Last call to throw a coronation street party as Swanage hesitates

Swanage residents are being urged to apply for a free road closure as soon as possible if they want to hold a traditional street party to celebrate the coronation of King Charles III, as the deadline is fast approaching

With a week to go before the final application date of Friday 31st March 2023, only one has been requested in Swanage with no others in the wider Purbeck area, although it’s believed that at least another six streets will be celebrating in Swanage without officially being closed to traffic.

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Swanage Queen's Platinum Jubilee tea party
Gerald Dimarco

Scenes from Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee are unlikely to be repeated

Only 30 road closures across Dorset

The coronation will be celebrated across the country and marked with a three-day bank holiday weekend from Saturday 6th May to Monday 8th May 2023, and the Swanage community is invited to be part of the historic occasion.

While holding a small outside event with neighbours on private land does not need any special permission, if a street party is planned which involves restricting vehicle access, Dorset Council needs to check that the road is suitable, which involves issuing a formal street closure notice.

But a week before the application deadline, only 30 road closures have been sought across Dorset, and just one of those is in Swanage.

The usual fee for an application has been waived in the hope of generating more interest in the national occasion, but the town seems hesitant to commit in the same way that it did for recent jubilees.

Mandy McDonald and Linda Welsh at Swanage Queen's Platinum Jubilee party

Mandy McDonald (left) and Linda Welsh (right) in Swanage for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee party

Not a lot of interest at the moment

Linda Welsh, who helped to organise celebrations in Swanage for Queen Elizabeth II’s silver and platinum jubilees in 2012 and 2022, said she was saddened that there wasn’t more enthusiasm for the coronation.

Linda said:

“There doesn’t seem to be a lot of interest at the moment, but it will be the first coronation we have had in 70 years and it’s something we should be celebrating.

“The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022 was such a big event and celebrated by so many people that perhaps they are not in the mood for another party quite so soon?

“I still feel choked up and get tears in my eyes when I think that the Queen is no longer with us, she was so well loved and there is so much bad news about the Royal family at the moment from the two in America that perhaps people are less in the mood to celebrate.

“Organising big events can feel daunting and might be putting people off taking responsibility for large street parties.

“But Swanage has always been at the forefront of marking these big occasions and I would like to see something big happen in the town to mark such an historic occasion.”

Coastal rowing regatta in Swanage 2018
Hants & Dorset ARA

There are still hopes for a flotilla of boats in Swanage Bay for the coronation

Flotilla of boats may yet set sail

Free party packs of patriotic paper plates, cups, hats and napkins are being given away to help encourage smaller groups to throw their own community events in Swanage and about a dozen have so far taken advantage of the offer, with up to 30 people expected at each.

Despite slow interest, it is still hoped that a flotilla of boats can be organised in Swanage Bay with help from the town’s sailing club, rowing club and fishing community, along with pleasure craft, canoes and kayaks.

Local community groups, organisations and charities including the RNLI, National Trust, Scouts, Royal Voluntary Service and others are also planning community events on a national basis.

Volunteers are sought to join the Big Help Out to create a coronation legacy

Festival of volunteers to create a legacy

Street parties could take place at any time over the bank holiday weekend, with the coronation itself on Saturday 6th May 2023.

The Coronation Big Lunch planned for Sunday 7th May 2023 when there will be a televised concert from Windsor Castle, as iconic locations around the UK are lit up using projections, lasers, drone displays and illuminations.

On Monday 8th May 2023 the Big Help Out will be a festival of volunteering when charities and the general public roll up their sleeves and do their bit, raising funds to create a legacy of better connected communities long beyond the coronation itself.

Dorset Council itself is not hosting or planning any events, with the possible exception of a small ceremony at Sherborne Abbey, but will help community groups to facilitate theirs.

Langton Matraves Queen's Platinium Jubilee tea party
Nicky Glassock

Patriotic tea parties in gardens for a very special national occasion

“A very special national occasion”

Chair of Dorset Council councillor Val Pothecary, said:

“Street parties are a great way to mark this historic occasion and bring communities together. So far there have been 30 applications for road closures, and we want to encourage more of our residents to host community street parties, right across the county.

“The coronation of King Charles III is going to be a very special national event, and we want as many people as possible to take part in the celebrations.

“As well as the formal and organised community events that will be taking place, we’re encouraging people to get into the spirit of the occasion and put on their own local events.

“That could be as simple as inviting family and friends for a party in the garden, or a larger community event such as a street party for the neighbourhood.

“It is easy to apply for a road closure – don’t delay!”

Time is running out to apply for road closures to hold street parties

Organise a Street Meet instead

A Dorset Council spokesperson added:

“If you don’t want to close a road, you could always organise a Street Meet on private land instead – just pick a practical spot in the street to have a get together on a driveway, parking area or front garden, or maybe at the end of a cul de sac or on a wide pavement.

“Then just make sure that all residents and neighbours are happy with the arrangements, the location is safe and that there are no risks to anyone’s safety.

“A street party doesn’t need to be complicated; everyone can bring something, and you can ask a few neighbours to share the organising so it isn’t too much for one person and helps to build a sense of ownership by all.

“The Licensing Act 2003 doesn’t require a music licence at a street party, there’s no requirement to have public liability insurance and one-off events such as street parties aren’t usually considered food businesses, so you just need to ensure that any food provided is safe to eat.

“Even raffles or tombolas at these events don’t need a licence and anyone, including children, can take part. No more than £100 can be deducted from the proceeds of the lottery to cover expenses like printing tickets, and no more than £500 can be spent on prizes, not including donated prizes.”

Swanage Queen's Platinum Jubilee party
Timothy Crabb

Coronation parties seem likely to be on a much smaller scale than the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations at Prince Albert Gardens in Swanage

Further information

  • For anyone who can’t make the meeting or would like more information now, the team can be reached by contacting the Swanage Information Centre, Shore Road, Swanage. Phone 01929 766018 or email welcome@swanage.gov.uk
  • Contact may also be made on Messenger via the Swanage Coronation Fest 2023 Facebook page or by emailing Linda via linda.welsh152@gmail.com
  • Apply for a street closure by 31st March 2023 at Dorset Council’s website
  • Be a part of the Big Help Out by volunteering to lend a hand

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