Worthing council urged to reconsider decision to scrap ceremonial robes.
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At a full council meeting on Tuesday, October 17, Lionel Harman – former mayor of Worthing, veteran and armed forces champion for the council – said robes were an important part of the traditions in Worthing.
He said: “Remembrance Day holds significant importance for our town. The attire for veterans, serving officers, cadets and other youth organisations on this day reflect their commitment, respect and the traditions that have shaped our society.
“Your decision to scrap the councillor and mayoral robes did not take into consideration the views of the people – in fact, you didn’t even consult them on it.
“Will you now listen to the people of Worthing, reconsider your motion to scrap the robes and ensure these councillors who wish to wear them at Remembrance service [can do so], not only now but in the future?”
The decision to scrap all member and mayoral robes, with the exception of the mayoral badges and chains of office, was made at a full council meeting on July 18.
The Labour administration said it was part of an ongoing campaign to ‘open’ the council’s democratic process to all communities in Worthing.
Leader of the council Beccy Cooper said there was ‘no disrespect meant’ and the aim of removing the robes was to make the council more accessible.
She said: “We listened to our communities about taking those barriers down – people want to find this an accessible place.
“There is absolutely no question that we do not understand and respect the importance of our veterans and those who give service. We absolutely 100 per cent respect you and thank you for your service.
“Stopping wearing the robes is not about disrespect, stopping wearing the robes is about extending the council into our community.
“There are a lot of people in our community that don’t have the confidence to come into a full council chamber and feel excluded from our council.”
A group of about ten veterans attended the meeting to support Mr Harman, with one saying members of the public had told him they would go outside of Worthing to mark Remembrance because of the council’s decision.