Town crier role on hold during MP fight

W47702H14''Countdown to Christmas South Street Square Worthing Saturday. Town Cryer Bob Smytherman SUS-141124-083306001
W47702H14''Countdown to Christmas South Street Square Worthing Saturday. Town Cryer Bob Smytherman SUS-141124-083306001

A BUSINESS group which revived the role of town crier will put the role on hold while the post holder fights a general election campaign.

Worthing Town Centre Initiative asked former mayor Bob Smytherman to reinvent the role after his year in office finished in May, 2014.

But since his last-minute selection to contest the East Worthing and Shoreham seat for the Liberal Democrats on May 7, the decision has been taken to put the apolitical role on hold.

Explaining the decision, town centre manager Sharon Clarke said: “As the role is non-political the TCI feel that during a electoral campaign it will be very difficult for Bob not to engage in political debate and so we have suspended Town Crier services at this time.

“After the election the committee will discuss the outcome and decide on the best way forward with the role.”

Mr Smytherman is a current borough and county councillor for Tarring, who enjoyed a social media-filled year as mayor.

He attended a record number of engagements, leading the TCI to bring him on board as a recognisable figure to promote the town’s businesses and charities.

Mrs Clarke said the role would be reconsidered at the end of the campaign.

“We hope Bob will return to the role once his electoral campaign is over but this will have to be ratified by the TCI steering committee,” she said.

Mr Smytherman played the role of town crier in the Worthing Community Play last year and immediately felt comfortable with the role.

He said he hoped he could continue after the campaign was over.

He said: “If I come second and manage to get the role of town crier back on May 8 I will be very happy.

“I am proud of my apolitical record as town crier so hopefully the TCI will want me back after the election.

“If the people of Worthing want me to do the role, that’s what will happen I am sure.”

Mr Smytherman will take over the election campaign from Jemima Bland, who decided to step down due to personal circumstances on Thursday.