NEWPORT City Council is looking to cut its mayoral budget by £63,000, which if agreed as part of next year’s budget will inevitably reduce the number of events that can be attended by the city’s first citizen.

It will also have an impact on the amount of fundraising that can be undertaken as organisation of any in-house events or medium or large events both internally and externally, unless exceptional, will not be organised by the council.

With Newport council leader Bob Bright saying there is “no enthusiasm” for the idea of a directly-elected mayor earlier this year, is there still a place for a non-elected mayor, whose role is largely ceremonial?

Deputy mayor of Newport David Atwell, speaking in his role as a city councillor, said: “I think the mayor is the principal person who is really, PR number one for the city council.

“I think it’s important the mayor should be seen as often as the invitations allow, wherever he is needed, that includes outside the area as well.”

On the possible budget cuts, he added: “I think it’s a travesty, we’ve already cut the mayoral budget over the last four or five years including the time when we [the Conservatives] were in control and I think we had gone far enough.

“I’m not impressed with reducing the mayoral responsibilities, even more on putting a limit on the number of visits. It’s an important position within the council, they’re non-political.”

Elsewhere in Gwent, Mayor of Torfaen Mandy Owen agreed with Cllr Atwell about the importance of the role.

She said: “I think with the amount of engagements and invitations we receive, it just shows that people still want the mayor there. It’s no longer about lavish meals and parties like years ago, I think it’s just important to be a figurehead for the borough.

“The main role is to be a figurehead, a representative for the council and just to visit and see all the good work that is being done.

“I think Newport may have a bigger budget than us. A lot of events are done by myself and I know if we put on an event for charity the cost comes out of the proceeds so it doesn’t cost the council anything.”

On a possible cap on how many journeys a mayor can claim for, Mrs Owen said: “How do you then decide who’s important and who’s not important?

“I don’t think there’s many events that I’ve had to turn down unless I get invited to three in one night but then it’s first come first served. I do try to get to as many as I can.”

The possible reduction in the mayor’s budget in Newport could see a range of duties no longer provided including travel to events outside of the city area, organisation of medium or large events either internally or externally, the mayor’s twitter account, a full council photograph, the mayor’s charity fund and the Extra Mile Awards event.

The proposals do state that some services will be provided in exceptional circumstances.

Only certain jobs will continue under the budget proposal including diary management, a maximum of 100 journeys per year, managing small events in the parlour, mayor making, Remembrance and Civic Sunday, Holocaust Remembrance Day and the mayor’s speeches.

Cllr Atwell added: “If there’s no facility to do the fundraising it’s going to be very much reduced. I understand it’s not the full reason for having a mayor, the principle reason is for promoting the city. It’s going to be more difficult to raise the sums we’ve had historically.”

Two charities supported by this year’s Mayor of Newport Matthew Evans look set to receive generous donations as £30,000 has already been raised since May.

Cllr Evans has selected the Teenage Cancer Trust as his main beneficiary, with Newport Sea Cadets based in Riverside also receiving a share of the funds.

A huge boost was given to the fund by a charity gala dinner featuring local celebrities at the Celtic Manor Resort in October.

Ticket sales covered the cost of the event helping the dinner generate nearly £20,000 in one night.

Cllr Evans said: “I have been overwhelmed by the support and generosity being shown this year to the mayor’s charities.

“I recognise that fund-raising is difficult when everyone is dealing with financial pressures, but the people of Newport have been outstanding in showing how important local charities are to them.”

If the budget proposal comes into force, organisation of such events will not be done with the help of the council.

In response to the budget proposal on the mayoralty budget, a Newport City Council spokeswoman said: “The council fully appreciates that the role of the mayor is important, and is also a key ambassador for the city. However, the administration costs associated with supporting each mayor’s year of office are currently high and the draft proposals look at several options for reducing those costs while maintaining the post of mayor.

“The draft proposals also recognise the importance of maintaining key civic events such as Remembrance and Civic Sunday, while making recommendations to either scale-back or deliver other events in different ways.”

The spokeswoman added that the current process for supporting the mayor’s charities has a “high administration cost” associated with it.

“The proposal does not suggest the mayor should not support local charities, but recommends that this is done by attending more external events and helping to help raise the profile of such causes,” she added.

“Also under consideration are practical cost-saving options such as the transporting the mayor to official events and functions.”