Decision suspended as chain row rumbles on

Plans to spend more than £8,500 on a new silver gilt mayoral chain for Bicester have been suspended after the decision was called in.

Last Monday’s decision to buy a new mayoral chain had been approved by eight councillors to two following heated debate, but has now been suspended ahead of further discussions.

Successive mayors have recorded their names on 
Bicester’s current gold chain since 1960, but no blank links have remained for several years.

Bicester town mayor, councillor Dan Sames, said plans for a new chain had been supported by people he had spoken to.

Cllr Sames added: “You are always going to get some people that disagree but at the end of the day a decision has to be taken.

“Ideally it would be great to have a consensus, but if one cannot be reached then the majority view is the one that is followed.

“Eight out of 10 councillors present at the last meeting voted in favour of the proposal which is a majority of the council.”

Councillor Les Sibley, who called in the decision with councillor Nick Cotter and councillor Debbie Pickford, said he hoped there would be a change of heart.

Cllr Sibley said: “This gives them the option to reconsider their decision, which in my view is wrong.

“Now is not the time to 
be spending that sort of money.”

He urged Bicester residents to contact their local town councillor if they were unhappy about the decision.

Cllr Sibley also said he feared a loss of the town’s heritage if the current chain is replaced, adding: “The mayoral chain is beautiful.

“It should be on show, not taken away and put in storage.”

Adding new links to the old 18ct chain – which was donated to the town by pools winner Albert Taylor – is expected to cost in the region of £3,000 each.

Councillor Debbie Pickford said: “My personal view is that the chain is a long tradition.

“It was a gift to the town, and it’s served extremely well for 50 years.

“It’s all to do with whether we have our names on the links.”

She added: “This is a gift, and I thought people kept gifts.”

Councillor Nick Cotter said: “The main objection is that the existing chain should be retired.

“There is no suggestion it should be available for viewing by the public.”

He added: “I hope a concensus can be reached across the board.”

No links can be added to the current chain without removing old ones, and the new chain would have 35 blank links.