IT is the iconic symbol that has accompanied generations of Southampton’s mayors.
But the famous TR1 number plate could have disappeared from the city after council chiefs unveiled controversial plans to sell it off.
But it has been announced it will remain in the city and has a new home – on a minibus which will be used by communities across the city.
The minibus is actually one of the last Ford Transit minibuses to roll off the Swaythling plant’s production line last summer.
It was handed over to the city council last August by Ford after the plant closed.
Last year it was announced the mayor’s TR1 number plate would be put up for sale as part of the cash-strapped Labour council’s cuts.
The move was expected to raise more than £100,000 at auction but the plate was given a stay of execution last year with a group fronted by former mayor Derek Burke given the chance to find an alternative to selling it off.
And now it has been confirmed the famous number plate will stay in the city and will adorn the front of the nine-seat minibus,which can be hired by local groups for a small fee.
Southampton’s local Jaguar dealership HA Fox has also loaned the city mayor, Ivan White, a Jaguar XK Luxury D free of charge for 12 months, meaning the council can save £6,000 on his transportation costs.
The council’s Labour leader Simon Letts said: “We are grateful to HA Fox for their generosity and support and today’s official handover was a great opportunity to celebrate this partnership.
“Due to reduced funding from central government and rising costs and demand for council services we’ve had to make significant savings, consequently HA Fox’s sponsorship is extremely welcome.
“Every week the mayor manages a busy schedule of public events, representing our city, meeting and congratulating local people, who have made a significant contribution to our society and recognising the tremendous achievements of schools, colleges, universities, community groups and charity organisations in Southampton.
“It is important the mayor is able to continue to build these valuable relationships with communities and attend a range of civic events in order for local people to gain the recognition they deserve”.