Thank you to the kind person who managed to sneakily snap this for me…

Every Greenwich councillor was given one of these last week – a commemorative certificate, with a seal, to mark the fact that they are part of a council serving a royal borough. It’s worth remembering it’s the borough – which contains 230,000 of us – that’s been declared royal, not the actual council, which is 51 of them. Still, they got these certificates anyway.

The certificates are signed by mayor Jim Gillman, leader Chris Roberts, and chief executive Mary Ney.

After I was sent this, I asked around – was this normal? Do councillors usually get a certificate to mark their entry into the council?

It appears they don’t – yet somehow, the 51 current councillors have been deemed worthy enough to have been given these expensive-looking certificates which, presumably, we’re paying for.

With councillors due to vote on another round of cuts soon, it’s good to know where the council’s priorities lie. Maybe they really do think it’s them being honoured.

Greenwich – sorry, “Royal Greenwich” – has managed to dodge questions so far about the costs of the changeover from dowdy old London Borough of Greenwich to snazzy Royal Borough of Greenwich. I like fireworks and think councils should put on big public parties every now and then, so I wasn’t that bothered, but after seeing these certificates and hearing other tales of cash being blown on the royal borough bandwagon, I’m hoping to get some proper answers soon.

One thing I do know is that councillors have been told to bin their old “Greenwich Council” notepaper and start using new “Royal Borough of Greenwich” stationery immediately. Peninsula ward councillor Mary Mills has given this short shrift, declaring in her blog: “I have told staff that I will continue to use old notepaper and visiting cards until they run out. I have not been to any of the social events run by the council over the past month – not to any of the fireworks displays, or any of the parties.”

It’s good to know that at least one of them has a sense of embarrassment at all this. But what of the others?

As for mayor Jim Gillman, who signed each of the certificates celebrating royal status, I’ve been alerted to a passage in a book called The Politics of Local Socialism by John Gyford. Published in 1985, it quotes Greenwich’s mayor speaking to the Evening Standard on 11 November 1982…

Jim Gillman, chair of Greenwich’s Personnel and Industrial Relations Committee, welcomed job applicants ‘who are sympathetic to the socialist cause and the aims of this council – that is the creation and furtherance of a socialist society’.

From creating a “socialist society” to accepting a free booze-up in his honour on council taxpayers’ cash, and signing certificates endorsing a “royal favour” as little presents from council taxpayers to their representatives. Interesting how people’s views change with time.

You may like to get in touch with your local councillors to ask what they’ve done with their certificates. Or you could always submit a question to next week’s council meeting...

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