A chain of office once owned by Settle Rural District Council is to remain around the neck of Craven District Council’s vice-chairman – despite Settle wanting it back.

The ownership of the gold chain was transferred, quite legally, to the new Craven District Council after local government reorganisation.

Settle Rural District Council (RDC) merged with Skipton Urban and Rural District councils on April 1 1974. Much of the property of those councils passed either to Craven District Council or North Yorkshire County Council – and Settle’s gold chain headed 16 miles south to Skipton.

Over the decades Settle, which now has a mayor, has made several requests for the return of the chain, but has always been refused.

The matter resurfaced at a meeting when Settle Town Council was told it had been offered the return of two badges. One, on a blue ribbon, shows a scene of the River Ribble and bridge and was likely to have been worn by the Settle RDC chairman’s consort.

The larger, second badge used to hang from the chairman’s chain. This bears the former rural district council crest, showing the legendary Craven Heifer on the summit of Ingleborough, with the white rose of Yorkshire and two rampant lions – blue for the Percys and white for the Mowbrays. These were two of the most powerful families in the area in medieval times.

Beneath is the motto “cavendo tutus adversa sperno” – or “secure in caution, spurn adversity”.

Symbols from Settle RDC’s coat of arms, as well as those from the Skipton councils, were incorporated in the new coat of arms for Craven District Council, which bears the motto “nec temere nec timide” – “neither rashly nor timidly”.

Annoyingly for Settle, the new Skipton Town Council was allowed to keep its chain because its boundary was the same as the former Skipton Urban District Council.

Colin Iveson, head of democratic services with the district council, said: “Craven District Council purchased a new chain of office for its chairman in 1974 and used the former Settle Rural District Council chairman’s chain as its vice-chairman’s.

“Craven District Council has said no to past requests from Settle Town Council to give them the chain back. The main reason was the chain belonged to Settle rural district, which covered a much bigger area than Settle town.

“Any of the parishes in the former Settle RDC area have just as much claim on the chain as Settle Town Council. Since this decision was made, there does not appear to have been any change in circumstances, so Craven District Council’s vice-chairman’s chain will stay with Craven.”

Mr Iveson said after sorting through some of the civic regalia, it was decided to send a number of badges that had no current official use to the Craven Museum for safe-keeping. These included Settle’s and it was felt it would be reasonable to offer them to the town council as they bore Settle’s name.

“They are better being used so people can see them regularly, rather than just being stored away,” he said.

Settle town councillor Beth Graham said she would love to see the chain returned, but appreciated it was likely to stay where it was.

“It was the law of the land that saw it go to Skipton. When the councils were reorganised, the possessions automatically went to the new Craven District Council because that was the law. It would be very nice if it could be returned, but I think it’s highly unlikely,” she said.

She was, however, pleased to hear of the return of the badges and hoped they would be placed in the Museum of North Craven Life, at the Folly, on public display.