This last year has been an exceptionally busy one for the committee and I would like to thank them all for their time given, commitment and hard work. I would also like to thank our dedicated army of newsletter deliverers, Mark Davies for running our website, Ann for providing us with our refreshments and Ann and Rita who have been organising and leading our walks. Without your support we could not do all that we do.
We have not only dealt with our usual activities this year, such as weekly reviewing of the planning applications, our monthly meetings and handling enquiries from the public, but have also attended and been actively involved in a record number of outside meetings and events. These have included the Museum group, Harbour Board, Whitstable Improvement Trust, Canterbury Governance Group and Kent Federation of Amenity Societies, as well as those related to the boundaries review, open spaces, development control meetings, public inquiries and executive when necessary.
Planning this year has included the mammoth task of a response to the Local Plan and I know Graham will be covering this within his report; however I would like to thank Graham for all his hard work in preparing our response for the consultation. The submissions have now been collated by the council and we are waiting to hear when the next public consultation will begin.
We applied for an increase in parking along Tower Hill, as the one way system offered a good opportunity for more parking but it met with objections from nearby residents and the council decided not to agree to it, we also objected to the proposal for backland development at 47 Joy Lane as it did not satisfy the Joy lane Planning Guidance. The Council however granted approval on the basis that the new National Planning Framework outlaws restrictions like the guidance requirement for pitched roofs. We have had successes, most notably our objection to the building of an industrial estate and church on the Protected Open Space of the Paddock. More recently we have also had the West Beach Village Green Inquiry (VG 126) where we objected along with the Beach Association to the scale of the land the owner wanted to remove from the village green. The illegal hut known as The Shed was also removed and the proposed windbreaks on the tennis courts at West Beach were withdrawn.
Ongoing issues include the development of the Oval Chalet skating rink, which we have requested should include a large public open space, facing the sea which should be accessible for the elderly and disabled, reflecting the historic commitment given, but unfortunately not included as a covenant attached to the land.
Also the Electoral Boundaries review which recommends the number of our councillors reduce from 50 to 38. We will be included in the second round consultation due this year.
In November the planning committee attended a meeting with Richard Griffiths, Outdoor Leisure Manager; Canterbury City Council, and were invited with others, to identify areas of land in Whitstable to be proposed as protected open space. A new map will be made as a result of this consultation. Follow the council’s decision to reduce the hours of the Whitstable Museum, Graham and I have been part of a group currently in consultation with the council about the community taking on the running of the museum. We have so far attended one council workshop with a further one next week. An expression of interest needs to be submitted to the council by April, with a full bid to run the museum due later in the year. We have been able to secure the opening of the old tourist information shop as a pop up museum during the museums closed periods to keep a museum presence on the high street and allow us to gather volunteers and ideas for what people want out of their museum. Interestingly, I read recently, a newspaper article written in May 1985 when the museum opened, which states that many members of the Whitstable Society – which has played a major role in its support of the museum were at the opening reception, so it is good to see that we are still supporting projects that we have previously been so involved with.
We have also used this year to redesign the Society’s leaflet ready for the planned membership drive. We have now obtained printing and delivery quotes and will hopefully be in a position to send them out to Whitstable households in March, hopefully bringing in new members and raising awareness of our society.
As you can tell, 2014 looks set to be another busy year for us and so if there are any areas of expertise you have or that you are particularly interested in, we would be pleased to hear from you.
The income for 2012 was down, mainly due to difficulty in securing the Gift Aid refund for 2012 From HMRC, but we haven’t given up yet. Our revenue for 2013 was up on 2012, due to the increase in subscriptions: but membership was slightly down. We now have 185 members. Expenditure was also down on 2012. We saved £130 on printing and delivery of the Newsletter. And £100 on postage as more members received email copies of the newsletter. Our insurance premium increased by £100 as we found that we had been under insured. The expenditure against income was -£272. This year we are in the process of a membership drive, the first in 10 years, to raise local awareness, to encourage new members and to increase income.
Planning Committee Report:
Graham Cox said that the Local Plan was still progressing and we await the first revision. He thanked Angela for her intensive help in the holiday period. “Green spaces” introduced by the Government has given us extra protection and we have helped the council to introduce them. We continue to work with the Beach Campaign and its newly active members who stepped in to replace the workhorse that was Nick Dewhirst after his tragic death last year. We are working closely on the West beach village green application and we jointly celebrated the removal of the illegal hut and, after a stressful inquiry, prevented a section of beach being removed from the Seasalter Beach village green and the persistence of illegal extra constructions. Tankerton Slopes area is now a QE2 field. WS are hoping to have the woods at the western end rejuvenated with the help of Jon Shelton who is present tonight. About 4 years ago the council was stopped from building more huts on Tankerton Slopes and the WS continues to prevent further extension of huts at the end of the slopes via an Ombudsman complaint. Members were encouraged to apply for In Bloom grants for anything from flowers to trees from the WIT administered committee, as this year’s application window closes soon.
The following Committee Members were elected for 2014/2015:
￼￼￼Angela Boddy Hon. Chairman
Roger Pethers Hon. Secretary
Evelyn Smith Hon. Treasurer
Committee members: Richard Amos: Judith Ames: Graham Cox: Kath Gill: Maureen Smith
Changes to the constitution: in Sections 5 & 7 of the constitution: as proposed in the February
Newsletter were unanimously approved
Any Other Business:
We were reminded By Roger Pethers of the Treasurer’s report which stated that the WS needs more members and more funds. Consequently this year we are planning a membership drive and an open air summer concert by Camille at the The Castle on Wed 16 July 7-10pm. We hope to have a hog roast and it promises to be a great occasion.
Graham Avery spoke on the proposed extension to Joy Lane School – The main worry is the lack of parking which is already a problem. A single yellow line on one side of the lane would stop odd parking. Maureen raised the problem of permit parking in Salt Marsh Lane where a local inhabitant has an allocated parking space rather than all spaces being available on a first come first served basis to all residents. Graham asked for, and was given the authority of the meeting, to look into the problem. Jon Shelton – Countryside Manager of the Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership was introduced by Graham. He is the KCC expert on trees and flora. KCC have changed their policy and no longer replace fallen trees. John has funding available for tree planting and asked the Society if it ￼￼would like to get involved in planning for more trees and where they are situated. He said KCC would have to agree to locations and they would charge up to £250 per tree for planting them. There was a unanimous agreement to set a plan in motion for planting more trees. Jon reminded the meeting that there will be a public liability involved and planting could not begin until next winter. He will attend our April meeting for further discussion.
Richard Amos asked about re-planting the trees outside the Whitstable Library?
Graham said this has been a long protracted problem over the last few years. Julian Blades on behalf of the Whitstable Society has raised the matter with CCC and KCC and eventually KCC accepted that they were responsible for the trees. More recently funding has been allocated by Mike Harrison, Kent County Councillor, to address the problem of the badly pollarded and dying trees and we are participating in discussions on a planting scheme, to make this only open space in our High Street a pleasant place for the public, and screened from the busy High Street.
Richard Johnson asked if anything was known about the lamp standards which are just cut off and taped. There seemed to be no answer to that but it is probably the same as tree stumps being left due to budget cuts.
The AGM was closed at 9.48pm.