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Council spends £17,000 on new robes and personalised number plate

Antrim and Newtownabbey mayor, DUP councillor Thomas Hogg, in ceremonial robes on Remembrance Sunday in Antrim
Brendan Hughes

A COUNCIL has shelled out more than £17,000 on buying new ceremonial robes for councillors to wear.

A personalised number plate was also purchased for the mayoral car at a cost of almost £400.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council earlier this year bought 28 new robes for civic and ceremonial occasions.

The mayor and deputy mayor's robes each cost £935 while the others were priced at almost £550 – meaning more than £17,200 was spent on the garments.

Councillors also agreed to buy a new personalised number plate for the mayor's car. 'AN 11 BOR' was purchased for £399.

Harry Fairhead, policy analyst at the TaxPayers' Alliance, criticised the "vanity spending".

"Ratepayers will be disgusted that their council is forking out massive sums on fancy robes and ridiculous number plates," he said.

"This vanity spending has no place while services are being squeezed and savings are having to be made. The council needs to cut out its spendthrift tendencies and put any spare cash towards delivering core services."

The mayor uses a chauffeur-driven executive Volkswagen – a similar size to an Audi A8 – which is leased at a cost of £20,000.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council said councillors agreed in March for robes to be made available for those who wished to wear them.

A spokeswoman said the new robes have an expected lifespan of 40 years and a 15 per cent discount was negotiated.

"The robes would be worn at civic and ceremonial occasions to highlight the importance of the event and instil a sense of civic pride in the community," she said.

"A new robe and civic regalia were not purchased for the chief executive."

The spokeswoman said that in April the council agreed that the old registration plate 'B1 NBC' should be replaced with one "which reflected the amalgamation of the two council areas".

"The current registration number, 'AN 11 BOR', was purchased at a cost of £399. The old registration plate, B1 NBC is currently available for sale which should offset the cost of the new number," she said.

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