LOST diamonds from Skipton's mayoral chains look set to be replaced at estimated cost of up to around £9,500.

Town councillors have agreed to go ahead with an insurance claim to replace the 31 small diamonds in a gold setting which went missing in March while the then mayor had the chains out on official business.

Councillors also agreed to review use of the chains of office, including using a civic pendant on a ribbon for less important functions.

A report to last week's Finance and Policy meeting stated that the chains - worth £40,000 - had been taken from the town council offices - as is allowed and is covered by insurance - for a weekend by the then mayor Cllr Alan Hickman as part of his civic duties.

Over the course of the weekend, Cllr Hickman had attended the annual charter lunch of Skipton Soroptimists at Steeton Hall, and on the Monday he had contacted the office to report a problem with one of the pins that fixes the chains in place when worn, suggesting that it might need repairing.

It was when he returned the chains to the council offices later that day, that staff, when assessing the damage, saw that the diamond part of the pendant was missing.

The council, which was in purdah at the time because of the forthcoming local elections, did not release details to all members of the council or the wider general public, but did inform senior councillors at the earliest leadership meeting.

The missing part of the pendant is made up of 31 diamonds in a star shaped setting of 18 carat gold. The star fixing was attached to the main pendant by three pins, one of which was sheared, with part of the pin still remaining in its associated hole. The remaining two pins have gone entirely, and are presumed to be still attached to the lost fixing.

In its initial assessment of the damage, Thomas Fattorini of Birmingham, original makers of the chains, thought that the damage could have been caused by the pendant being 'dropped' or 'bumped', and more than once.

The loss was reported to the police and to the council's insurance company, and since the diamonds went missing, the chains have not left the council offices safe, apart from on two occasions, including the annual meeting of the council, when they were under direct supervision of council staff.

Chief officer, Dave Parker, told councillors at last week's meeting that a successful insurance claim would require the diamonds to be replaced 'like for like' and that they were currently waiting for an assessment by Fattorini's.

The use of diamonds with 'very small' flaws will cost £9,552, while diamonds with 'small flaws' will cost £7,998, and repair is likely to take six to eight weeks.

Fattorini's also repaired the pendant when it fell from the chains and was run over by a lawnmower when the then mayor was attending a civic function in Halifax.

Committee chairman, Councillor Robert Heseltine, said some authorities used their full chains on only certain occasions, with a scaled down version for less important functions.

He also appealed for the diamonds to be returned.

"It takes some believing that they just fell off, so could we please have our diamonds back," he said.