Southend-on-Sea has had a Mayor since 1892 when it gained Borough Status.
The role of Mayor is an historic role, dating back to around the 12th century, with boroughs introducing the role into their councils from then. The name Mayor translates as 'great', and derived from the Latin word of 'Magnus'. The use of the word 'great' was to let all know in medieval times onwards that the Mayor is the 'First Citizen' of that town, and that they had control of their town's courts. The Mayor would have a council who would assist them in discharging their responsibilities.
More and more boroughs had elected Mayors and, by the 17th century, their powers had widened and they became very powerful roles. This was more recognised with the introduction of the Municipal Corporation Act in 1835, extended in 1882, which formalised the Mayor as the head of the Corporation and enforced the annual election of Mayors from among Councillors and Aldermen. Deputies were often appointed in case the Mayor could no longer deliver their duties.
In modern times, the role has significantly changed. Councils (or Corporations) are now run by other roles, and Mayors now tend to play a more social or ceremonial role.
The current protocol is that the Councillor who has served the longest, and who wishes to be Mayor, is nominated as Deputy Mayor. They are then automatically nominated to become Mayor the following year.
The role of the Mayor is purely ceremonial. They do continue to carry out ward work, but this must be in their role as a Councillor and not as Mayor.
Within the Council, the Mayor’s main responsibility is to chair the meetings of the Full Council, held in the Council Chamber, where all 51 Councillors debate and confirm Council policy.
Externally, the Mayor is the figurehead of our town and of the people of Southend. This involves promoting charities and voluntary organisations, the business community and education. The Mayor opens events and makes presentations, attends functions as your representative, hosts events organised by the Council and receives high profile visitors to the town. In so doing the Mayor represents and promotes Southend to a wide audience.
The Mayor is invited to attend around 300 engagements during their year in office, for example:
- Presiding over citizenship ceremonies
- Many charity events held at Porters, our Civic house, or other sites in town
- Walking buses
- Opening new businesses
- Seeing many of the Amateur Dramatic productions
- Opening the high street's themed markets
- Visiting the university, college, schools etc
- Formal visits to most of the other authorities in Essex
On the occasion when the Mayor is unable to attend an engagement due to previous commitments, the Deputy Mayor will attend on behalf of the Mayor.