The first Council meeting since Eastleigh Borough Council moved to new Offices in the Town Centre took place yesterday, 10th April, at the new Lowford Centre in Bursledon.
When Eastleigh Borough Council was based at the old Civic Offices, Council meetings were traditionally held in the Council Chamber. Although it has meeting rooms, the new Eastleigh House does not have a traditional Council Chamber. Eastleigh Borough Council thus plans to hold future public meetings at different venues throughout the Borough. These Council meetings, often witnessed by an empty public gallery when held at the Civic Offices, will be soon be coming to a more convenient venue near you…
The old Council Chamber, although only used for such meetings, was beautifully finished inside. Visitors would see lots of wood panelling, Eastleigh’s coat of arms, the UK and EU flags, a raised bench for the key players in the meeting and an impressive looking throne for the Mayor to sit on.
Because of the raised bench in the old Council Chamber, the key players in the meeting [i.e. The Leader of the Council, The Chief Executive, The Mayor and The Deputy Mayor] literally looked down on the other Borough Councillors who were arranged in a semi-circular manner in front of them. That split-level arrangement allowed Council meetings to be run very formally, with no possible doubt about who was in charge of the meeting. Another benefit was that those seated at the back, or in the public gallery [or press gallery], could see what was happening on the bench as clearly as those seated at the front of the chamber.
As can be seen from the main picture, those dynamics are lost when Council meetings are held in an ordinary hall. Even the Mayor is expected to stand to make his announcements.
In a Press Release issued by Eastleigh Borough Council today, The Leader of Eastleigh Borough Council, Keith House said;
“Taking our Council meetings to local communities across the Borough is a great way to involve local people in the democratic process in an open and transparent way.”
“It was great to have our first meeting at the Lowford Centre, which is a facility funded by the Council, and is a great example of partnership working by many groups to deliver such a fantastic new community venue.”
The next Council meeting will be held at The Berry Theatre, Hedge End, when the Council will stage its annual Mayor Making event at the end of the current Mayoral year.