. I wanted to explain to him how important it is to respect that.”

But Independent councillor Joyce Taylor, who has been mayor twice during nearly 40 years on council, walked out in support of Coun Barry.

She said later: “In nearly 40 years on council, I’ve never heard any prospective mayor be spoken to like that. People were squirming, it was demeaning.

“Jon is a good man. He’s down to earth. People will relate to him.

“Everybody brings their own personality to being mayor. He’ll be a breath of fresh air, a talking point and something different.”

Coun Barry said: “I’m not too fussed about what (Councillor Charles) said. Maybe she has half a point.

“So I will be taking advice from my tailor!”

Councillors voted unanimously to support Coun Barry’s election as mayor.

He will take office assuming he keeps his Castle ward seat in May’s Lancaster City Council elections.

A city council spokesman said: “Each mayor is free to adopt his or her own particular approach to their mayoral year. Officers are here to assist and support the mayor throughout his or her term of office.”