NALC encourages local councils to start preparations for the Coronation
The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) held an informal National Assembly on 17 January 2023 to discuss the upcoming Coronation of His Majesty The King. The meeting was open to local (parish and town) councils and was well attended, with roughly 100 people joining the discussion.
The Coronation of His Majesty The King will take place on 6 May 2023, and 8 May 2023 has been declared a bank holiday. Pageant Master Bruno Peek introduced the session by setting out the crucial role local councils have in making national celebrations, like the Coronation, work on the ground. He also thanked councils for supporting last year's Platinum Jubilee events. He stated it was unlikely that there would be a lighting of the beacons for the Coronation, although Buckingham Palace has officially confirmed nothing. He also indicated that it was his understanding that Buckingham Palace would be issuing guidance over the next few weeks. Still, there is no official timetable for when guidance will be issued.
The two outcomes from the meeting (watch the meeting) were, firstly, for NALC to request information from Buckingham Palace to support local councils’ planning for activity over the Coronation weekend. And secondly, to summarise the advice and experiences that might help local councils in planning for activities.
Don’t wait for official information to start planning – Attendees from local councils at the meeting expressed a desire for more information about the day's timings and other related national activities. But we do not know when this information will become available, and there is a range of decisions and discussions that local councils can undertake to make sure they are prepared.
Discuss at a council meeting – If you have not already discussed at a council meeting about activities over the coronation weekend, then schedule that as soon as possible. You may wish to consider the following:
- Which day to organise celebrations – some councils were planning screenings on the day of the Coronation, others were looking at family-focused activities on the bank holiday Monday, and others were looking at various celebrations across the whole weekend.
- What sorts of activities to organise – examples from local councils in the meeting included a live screening of the Coronation, putting up bunting or other decorations, picnics in the park, street parties, seed bombs for young people to plant, and much more.
- What budget is to be put aside?
- Roles and responsibilities – who will be responsible for planning and activities, and which committee (or full council) will oversee the activity?
Engage early with other local groups – You may have volunteers who support local events, youth groups, and schools you would like to participate in celebrations. You may wish to think about targeting local grants towards Coronation-related activities. All these things take time, and early communication will help you work with partners and local people more effectively
Managing resources and capacity – While you should be considering what budget the council can put towards activities over the coronation weekend, the council must also consider the capacity of staff and volunteers to deliver on those plans, particularly councils that may also have elections in the same week.
Get in touch with your principal councils – From temporary event notices to approving road closures to permission to hang bunting from street lights, a wide range of decisions that will affect your plans are the responsibility of principal authorities and early contact with them to discuss your plans is advisable. Your county association will also be in contact with principal councils. It will be able to advise you on how best to engage with them on these matters, as well as related to other matters relating to celebrating the coronation.
Council activity and publicity in the pre-election period – If your council also has elections in May, then you will need to be aware of the rules around council activity and publicity in the pre-election period. The Local Government Association provides guidance on the pre-election period, which is due to be updated this year. Once that is updated, we will communicate that to county associations and member councils so you can have the most up-to-date information.
Your county association continues to be your key point of contact for advice and guidance, and they will be able to support member councils on these issues.
Several councils in the meeting shared their plans for the Coronation weekend, see below:
- Corfe Castle Parish Council has set up a working group to organise a celebration event for The King’s Coronation. A meeting is being advertised in the monthly Parish News (and on its website and Facebook page) in the hope that other village groups (such as Festivities, Aquarius, and Crazy 4 Corfe) will wish to work together on organising an event. The main idea is to have one event, possibly a BBQ or picnic, with a local band playing easy-listening music on 8 May 2023. The National Trust has already offered the use of the Castle. In addition, if anything is nationally mentioned about beacon lighting, the council will join in.
- Stoke Ferry Parish Council hold an annual summer fayre, and they will move that to the Coronation weekend (7 May 2023). They will have a BBQ, band and various other activities for kids. As they already run an annual fayre, it won't take much to book the usual stalls, although they may add some specific activities such as the "make your own crown" nearer to the time. If there is a beacon lighting, they will participate as they have a permanent beacon.
- Colwich Parish Council is holding a second village fete with stalls, food, and children's entertainment with live music throughout the evening. They spent £500 last year on a reusable permanent beacon that will last for years. The Platinum Fete was so well received that they had planned to repeat it alternate years, but it has become an annual event.
- Dawlish Town Council is having three days of celebrations. Saturday large screen for showing the Coronation, a film in the evening, Sunday community lunch, marquee, entertainment, quiz, Sunday Entertainment and the street market ended with a singalong community.
- Aldworth Parish Council is showing the Coronation on Saturday on the big screen in the Village Hall, with the bunting out and tables set for a bring-your-own picnic/lunch/snack, depending on the timings. They also hope to serve Pimms. They are doing a whole village photo on Monday on the recreation ground.
- Cranleigh Parish Council is working with community organisations to celebrate the high street on 7 May 2023. There will be a craft fair, hog roast, ice creams, children’s roundabouts, youth music band, local band and choir. The Scouts and Guides are making red, white and blue craft decorations for the high street.