Last updated: 24-05-2024. From web page: Council Constitution.

Council Constitution 15 Part 5 - Civic and Ceremonial Protocol

Key responsibilities

Civic and Ceremonial Protocol

A Member will be elected by Full Council each year to hold the office of Chairman. The Chairman of the Council will be known as the Lord Mayor when carrying out his/her civic and ceremonial role. The responsibilities of the position will be carried out in accordance with the Letters Patent conferred by the Crown and guidance contained in this Protocol. This Protocol should be read in conjunction with the Civic Handbook – The Role of the Lord Mayor and Sheriff.

Key responsibilities of the Lord Mayor

  1. To chair meetings of the Council effectively.
  2. To preside over civic functions, including but not limited to the Remembrance Service, the reception following the annual meeting and to promote the City of Southampton Awards Scheme.
  3. To act and conduct him/herself as the First Citizen and ambassador of the Council in promoting the City of Southampton and the Council's aims including its vision.
  4. To lead the community in support of the Council’s values and visions, to provide community leadership and to proactively engage with the Council, its priorities, aims and objectives and the partners of the Council (including, but not limited to, the local strategic partnership) in supporting the City and its citizens.
  5. To assist the promotion of good causes. To promote, raise the profile and gain publicity for projects and events that are of a good charitable or voluntary nature that benefit the citizens of Southampton, particularly smaller organisations.
  6. To attend funerals of officers who die in service and civic dignitaries past and present.
  7. To raise funds for the charities chosen by the Lord Mayor, and to announce to the AGM Full Council a charity or charities that will be supported during the Civic Year that will benefit the citizens of Southampton. The Lord Mayor will report the amount raised to the AGM.
  8. To give a summary of activities / achievements during the year at the AGM.
  9. To represent the Council at events, including any international visits which should promote the Council’s aims, values and/or vision.
  10. To encourage citizenship and participation in the life of the City.
  11. The Deputy Lord Mayor and Sheriff will undertake a similar role as the Lord Mayor and will be known as the Sheriff when carrying out their civic and ceremonial role. The Sheriff and the Lord Mayor will work together in developing a programme that would successfully fulfil the above roles.
  12. To observe civic protocols when undertaking the civic and ceremonial role.

Key responsibilities of the Sheriff

  1. To deputise for the Lord Mayor, when appropriate, and undertake the key responsibilities of the Lord Mayor, at the direction of the Lord Mayor.
  2. To chair Court Leet and Beat the Bounds.
  3. To attend the Annual Sheriffs’ Conference.

Civic Protocols


In these protocols:

  • ‘The Lord Mayor’s Office’ is the office and staff designated by the Director of Legal and Governance as supporting the Lord Mayor and Sheriff.

Parts 1-5


  1. The Lord Mayor, Sheriff and their escorts / consorts, when undertaking their civic and ceremonial roles, shall:
    1. not bring the Council into disrepute through abuse of office;
    2. follow any instructions issued by the Lord Mayor’s Office;
    3. not attend any function or otherwise give support to any organisation or person, whose objectives are contrary to law and/or Council policy,
    4. not solicit engagements or visits at home or abroad or otherwise procure favours by virtue of office; and
    5. not overspend the budget / allowance allocated by the Council to the Lord Mayor.
    6. it will be the Lord Mayor and/or Sheriff’s responsibility to ensure that, in attending any event or initiative on behalf of the Council when undertaking their civic and/or ceremonial roles, that the Lord Mayor and/or Sheriff and their escorts / consorts, shall behave in a manner appropriate and fitting to their position as First and Second Citizens of the City, and any breach of this protocol may constitute a breach of the Code of Conduct for Members.

Annual Meeting Of The Council / Council Meetings

  1. The Annual Meeting includes the Lord Mayor Making ceremony. The Lord Mayor’s Office will prepare the Council’s guest list in liaison with the Director of Legal and Governance. Traditionally the incoming Lord Mayor and Sheriff are allowed a personal guest list of approximately ten. These are usually family, friends and work colleagues whom the Lord Mayor invites to the Lord Mayor Making Ceremony and the parlour for refreshments after the meeting.
  2. The Lord Mayor will be guided and supported in chairing Full Council meetings by the Director of Legal and Governance. The Lord Mayor will be provided with appropriate support, guidance and assistance including (but not limited to) briefing the Lord Mayor prior to the Council meeting on procedural and other relevant issues.

The Election Of The Lord Mayor

  1. The election of a Chairman of the Council (Lord Mayor) shall be the first item of business conducted by the Council in accordance with Local Government Act 1972 and the Constitution. The process shall be that required by law and the Constitution. If making nominations and undertaking this process, members shall take account in nominating any prospective candidate of the responsibilities of the job as set out in this Protocol, and Members shall, subject to the inherent discretion of the Council to elect whomsoever they deem fit as Chairman / Lord Mayor within the law and the Council’s Constitution use their best endeavours to avoid a contest at the Annual General Meeting.

Support To Charities

  1. The Lord Mayor must abide by any guidance issued from time to time by the Director of Legal and Governance and/or the Chief Financial Officer in respect of the Lord Mayor’s charities and/or the budget allocated to the Lord Mayor by the Council.
  2. The Lord Mayor may select one or more charities that s/he shall announce at the Annual General Meeting, which s/he shall support. These charities will already be established and registered with the Charity Commission. If, in the opinion of the Chief Financial Officer, any charity is unacceptable for legal or financial reasons, the Lord Mayor shall select an alternative.
  3. All administrative functions related to the Lord Mayor’s charities must be undertaken by the appropriate officers of the charity in question and not by the Lord Mayor or the Council, or by officers.
  4. The Lord Mayor’s Charity: It is expected that the charity will undertake all fund raising and its administration, as the Council does not have the staffing resources to support this type of activity. However, officers are happy to advise the charity as to the suitability of events, appropriate procedures and matters of protocol if required.
  5. The Lord Mayor’s Charity: The Lord Mayor’s Charity has been registered with the Charity Commission. All monies raised during the Lord Mayor’s year of office will be distributed to the chosen charities as soon as possible after the end of the Lord Mayor’s term of office.

Appointment Of Chaplain

  1. The Lord Mayor may appoint a Chaplain, and in accordance with the Council’s values and visions The Lord Mayor’s Office shall advise any incoming Lord Mayor on these issues and options.
  2. To encourage a deeper and broader relationship between the Council and faith communities, the religious advisers will act as a 'sounding board' to advise on effective engagement with faith communities, and the impact of Communities and Local Government policy on faith communities.

Parts 6-10

Annual Civic Service

  1. The Lord Mayor may hold an Annual Civic Service in June at the place of worship determined by the Team Rector of the City Centre Parish. Alternatively, the Lord Mayor may hold an alternative event which will enhance the Council’s understanding of, and engagement, with faith communities in the City. Such events must be inclusive of all sections of the community and open to all faiths.


  1. The Lord Mayor should work with officers to produce a proactive programme, which meets the Civic and Ceremonial Portfolio objectives. The Lord Mayor will take account of the Executive’s requirements and priorities in determining the programme. All invitations to civic / ceremonial events to be undertaken by the Lord Mayor and/or Sheriff or any proposal for a civic event or engagement, however arising, will be processed through officers who will liaise closely with the Lord Mayor, conduct any necessary research and advise the Lord Mayor and/or Sheriff on their suitability. Attendance at all engagements will be co-ordinated by officers. Events attended by the Lord Mayor should be of a non-political nature. The advice of the Leader and/or Director of Legal and Governance should be sought if necessary. Delegations or visits led by the Lord Mayor to places outside Southampton should be subject to appropriate planning, budget and reporting, and must be organised by officers.
  2. The Sheriff should cover events / engagements that the Lord Mayor is unable to undertake. Where the Sheriff is not available, the Council’s representative should be a Councillor (with priority for former Mayors/Lord Mayors). Invitations should only go beyond Sheriff when it is considered that the lack of civic presence would be seen as detrimental to the Council. Officers should decide this in consultation with the Director of Legal and Governance when necessary. As the consorts / escorts of both the Lord Mayor and Sheriff have no legal status, they should rarely attend functions independently of the Lord Mayor or Sheriff. Consorts / escorts must never attend an event / engagement as a representative of the Council.
  3. At events hosted by the Council, such as conferences and seminars, the Lord Mayor will normally give a welcome to delegates. At events promoting Council achievements (eg opening new facilities) the Lord Mayor will normally undertake ceremonial duties such as cutting of a ribbon, and the Leader or appropriate Cabinet Member will normally make the official speech.
  4. Outside of any formal presentation of a Freedom of the City, or City of Southampton award at the council’s AGM, it is recognised that the Lord Mayor may want to celebrate the important contribution particular individuals, groups, or organisations make to the city of Southampton through an informal Lord Mayor’s Award presentation or ‘thank you’ event during their Lord Mayoral year. Such arrangements should be discussed and agreed with the Lord Mayor’s Office.

Visits Abroad

  1. Any planned visits abroad should be discussed with officers who will refer the issue to the Director of Legal and Governance if necessary. Visits should be for official purposes and not of a personal or political nature.
  2. If the Lord Mayor proposes such a visit, as a guide it will be necessary to consider the following:
    1. the purpose of the visit, the benefits to Southampton and its residents and how it will contribute to the city and/or detailed itinerary;
    2. the names of others who will be accompanying the Lord Mayor, details of the costs and any hospitality that will be received and from whom;
  3. Invitations abroad should be arranged through officers. The Director of Legal and Governance will decide on any logistical or other arrangements necessary or appropriate or ancillary to any visit abroad, eg whether or not officers of the Council should accompany the Lord Mayor.

Admiral Of The Port

  1. As Admiral of the Port, the Lord Mayor has no formal powers as such associated with this particular office. However, in view of the historic relationship between the City Council and particularly the Lord Mayor as Admiral of the Port and port-related activities and because of the significance of the port to Southampton’s life, the Lord Mayor shall maintain, promote, enhance and support those links, whether in the business, leisure, tourism or other aspect of the City’s life.


  1. Both the Lord Mayor and Sheriff are paid an allowance during their term of office to reflect expenses incurred. This is to cover general expenses and receptions they wish to host. The Lord Mayor and officers should ensure that overall spend on the civic purse, civic hospitality and civic functions is within budget. The Lord Mayor should abide by any rules or guidance issued from time to time by the Director of Legal and Governance and/or the Chief Finance Officer in respect of the budget allocated to the Lord Mayor by the Council.

Parts 11-17

Use Of The Official Car

  1. The Lord Mayor and Sheriff are provided with transport for official functions where appropriate. The transport should not be used by the Lord Mayor and Sheriff other than in the civic and ceremonial capacity of these offices. Instructions to the Town Sergeants and attendants providing the chauffeuring service are given by officers. It is normal for the Lord Mayor or their escort to be collected from the Lord Mayor’s residence; where this is not practical, arrangements shall be agreed in advance with officers.

Use Of Lord Mayor’S Office And Parlour

  1. The Lord Mayor and Sheriff may use accommodation (the Lord Mayor’s office and parlour) provided by the Council to undertake their duties. Use of this accommodation is managed through officers. The Lord Mayor and/or Sheriff shall not use this accommodation other than for civic and/or ceremonial purposes without the prior consent of officers. The accommodation is the asset of the Council under the control of officers.

Acceptance Of Gifts

  1. Personal gifts received by the Lord Mayor and Sheriff must be declared in the normal way. Gifts presented to the Lord Mayor and /or Sheriff (in his/her ceremonial capacities as first or second citizen for the City) shall be accepted by the Lord Mayor or Sheriff for the city / Council, may not be retained by the Lord Mayor or Sheriff either during their municipal year or after and shall be passed to officers who shall manage such gifts on behalf of the Council. Gifts received during the year shall be displayed in the Lord Mayor’s Parlour. In exceptional circumstances, the Director of Legal and Governance may decide that it is appropriate for them to retain a gift (for example, when the gift is of nominal value and/or similar gifts are presented to and retained by other Members and/or officers).

Use Of Images Of The Lord Mayor And/Or Sheriff In Electoral Material

  1. It is considered inappropriate for the Lord Mayor and/or Sheriff to appear in any electoral material, whether associated with their election, or another candidate’s election, in any official regalia or robes. The Lord Mayor and Sheriff should use all reasonable endeavours to avoid this from occurring. Any such occurrence may well be reported to the Governance Committee depending upon the circumstances.


  1. Given the status of the Lord Mayor and Sheriff as First and Second Citizens of the City, any dealings with the media should be conducted via Public Relations and officers should be advised. The Communications team is responsible for dealing with the press and media on behalf of the Council. Therefore, all official communication relating to the Council (but not party political or private matters) should be dealt with by the team. The Lord Mayor and Sheriff should be aware that any private / party political communications they issue may bring their office into disrepute and should always, therefore, seek advice before doing so.

Support From Officers

  1. Officers will provide to the Lord Mayor and Sheriff upon their appointment to office information on:
    1. The different allowances and how they may be used;
    2. Awareness of tax liabilities of allowance
    3. Local charities and regular yearly events and functions;
  2. During the Civic year, officers will:
    1. manage the civic diary and ensure arrangements for chauffeuring are in place;
    2. receive and follow up invitations;
    3. arrange occasional events;
    4. give proper briefings and advice as necessary;
    5. manage the budget, in consultation with the Director of Legal and Governance
    6. prepare necessary reports for the Council / Committee etc;
    7. provide such other support as is necessary and appropriate.
  3. Officers are under the managerial control of the Director of Legal and Governance and ultimately the Executive Director Enabling Services.

Support From The Rest Of The Council

  1. During the course of the Lord Mayoral year, the Lord Mayor and the Director of Legal and Governance will liaise regularly. Officers will take steps in order to enable regular briefings to take place, and will liaise with the Director of Legal and Governance to ensure this happens.
  2. At the commencement of the Lord Mayoral year, the Lord Mayor will have meetings with the Chief Financial Officer and Director of Legal and Governance, so the Lord Mayor may be briefed and aware of issues of interest. The Lord Mayor’s role will include supporting the council’s corporate priorities and the key themes that the Lord Mayor wishes to adopt should be explored to ensure they match the council’s corporate plan. In this way, all of the engagements and initiatives that the Lord Mayor undertakes will be supportive of the work of the council.
  3. During the Lord Mayoral year the Lord Mayor may wish to be briefed by officers on other issues of interest to the Lord Mayor or on issues that arise relevant to the Lord Mayoral duties. Meetings may also be arranged on behalf of the Sheriff.

Parts 18-20

End Of Year Report

  1. At the end of the Lord Mayor’s municipal year, the Lord Mayor will have the opportunity to review the year with the Director of Legal and Governance. The views of the Lord Mayor will be taken into account in making changes to this protocol, the work of officers and in the planning of future initiatives. A report on the work of the Lord Mayor will be included on the Lord Mayor’s web page.

Civic Events Co-Ordination

  1. Following identification of the key themes that the Lord Mayor wishes to adopt, a meeting will be held with the Leader of the Council to set a programme for the co-ordination of events. The meeting will ensure that appropriate Members and Officers represent the Council according to the type of function and will advise external organisations to whom representative invitations should be addressed. The programme of events will be reviewed by the Director of Legal and Governance as appropriate to ensure that the programme continues to match the council’s corporate objectives.

Guidance On The Use Of The Southampton Coat Of Arms

  1. Southampton’s Coat of Arms has been in use since the 12th Century. The final addition to the Coat of Arms was made in 1575.
  2. The Coat of Arms comprises:
    • The Arms: shown on a shield and divided into two parts. The top half is white or silver with two red roses side by side. The bottom half is red with a single white or silver rose in the centre.
    • The Crest: A queen holding the sword of justice and the balance of equity resting upon a castle surmounting a knight’s helmet and red and white wreath.
    • The Supporters: A two mast, armed Tudor ship on each side of the shield with a yellow or gold lion standing in the bow holding up the shield in its front paws.
      Full details on the history and makeup of the Arms is available from the Council’s City Archives Services.
  3. The Coat of Arms are the legal property of the City of Southampton and may only be used by or with the permission of Southampton City Council (as registered heraldic owner) in accordance with this Guidance and general heraldic law.
  4. Use of the full Coat of Arms
    1. Use of the full Coat of Arms (shield, crest and supporters together) is reserved to Full Council and the Lord Mayor of Southampton.
    2. The full Arms are only to be used in relation to wholly Council functions or in relation to the Lord Mayor’s civic duties and obligations. This will include, but is not limited to, use on Lord Mayor’s Office official stationary, portraits and associated memorabilia related to the Office.
    3. Use of the full Arms may, after consultation with the Director of Legal and Governance and the Lord Mayor, also be used in relation to:
      • Use the making of Honorary Aldermen and the granting of the Freedom of the City
      • the procurement and presentation of high-quality Civic gifts to visiting dignitaries of national and international stature.
      • Historic books, documents & manuscripts produced by the Council whether intended for publication or archival purposes.
  5. Use of the Shield or Shield & Crest
    1. use of the Shield / Shield & Crest after consultation with the Director of Legal and Governance and the Lord Mayor is limited to:
      • All other uses by the Council
      • Requests by third parties for use in relation to non-profit making or charitable purposes where such use is made to denote the support of the Council or Lord Mayor.
      Such uses may include graphical representations to accompany written “introductions” or statements of support supplied on behalf of Full Council or by the Lord Mayor’s Office, graphical representations to denote historic, heraldic or other Civic matters such as dissertations etc by local history groups and representation on items such as calendars and music compilations where it is determined that publication is in the interests of the Council and does not undermine the historic status of the Arms.
  6. No requests from third parties relating to commercial, profit generating or non-charitable uses will be permitted.
  7. Where this Guidance indicates that use is at the discretion of the Director of Legal and Governance subject to the following paragraph, that decision shall be final.
  8. If a third party remains dissatisfied by a refusal in accordance with this Guidance, they may submit a request in writing for the matter to be reconsidered. The matter will be referred to the Governance Committee for determination at their next available scheduled meeting.