And so it happening: Colchester is to have a High Steward for the first time since Ivor Crewe’s resignation in 2009.
And whaddyaknow – the man for the job is Sir Bob of Sunny Colch.
The Governance Committee at CBC will formally put forward the proposal to Full Council when it meets [pdf] at the Town Hall later on this evening:
“To recommend to Council that Sir Bob Russell be chosen as High Steward of the Borough of Colchester and a special meeting of the Council be convened on a date to be determined to pass an appropriate resolution.”
The report states that Sir Bob has said YAY to the idea.
Sir Bob’s accession from MP to Mr High Steward was made possible by… the MP for the town.
In what was a very magnanimous move, Will Quince put forward the suggestion to give his political opponent the grand civic title just weeks after wiping out Sir Bob’s majority.
In return, Sir Bob was very humble in thanking Will for recommending him.
And so what does the job involve?
Probably an awful lot of dressing up and hand shaking.
Job’s a good ‘un, etc.
Plus there is also a non-political – but crucially advisory role – for the High Steward in waiting.
Historically Sunny Colch is quite unique in having this honour still being allowed to be awarded to someone in the town.
The role of a High Steward dates back to a Royal Charter in 1635:
“Henceforth for ever there may be and shall be in the borough a High Steward to advise and direct the Mayor and Commonality in the chief business touching that borough which High Steward shall continue in the office of High Steward during his natural life.”
Yep – The Chronic has been reading Wikipedia once again.
Fast forward two hundred years and the 1835 Municipal Corporations Act abolished the role around the country.
But wait! What’s this?
The big knobs in Colchester petitioned the government to keep the role for Sunny Colch.
A slight tinkering with the wording took place.
Sir Bob will not being allowed to:
“Advise and direct.”
Instead he can just advise.
Apolitically, of course.
Phew. Glad we’ve cleared that one up.
Plus there won’t be a grand CBC knees up, all paid for out of Council Tax funds. Full Council will vote on the decision at a special Council meeting which will be combined with the Honorary Alderman business.
A commemorative scroll is the only cost.
And so that life of leisure down at the allotments for Sir Bob looks like having a few more demands on his time.
You can’t deny that he deserves the honour.
We’ll be following closely though how he ‘advises’ the Cabinet with No Mandate.