Councillors clashed over costs of plans to continue awarding departing mayors with a medal as part of a long-standing tradition.
Earlier this year Hartlepool Borough Council discussed removing the awarding of a medal to retiring ceremonial mayors over cost issues.
The issue was referred to the council constitution committee which moved that a steel medal should be awarded to continue the long-running tradition and represent the history of steel-making in Hartlepool.
This was reported back to full council for final approval, however critics said they ‘didn’t understand’ why a medal is given out, citing cost measures.
However council leader Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher said the council would explore sponsorship opportunities for design and production of medals, which would lead to a minimal cost.
The move to award a medal was ultimately passed by full council, but not without opposition.
Coun James Black, Putting Hartlepool First representative, said: “I still don’t understand why we give the mayor a medal, no disrespect.
“It should just be us saying thank you and well done for the year they have given.
“Long-standing traditions may cost money.
“Until someone comes forward definitely saying they will make it, it will cost money.”
Members of the constitution committee were keen to continue the tradition of presenting the retiring mayor with a medal or gift to recognise their service to the town.
They recommended seeking sponsorship from local businesses to fund the project and making a set of 20 to 30 medals in bulk to last for years to come.
Councillors also suggested getting apprentices from local colleges to help make the medals.
Labour’s Coun Akers-Belcher, also chair of the constitution committee, said: “I think we had a very good debate and councillors were quite happy with the current agreement with the mayor receiving a medal.
“We recommended to go with a steel medal, we should be celebrating the history of Hartlepool.
“Hopefully if we are successful then it will be at no cost to the public purse.
“We have had cross-party support that someone who gives a whole year of their life to the role is duly recognised as part of a long-standing tradition.”
Coun John Tennant, Independent party group leader, also backed the move and agreed steel was the most appropriate material for the medals.
In the past mayors have been handed medals made of gold or silver, but the new initiative of using steel will look to save money and celebrate the town’s heritage.
Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service