Winchelsea Corporation Seal

A few words to keep you up to date with planning for Speaker’s Day, which will take place in Winchelsea on 5th October. It has now been confirmed that all the Cinque Ports Confederation towns, apart from one, will be represented and, in addition to Confederation Officers, the Lord Lieutenant, Lord Warden and High Sheriff will also be with us.

Broadly, the day falls into three parts. The first is the gathering and procession around the Town and the Guy Fawkes Society has kindly agreed to lead on marshalling this. It is also worth saying that the Museum will be closed on that day, as it and the Lower Court Hall will be used as a reception area. The second is the Church Service, which the Rector has well in hand. This will be a public service, at which everyone is welcome, but being seated early is recommended, as a numbers of pew seats will be allocated to our visitors. The third is the lunch, which will be held in two venues. The New Inn will set aside a room and provide lunch for visiting Mace Bearers, drivers and Cadets, while a lunch for 80 will be laid on in the New Hall.

Given the numbers that we expect to have to entertain, this must be a by invitation affair. Jurats will be invited to attend as hosts, along with some Freemen in a similar capacity. If there are cancellations, we will try and make the numbers up from a waiting list and apologies if this looks a bit messy.

It is hoped to commission work this month for vegetation clearance of the New Gate, which FOAM is being asked to fund. East Sussex Highways have agreed to cut back the surrounding trees, which will better enable access to the Gate. The much mentioned plaque is still to be fitted and discussions are now underway as to its preferred location. A visit from the Rother Conservation Officer has been requested to consider an initial tranche of works to the Court Hall. Contractors seem to be generally agreed that work on the Town Sign will commence in November, which will be funded by the Millennium Artefacts Committee.

Winchelsea New Gate

It is no surprise, but still a great credit to Steve Turner that Corporation’s Accounts for 2018/19 were approved by the accountants, showing the anticipated operating profit on the year of a little under £700. At its recent meeting, the Corporation decided to match its Financial Year to the Calendar Year in future, which means that the current Financial Year will finish on 31st December 2019. This will enable the accounts to be fully prepared by the time of Mayoring, thus enabling the outgoing Mayor to report on this vital aspect of business. Of course, we have to find a Treasurer, or at least someone willing and able to run the accounts. Several people in the Town, particularly Martin Owen are offering valuable advice for which the Corporation is hugely grateful, but if some financial skills and a little time to spare, please let us know.

It has seemed that the pace of Mayoral activity has eased somewhat this year. The early part of the years tends to be dominated by Mayoring ceremonies and Civic Services. Given the Mayoral changes mentioned last time, some drop in tempo might be expected. However, looking at the stats, up to the end of July, 38 invitations were received, which is only one less than last year; between them, the Mayor and Deputy have met 28 of these compared with 24 last year, so maybe we are both getting better at the job.

Recent high points have been the Walmer weekend, featuring a Confederation dinner on the Friday and a reception on the Castle terrace on the Saturday. This was all hosted by the Lord Warden and represents a wonderful opportunity to bring the Towns together in a most delightful setting. Ramsgate’s Civic Service, held in the Salvation Army Hall was multi faith and also featured a number of presentations to local heroes ranging from the local policeman to Miss Ramsgate, with a lot of charitable organisations in between. Closer to home, it was wonderful to be involved with the end of term presentations to the leavers from our school. And, in what may well be a first, the mayoral vehicle attracted a parking ticket during New Romney’s Civic Service. This was not only a bit of a surprise, it was also very sticky.

Lord Boyce with Town Clerk Lorna Challand and her daughter

It is very pleasing that after a gap of some 18 months, a new Mayor’s Cadet was appointed on 19th July. The Mayor, the Senior Past Mayor and Jurat Scott attended a parade at the Sea Cadet Unit and duly presented Rylan Carter with his badge and a certificate. In what is believed to be another first, Rylan is actually a Royal Marine Cadet and is, therefore incredibly smart and a rugby player. He goes to school in Ashford, has just completed his GCSEs and hopes to take technical subjects at A level. We should see him for the first time at Speaker’s Day.

Mayor’s Cadet Rylan Carter

For the first time in a number of years, it has been decided to hold a mid-year meeting on the Confederation Standing Joint Committee and this is planned to take place in Winchelsea on the afternoon of 20th November. The reason for this is that a number of good ideas come up in AOB at the May meeting, which are not properly discussed because no-one is prepared and the focus is on changing the Speakership and doing AGM-type things.

This meeting will therefore provide the opportunity to discuss items that were raised in May and these were appointments to the post of Joint Solicitor, location of Confederation Archives, membership of the Confederation and the Confederation’s response to the issue of climate change and reducing its carbon footprint. So, it should be a very interesting and worthwhile gathering.

John Rodley, Mayor of Winchelsea