Council is accused of ‘selling the family silver’

DECISION SLAMMED: The Mayor of Preston, Coun Veronica Afrin, with the mayors car number plate which is being auctioned off

DECISION SLAMMED: The Mayor of Preston, Coun Veronica Afrin, with the mayors car number plate which is being auctioned off

A decision to sell the registration plate from the mayor’s car has been slammed as “selling the family silver”.

The number plate, CCK1, has belonged to the city since the 1930s but Preston Council is now auctioning it on eBay to the highest bidder, subject to a £22,000 reserve.

But former mayors of the city have criticised the move, describing it as “gesture politics”.

Coun Bobby Cartwright, who was mayor from 2011 to 2012, said she was “devastated” by the decision.

She said: “We are ambassadors for the city as mayor and when you turn up to events, even down to really small clubs, people are so thrilled to see you.”

Coun Cartwright’s husband, Coun Neil Cartwright, was also Preston’s mayor from 2003 to 2004 and said: “It seems to me that why not go around the Harris Museum and see what we can sell from there - I think it’s the equivalent of that - or let’s go around the town hall and sell regalia.

“If it’s worth £22,000 it always will be. It’s not as if it’s a depreciating asset - it’s there for the city for the future.”

He said: “Whatever car we have, CCK1 will at least be a recognisable part of what the mayor is. I think it’s a matter of gesture politics rather than practical politics.

“I think it would be wrong to see CCK1 driving around Preston with other than the mayor on board. I think it would be an insult to the mayorality.

“I just hope somebody buys it and donates it to the city.”

He added: “It’s a different mayor every year, but every year it’s the same chains and the same CCK1. Things do change, but it seems people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

“It’s just a shame - we are selling the family silver.”

Coun Christine Abram, mayor from 2007 to 2008, added: “I think we are losing Preston’s heritage slowly, and personally I think it’s a disgrace.”

But Coun Martyn Rawlinson, cabinet member for resources, said he had “no regrets” about deciding to sell the registration plate.

He said: “The letters stand for a geographical code that no longer applies.

“It’s ridiculous to expect the tax payer to pay for a Jaguar car for the mayor to drive around in when we’ve got something there that will sell to pay for it.”

The online auction will run until December 20 and so far CCK1 has had more than 800 views. Coun Rawlinson said a decision would be taken on the plate’s future after the end of the auction if it hadn’t sold.

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