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FEE IS A RIGHT ROYAL RIP-OFF; Anger at pounds 1,200 demand.

Byline: EMMA SNODGRASS

ROYAL LEAMINGTON SPA has been told by the government it must pay pounds 1,200 - or risk losing its treasured Royal status.

Leamington's first town council, set to come into being in April 2002, has been told it must pay a fee of around pounds 1,200 to keep the word 'Royal' in its new council title.

Queen Victoria gave Leamington royal status in 1838 and the town has used the word in its title ever since.

The original royal charter hangs in the mayor's parlour in the town hall.

But when the town applied to use the name in the title of the new council it was told it had to have a letter's patent to use the name the town has held since 1838.

Mayor Bill Gifford said: "When we applied for town council status they sent us a form asking us how we would like to be known.

"The decision was unanimous and instantaneous - we never dreamed there would be a problem."

But the town had a reply from the local government department saying they must pay a fee of pounds 1,200 to get a letter's patent from the Queen allowing them to use the word in their new title.

Bill Gifford added: "We were sent this silly letter from them a few weeks later. It would be ludicrous to have to pay to keep our name as it is.

"Queen Victoria gave us the Royal charter in 1838 and as far as we are concerned it's the name of the town.

"It's just ignorance on the part of the department."

Nobody from the Department of Local Government was available for comment.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jul 30, 2001
Words:279
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