I confess I was greatly daunted at the prospect of taking over as Chairman of the Civic Society following John Bell’s decade in the post. John has been a very hard act to follow, but I hope that members will feel that I have served the Society adequately over the last year. Certainly John’s continued presence on the management committee has made my job considerably easier during what has been an eventful year.
The last year has seen a number of changes in the way the Society is managed:
- Membership has held firm, whilst membership details have been consolidated on a single database by Chris Seddon, our new Minutes and Membership Secretary. Chris has revolutionised our committee minutes and transformed member communication via email and through the website
- The Banbury Civic Society website has been launched, with the very able and freely-given support of Steve Paxton of Ice 9 Media, based at Twyford Mill. Steve has also provided a new email address for the Society: email@example.com
- To speed up management committee meetings and streamline operations, sub-committees have been established to cover Admin and Membership, Planning and Built Heritage and Transport
- In order to make best use of members’ subscriptions, no meetings (AGM excepted) are now held in paid venues. After a period of meeting at the homes of Kay Smith and John Bell, Management Committee meetings are now held at the offices of Acanthus Clews, for which particular thanks are due
- Cllr Kieron Mallon has joined as nominated observer for the Town Council, which has significantly improved communications with Town, District and County Councils
- We have also increased our participation in District-wide environmental forums, with the Society normally represented by Mo Mant and her husband Graham.
- We are starting to give much greater thought to member events, the first being the proposed ‘canalside’ events (see Canalside Coach Trip in this issue)
- Regular meetings were also instituted with CDC planners, although these are in temporary abeyance at present.
The year has seen a number of emerging proposals and themes of interest:
- Credit Crunch, seeing factory and shop closures, and a plunge in planning applications. It is hoped that the slowdown may provide the opportunity to take stock and put tools in place for more sustainable and better designed development in future
- Closure of Alcan, bringing to an end over 75 proud years of production, and our first petition (at the Banbury 400 Jacobean Hobby Horse Day 2008), demonstrating 100% public support for the retention of a substantial vestige of the factory
- Options for Growth – Banbury to take 1600 to 2800 new homes, with 1200+ in the Canalside regeneration area (Options for Growth Site E)
- Reorganisation of Planning at CDC
- Forthcoming pedestrianisation of Parsons Street
- Proposals for residents-only parking areas
- Improvements to Peoples’ Park on Gulliver’s Travels theme
- Reopening of the open-air swimming pool this summer
- Ongoing refurbishment of the Town Hall, previous external works and reopening of Minstrel’s Gallery being followed this year by refurbishment and restoration of the main chamber
- Encouraging upsurge in private-sector residential developments over shops in the town centre