The meeting was opened by our Chairman, Neil Baker, who welcomed all present. The miinutes of the 49th AGM were accepted without amendment. There would be several changes to the executive committee this year as Ashley Clark and Neil Baker are standing down, as they are both standing for electuion to Canterbury City Council and consequently are unable to hold office in the society as we are a non political amenity group. They remain as members and we wish them luck in the forthconing elections. Cliff and Anne Willoughby are having to give up helping with the teas due to other commitments.
The Executive Committee nominees for 2011 are:
Kath Gill – Temporary Chairman
Ken Davies – Hon secretary
Henry Lewis – Hon Treasurer (acting)
Maureen Smith – publicity officer
Committee Members – Graham Cox, Peter Hewitt
Ann Hill continues as membership secretary
Treasurer John Pettmen presented the year’s figures. We have a healthy balence of £6,487.61pence, but there was an excess of expenditure over income of £211.84pence and our main expenses were Affiliation fees, Speakers and room hire, and the Christmas Social.
Chairman Neil Baker, gave his report:
I would like to start by thanking everybody for the valued contributions during my period as chairman of the society, from those on the Committee to members and also those from other groups and members of the public who have given input into what’s happening in the town we all care so much about.
Kath Gill and her team will now take things forward and work on expanding our membership, gaining us more publicity and ensuring we have as much influence as possible, while trying to ensure our discussions take into account the differing views of as many people as possible.
Groups like the Whitstable society have an increasingly important role to play. With the national government looking at giving more opportunity to communities to get involved in the planning process, for instance, monitoring what ids being planned in terms of future development is as important as ever.
Fortunately, as I mentioned during our Christmas Social, we are luck in Whitstable in thet we have a long tradition of people volunteering and offering their time. We’ve had a big society before the phrase “Big Society” was being thrown around by those in Westminster – from those who clear their neighbours driveways of snow in the winter to those who spend time enriching the lives of others, young and old, all the year round.
How much power communities will get remains unclear, but the Whitstable society has worked with councils for half a century and will continure to make comments and suggestions, raise questions and give the odd nudge whenever it is appropriate. Along with the formal role of official planning consultee for the town, acting as a forum of scrutiny for the decision makers is also important, and trying to be a voice for those who want to get involved in the local government process but feel uncomfortable doing so for whatever reason.
The society has achieved much throughout its history – and there is a valid argument that much more should be made of our proud history – but there remains so much more to do. If any members have any suggestions, be they big or small, please get in touch. and if any members hear any comments from non-members that could be useful, please don’t hesitate to pass them on.
Best wishes to Kath, the committee and members in trying to exert as much influence as possible to make our great towen even better. With as many caring people as we have, I’ve no doubt there will be enough eyes and ears focussed on any future developments in the town to jump on problems before they begin. let’s hope the increasing pressures brought upon our little oasis by the sea can be managed as well as possible.