Town Hall Talk - A storm in a bandstand

Published: 27 May 2021

Town Hall Talk - A storm in a bandstand 

With the Court ruling that Councils must now meet in public, we arranged to have our both our Annual Meeting and Parish Assembly in the recently re-furbished bandstand. The weather at the end of May in the last three years has been warm and balmy: just perfect for an outdoor gathering with views over the beautiful Swanage Bay.

What was not on the agenda was the pouring rain, blustery winds and waterlogged seats. The Officers ,Mayor and Deputy Mayor and relevant paperwork were arranged under the canopy, but the remainder of the Councillors were seated in the first-tier seating having first had their seats mopped up by a very helpful Seafront Adviser with a large roll of paper towel. We were also provided with waterproof clipboards by the farsighted staff.

The Parish Assembly was well attended despite the inclement weather – who says southerners are softies? The Mayor, resplendent in his regalia and bravely without a raincoat, awarded the Community awards held over from last year (do I have to mention the pandemic?) and recklessly ran up and down the steps to hand over the many trophies to well deserved recipients to avoid anyone having to approach the arena (social distancing). At least there was no suggestion of any hugging or kissing.

The rain held off although the black clouds lowered menacingly, and we were relieved to make it to the end of the first meeting with no more downpouring. And then a small break until we could start the full Annual Council Meeting . The interval was mainly filled with chat about the weather and once the meeting started with the election of the new Mayor, more eyes were on the skies than on the main feature. Heroically the mayoral chain was handed over to the new Mayor, Cllr Avril Harris, and the declaration signed. With so many tributes due to be paid to the outgoing Mayor Cllr Bonfield, it was a shame that more time could not be given, but the threatening black backdrop pushed on the need to complete the agenda. When I went up to sign my Declaration as Deputy Mayor my paper blew away and was auspiciously retrieved by the Town Clerk. I am sure that this is not the first time he will need to rescue me.

With the rain now blowing into our amphitheatre, we hurried through the list of items rapidly agreeing to appoint committees and working parties, representatives, and a plethora of minutes, accounts and reports. What a good job we are such a united Council, and all had been gone through at a briefing meeting. Swanage council Officers deserve a special award for preparation and planning.

The rain was now torrential and the wind gusting and swirling around the sunken area making the event more like a gladiator’s arena with umbrellas wielded like weapons and the public succumbing to the losing battle of the weather. We made it to the end of proceedings with no loss of paperwork, life, or dignity.

Swanage Town Council emerged wet but undefeated from the battle with the elements, covid restrictions and bureaucracy. And now we can get on with the job we are elected to do as a united indomitable group.