The Charter Trustees

As Margate no longer enjoys the status of a Borough, the Mayoralty is administered by the Margate Charter Trustees, these being those elected members of Thanet District Council whose wards lie within the boundary of the old Borough of Margate. These nineteen Councillors are responsible for electing the Town Mayor, who is then Chairman of all Charter Trustee Meetings. They are also empowered to pay the Mayor a reasonable allowance for the expenses of office, which is precepted to Thanet District Council.

Bodies known as Charter Trustees were created upon local government reorganisation back in the early 1970's. Their role being to safeguard the historic and ceremonial attributes of former boroughs that were considered too big to become successor parishes and were included in Districts which chose not to apply for Borough status.

Whilst having no executive powers the Charter Trustee body is responsible for ensuring the continuance of the historical, ceremonial and social links of the Town. Members of the Charter Trustees are expected to support the Town and its Mayoralty.

Trustees of what?

(From S246 of the 1972 Act the Local Authority (England) Property etc) Order 1973, the Local Authorities (Wales) Property etc.) Order 1973 and The Charter Trustee Order 1974

It follows that, unlike Parish Councils, the Charter Trustees have no powers in respect of any general functions or services within the District but, of course, Members will carry out these duties in their principal role of District Councillor.

Annual Meeting & Mayor Making

The ceremony of Mayor Making is basically nothing more than an election of a Chairperson to chair meetings of the electing body for the forthcoming municipal year.

In reality however the Mayor is an ambassador for the town and undertakes hundreds of functions of public relations and of a charitable nature during a year in office. Today the same importance is attached to the election of Mayor as has been for hundreds of years, although the powers of the Town Mayors are more limited than of old. In the case of Margate, the former borough was created in 1857, when the first Mayor was elected.

Local Government re-organisation in 1974 resulted in the cessation of the former Boroughs and the creation of the Thanet District Council. Margate was able to continue to elect a Town Mayor each year due to an Act of Parliament, which established Charter Trustees.

The new Thanet District had the opportunity (as it still has) of petitioning for Borough status and as such the Chairman of the Council would be known as the Mayor of Thanet. This course of action was not taken and the members of the District Council who represented those wards comprising the areas of the former boroughs became Charter Trustees.

Under the terms of the above Act the Charter Trustees would have ceased to exist had the District opted for borough status but a subsequent change in the law ensures their continuance even if borough status was to be obtained for the district at some time in the future.

It is interesting to note that even if the Thanet District Council had petitioned for borough status before the change brought about by the Charter Trustees Act 1985, the Town of Margate and Ramsgate would still have been able to elect Town Mayors as the Charter Trustees would have been replaced by Cinque Port Trustees, as both are limbs of the Cinque Ports.

Insofar as the election process of a Mayor, Chairman or Town Mayor is concerned there is little difference in law but as locally, the office of Mayor in both Margate and Ramsgate is considerably more ancient and steeped in history. The full Mayor Making Ceremony survives as part of the traditions that the Charter Trustees preserve.

Once elected the new Mayor is invested with the mayoral robes and chain of office and takes a declaration of acceptance of office.

At one time a Mayor was, by virtue of his office, a Justice of the Peace and as such was required to take an Oath of Allegiance. This is no longer so but in many places this custom survives and such an Oath is still taken at Margate.

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