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Westbury begins plans for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations

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TOWN councillors have discussed how Westbury should mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee (due to be held in June next year). Just weeks before the event, the town will showcase its first Soapbox Derby, planned to attract visitors from a wide area and which has been rescheduled due to the pandemic. At a meeting of the town council’s Policy and Resources (P&R) committee last week, councillors considered how much money should be allocated for the Jubilee celebrations. 

Councillors considered the cost of celebrating the Queen’s 70-year reign on 5th June 2022 with the lighting of a beacon (which could cost up to £3,000), firing a cannon from the foot of the White Horse escarpment and an additional £2,000 for a large event in the centre of town. They also considered whether more money should be put aside for a larger event. 

At the meeting, cllr Jane Russ said, “The Soapbox must be the main event. If doing something big for the jubilee puts that at risk, then I say let’s just leave it at lighting the beacon. 

However, cllr Sheila Kimmins gave a passionate plea for the town council to do more to celebrate the Queen’s reign saying, “Our Queen has been the longest serving monarch in history and therefore we need to do something, we have to mark it with something. And just lighting the beacon and firing a gun is not sufficient and I think we’ve got to look at the reputation of this town because although there are those that feel we shouldn’t have a monarchy, we have got one – one that has served this country for 70 years and therefore something needs to be done. We have to be seen as doing something or we risk bringing the reputation of the council into some disrepute.” 

Cllr Mike Sutton agreed that the Jubilee should be marked, but was concerned about the cost when people are struggling. He said, “I think it would be detrimental to the town if we did nothing. My personal view is that the costs have to be kept down – I mean we are talking about one of the richest people in the world that cannot afford to fund this themselves. We will have to wait and see what the government do about beacons and cannons because I’m not sure it should fall on individual residents of what is still quite an impoverished population. My concern is that come next year, given what’s happening with supply issues with petrol and universal credit, there will be a lot of people in the town suffering, and I don’t think that £7,000 of residents’ money is in any way a good idea.” 

Councillors also discussed looking into the possibility of cooperating with the services such as the armed forces to help facilitate the celebrations. This could range from assistance with the cannon firing at the White Horse, or a march past through the town with a brass band. 

The committee settled on allocating up to £5,000 for the lighting of a beacon, firing of a cannon on the White Horse escarpment and an event in the centre of town (the details of which are yet to be finalised).  

They opted against spending further money as they want to put their focus and funding on the upcoming Soapbox derby in May of next year. 

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