Mayor's diary is made secret

Wigan's Mayor is going incognito – concerned about lack of security after being picketed by angry parents, upset over closure-threatened Hesketh Fletcher High School.

Council chiefs confirmed today that they have removed the list of his engagements from their official town hall website after complaints from Coun Mark Aldred.

A communication accidentally sent to the Wigan Evening Post after we started making inquiries about why his engagements schedule had been removed reveals he is concerned about the Save Our School pressure group protesters from closure-threatened Hesketh Fletcher High attending his functions with their placards and loudhailers.

Demonstrators and pupils from the school protested outside his first official event – the Mayoral church service – in May.

But it was a picket of his locksmiths shop premises in Atherton last week which triggered the move.

In a town hall e-mail accidently sent to the press, the Mayor complains: "I had hassle on Saturday when 30-plus demonstrators shut my shop down. I had to phone the police and Joyce (Redfearn, chief executive).

"CCTV was on them and I have asked to press charges. I am concerned that two of them ran into my shop and demanded I came down and faced them as I had not got any Mayoral appointments – Their words.

"They actually knew I had no Mayorals so I am requesting for my own and staff safety that information on the Mayor's whereabouts no longer goes out to councillors or published on the web.

"As luck had it, I had left to pick Karen (wife and Mayoress, Coun Karen Aldred) up, but it shook my employee up."

The Mayor, who is seen as a-political during his year of office, didn't wish to add anything further today.

But a spokesman for Wigan Council said: "We can confirm that we are reviewing the contents of the Mayoral Diary and weekly programme.

"As a result members of the public will be able to request the mayor's presence at an event as usual but we will not be publishing a list of the forward engagements.

"We have responded to concerns raised by the mayor following a recent incident outside his business premises.

"While we appreciate that there are issues that residents will feel passionately about we have established a number of mechanism to allow members of the public to have their say on issues that affect them.

"We do not believe it is right, or indeed fair, for people to target an individual purely because they fulfil a particular civic role, especially if this impinges on their privacy or livelihood."

Independent Conservatives Leader Coun Gareth Fairhurst said: "I'm quite shocked to hear this news.

"Let's get this straight, Her Majesty The Queen publishes her diary a short period of time before, is it the now the case the mayor is bigger than the Queen?"

"If it is good enough for the Queen, then why not our Mayor?"