THE Lord Mayor of York threatened to refuse to leave the Mansion House during restoration work unless council officials found her alternative city centre accommodation - and warned she might cancel engagements unless her 'disgusting' chains of office were re-gilded, emails seen by The Press have revealed.

Cllr Sonja Crisp also claimed the stress caused by the way she was being treated by City of York Council was making her ill, while an official claimed he had experienced 'yet another outburst' from the Lord Mayor and might have to consider making a formal complaint if it happened again.

The leaked emails revealed tensions between Cllr Crisp and council officials over the £1.6 million refurbishment of the historic Mansion House in St Helen's Square, where Lord Mayors can normally live in an apartment throughout their year of office.

Cllr Crisp said in one email she would 'have no option but to stay put' unless the council found her alternative city centre accommodation from late September until November 2, after which she said she had managed to source her own free hotel accommodation.

She said: "You either need to look for suitable alternative living accommodation for me for approx 4-5 weeks or you will need to reschedule works and work around me...

"Just a gentle reminder that I am the Lord Mayor, the first citizen, the rightful resident of the Mansion House and I have rights too."

Cllr Crisp left the Mansion House last week.

In another email to an official, Cllr Crisp said she was not going to wear her travelling chains of office under any circumstances until she had written confirmation they were to be re-gilded, claiming: "They are in a disgusting state.”

She suggested she might even have to look at cancelling engagements until she received such an assurance.

In a further email, she said she had twice fallen ill and warned: “Those episodes I believe are in no small part due to the stress and extra worry and work that my treatment by the council is causing me.”

An email from a council official to a colleague claimed there had been "yet another outburst by the Lord Mayor', which he said was about the civic silver and whether it would come to the Guildhall when she had civic dinners.

He said he had explained that because of their value and because they were not secure enough, bringing them backwards and forwards (to the building) was not an option.

"Whereupon I was told these are not the crown jewels and, quote, "I'm the Lord Mayor'," he said.

"LM then proceeded to storm off, saying she's going to The Press. To be honest, I'm at the point where I cannot do any more to stop these outbursts...But if it does continue, I'll have to consider a formal complaint."

Asked to comment on the emails, Labour group leader Cllr Dafydd Williams said: "Sonja is very passionate about the role of Lord Mayor and is always the first to defend the status and history of the position.

"However, the Labour Group will always fully investigate complaints about the conduct of our members and take action if such behaviour falls short. I will ask for this matter to be considered by our whips to ensure that everyone can have confidence that matters have been handled properly by all concerned."


York Press:

The Lord Mayor, Councillor Sonja Crisp, issued this statement to The Press in the wake of the emails leak:

"I am deeply concerned at any embarrassment to the Lord Mayoralty this may cause.

"My only intention throughout my time in office is to try to preserve the dignity and position of the office of Lord Mayor for the future of the City.

"I was very keen that the chains of office were re-gilded after more than one person reported to me that they were looking in very poor condition. The history of those chains needs to be preserved for future generations.

"The civic silver is an integral part of the history of the position of Lord Mayors and not having access to them for charity fundraising dinners puts my charities at a distinct disadvantage and whilst I did express disappointment that I hadn't been informed that I would not have access to them, my recollection of the conversation I had with the officer is quite different to his.

"Throughout the last three months, I've personally had to try to source alternative facilities for the civic party whilst the Mansion House is being refurbished.

"We are unusual in that the consort, sheriff and sheriff's lady are not retired and have to work. The sheriff and sheriff's lady also live in a village some distance away. This means that they often have to come straight into town from work and need a central base with shower facilities to be able to get ready for engagements, something that is normally available in the Mansion House.

"There is a saving of between £22 and £24k from the Mansion House budget as a result of the house closing and the apartment not being occupied by the Lord Mayor for a year or more.

"I had asked that a small amount from that budget be used to source a small one-bed apartment to allow the civic party a place to rest between engagements and shower and freshen up. As I do the bulk of the engagements and often start early and finish late, it makes sense sometimes to stay in the city centre.

"To be absolutely clear, I did not ask for council budget normally used for services, just the money that is used year on year to house the Lord Mayor to be spent just how it normally is, on housing the Lord Mayor.

"I am very passionate about the position of Lord Mayor and the role the position plays in the cultural and civic life of the city.

"That passion can sometimes lead me to be forceful in pressing to ensure the various aspects of our history are preserved. But I don't believe I have ever allowed that passion to be anything more than a strong defence of the office I am very honoured to serve in."