THE Mayor of the East Staffordshire was banned from appearing at an event to mark the opening of a new market in Burton – after council chiefs said the ribbon cutting was considered a ‘conflict of interests’.
Ron Clarke was barred from attending the official opening of The Octagon shopping centre’s new look first floor market, dubbed ‘the Pavilion’ by bosses at East Staffordshire Borough Council.
Authority chiefs confirmed that, with the opening of the Burton’s Market Hall just weeks away, they felt it would have been ‘inappropriate’ for the area’s first citizen to promote direct competition to the council.
Julian Mott, leader of East Staffordshire Borough Council, said: “We thought it inappropriate for the mayor to help publicise a market which is in direct competition with the council’s market. The council has spent £1.5 million on Burton’s Market Hall which will open next month.
“What would our new stallholders think if they saw the council helping to promote a rival market?
“Can you imagine a business providing free publicity for a rival business?”
Councillor Mott also revealed that similar decisions to ban the mayor attending other events in the future could be taken if his appearance could damage the council commercially.
The Mail asked Councillor Mott if the new stance would mean that, for example, if a new private leisure centre opened to rival the likes of Meadowside Leisure Centre then the mayor would not be allowed to officially open such a development.
He said: “Every case will be judged on its own merit.”
Councillor Mott also confirmed the decision was taken by himself after discussions with fellow councillors.
The mayor will, however, be allowed to cut the ribbon on the revamped Market Hall on June 21.