Council spent £600 cleaning Durham mayor's robes at London's oldest tailors

The Northern Echo: Pauline Charlton in her mayoral robes Pauline Charlton in her mayoral robes

A COUNCIL has defended sending a mayor’s robes for a £600 spruce up at London’s oldest tailors, amid claims taxpayers are being taken to the cleaners.

Labour-led Durham County Council sent the Mayor of Durham’s official robes to Ede and Ravenscroft for “cleaning and repair”, claiming no local firm could do the job.

But Liberal Democrat councillor Nigel Martin said: “Labour have taken Durham’s residents to the cleaners again.”

His fellow Lib Dem Mark Wilkes says the true cost is £718.18 and is angry a courier service was used and the cost was not agreed by the Charter Trustees, councillors who oversee the mayoralty.

Jeff Garfoot, treasurer to the Charter Trustees, said the cost was £598.48, a courier service was used to “ensure safekeeping” of the £3,000 robes and the payment was authorised by officers of the Charter Trust, in accordance with normal procedures.

Mr Garfoot added: “The robes are an integral part of this traditional and important civic role and it is right that they are kept in good condition.

“The robes were sent to the original manufacturer so that the cleaning and repair work could be done with the specialist knowledge and care required for handling a garment of this age and material.

“We did approach local dry cleaning companies but they advised they did not have the necessary skills and expertise and that the robes should be returned to the manufacturer for repair and cleaning.”

The clash comes amid a spat over Labour making Durham County Council chairman Pauline Charlton the Mayor of Durham despite her living 17 miles outside the city.

Lib Dems claim the 400-year-old mayoralty has been all but abolished, while Labour says the move will save £57,000 in this financial year alone.

The council has also come under fire over a so-called clothing allowance available to its chairman and vice-chairman totalling £12,860, mockingly dubbed the Geordie Armani by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Councillor Wilkes said: “First they scrapped the Mayor in all but name by merging the position with the chairman of the council and now the ultimate insult to Durham residents – after hiding away a £12,860 clothing allowance for decades from the people of Durham, Labour have blown £660 (sic) of taxpayers’ money on cleaning a coat.”

Comments (21)

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6:33am Tue 17 Dec 13

CarolMC says...

One word.........outrage
ous!
One word.........outrage ous! CarolMC

7:06am Tue 17 Dec 13

darloboss says...

not the sort of thing you could take to the local cleaners
well done durham now wait for the regular moaners to tell us how it could be done on the cheap
not the sort of thing you could take to the local cleaners well done durham now wait for the regular moaners to tell us how it could be done on the cheap darloboss

7:59am Tue 17 Dec 13

budgiegirl says...

Yet we in the Care connect alarm service are once more hit by cuts with more job loses coming...putting elderly lives at risk cutting the four yearly equipment and information checks to once a year.
Yet we in the Care connect alarm service are once more hit by cuts with more job loses coming...putting elderly lives at risk cutting the four yearly equipment and information checks to once a year. budgiegirl

8:30am Tue 17 Dec 13

Traser says...

Durham - a Labour council that could out-Tory a Tory council!

Snouts in the trough!
Durham - a Labour council that could out-Tory a Tory council! Snouts in the trough! Traser

8:33am Tue 17 Dec 13

cllrmarkwilkes says...

Darloboss, the coat was posted back by the cleaners for just £12.50 why did the council need to pay £290 plus VAT to send it there?
Darloboss, the coat was posted back by the cleaners for just £12.50 why did the council need to pay £290 plus VAT to send it there? cllrmarkwilkes

8:40am Tue 17 Dec 13

stone-rose says...

Jeff if your position is as such surely you have an obligation to oversee flagrant spending , why a taxi , and To say the North East has not the tailoring skills is an insult there are plenty of top bespoke tailors who are more than qualified. Nothing but the Kudos of Southern Enterprise .and £3000.00
to look like a morris dancer . Hmm
Jeff if your position is as such surely you have an obligation to oversee flagrant spending , why a taxi , and To say the North East has not the tailoring skills is an insult there are plenty of top bespoke tailors who are more than qualified. Nothing but the Kudos of Southern Enterprise .and £3000.00 to look like a morris dancer . Hmm stone-rose

9:32am Tue 17 Dec 13

cupid stunt says...

she still looks pug ugly in it. cleaned or not
she still looks pug ugly in it. cleaned or not cupid stunt

10:25am Tue 17 Dec 13

DURHAM CITY says...

darloboss wrote:
not the sort of thing you could take to the local cleaners
well done durham now wait for the regular moaners to tell us how it could be done on the cheap
get a grip man
[quote][p][bold]darloboss[/bold] wrote: not the sort of thing you could take to the local cleaners well done durham now wait for the regular moaners to tell us how it could be done on the cheap[/p][/quote]get a grip man DURHAM CITY

10:30am Tue 17 Dec 13

DURHAM CITY says...

cllrmarkwilkes wrote:
Darloboss, the coat was posted back by the cleaners for just £12.50 why did the council need to pay £290 plus VAT to send it there?
Jeff Garfoot, I think you have lost the plot pal what an utter disgrace This Labour run council are pathetic, clueless, and out of touch with local residents, shame on you fools
[quote][p][bold]cllrmarkwilkes[/bold] wrote: Darloboss, the coat was posted back by the cleaners for just £12.50 why did the council need to pay £290 plus VAT to send it there?[/p][/quote]Jeff Garfoot, I think you have lost the plot pal what an utter disgrace This Labour run council are pathetic, clueless, and out of touch with local residents, shame on you fools DURHAM CITY

10:58am Tue 17 Dec 13

mark r says...

why didnt they wash it in the pond near the new police hq where they couldnt find any newts ?
why didnt they wash it in the pond near the new police hq where they couldnt find any newts ? mark r

1:13pm Tue 17 Dec 13

stevegg says...

Its only public money after all and the usual plethora of excuses are trotted out to defend the spending of other peoples money. If a taxpayer was asking for £600 to be spent on something useful the usual plethora of excuses would be trotted out to say why they cant afford to spend the money in times of austerity and how in fact there is no money! As usual like all councils the mone is spent on things THEY want.
Its only public money after all and the usual plethora of excuses are trotted out to defend the spending of other peoples money. If a taxpayer was asking for £600 to be spent on something useful the usual plethora of excuses would be trotted out to say why they cant afford to spend the money in times of austerity and how in fact there is no money! As usual like all councils the mone is spent on things THEY want. stevegg

2:53pm Tue 17 Dec 13

Jackaranda says...

darloboss wrote:
not the sort of thing you could take to the local cleaners
well done durham now wait for the regular moaners to tell us how it could be done on the cheap
I took a pair of motorbike leathers to Johnsons on High Row, they did a cracking job for 48 quid!!!
[quote][p][bold]darloboss[/bold] wrote: not the sort of thing you could take to the local cleaners well done durham now wait for the regular moaners to tell us how it could be done on the cheap[/p][/quote]I took a pair of motorbike leathers to Johnsons on High Row, they did a cracking job for 48 quid!!! Jackaranda

3:07pm Tue 17 Dec 13

roaduser98 says...

stevegg wrote:
Its only public money after all and the usual plethora of excuses are trotted out to defend the spending of other peoples money. If a taxpayer was asking for £600 to be spent on something useful the usual plethora of excuses would be trotted out to say why they cant afford to spend the money in times of austerity and how in fact there is no money! As usual like all councils the mone is spent on things THEY want.
Exactly right!! There is always money for squandering on the non essentials but all other things are too costly to operate or they will not benefit the snouts in the council chamber.
[quote][p][bold]stevegg[/bold] wrote: Its only public money after all and the usual plethora of excuses are trotted out to defend the spending of other peoples money. If a taxpayer was asking for £600 to be spent on something useful the usual plethora of excuses would be trotted out to say why they cant afford to spend the money in times of austerity and how in fact there is no money! As usual like all councils the mone is spent on things THEY want.[/p][/quote]Exactly right!! There is always money for squandering on the non essentials but all other things are too costly to operate or they will not benefit the snouts in the council chamber. roaduser98

3:09pm Tue 17 Dec 13

settheworldonfire says...

cllrmarkwilkes wrote:
Darloboss, the coat was posted back by the cleaners for just £12.50 why did the council need to pay £290 plus VAT to send it there?
It is good to see honest and hard working councilors like yourself, trying without not much hope, of getting this Labour run council held to account.
The complete and utter contempt they hold for all us residents of this once great county is an utter disgrace.
How many more times is this waste going to happen. Is it possible there are more dark secrets hiding away in the archives of the councils hidden world?
I hope you keep fighting for the good of County Durham.
Everyone needs to realize that this waste must stop.
Could you please find out what idiot in the council keeps on coming up with the hair brained ideas of planting stupid plants on every single roundabout in the county. ( these do look ridiculous )The money saved from stopping this runs into hundreds of thousands, plus the workers taking the work vans home and picking family members up left right and center.
[quote][p][bold]cllrmarkwilkes[/bold] wrote: Darloboss, the coat was posted back by the cleaners for just £12.50 why did the council need to pay £290 plus VAT to send it there?[/p][/quote]It is good to see honest and hard working councilors like yourself, trying without not much hope, of getting this Labour run council held to account. The complete and utter contempt they hold for all us residents of this once great county is an utter disgrace. How many more times is this waste going to happen. Is it possible there are more dark secrets hiding away in the archives of the councils hidden world? I hope you keep fighting for the good of County Durham. Everyone needs to realize that this waste must stop. Could you please find out what idiot in the council keeps on coming up with the hair brained ideas of planting stupid plants on every single roundabout in the county. ( these do look ridiculous )The money saved from stopping this runs into hundreds of thousands, plus the workers taking the work vans home and picking family members up left right and center. settheworldonfire

7:42pm Wed 18 Dec 13

thetruththewholetruthandnothingbutthetruth says...

Well what does it matter. it's not their money. Why should they give a toss about how much the cleaning bill is?
Well what does it matter. it's not their money. Why should they give a toss about how much the cleaning bill is? thetruththewholetruthandnothingbutthetruth

12:44am Thu 19 Dec 13

Voice-of-reality says...

Regular readers will know that I usually criticise all excessive spending and socialist wasting. However, on this occassion I must offer an alternative view - nopt for political reasons - but because of the fabric and makeup of the clothing in question.
The cost of cleaning the Mayoral robes was approximately 1/5th of their value - less than the proportionate cost of cleaning a suit (versus its value) at Johnsons on North Road. I would agree that the taxi was not needed. It should have been possible to send the robes to Ede's premises in Cambridge far more effecicently.
However the cost of the cleaning was not excessive (given how infrequently it is done, the age of the gown etc), and was proprtionally - actually not bad value. Specialist robes of this type, as with academical dress, need specialist care and there really are only two firms nationally qualified to restore and clean the robes. Personally, I would not have used Ede. Then again, had I been appointed Mayor (something that will never happen) I would have felt honour bound to purchase my own set of robes.
Regular readers will know that I usually criticise all excessive spending and socialist wasting. However, on this occassion I must offer an alternative view - nopt for political reasons - but because of the fabric and makeup of the clothing in question. The cost of cleaning the Mayoral robes was approximately 1/5th of their value - less than the proportionate cost of cleaning a suit (versus its value) at Johnsons on North Road. I would agree that the taxi was not needed. It should have been possible to send the robes to Ede's premises in Cambridge far more effecicently. However the cost of the cleaning was not excessive (given how infrequently it is done, the age of the gown etc), and was proprtionally - actually not bad value. Specialist robes of this type, as with academical dress, need specialist care and there really are only two firms nationally qualified to restore and clean the robes. Personally, I would not have used Ede. Then again, had I been appointed Mayor (something that will never happen) I would have felt honour bound to purchase my own set of robes. Voice-of-reality

8:08am Thu 19 Dec 13

Jackaranda says...

Stick them on a 40 degree synthetic wash, non bio powder with a smidgen of Lenor, they're only made of cloth FFS.
Stick them on a 40 degree synthetic wash, non bio powder with a smidgen of Lenor, they're only made of cloth FFS. Jackaranda

7:15pm Thu 19 Dec 13

Ben Ord says...

Well done Cllr Mark Wilkes for attempting to cut out council waste.
The £12,000 plus cost of the clothing allowance should have never been hidden. Now we have a huge cleaning bill
During hard economic times we need to ensure that only essential spending on Mayoral duties and hospitality are challenged.
Priority should be given to protect our elderly services and ensure that our roads and footpaths are maintained to a reasonable standard.
Well done Cllr Mark Wilkes for attempting to cut out council waste. The £12,000 plus cost of the clothing allowance should have never been hidden. Now we have a huge cleaning bill During hard economic times we need to ensure that only essential spending on Mayoral duties and hospitality are challenged. Priority should be given to protect our elderly services and ensure that our roads and footpaths are maintained to a reasonable standard. Ben Ord

9:49pm Thu 19 Dec 13

spragger says...

Glad to see the Council has its priorities sorted ..
Glad to see the Council has its priorities sorted .. spragger

6:37pm Fri 20 Dec 13

roaduser98 says...

I wonder how much is spent on 'essential clothing' for all council staff. They can be seen around durham wearing the latest weatherproof coats etc with advertising either on the rear of the garment or on the coat pocket. I can see the 'need' for those outside workers from the safety poit of view. What I cannot understand is the 'need' for every employee of the council to be provided with a uniform??
I wonder how much is spent on 'essential clothing' for all council staff. They can be seen around durham wearing the latest weatherproof coats etc with advertising either on the rear of the garment or on the coat pocket. I can see the 'need' for those outside workers from the safety poit of view. What I cannot understand is the 'need' for every employee of the council to be provided with a uniform?? roaduser98

3:49pm Mon 23 Dec 13

sineater says...

The mayrol post is only ceremonial,get rid of post,send robes to a museum,problem solved.
The mayrol post is only ceremonial,get rid of post,send robes to a museum,problem solved. sineater

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