Monday 9th June 2008.
 
Statement by Worshipful Brother Rory Mackay, WDM Portsmouth District LOL 65
 
Attempts are being made to prevent Portsmouth District LOL 65 holding their Annual District Parade and Divine Service at Petersfield on Sunday 22nd June 2008. Whether this is the the result of bureaucratic bungling or something more sinister remains to be seen. Below are the up to the minute happenings.

Background.

The Petersfield Parade is the District Parade of Portsmouth District LOL 65. As such it has been taking place continuously every year for more than 30 years. We have records to show the event also took place during the 1950s when it was held on a Saturday. Up until this year we have enjoyed excellent relations with the local police. We have never at any time been required to obtain a Road Closure Order, nor did we have to provide Indemnity Insurance. We appreciate that things have changed regarding insurance in recent years but the insurance, which we have now obtained, is not the issue here.

Time Frame

As District Master I received a telephone call from Sergeant Stuart Tripp of Petersfield police on Thursday 29th May. Sergeant Tripp informed me that for the Parade to go ahead we would require Indemnity Insurance and what he referred to as a “TPCA”, which he informed me was a Road Closure Order. I immediately contacted Wo Brother Mike Hiscutt, Worshipful Master of King William III LOL 11, Portsmouth who have had to deal with this situation for the past few years. Following his advice I obtained the necessary Insurance that day. Despite telephone conversations with East Hampshire District Council based in Petersfield, and Hampshire County Council based in Winchester I could make no further progress on the “TPCA”. Neither person I spoke to at either of those bodies seemed to know what I was talking about. I eventually submitted an email form which I found on the Hampshire CC site requesting further information.

At the Annual Parade and Divine Service of Silver Jubilee LOL 1977 at Southampton on Sunday 1st June I spoke with our District Marshal, Worthy Brother Alan Bradshaw, who could not understand this request for Road Closures as all we required was a “Rolling Closure”.

On Tuesday 3rd June I received a telephone call from Gill Stevens, the Licensing Officer of East Hampshire District Council. This was in reply to my email enquiry. She undertook to send the necessary forms out to me by 1st Class Post for completion. I explained to her that we only required a “Rolling Closure” and she asked me to confirm that on the form. She did say that we should have applied for this six weeks before the event. I replied that up until the previous Thursday we had been unaware of any requirement. Approximately 1 hour later I received another call from the same lady. She now informed me that our application would be discussed at a Council Meeting that night, and as that would be the last Meeting before the Parade could I email her as a matter of urgency, the Parade Route and Timing Schedule. I sent this information immediately. I also appended a copy of an email dated 21st April from Petersfield police to our Worthy District Secretary, confirming all was in order for the Parade to go ahead. Therefore 8 weeks before the Parade there was apparently no question of any Road Closure Order.

On Wednesday 4th June I emailed Gill Stevens again, seeking the outcome of the Council Meeting. Her reply, seemed to indicate that, despite the stated urgency for the information to be placed before this Meeting nothing has, in fact, been resolved.

The responsibility for this state of affairs also appears to being shifted from one party to the other. Sergeant Tripp initially blamed the Council. The Council, in the person of Gill Stevens, in a telephone conversation with Right Worshipful Brother Garry Mills Provincial Grand Master, blamed the police. Gill Stevens in an email to PGM then said the situation was the result of “new procedures discussed between Hampshire County Council, Hampshire Police and ourselves” (East Hampshire DC)

At the moment this District is left in limbo but my own personal feeling is one of pessimism. Gill Stevens recent email to me contains the ominous statement “does not give us much time to process the Closure”, and she also uses the word “try” twice. I only hope I am wrong, but if the Parade is not allowed to proceed on Sunday 22nd June, the District hope to have a presence in Petersfield on that day anyway. We shall proceed from the Railway Station, using the Public Pavements, to the statue of King William III where we shall lay our wreath. We shall then proceed to the War Memorial where we shall honour our Glorious Dead, proceeding from there to the Heath for our Divine Service.

Let us hope it does not come to that. Let us hope our Civil and Religious Liberties are recognised and respected. Let us hope good sense prevails.

“THE PROTESTANT RELIGION AND THE LIBERTIES OF ENGLAND I WILL MAINTAIN”

King William III