Should Carlisle retain its mayor?

07/01/22. GV of Carlisle city centre. ITV Border

Concerns have been raised that Carlisle would lose a part of its heritage, "social fabric" and culture without a city mayor.

Plans to reform local government in Cumbria and create two new authorities in place of the existing seven could see a number of roles and titles abolished. Alarm has been raised at the idea of the city losing the ceremonial mayor role as Carlisle City Council will cease to exist after March 2023.

The government though has said it will be possible for the position to remain, if this is what people want to happen.

Colin May of the Putting Cumbria First political party is set to stand in the elections for the new Cumberland Council -made up of the present-day Carlisle, Allerdale and Copeland council areas - but has misgivings about the LGR process.

He said: "In the past, some of the mayors we've had have done a lot of work for charities. I am a bit of a history buff and I always think history is something that should be kept from generation to generation."

Without a city council, Mr May said the mayor role would have to be "choosing someone from the community for good causes. You could probably do it that way and it could be done by a community vote. It would be decided by the people for the people."

Current Mayor Pamela Birks is also keen to see the role retained.

"I think in Carlisle it would be a travesty if we were to lose all that history and ceremony going forward," she said. "It's part of the fabric and history of Carlisle. To lose that would lose the very essence of Carlisle."

Although it is not a decision-making role, Cllr Birks said that people look to the mayor as its First Citizen. "People write to me because I'm the mayor as opposed to the councillor when they've got an issue."

It is the mayor's role to greet royalty when they visit the city.

Cllr Birks said: "They want the chain there and the mayor means something to the people of Carlisle."

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said it was possible that the position of mayor could be retained.

"Local Government reorganisation in Cumbria does not mean Carlisle cannot have a ceremonial mayor. We are discussing with the local area what steps would be needed for Carlisle to retain the traditional role of mayor, if that is what local people want."