A Brief History of the Council
West Mersea Town Council is one of the oldest institution on the island.
The Council began on the evening of December 4th 1894 when a large gathering of men met at the newly built School in Barfield Road to hold the very first Parish Council elections. No women were present (it would be another thirty four years before all women were given the right to vote).
The first item on the Agenda was to select a Chairman and Mr. Thorpe the School Headmaster was duly proposed and appointed. The Chairman then called for nominations for Parish Councillors. Twenty four names were put forward and after careful scrutiny it was decided that twenty were valid and four were not - the twenty were voted on by a show of hands and the following men were elected; Alfred Mussett - Frederick Mussett - Isaac Pullen - John Willoughby Bean - Edwin Cooke - Samuel Dixon - George Smith - William Traveller.
All was going well until the Chairman decided he had better follow correct procedure and ask if anyone wanted a Public Poll. And - guess what? Somebody did. A proper public poll was subsequently held and the same men were chosen except for Samuel Dixon who lost his place to John Brand.
The first Parish Council Meeting was held on 4th January 1895 at the School. The Council was then separate from Colchester Borough Council and came under the control of Lexden and Winstree District Council.
The handwritten minute books show that for the next thirty years the nine "City Fathers" carried out their duties diligently. They were a pioneering lot - trying to bring prosperity to what was then a poor fishing and farming community. One big idea was to turn Mersea into a proper seaside resort by bringing the railway to the island. Not just a railway but lots of cheap terraced houses, a Pier, a Ferry and a Hotel plus a statue of Queen Victoria to boot! The railway would include a rail and river link from Colchester to Southend via Bradwell to Burnham. The Council discussed this matter for ten years - even gaining permission from Parliament to steam ahead. But it was never to be - in 1914 the war came and these best laid plans hit the buffers.
Among the Chairman during this period were - John Willoughby Bean - Daniel Cock - Samuel and George French - Harry Pearl Cross - and Rev Pierrepont Edwards.
THE URBAN DISTRICT COUNCIL
It was all change in 1936 when under a new Local Government Act the Parish Council became the more powerful Urban District Council. Still with nine Councillors the new Urban District remained autonomous from Colchester - making its own policy decisions - though overall jurisdiction was held by Essex County Council.
For the next forty years West Mersea UDC controlled the sewers, the water supply, the roads, the beach huts, the council houses, the greensward, all the open spaces and the cemeteries. But then the Powers that Be in Whitehall changed it yet again.
THE TOWN COUNCIL
In 1974 under the new Government Reform Act - West Mersea Urban District was no more. The new Council still with only nine Councillors was retitled a "Town" Council along with Wivenhoe. Most of its powers were taken away. Essex County Council controlled Education - Highways and Libraries. Planning powers were removed leaving the Town Council left with mere "recommendation based on local knowledge - and advice on conditions". Colchester became an all powerful "Borough" its ancient charter covering the whole of the North Essex region.
As a kind of compensation Town Councils were given the right, if they wished, to elect their own Mayor - a dignity hitherto only associated with Chartered Boroughs. Our constitution does not officially allow for a "Mayoress" - although in recent years the name has been adopted as a courtesy title.
Past Mayors of Mersea Town Council
1995-1996 May to Jan P.French
Feb to Apr Mrs.P.Stewart