A crying shame maybe but there it is- defeat for the Jolly Jester and victory for the mayor

DEFEATED town crier candidate Robert Freeman described the appointment to the post of a rival candidate – the mayor Councillor Bernard Keane- as “jobs for the boys”.

Mr Freeman, who first proposed the idea that March should have a town crier, was defeated in a ‘cry off’ with Cllr Keane outside the town hall on Tuesday morning.

“Actually it was all a bit of a bloody farce” said Mr Freeman. “The committee interviewing me asked me to read something out in public but then we went down an alleyway next to the town hall to do it.”

Confirmation that the mayor will be the new town crier could not be confirmed by town clerk Clive Lemmon. He said the council’s personnel and administration sub committee- comprising mayor elect Councillor Jan French, Councillor Kit Owen, and Councillor Andrew Pugh- would be making its recommendations to the full council next month.

“Until then it would not be right for me to comment,” said Mr Lemmon.

Mr Freeman said he believed there was an issue with the committee members who spotted him on Sunday at St George’s fayre in a town crier outfit.

“They castigated me for that but I told them I was dressed to promote the Rotary Club and that’s what I did,” he said. “As far as I was concerned I was acting in a private capacity.”

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Mr Freeman said he would continue with his work as press officer for the Rotary club but would no longer volunteer for the festival and Christmas lights committees.

“I wash my hands of all them,” he said. “I have been a town crier for 40 years, worked all over the world, and was ready and willing to do this for March.”

James Carney, the Chatteris town crier and previous candidate for the March role too, withdrew his application a fortnight ago but did make an official appearance at St George’s Fayre at the invitation of organisers.

Councillor David Connor of Doddington has agreed to pay up to �350 for a costume for the new town crier of March, an unpaid, honorary post that the council hopes will promote tourism and the town.

Mr Freeman, a boy magician who turned professional in 1970, was the British Tourist Authority’s Jester for Britain for 15 years. He moved to Fenland in 2007 but continued his performance roles, carrying out town crier duties in Luton in recent years.

He said Cllr Connor had been in touch with the woman he had lined up to make the costume who confirmed that she had been approached to make it for Cllr Keane instead.