Funny but not right

Jon Barry.
Jon Barry.

The prospective new mayor’s decision to continue using cycling clothes for mayoral functions (On Your Bike, February 12) will bring out many smiles amongst readers who feel that our local government can sometimes be out of touch with ordinary people. I often feel the same and publicly criticise many decisions the council takes, but our ceremonial quirks are part of our history, and our history puts pounds in the pockets of every person in the district.

The two universities of Lancaster and Cumbria bring in many millions every year, not only from local people but also from China, Korea and other countries throughout the world. The name of Lancaster, the royal connections and the strange ceremonies play an important part in the decisions why students and staff pick Lancaster rather than other universities. With the new Science and Innovations Park now becoming a reality, education and the spin-off businesses will become even more important to the local economy.

Whilst we may have a quiet chuckle at our Mayor riding a bicycle with no robes or chain to Mayoral functions, the parents of students who pay £15,000 a year for fees as well as their living costs probably look at their mayors differently.

When Paul Woodruff was Mayor, and I was Deputy, every Asian student, as well as their parents, wanted a photo for their photo album of their (expensive) time in Lancaster alongside one of these two characters wearing the historic robes and chains. I do not think they would queue up to have a photo with a Lycra-clad cyclist.

Many of us have an iconoclastic streak and love to see puffed up, self-important people brought down a peg or two. I feel the same, but, when it comes to the pound in my pocket, I’m the loudest supporter of our strange ceremonies and our history. Please, Jon, carry on with your bike and Lycra shorts in your own time, but compromise a bit in mayoral time.

Coun Keith Sowden

Lancaster CC Overton ward

Stephens Grove