It is a very great pleasure to report that the Freemen of the Town have decided that David Page should succeed as Mayor on Easter Monday 2020. This decision followed consultations around the Town by the Senior Past Mayor, was confirmed at the November Corporation Meeting and is much welcomed. Few have made such a telling contribution in recent years to the Town and many of its societies, as well as to the Church, the School and to the Corporation itself. He will also briefly assume the role of Speaker of the Cinque Ports before the role passes from Winchelsea to Rye in May.
It is with very considerable regret, given his significant role, not only in organising the mayoring succession, but also in so much more that the Corporation does, that we announce the retirement of Donald Cameron-Clarke as a Jurat as of 31 December this year. The experience that he has brought and the guidance he has offered over his 23 years as a Jurat will be irreplaceable. As well as being Mayor for the 2 years spanning the Millennium, his leading part in the creation of the Millennium Artefacts Committee, as Museum Treasurer, as a poppy appeal collector and as Beaconlighter-in-Chief has brought enormous benefit to the Town. We take this opportunity of thanking him for everything he has done for us, secure in the knowledge that he is not going away, so we can still call on him when necessary.
Considerable efforts have been made to find a Treasurer for the Corporation’s accounts, but these have, thus far, drawn a blank. If anyone has any ideas as to how this gap might be filled, or knows of a volunteer who might take it on, please let any member of the Corporation know. It would probably be helpful to have IT skills and to be able to manage a spreadsheet, but even this is not essential as the accounts are quite straightforward. In essence, the task covers the management of payments and receipts (about 150 transactions per year) preparing short statements for Corporation meetings (6 per year) and providing paperwork for independent examination annually, against an annual turnover of about £12,000.
TOWN SIGN AND OTHER WORKS
The contract has been let to G Goldfinch for the cleaning, repair and maintenance of the Town Sign and work started in mid-November. The sign itself and the ship will be restored by South East Conservation and the work should be fully complete by the end of February. The same conservators have also been commissioned to redo the Town Model in the Museum over the closed period and renovate the dedication plaque in the Lower Court Hall. The work on the New Gate has also been completed as planned.
The Conservation Officer has visited to discuss work on the Court Hall. This was a very helpful meeting, clearing the way towards obtaining the permissions for external maintenance to stonework and woodwork and we would hope to make a start with the High Street door. Inside, the East and West walls of the Museum will be repainted in January and a number of other small maintenance jobs undertaken.
The number of visitors this year was 1,500, some 400 less than last year, but the increased entry fee means that income did not go down. However, the footfall should be improved and the Curator is investigating a Kent scheme that encourages children, with their parents, to visit small local museums, exploring whether it can be extended to Eeat Sussex. Approaches have also been made to tour companies and plans for a programme of town walks, combining with other societies to integrate visitor activities is being considered. Over the winter, the Town Model will be refurbished at a cost of £350. Anne Haddock has offered to lend a model of the Town Sign for display in the Museum next season, for which we are very grateful. It will be appropriately displayed and, in addition, she will deposit with the Museum her archive relating to the important work to design and construct the Sign.
Unfortunately, Anthea has hurt her back and is likely to be under the supervision of physiotherapists for some time. Discussions have been held with local Post Office management regarding the future provision of this service in Winchelsea. At the time of writing, there was no obvious solution to hand, but they have stated an intention to restore some measure of service as soon as possible. This will be very inconvenient for many people and updates will be placed on the Court Hall notice board as and when new information is available. At least when it does reopen, Bank customers will still be able to use it to withdraw cash. Our retiring MP was contacted regarding the threat by Barclays to remove this option and her intervention, along with that of many others, has removed this threat.
The Cinque Ports adopted warship will complete its Gulf deployment early next year and is planned to visit Dover in March. The following update has been received from her Commanding Officer: “Kent has continued to accompany merchant vessels through the Strait of Hormuz and earlier in the month broke the 1 million tonne mark! Our total is currently sat at 1,544,286 tonnes and the Ship’s Company have now started a sweepstake ‘Guess the Tonnage’ to see what our total will be once our duties in the region are complete. Additionally Kent has spent time working with our Coalition Partners to provide an ‘overwatch’ for all merchant vessels in the area. By patrolling specific areas and making regular broadcasts to the merchant community over the radio we have been able to give reassurance and place ourselves in the right place should we be forced to react.’ The photograph shows Kent accompanying Stena Impero through the Straits of Hormuz.
John Rodley, Mayor of Winchelsea