CIVIC TRUST SOUTH EAST AGM, 10TH JUNE 2003

REPORT TO ANTAS

In his first report as Chair, Brian Horsley gave details of the surveys undertaken by CTSE on Affordable Housing and Disposal of MOD Sites. He also outlined some of the many and varied bodies within the South East Region that CTSE had either joined or made contact with during the past year.

Merrin Molesworth will give fuller coverage on the Chairman’s Report in the next CTSE Newsletter.

The Chairman’s Report gave rise to a lively discussion with all present as to where the CTSE should concentrate its effort. It was recognised that resources are limited. Communications links with registered Societies are considered a priority and Merrin is actively pursuing the creation of a website, as well as the production of a twice yearly newsletter. Another priority identified the necessity of putting in place a Business Plan to enable the CTSE to raise its own funds. One suggestion was to ask if the voluntary services of The Experience Corps could assist with this Plan.

A question posed from the floor and one we might all usefully ask ourselves:

“What should CTSE be doing to support what the Civic Trust is doing?”

Election of Officers

Brian Horsley (Chichester, West Sussex) appointed as Chairman

Celia Clark (Portsmouth, Hampshire) appointed as Deputy Chair

Peter Virgo (Windsor & Eton, Berks) appointed as Secretary

Bernard Brook-Partridge (Henley, Oxon) appointed as Treasurer

Civic Trust Report

Martin Bacon talked about issues for future campaigns. He felt that with all the talk of growth, concern is mounting at the lack of attention being given to the health of existing communities.

Civic Trust is considering individual membership fees. Trustees are looking at the way other organisations raise income from an individual membership. The recent increase in registration fees for Societies has allowed a sum of £18,000 to be distributed to the Regional Associations for a three year period. With an individual membership of around 300,000, there is potentially scope to raise substantially more and to fund full time regional officers for Civic Societies.

Martin advised us that the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) currently has quite significant funds to award in grants for Open Spaces. Societies should contact Alex Rook at Civic Trust offices for further information.

The Campaign on Licensing Laws had achieved major support from the Lords. Despite this, only one amendment was being considered by the Commons. The Civic Trust is considering an additional campaign for a Licensing Group to oversee the progress and results of any legislation. Martin asks that all Societies continue to monitor the situation at local level.

He is also very concerned about the Planning Bill. It appears to have got stuck. With the departure of Lord Falconer, Martin is particularly concerned that the will to increase public involvement has been seriously diluted. Should this be the focus for a Civic Trust Campaign?

The Civic Trust is to make a study of the Evening Economy in detail. It will publish a guide to best practice. For example, how to successfully run a late night bus service.

CABE is setting up individual offices within the South East Region. (our nearest will probably be Milton Keynes). Martin Bacon is meeting with the Director John Rouse and would be very pleased to hear from Societies who have experience/expertise with local design issues.

Talk by Gideon Amos

The AGM finished with a talk by Gideon Amos from the Town & Country Planning Association on Housing Provision within the South East.

Of the agreed 39,000 per annum target, currently 75% is being met.

An additional 200,000 is sought within the four “growth” areas (Milton Keynes, Ashford, Thames Gateway and Cambridge-Stansted corridor). However, these have still to be agreed at regional and local levels. Infrastructure will – as ever – be the biggest question mark. The Treasury is not “signed up” to extra provision, particularly in the field of transport.

The TCPA is in favour of the four major growth areas, which it believes will prove the most effective method of achieving real sustainable gains with housing provision.

Carolyn Cumming
19 June 2003