AGM of the Association of Charter Trustee Towns – 16th June, 2017



Minutes of the 42nd Annual General Meeting held at

The Mayor’s Parlour, Guildhall, St. Peter’s Hill, Grantham, Lincs

on Friday 16th June 2017 at 11am.

Welcome by the Mayor of Grantham Cllr. Mike Cook who thanked all for attending

Present were – Cllr. Jim Anderson (East Retford) Chair

Cllr. Mike Cook, Mayor of Grantham

Cllr. Helen Richards, Mayor of Retford

Cllr. Linda Coutts, Deputy Mayor of Grantham

Cllr. Alan Chambers, East Retford

Cllr. Tim Ball, Bath

Cllr. Fliss Cunningham, Grantham

Cllr. Ian Selby, Grantham

Cllr. Frank Turner, Grantham

Cllr. Linda Wootten, Grantham

2. Apologies

Charles Talbot

Keith Bannister

3. The Minutes of the 41st AGM held at East Retford Notts on 10.06.17 were received and agreed.

4a. The Audited Accounts for the year ended 31st March 2017 were received and agreed. Balance of £529.57

Mayor of Grantham asked as to when the subscriptions were due.

Chair replied subscriptions are due following the AGM. If we agree that we ask for subscriptions this year the secretary will write to each Charter Trustee and ask for their subscriptions.

4b. Set subscription amount as £150 as the balance is low. Suggested set at £150 as the books will balance at this amount. Money is received from 11 Charter Trustees , however there are more, 17 or 18 towns could choose to have Charter Trustees.

Subscription set at £150 per member per year – agreed.

Discussion regarding how many Charter Trustees there were, whether they join or not and what is and how Honoraria is paid – Secretary and Treasurer receive Honoraria.

Chair will endeavour to report to all as to how much Honoraria is per person

6. Election of Officers

Chairman               Cllr. Jim Anderson, East Retford.

Vice- Chairman       Cllr Alan Chambers, East Retford.

Vice- Presidents      Mr Phillip Barnett, Newbury and Mrs Kate Gray, Beverley.

Vote taken on Mr Charles Talbot and Mr Keith Bannister becoming Vice – Presidents which was agreed.

Nominations for Honorary Secretary – none

Nominations for Honorary Treasurer – none

Nominations for Auditor – none

There has to be a Secretary, Treasurer and Auditor

7. Date and Venue for the Annual General Meeting 2018.

Proposal to move the AGM to September, October – agreed.

Proposal for the AGM at Bath in late September, early October – agreed.

8. Any Other Business


Meeting Closed at 11.32am

Charter Trustees Audit Meeting – 12th June, 2017

Minutes of the Grantham Charter Trustees Audit Meeting held on Monday 12th June 2017 at 11am in the Parlour.

Members present

Cllr Mike Cook

Cllr Adam Stokes

Cllr Lynda Coutts

Cllr Linda Wootten

Cllr Ray Wootten


Cllr Niki Manterfield

Cllr Jacky Smith

Cllr Ian Selby


Figures for the Audit were discussed.

Ray Wootten asked if the excess could be put into the reserves and an amount ring fenced for the purchase of a vehicle in future years. This was agreed

Adam Stokes proposed that the figures were correct and could be sent to Grant Thornton, seconded by Ray Wootten.

Voted unanimously.

Meeting closed.

Charter Trustees Meeting – 25th May, 2017


Meeting Thursday, 25th May 2017 (Mayor Making Ceremony)

1. Members present         Councillor     Linda Wootten, Chairman

“                  Mike Cook

“                   Lynda Coutts

“                   Felicity Cunningham

“                   Charmaine Morgan

“                   Ian Selby

“                   Adam Stokes

“                   Frank Turner

“                   Ray Wootten

The following official guests also attended:

The proceedings commenced with a Blessing from the Reverend David Shenton

1. To elect the new Town Mayor

The Chairman went through the formality of asking for nominations for the post of Mayor. Cllr. RW proposed Cllr. Mike Cook; the proposal was seconded by Cllr. IS.

There were no other nominations and the Charter Trustees unanimously agreed with the nomination of Cllr. Cook.

Then followed Cllr. nomination speech:

Following tradition the newly appointed Mayor was dragged from the Chamber by Cllr. assisted by Cllr. the Robing Room amongst much hilarity from the guests.

The Chairman then told the story to the assembled guests of why the new Mayor is reluctantly dragged to the Robing Room. Cllr. Wootten also spoke about the Seal dating from the reign of Queen Elizabeth I

2. The New Town Mayor continued with the agenda

After returning to the Chamber and being presented with the Chain of Office & Grantham Seal by the Chairman the new Mayor gave a speech:

The next item on the Agenda is for a vote of thanks for our retiring Mayor who has worked tirelessly over the last year.

Cllr.Wootten gave a vote of thanks to the retiring Mayor. Seconded by Cllr.

3. Retiring Mayor’s Reply

Cllr. Wootten gave her retiring speech stating it had been a pleasure and great honour to serve as Mayor of Grantham.

4. Presentation of Past Mayor’s Badges

Cllr. Mike Cook presented the ‘Past Mayor’s’ badge to the retiring Mayor. Flowers were also presented.

5.  New Deputy Town Mayor

Cllr. Linda Wootten asked for nominations for the post of Deputy Mayor.

Cllr. Ray Wooten congratulated the new Mayor on her appointment and nominated Cllr. Mike Cook as the new Deputy Mayor. This was seconded by Cllr. Ian Selby

There were no other nominations.

Cllr. Mike Cook will be the new Deputy Mayor & was presented with his badge of office by the new Mayor.

Cllr. Wootten said that they would work together to uphold the office of Mayor in the coming year.

6. Deputy Town Mayor’s thanks

Cllr. Linda Wootten then presented Cllr. Ray Wootten with his Consort’s badge.

7. Introduction of new Cadets

Cllr. Wootten presented her new Cadets with their medallions.

Police Cadet, Poppy Thorpe

CCF Cadet, Aaron Trevor

47F Cadet, Warrant Francesca Morley

The minutes of the meeting for the last AGM on Thursday, 28th May 2015 were approved. Proposed by Cllr. Adam Stokes and seconded by Cllr. Ray Wootten.

8. Date of next AGM/Mayor Making Ceremony

Thursday, 31st May 2018

10. End of Meeting

Cllr. Cook thanked all for attending and invited everyone over to Grantham Museum for a buffet.

The meeting closed at 7.35pm

Charter Trustees Meeting – 17th January, 2017

Minutes of the Budget Meeting held Tuesday 17th January 2017 at 7pm in The Mayor’s Parlour.

Members Present

Councillor     Linda Wootten Chairman  LW

“               Adam Stokes  AS

“               Fliss Cunningham  FC

“               Nikki Manterfield  NM

“               Frank Turner  FT

“               Charmaine Morgan  CM

“               Lynda Coutts  LC

“               Jacky Smith  JS

“               Mike Cook  MC

“               Ray Wootten  RW

“               Graham Jeal  GJ

Members of the Public

Mike Taylor

Graham Newton – Grantham Journal

1.Mayor’s Welcome

I am now 8 months into my year in Office and the civic year goes quickly, especially when you are very busy, although I do believe there are not so many civic engagements as there has been in the past due to austerity perhaps. My year has been a challenge; we have a new clerk in the office, Dawn who had two weeks in post training with the outgoing clerk who had been here many years. However Dawn and I have kept things going. Thank you, Dawn.

In the summer months, Peter the Mayor’s Officer left, the relief driver wasn’t available which meant Ray had to drive to events. I have also driven myself locally at no cost and walked to local events.

Andy Thompson has been taken on as the new Mayor’s Officer/ Chauffeur, at his own request has worked on an as and when basis, which suits him and our business.

I see the Mayor’s role as an honour and privilege; the role is more important than the person. I have enjoyed meeting local people and businesses, doing the best for the town.

I have assisted in running the office as I am aware that it is public money which is used and I have managed the budget. As Mayor I am the Chair of the Charter Trustees and we are given a precept which we should account for every penny. I believe every Mayor should be personally responsible for staying within their own budget and that we as Charter trustees should scrutinise more.

Having the free loan of a car from Kia is a great saving for the office and I can’t thank Kia enough.

As Mayor I have recently been under attack from hunt saboteurs, trying to pressure me into not greeting the Belvoir Hunt. This office does not invite the hunt, The Mayor is asked to greet The Hunt which meets outside the Guildhall, a long standing tradition. I believe the Deputy Mayor is putting it out for consultation this year. Thank you.

2. Apologies

Cllr Ian Selby

Cllr Dean Ward

Cllr Helen Goral

Cllr Tracey Forman

3. Minutes of the Last Meeting

Alteration item 8 – JS

‘We had it for one year with an option to renew’

First page should say AGM – CM

True record of the meeting proposed by RW

Seconded by AS

4. Matters Arising

Comments in Minutes regarding Regalia, Mayor’s Chain, robes – MC

Mayor’s robes do not need dry cleaning, they were only bought 5 years ago – LW

5. Appointment of Mayor for 2017/18

Cllr Mike Cook – proposed by RW seconded by FT

Voted unanimously. Congratulations

6. Appointment of Deputy Mayor for 2017/18

Cllr Lynda Coutts – proposed by JS seconded MC

Voted unanimously. Congratulations

7. Financial Matters

Thanks to Adam Stokes and Graham Jeal.

Current Account balance is £22,660.00

Savings Account balance is £7,700.00

GJ expenditure is about 35% down on previous two years, there was a double digit increase in the precept last year, has the budget been exceptionally managed, fewer events this year?

JS Car MC agreed

AS Salaries as well

GJ Do we need to keep the budget the same as last year? Pay credit to you for keeping the budget smart.

LW It is a question of managing the budget and the office, it was a challenge. The Mayor’s Officer left and we recruited Dawn, the Clerk, on 20 hours and flexible time. The Summer months were quiet and we used a Relief Driver or Ray drove. We now have a new Officer who does not want to be in the office all the time, which I personally think suits the business. The car is an excellent deal, thanks to Jacky, Peter and Kia, this saves us money. It is public money after all and all events should be looked at, which is what I do.

GJ We are going to spend £15000 under budget, which is using the money smarter.

CM There are a few former Mayors here, I think you have done very well however there are different circumstances so comparisons shouldn’t be made. It is good regarding the car however those who can’t drive or don’t have partners to drive them need a car.

Can clarity be given over the opening of the Parlour as there were concerns that it wasn’t open. Has this been resolved?

LW The office usually opens May to October with members of the public wanting to look at the regalia etc

RW When Mike Green was here he opened the Parlour between May and October

CM When Jacky and Ian were in office the Parlour was opened all year.

LW It wasn’t when Ray was in Office.

MC This is the first I have heard of this

RW There is nothing to stop the Parlour being opened as the staff are here

DZ I am unable to work in the office and look after visitors in the Parlour, regarding security

CM How often are you alone in the week. We have historically had two Officers.

RW That is untrue as years ago we have had only Ann in the office until a Mayor’s Officer was appointed, in your year Frank.

FT Peter would often open the door and speak knowledgably to visitors.

CM I am picking this up as I am very interested in the Cultural History and the accessibility of the Mayor’s Office.

FT The driver is only coming in on a pro rata basis whereas previously the driver came in regularly and imparted his knowledge to visitors, complementing the Town.

JS I attended events to promote Grantham as a Town and as a place to work and for leisure.

GJ I would like to pick up on something Charmaine said I think it is impossible to compare mayors like for like, we do face challenges now as the precept is going down 20%.

CM In the current climate we have to be careful, when we talked about the chain so we need to understand how much we need for a rainy day and cutting our cloth accordingly.

MC What we need to be careful of is putting things in place which will be of detriment to future Mayors. With regards reserves we were badly advised a few years ago about what we could and could not do with the surplus from the Precept – we had to hand it back to SKDC rather than holding it in reserves. Money held in reserve can be used for specific items like a car. All good things come to an end and if Kia sell the car and there isn’t a replacement then we will have money in the reserves.

RW Surplus at the end of the year should be ring fenced for a car; money for the budget should be reduced.

JS I understand that we will be losing a grant of over £5000 that we already have which we will be losing from the Precept over the next few years.

GJ Paragraph two in the letter stating we will be given less each year – 20% which will continue.

8. Precept for 2017/18

Handed out and explained by Adam Stokes

Start with Salaries, previous years we have precepted at £28000, this year we are coming in at about £17000 so £20000 gives us a bit of a buffer.

Quick resume on headings. This budget can work, it is a good starting point it is not fixed in stone but I think we can reduce this to £39450 from £55000.

RW Are there any reserves ring fenced for the future buying of a car?

LW It was spoken about last year but it wasn’t ring fenced and it has sat there.

CM There is a significant drop in the Hospitality Budget

AS There is always a problem with Hospitality as the Mayoral year is different to the Financial Year. Money is always spent in the last two months by the outgoing Mayor

RW How much is left at the end of the year April 6th ?

GJ Very crudely rounded up £10000 – £12000 under spend, maybe more

AS I would say approximately £9500- £10000

LW Comment on Charmaines question on Hospitality – I had an event fish and chip supper. Every penny which was paid out was put back in, only the profit was put in to the Charity account. If we host someone my understanding is this is hospitality

CM For example if the Blind Society are invited into the Parlour there is no charge, which is true hospitality. Then there is the raising money for a Charity where we do charge.

LW Correct

Discussion re events and people being charged by the Police to assist with them and whether some money from the Hospitality budget could be used for this e.g. Remembrance Day, Bikers Run. Cost of thousands to run an event or train Marshalls. This was discussed at the last meeting.

MC I intend to open the Parlour more, to invite local communities into the Parlour so hospitality needs to be increased to help cover that. The town is becoming more multi-cultural and I want to go out and get groups to talk and integrate with each other. I believe there should be a Charity account, where the money is used to hold an event, this should not come out of the Hospitality account.

The Salary account should be increased as people will be working above their normal hours to help out at events. It looks a little tight. There is no flexibility at all

LW That is about managing the office

FT You are going to have an increase in Salaries if you intend to open the Parlour, you will need an extra £1000 on that if the Mayor’s Officer is coming in to open the Parlour.

CM Agreed

RW Would like to move the Salaries to £22000 and the Hospitality to up to £3000 on Adam’s predictions

FT There is a considerable reduction on last year’s precept and we should look and see if another £500 would help Mike

GJ With the insurance going up in the last few years I would say the Insurance budget is too tight so would say it should go up to £3300

JS Propose Hospitality should go up to £3500

Short discussion on previous Mayor’s overspending on Hospitality, year on year.

AS Don’t propose there will be a big overspend this year, there will be some.

Budget discussed for Salaries

AS Happy to propose £22000

Discussion regarding what the incoming Mayor would like, SKDC pay rise for employees or no pay rise.  30% increase in this years salary.

JS I would like another £5000 put into reserves if there is a surplus

RW I have said we can put some of the under spent money this year into reserves

Discussion on reserves and surplus.

MC I would suggest we call a special meeting in June when we know the figure so we can transfer money into the Reserve account.

MC Propose a Salaries budget of £23000 and Hospitality of £4000

JS Propose we keep the Precept as it is

Discussion on previous Precepts.

LW Salaries – 2 proposals £22000 and £23000

RW I am happy to drop my proposal and support Mike with £23000

LW Voted unanimously £23000

Hospitality £3000 and £4000

RW proposer for £3000 AS seconded

Carried £3000

JS I would like my vote against recorded together with MC and CM

LW Mayoral Car

RW proposer £2000 AS seconded

Discussion regarding price of fuel and Insurance

MC proposed £2500 RW seconder

LW carried

Public Liability

GJ proposed £3300 AS seconded

LW carried

Telephone and Broadband

Discussion regarding BT, fibre broadband and fixed deals.

MC proposed £900 CM seconded

AS proposed £750 RW seconded

LW carried


AS proposed £1000 RW seconded

Discussion re using email, new photocopier and Christmas cards.

LW carried 1 against JS

Mayor and Deputy Allowance

AS proposed £2400 RW seconded Mayor’s allowance and £1000 Deputy Mayor’s allowance

MC proposed Deputy Mayor £1200 FT seconded

Discussion on engagements Deputy Mayor attends during the year and how the money is spent. To be reviewed positively every year.

LW carried


RW proposed £350 AS seconded

LW carried

Audit Fee

AS proposed £500 RW seconded

LW unanimous


AS proposed £500 RW seconded

Discussion on robes, badges, medals.

LW unanimous

Association of Charter Trustees

Discussion regarding the pros and cons.

AS proposed £150 LW seconded

LW unanimous


AS proposed £5700 LW seconded

LW unanimous


RW proposed £500 AS seconded

MC proposed £750 JS seconded

Discussion regarding increasing and no increase of the Sundries budget

LW carried for £500

AS Precept is £44850 from £55600 last year

Jacky Smith left the meeting for another engagement

9. Any other Business

. Belvoir Hunt

RW comment in the paper regarding the Boxing Day Belvoir Hunt Meeting outside The Guildhall, as Charter Trustees we are there to meet and greet the Hunt, The Mayor or Deputy Mayor or former Mayor should go out to welcome them.

RW proposed that someone from the office will greet the Hunt MC seconded

Discussion regarding the legality of hunting, membership of the Belvoir Hunt, abusive emails sent to the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, Town v Country issue, and readership of The Journal

LW unanimous

. Town Council

CM issue came up at a District Council Meeting as to whether Grantham should have a Town Council; I am in favour of going for a petition, which I believe would be well received at this time

Discussion regarding Town Councils and the Local Plan

.Employees Contracts. Clerk asked to leave the meeting.

Precept Total £44,850 including the Council Tax Support Grant.

The Meeting closed at 9pm.

#SKSummit 18 – Your name’s not down, you’re not comin’ in!

Regular readers might be wondering why, until now, I haven’t written a blog about the ‘One Year On’ SKDC economic summit held on 11th October 2018. The cost of this event for the proverbial ‘great and the good’ of the business community was £14,736 so I reckon it is worthy of some scrutiny. The reason for the delay in reporting this momentous event is due to my trying to establish the facts surrounding the event.

I registered to attend the event via a publicly accessible website on 24th September and was please to receive a booking confirmation by e-mail. Sadly, at 5.11pm on the day before the event I received an e-mail from the SKDC Chief Executive telling me that my booking had been rescinded.

“With limited capacity, we have had to be stricter this year than last regarding the number of representatives from each organisation and the balance between elected members and businesses.

Rather than feel insulted, I took comfort in the knowledge that other registered participants had also been banned and I later heard that the acting Mayor of Stamford and her consort (both Conservative District Councillors) had arrived at the event and were initially refused admission because they weren’t ‘on the list’. After some kerfuffle it was agreed they could attend but they decided not to bother.

It must have been a bit of a disappointment for the Mayor because the jewel in the crown of the keynote speech was the announcement that SKDC has agreed to purchase the site of the former Cummins Engineering site in Stamford for mixed-use development. Personally, I welcome the purchase and agree with the Council Leader, Cllr Matthew Lee that it makes sense for SKDC to lead economic development where it is able. It certainly sends a better message of confidence in the SK local economy as than investing in property outside the District as happened last year.

There is a lot more to say about the content of Cllr Lee’s speech which was expected to include feedback on progress on promises made during last year’s event at Stoke Rochford as well as some exciting news about new initiatives.  I hope to comment on the content of the speech in more detail in another blog during the next couple of weeks.

Curious to find out which Councillors did attend, I submitted a Freedom of Information (FoI) request after the event. The first response stated that six Councillors attended (all Cabinet Members). I queried the accuracy of the response attaching a still photo from an SKDC video of the event which clearly showed four other Councillors not mentioned in the FoI response. A clarification was received acknowledging the mistake and explaining one of the Councillors in the photo was invited as a representative of his business, a second as a representative of her estate, the third as a representative of the County Council while the fourth was an SKDC cabinet member who hadn’t signed in so the organisers had no record that he had turned up. Consequently,we established that there were actually 10 Councillors at the event (plus the two from Stamford that decided not to stay). Needlessly to say, no opposition Councillors were allowed to attend.

I also queried a part of the FoI response concerning who else had been present at the event. At one point it was explained that some people ‘attended’ the event but were not ‘in attendance’ at the event (Work that out!?). These included: the event organisers; some Council staff; as well as the Council’s controversial Head of Communications whose rolling consultancy contract costing over £10,000/month came to an end the following day.

The original aim of my FoI was to see if SKDC would tell me the names and organisations of everyone at the summit. This request was denied “due to data protection laws prohibiting the supply of the full list of attendees”. That came as no surprise and didn’t upset me too much as I had already seen a copy the list which, despite data protection laws, had been issued to every delegate.

The speakers at #SKSummit18 included: Grantham and Stamford MP, Nick Boles (Conservative), candidate for Young Councillor of the Year 2018, Cllr Kelham Cooke (Conservative) and Leader of SKDC, Cllr Matthew Lee (Conservative). Anyone hoping to hear a range of perspectives broader than that shared by loyal local Conservatives would have been disappointed.

During an e-mail discussion regarding the reasons why I, and others, were effectively banned from the event, the SKDC Chief Exec stated:

“Councillor Lee is obviously very conscious of the fact that we are unable to invite all members; indeed, it would be inappropriate to imbalance the event by doing so, which is why he intends to speak to the council about the event.”

The agenda for Full Council yesterday contained no mention of the Economic Summit. Last Monday’s Councillor briefing (almost always held on the same night as the Conservative Group meeting to allow Tories to claim the attendance mileage expenses) was not about the Economic Summit but instead concerned the role of the Council’s ‘Armed Forces Officer’. Therefore, at Full Council, I asked Cllr Lee when he intended to formally address elected Members about the event. In response he did not answer the question directly but instead complained that the only cynicism he had heard about the event was from certain Councillors (and I think he even narrowed it down to yours’ truly, I’ll have to check the tape).

Later in the meeting, there was a debate about whether major planning applications, e.g. a 49m high, 24,000sqm cold storage unit, should be considered by the Development Management Committee or just be approved at the Chairman’s discretion. This gave me the opportunity to respond to Cllr Lee by saying “If you don’t want people, including me, to be cynical, you stop giving us reasons to be cynical”. Until that happens I will carry on asking the questions that the Conservative Councillors are afraid to ask.

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Report to Market Deeping Town and West Deeping Parish Councils – November 2018

Before I say anything else, I wish congratulations to Sarah Lydford on her appointment as Market Deeping Town Clerk. I’m sure she will do a grand job.

I have attended threeformal meetings during the last month.

Development Management Committee, 16/10/2018

The agenda of the October planning committee included: a retrospective application for a gazebo in Uffington (Permission refused); creation of a autograss race-track in Hougham (Decision deferred); and the building of six dwellings on the site of the former Salvation Army Hall in Stamford (Permission granted).

Development Management Committee, 13/11/2018 Continue reading

The case for retaining Sunday trading laws @the_tpa

keep sunday special 11825723_10153456694217279_233065465215324923_nThe self-proclaimed ‘Tax-Payers Alliance’ published a blog last week by Charles Amos calling for the UK’s remaining Sunday trading laws to be abolished. This is not surprising from the right-leaning think-tank who appear to wish to abolish most laws.

The TPA was originally established to “speak for ordinary taxpayers fed up with government waste, increasing taxation, and a lack of transparency in all levels of government”. Regardless of whether you agrees with this sentiment, you have to admit that calling for the abolition of Sunday Trading laws is going a little off-topic. Sunday trading might prompt emotions about organised religion or access to supermarkets but it has little to do with public sector, wasteful or not. Nevertheless, Amos’s article is one-sided, myopic and, imho, wrong.

In the ‘good old days’ of the 50s, 60s and 70s lots of people thought Sundays were boring. The law did not allow large shops to open but smaller shops, e.g. corner shops and petrol stations remained open to allow people to buy newspapers, perishables and petrol. In terms of shopping, everyone knew that Sunday was ‘special’ so they did their proper shopping at other times of the week. Of course, these were also the days of street-markets, early closing days and before ATM cashpoints, let alone the internet.

Back in the early 1990s, the Keep Sunday Special campaign launched alternative proposals for liberalising Sunday trading which were designed to meet consumers’ needs without creating a free-for-all. These were called the REST proposals which was an acronym which stood, if I remember correctly for: Recreation, Entertainment, Sport and Transport (this was 30 years ago, feel free to jog my memory and I’ll edit accordingly). The REST proposals would have allowed certain stores such as DIY shops, garden centres, car dealerships and cycle shops while maintaining the rule on supermarkets – Remember these were the days before supermarkets sold absolutely everything! Sadly, the Government caved into the supermarket lobbyists and allowed six hours of trading on Sundays which was effectively game over for many of the opponents at that time.

I remember being involved in the ‘Keep Sunday Special’ campaign during the emotive public discourse before the introduction of the Sunday Trading Act 1994. I might have even written to my then MP, Henry Bellingham, about the issue. The churches and the trade unions were both four-square against Sunday trading for good reasons which are just as valid now as they were then.

Sunday trading undermines family cohesion. In a traditional (or nuclear) family, if both parents work and either of them have to work on a Sunday then it is difficult for that family to have any time together to bond and stay in touch with each others needs. The same is true for couples and the same is even more true for single-parent households. If a single-parent with school-aged children has to work both days of the weekend then they have no ‘quality time’ with their offspring and will only see them both parent and child are worn out from the working day.

Sunday trading undermines workers’ rights. It is still illegal to force retail employees to work on a Sunday but it is relatively easy to find ways to justify ‘letting someone go’ if they decide they no longer wish to work on Sunday for religious or family reason. I know several people who have been refused work in call centres because they would not commit to Sunday working; this was not the reason given but it was undoubtedly the reason. trading undermines communities. During the decade of debate before the 1994 legislation much of this argument centred around faith communities. The Christian churches were pretty much united in defending the Fourth Commandment (See Exodus 20). Nowadays, far fewer people attend Church of England Sunday morning services, partly perhaps because it is more difficult to attend as a family, let alone have a traditional Sunday roast at home afterwards. However, Sunday provides communities with the opportunity to play sport and take part in other activities all together at the same time. The rugby club in Deeping St James is very busy on a Sunday morning with kids and their parents participating in competitive sport. If more people are forced to work more hours on a Sunday then it will be more difficult for people to make fixtures and our kids will be less healthy and competitive and our communities much weaker as a result. Cycling clubs also meet on Sunday mornings because the roads are much quieter because far fewer people commute to work.

Corner shop, Cycle Street, LentonSunday trading undermines small businesses which, alongside manufacturing, are supposedly the engine of our economy. In the mid-90s I lived in Forest Fields in Nottingham and I remember asking the owner of our local corner shop if his trade had been affected by the liberalisation of Sunday trading laws. He replied to say that his turnover had plummeted on Sundays from about £700 to barely £200. In subsequent years many corner shops like his collapsed due to the availability of cheap booze, cheap milk, cheap everything from supermarkets. Sunday trading was supposed to make more convenient but in reality it made buying a pint of milk much harder, especially if you didn’t have the luxury of a car. Increased Sunday opening also has a negative effect on other small businesses e.g. if you are a self-employed barber or beauty salon it is difficult to stay open seven days a week. The same goes for small suppliers of supermarkets who may be required by their retail customers either to provide goods and services during all store opening hours or conversely be available at ever more awkward hours when the store is closed.

I acknowledge that there are a lot of factors at work in undermining the fabric of our society. Family breakdown is not only caused by parents working on a Sunday. Small Businesses are not only closing because of competition from supermarkets. Playing rugby is not a panacea for childhood obesity. However, Sunday trading doesn’t help and allowing unfettered Sunday opening will only make matters worse. Allowing big shops to open for longer on a Sunday will not miraculously create more money to spend in those shops, it will only divert money away from alternative providers who do not have the resources to open their doors 24:7. At the same time it will generate more noise and traffic. Incidentally, people living in many secular states in continental Europe seem to cope with their shops being Sunday. What is about we British that renders us incapable of remembering to buy bread and milk on a Saturday?

There are obviously religious arguments why Christians in particular are opposed in principle to Sunday trading and “mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs” is purportedly a fundamental British value. It is my opinion that when everything becomes the same then nothing is special. This is true of Sunday as much as anything else.

Keep sunday special 12631339_10153794514087279_8075191882381855735_n

Disclaimer: Over the last thirty years, like most other people, I have got used to the shops being open for six hours on a Sunday. If you happen to spot me in Tesco on a Sunday afternoon, please don’t shout “Hypocrite” from across the store!



Market Deeping Remembers – 1918-2018 Exhibition – @StGsCofE this Sunday.

The exhibition and some of our visitors

Some of the hundreds of visitors to the 2014 exhibition (Photo borrowed from Deepings Heritage)

This Sunday, 11th November 2018, St Guthlac’s Church in Market Deeping is hosting a reprise of the ‘Deepings Remembers’ exhibition.

I am pleased to report that Deepings Heritage (and no doubt others) have facilitated another opportunity to see the Market Deeping posters, dossiers and photographs of those who served in the war.  They were all prepared by the Deepings Remember 1914-18 Group as part of an exhibition in the Community Centre in November 2014. Other items connected with the war, and especially the Armistice and eventual peace, will be on display.

The exhibition was first presented to commemorate the centenery of the outbreak of war in 1914. The organising committee composed volunteers from across the Deepings. Four years ago,  it was fêted by thousands of visitors including one dignatory who rightly claimed the Deepings display was ‘worthy of a city!’

New exhibits include:

  • Information about the 21 men who served, whose names were found in recently discovered Parish Magazines.  You might be related to them as is one recently located local family.
  • Letters from Rector, Canon Ashby written while he served in the trenches – including one written to the children of the Sunday school, featuring “Whiz Bang” the kitten.

The organisers hope you will join in remembering the men and women who served – those who survived and those who never returned to their families and to our community.

(This article has been adapted from a post from the Deepings Heritage WordPress site)