FORMER mayors of Torfaen County Borough Council have shared their views on a proposal to scrap the role to balance the 2018/19 budget.

As previously reported, the council’s cabinet agreed to a raft of budget proposals this month including permanently removing the role of the mayor to save £52,000 in a bid to address a shortfall of almost £9million.

Although the proposal is subject to full council approval on Tuesday, February 27, many of the authority’s ex-mayors have spoken out.

Abersychan councillor Giles Davies served as mayor in 2015/16 and followed in the footsteps of his late father Douglas Richard Davies - a former mayor and councillor for the same ward.

Mr Davies said mayors - along with the Lord Lieutenant and High Sheriff roles - have played an important role in running protocols and local government since 1974.

The effects of austerity, he explained, could “breakdown” the links between these roles and organisations as the mayoral role is centred around “building relationships”.

Looking back, he noted his visits to factories, charity events and following his father as mayor as highlights.

Despite being “personally upset” by the decision, he said he “understood the pressure” the leader and cabinet faces in protecting frontline services.

“Putting my own feelings aside, I have no option but to support them during these difficult times,” he said.

Ex-mayor Wayne Tomlinson (2012/13) said he was surprised that Torfaen council are following in the footsteps of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council - who made the decision to axe their mayor last year - and described it as a “sad time for Torfaen”.

He added mayors play a part in “holding communities together, especially more so now that we are faced with increasing uncertainty for the future” and suggested that executive members or those chairing scrutiny committees could sacrifice their allowance voluntarily to make budget savings.

Ex-mayor Gwyneira Clark (2000/01) said the proposal will be met with “mixed feelings” and credited the “professionalism,loyalty and guidance” of chauffeur Hwyel Davies on behalf of mayors past and present.

As a mayor, she enjoyed meeting community stalwarts, fundraising for local charities, meeting the children of Torfaen to “honour their achievements” and its residents in times “happy and sad.”

“I fear much of this interaction and cohesion will be lost without a mayor and the borough of Torfaen poorer for it,” she said.

Ex-mayor Veronica Crick (2016/17) added the role was something she enjoyed and valued and while the proposal was “sad in many ways” she agreed to it with “reservations”.

Current mayor, Jessica Powell, also described the budget proposal as the “end of an era” on her blog Baba a Fi.

“Suffice to say, I’m sad that I will be the last mayor of Torfaen but of course I understand why it has to be the case,” she said.

Looking forward, she said she would continue her functions until May and encourage anyone interested in the role to visit the Mayor’s Parlour to learn more.

Leader of Torfaen CBC, Anthony Hunt, said: “The decision to consider the mayoral role as a budget saving measure wasn’t taken lightly, however, eight years of government austerity forcing us to make £60 million in savings means we have no easy choices left to us.

“This is just one of the many difficult decisions we have had to make for this budget to ensure that we can continue to protect frontline services and invest in education, social care, and making the borough cleaner and greener, which we know are priority areas for our residents.”

The budget meeting next week starts at 10am and will be live streamed.