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Gasps heard and public removed from meeting after suggestion Cromer and Sheringham will have to share a town crier

PUBLISHED: 08:27 08 April 2016 | UPDATED: 12:47 08 April 2016

Sheringham's current town crier Tony Nelson. Nobody has come forward to replace him, meaning the role could be merged with Cromer. 
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Sheringham's current town crier Tony Nelson. Nobody has come forward to replace him, meaning the role could be merged with Cromer. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2012

They are neighbouring seaside towns separated by just five miles, but with a rivalry going back centuries.

Cromer Town Crier, Jason Bell. 

Picture: MARK BULLIMORECromer Town Crier, Jason Bell. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Despite their proximity, Cromer and Sheringham have developed very distinct identities, with their own mayors and town councils, and strong civic pride on both sides.

But in one particular area, a merger between the two may be on the cards – with the suggestion that they share a town crier.

The dramatic proposal emerged at a recent Sheringham town council meeting, when the mayor David Gooch revealed that no-one has come forward to express an interest in replacing the town’s current town crier, Tony Nelson, who is stepping down after 29 years in the role.

To keep the role going, it was suggested that Cromer’s crier, Jason Bell, might also serve Sheringham,

However, the merger – or what some might see as a takeover – has proved instantly controversial.

Councillors were left audibly gasping by the suggestion at Tuesday’s meeting, and one said he was so outraged by the move he felt unable to express himself frankly in an open session. Councillors then voted to close the meeting to the public.

Before the public were removed, Mr Gooch had said: “We have been inundated with people not wanting to do the job. We have not had a single enquiry.

“So we have to make a conscious decision about whether Tony will be our last town crier or whether we pursue another alternative. It is not unheard of to have a town crier who represents two towns. You have to decide whether you want to have a town crier or not.”

The meeting heard that Cromer town crier, Jason Bell, had offered his support to Sheringham.

The roots of town crying are lost in the mists of time. The role is believed to have emerged in France and was imported to Britain with William the Conqueror.

Early criers were “heralds” bearing news. They broadcast events to the illiterate population who could not read, before taking on more ceremonial roles.

Original criers wore plainer clothes for their bulletins. Modern costumes have a military air, and tend to be bright red or 
blue tunics with extravagant lace cuffs, feather-trimmed tricorn hats and buckled shoes.

•Do you have a North Norfolk story? email ally.mcgilvray@archant.co.uk

27 comments

  • I can't say I know what provision STC has in place for their crier. Cromer as stated below. Clerks advice would have been taken before closing the meeting. It is of course the final decision of the council to do so in any circumstance with a vote taking place beforehand. The reasons are probably well within the spirit if the legislation despite what you say. I'm no RFO (clerk) though, that's why they're there.

    Report this comment

    Tim Adams

    Sunday, April 10, 2016

  • Out of bored interest as I have nothing better to do but from what I have learned Tim Adams is wrong. The Cromer Town Crier is not salaried but as Mr Adams states, receives an allowance so he cannot be regarded as an employee. I doubt the Town Crier has a contract and can stop his duties at any time he wishes. Therefore, the role of Town Crier would not be covered under a Personnel item and would not be discussed in private.

    Report this comment

    Honest John

    Sunday, April 10, 2016

  • Considering quotes from contractors, legal advice, personnel and personal matters are all reasonable reasons for closing the meeting to members of the public. I can't speak for Sheringham or Cromer in this instance, only personally, but it's obvious reasons may well be justified within the above. Cant say I know every detail.

    Report this comment

    Tim Adams

    Sunday, April 10, 2016

  • @Bad Form. I would think your comment would be better directed at @Catharthis? (btw my name is Arfur, not Arthur)

    Report this comment

    arfur

    Sunday, April 10, 2016

  • Tim Adams, the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act, 1960 exists explicitly to allow the public into meetings. There are VERY few reasons to exclude the public and press. The Act states "(2)A body may, by resolution, exclude the public from a meeting... whenever publicity would be prejudicial to the public interest by reason of the confidential nature of the business to be transacted." The role of the Town Crier cannot, by any reasonable person, be considered 'confidential.' The discussion was NOT about payment. I do hope you conduct your affairs in a more open (and legally acceptable) manner in Cromer!

    Report this comment

    arfur

    Sunday, April 10, 2016

  • Arfur,Sara. In reply to your questions. Public Bodies Admission to meetings act 1960. This could be treated as a personnel matter as Town Criers are generally given a small allowance by the town council's. Though in Cromer's case, it was started by the Carnival Committee.

    Report this comment

    Tim Adams

    Sunday, April 10, 2016

  • Arthur- Here's a quote about pedants which I thought you might like? "They think they’re guardians of language. They’re no more guardians of language than the Kennel Club is the guardian of dogkind." Stephen Fry

    Report this comment

    Bad Form

    Sunday, April 10, 2016

  • Arthur- Here's a quote about pedants which I thought you might like? "They think they’re guardians of language. They’re no more guardians of language than the Kennel Club is the guardian of dogkind." Stephen Fry

    Report this comment

    Bad Form

    Sunday, April 10, 2016

  • Catharthis, a literate person would know that an ellipsis is only three dots. They would also be aware that your second 'sentence' should use inverted commas as it contains a quote from someone else. That 'sentence' should also end in a question mark.

    Report this comment

    arfur

    Sunday, April 10, 2016

  • Thanks, Ally McGilvray, for such a delicious story, I've had a nice laugh-out-loud..............Someone said why do we need a Crier, who was originally paid to inform the illerate. Well................................... ;D

    Report this comment

    catharthis

    Saturday, April 9, 2016

  • Toxteth, I am still concerned at the apparent abuse of the law by the council. Closing a meeting to the public without good reason is a serious matter. Yet no one from Sheringham Town Council seems prepared to respond.

    Report this comment

    arfur

    Saturday, April 9, 2016

  • Please won't somebody think of the children!

    Report this comment

    Julian Radbourne

    Friday, April 8, 2016

  • Seriously? Is this really a newsworthy item? Well the EDP thinks it is. Do people really care about thus kind of garbage. If they do then they really need to get out more!

    Report this comment

    Toxteth O'Grady

    Friday, April 8, 2016

  • Anyone remember Cromer's town crier Alfie Howard and his motor scooter, now that will take you back in time.

    Report this comment

    gerry mitson

    Friday, April 8, 2016

  • Jason the Cromer Town Crier lives in Beeston Regis which is nearer Sheringham than Cromer and was working in the Upcher Partnership office near the Sheringham Town Clock up until 2010 or later not living or working in Cromer therefore . So perhaps we should claim him back for Sheringham from Cromer !

    Report this comment

    Malcolm Peddar

    Friday, April 8, 2016

  • Sheringham must remain without, rather than the terrible prospect of sharing with that lot down the road.

    Report this comment

    Sanjeev

    Friday, April 8, 2016

  • Disgraceful

    Report this comment

    Jenkins

    Friday, April 8, 2016

  • Unfortunately, PaulWho, it's normal for north norfolk. Some people clearly have nothing else in their lives to worry about.

    Report this comment

    Tinkerbell

    Friday, April 8, 2016

  • This says it all really.

    lovejoy-think-of-the-children-16nov131

    Report this comment

    Julian Radbourne

    Friday, April 8, 2016

  • Is this kind of controversy normal for Norfolk?

    Report this comment

    PaulWho

    Friday, April 8, 2016

  • Is it worth pointing out that the Sheringham town crier is not a post that goes back into the mists of time. Not sure when the post was introduced in the town, but certainly it didn't exist pre 1974, and we seemed to manage quite nicely without one. Having said that, the notion of sharing one with Cromer is obviously a non-starter.

    Report this comment

    Chris Booty

    Friday, April 8, 2016

  • CROMER and Sheringham; two towns, with a (friendly) rivalry , sharing a Town Crier. Hells bells! To be even considered, it must be a last gasp situation.

    Report this comment

    Lover of Norfolk

    Friday, April 8, 2016

  • Why does Sheringham need a Town Crier? In fact why does any town need one? Apart from the amusement factor the public spectacle of someone in a pantomime costume shouting as loudly as possible usually draws howls of derision from the crowds who stop to watch them. Sheringham Town Council should take note that no one wants to perform such a ridiculous role and be happy to consign it to the bin!

    Report this comment

    Bad Form

    Friday, April 8, 2016

  • I'm also intrigued what law they used to exclude the public - just because someone wanted a "frank" discussion doesn't meet the legal requirements! !

    Report this comment

    Sara Utting

    Friday, April 8, 2016

  • I love (if that is the emotion) by your phrase 'left audibly gasping by the suggestion' For goodness sake. There are things in life that might bring forward 'gasps' but surely not an embarrassing relic like town criers. What next? Public stocks to be shared.

    Report this comment

    weaversway

    Friday, April 8, 2016

  • Town councils? Town criers? What a joke-Sheringham and Cromer are now smaller than some Norfolk villages.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Friday, April 8, 2016

  • Can I ask under what law was this meeting closed to the public?

    Report this comment

    arfur

    Friday, April 8, 2016

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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