THE chairman of St Neots Town Council has insisted he will continue to act as the ceremonial mayor, after a row erupted over the scrapping of the traditional role.

THE chairman of St Neots Town Council has insisted he will continue to act as the ceremonial mayor, after a row erupted over the scrapping of the traditional role.

Councillor Barry Chapman was elected as chairman by fellow councillors at a meeting on June 22 and it was later reported that the town would be "stripped" of its mayor for the first time since the council was formed in 1974.

Angry Liberal Democrats said St Neots would look "shoddy" compared to other Huntingdonshire towns that are represented by mayors.

Cllr Chapman told The Hunts Post: "I am chairman of St Neots Town Council - and I am also the mayor. We have two roles and there has been a lot of confusion spread by mischief-makers.

"Every parish council elects a chairman and deputy chairman. The title of mayor, and deputy mayor, is used on civic and ceremonial occasions and has been misused somewhat in the past. We decided to do things properly."

He added: "I was a little bit upset to read that I had been axed as mayor, having just got the title."

He explained that the Local Government Act 1972 gave parish councils the power by resolution to give themselves the title of town council and that the chairman of a town council is entitled to the "style" of town mayor.

The St Neots Town Council website says: "A town mayor has the same rights and duties as a local council chairman."

It adds: "Councillor Barry Chapman is chairman of the council and mayor of St Neots on civic and ceremonial occasions."