THE former community mayor of Middlewich has slammed the town council for keeping him in the dark about his 'invalid' appointment.

Dave Roberts only discovered that his role had been ruled unlawful when it was suspended in January.

Yet, he claims, Middlewich councillors had been made aware of problems in October last year.

Dave said: "The fact that the appointment of a community mayor was unlawful was known by councillors at the start of October.

"Why did they not at that point inform me of these findings and ask me if I wanted to continue in the full knowledge that my position was unlawful?

"At that time neither councillors nor officials had any idea whether or not the situation could be rectified and the position of community mayor made legitimate. Why were Lynne (consort) and I allowed to continue in blissful ignorance going about what we saw as our duties when councillors knew what we were doing was not legitimate?"

An independent audit of the council's working practices raised concerns about the legality of the community mayor role.

In a report, auditors said: "The council has appointed a community mayor including arrangements for reimbursement of expenses without first ensuring the arrangement is lawful.

"The council has not identified an available power to effectively appoint a non-member to civic office and the general power of competence does not appear to be an option.

"The council should review the guidance it has received and urgently revisit the decision."

A town council spokesman said: "The advice Mr Roberts refers to was received in October from Parkinson Partnership which raised initial concerns about the community mayor project and recommended advice was obtained from the National Association of Local Councils and the Society of Local Councils Clerks. This advice was sought and received in December.

"This is separate to the internal auditors report."

It is understood that councillors will be discussing the role of the community mayor at a meeting on Monday evening.

Dave added: "I agreed to take on the position of honorary community mayor on the understanding that the title of 'mayor' meant just that.

"A mayor with all the civic rights, privileges and responsibilities of any other town mayor, leaving the chairman of the council free to concentrate on other duties.

"I wanted to take on the role of the town's first citizen, represent the people of the town, promote the town at every available opportunity, raise money for good causes and organisations.

"The idea of a watered down 'community champion with mayor's civic duties still being performed by the chairman of the council does not appeal to me in any way.

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"To have the actual mayor of the town selected from the many people who really have its best interests at heart was a brilliant idea and it's so very sad that it couldn't be done."