The office of Mayor of Bath can be traced back to 557AD when the settlement became a Saxon Burgh and a Burgh-Reeve or Governor was appointed.
The title ‘Mayor’ was introduced in 1189 – the first year of the reign of Richard the First and derives from the French ‘Maire’.
These rulers were appointed by the Monarch to administer justice in urban areas.
Today’s Mayor has no real power but is kept busy each year representing the city and supporting the local community.
Back in Tudor times a charter from Elizabeth the First had confirmed Bath’s city status in its own right with a corporate body of Mayor, Aldermen and Citizens.
The city’s titles were in danger of being lost when local government was restructured in 1974 and Bath became a District within the new County of Avon.
Our present Queen Elizabeth granted new charters to confirm Bath’s status and re-instate the titles of City and Borough.
Not sure where we stand now – with Bath part of Bath and North East Somerset Council – but l do know that a group of citizens have started a campaign to give back real power to a civic leader and appoint an elected mayor.
Bath hasn’t far to look to see an elected mayor in action. Just down the road in Bristol, George Ferguson – former President of the Royal Institute of British Architects and the man who saved and regenerated part of the old Wills Factory in Bedminster – governs as their first city boss.
Stephen Taylor is part of a group of nine politically unaffiliated local people out collecting signatures in Bath to a petition which will call upon B&NES to organise a referendum next October to let people decide if they want to change the way the area is governed. But what sort of difference would it make?
Be interested to know what Virtual Museum of Bath followers think about this. The website for those campaigning for a referendum is www.mayorforbanes.org