Ringwood made history last night (29 July) when it held its first open air council meeting. It is thought to be the first in Hampshire and possibly in England.
Suggested by the Mayor Cllr Michael Thierry as a way of generating local interest in council matters, it had the desired effect.
Over 60 members of the public turned out and took their places on benches and seats surrounding the central table of councillors in Gateway Square outside the council offices. Microphones and loud speakers enabled everyone to hear what business was being conducted.
At the start of the meeting a grant of £500 was presented by the council to Ringwood & Fordingbridge Air Cadets towards the purchase of equipment and cheque for £200 was presented to the council by Rae Fredrick on behalf of a local businessman for the new skatepark.
Then referring to the turnout, the mayor said, “It’s a splendid evening.” He commented that there were probably more people at the open air meeting than would normally attend an entire year of council meetings.
The business agenda was followed by a public session that lasted for about an hour. Some residents who asked to speak raised concerns over the new Furlong Shopping Centre Development, trying to save the old cinema and the possibility of a new Arts Centre at Greyfriars.
After the meeting, the mayor added, “I am extremely pleased with the way the meeting went and is a credit to those who attended and voiced their opinions in an informative and amicable way. I will be asking my fellow councillors to repeat this event sometime in the future.”