THE PORTS TODAY
Following the establishment of a permanent fleet, during the 16th century, the need for ship service declined and, with it, most of the privileges of the Cinque Ports. However, specific provision was made, by statute, during extensive changes to local government and the administration of justice during the 19th and 20th Centuries, for the continuation of certain rights and privileges. To this day, the Cinque Ports Court of Admiralty has jurisdiction over an extensive area of the North Sea and the English Channel, including the Straits of Dover which are amongst the busiest shipping lanes in the World, although the Court has not sat for many years.
The Confederation also continues to play an active part in the ceremonial affairs of state. Although a canopy has not been carried since the coronation of King George IV, in 1821, places of honour are still reserved for the Cinque Ports Barons at Westminster Abbey, during coronation services, and new Lords Warden are still installed in office, with full pageantry, at Dover
The current members of the Confederation are:-
|Head Ports||Corporate Members|
|Sandwich||Deal and Ramsgate|
|Dover||Faversham, Folkestone and Margate|
At one time, all fourteen current members of the Confederation were boroughs. Today, however, only Hastings retains that status and is a principal council for the purposes of local government. Winchelsea is unique in that its corporation is now an exempt charity, quite outside the modern structure of local government. Margate and Ramsgate are represented by charter trustees (i.e. the district councillors for the wards comprising the former boroughs) who have the power to elect one of their number as mayor, each year. The remaining members are all town councils, (i.e. parish councils which have exercised their statutory right to adopt the title of a town for their respective areas) and they are entitled to elect town mayors.
Meetings of the Ports are presided over by the Speaker, who also acts as the principal spokesperson of the Confederation. The speakership rotates amongst the seven head ports and the office is held by the mayor of the relevant port for twelve months, commencing on 21st May each year. The position of Speaker is one of only two offices with that title in the United Kingdom; the other being the Speaker of the House of Commons.
ŠThe Confederation of the Cinque Ports (2004)