When Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, suggested to Lindsay Hoyle, her UK counterpart, that they hold the G7 Speakers’ conference in “her district”, she may not have noticed. of the enthusiasm with which Lancaster would embrace the idea.
Hoyle said Pelosi had asked, “We always go to London, can we get out of London?” So this weekend politicians from the world’s richest nations will arrive in the Lancashire market town of Chorley.
And what do city residents think about the influx of international visitors, as well as the inevitable heavy police presence and road closures? “They’re saying ‘blinking Linds, I didn’t think you’d get them here!'” Said Hoyle, who has been the constituency’s deputy since 1997, though he first represented the city at age 22 in 1980 as a councilman. . A main street store, Maidens, has adapted its showcase to recreate Paul Smith’s Parisian boutique in an effort to host international guests.
Speakers from each of the G7 nations will discuss how to keep parliaments open while keeping members safe and how to ensure that the “democratic process remains intact” following the violent attack on the Capitol in the US, a shooting in the Canadian parliament in 2014. and the murder of a British policeman at the Palace of Westminster in 2017.
Hoyle hopes the conference will also “put Chorley on the world stage,” ensuring that the city becomes “part of the overseas tourist circuit.” After being greeted by a town crier, delegates will discuss thorny topics such as the role of social media in open parliaments at Astley Hall, a Grade I listed historic home, surrounded by a lake and historic forest, where trees will be planted to represent each attending country.
Astley Hall is in the middle of a renovation, and until a few weeks ago, it had scaffolding outside, with its Jacobean plaster ceilings and its Elizabethan courtyard closed to all visitors. The speakers’ conference took “a greater focus on meeting the schedule,” said Peter Wilson, the deputy leader of the Chorley council. “We have a great sense of pride in our historic asset of Astley Hall, the true jewel in the crown, which is an overused phrase, but is actually very appropriate.”
And what will Hoyle be serving his counterparts in the legislatures of Canada, France, Japan, Germany, Italy and the United States? He was excited to agree to a local story (although some historians doubt its veracity) that during a visit to the area in 1617, King James I was so in love with a piece of beef that he drew his sword and knighted her “Sir Loin.”
“I said ‘let’s give them some Lancashire beef, the sirloin that was knighted at Chorley, the face that we have Morecambe Bay shrimp, Lancashire cheese, Chorley pies … we have some real stuff for you. people remember. I think it is important for them, as well as for me, to really show that there are great agricultural products in Lancashire, ”he said.
Hoyle also wishes to show Pelosi the ties Chorley has to the United States, including as the birthplace of Myles Standish, a passenger on the Pilgrim Mayflower ship, one of the first settlers of the new America. An American flag is raised over the Standish pew at St. Lawrence Church, where delegates will attend a service on Sunday.
“The flag itself at St Lawrence’s is pretty threadbare,” Hoyle explained, because it’s the same flag that was given to the church when US soldiers stationed at the city’s military base set out to fight on the beaches of Normandy. “I understand that Speaker Pelosi is going to present a new flag to the church. So, you know, those kinds of ties are also being reestablished. “
And will his collection of wild animals be presented with the names of politicians? No, says Hoyle. Boris the parrot, Maggie the tortoise and Dennis the American cat will be left in the care of the speaker’s father, former Labor MP Doug Hoyle. “He’s the zookeeper,” Hoyle said. “I have to keep them on their best behavior.”