Footing bill to join chain gang

John McCormack with the Ashington Town Council civic chain he has bought and donated to the town.
John McCormack with the Ashington Town Council civic chain he has bought and donated to the town.

IT’S not often that a mayor of any town or city anywhere in the world has to dip into his or her own pocket to buy their own chain of office to wear at civic functions.

That’s exactly what Ashington mayor John McCormack has done however.

When Northumberland County Council took over as unitary authority for the county nearly two years ago, the six old district councils were abolished and Ashington got one of eight new local councils.

All eight had the choice of setting up a parish or town council, and Ashington opted for the latter, meaning that its chairman automatically became the town’s mayor.

Coun McCormack, a former Wansbeck district councillor, said: “It quickly became clear that people were disappointed to see that their mayor did not have a chain of office to wear when representing a town the size of Ashington at civic functions, so we agreed that one should be designed and commissioned.

“However, at a time when local government is faced with some of the most savage cutbacks in its long history, I thought it inappropriate that our scarce resources should be spent on purchasing a chain of office, so I decided to buy one using some of my redundancy money as a gift to the town.”

Coun McCormack, pictured, dipped into his own wallet to meet the near £2,000 cost of Ashington Town Council’s new mayoral chain.

Before being elected as an Ashington town councillor, he had spent some 25 years as a member of Wansbeck District Council and was leader of the authority for seven years.

He is also a former chairman of the North East Regional Assembly.

Coun McCormack, a part-time lecturer at Northumberland College in Ashington, said: “This year will be the centenary of Ashington being represented by a local council, and I am deeply honoured to be mayor at such an historic moment for our town.

“It is with great pride therefore that I have been able to present Ashington with this gift of its new mayoral chain.

“I hope everyone who follows in my footsteps will wear it with as much pride as I do.”