Buntingford Civic Society Buntingford Civic Voice
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Firstly, I would like to express personal thanks to Paul Spears for his support during his time as an Executive Committee member and latterly as co-chair of the Society, a position he has held for the past year. Paul is moving away from the area for family reasons and we all wish him and Karen the very best for the future.

So we have lost Paul, but I'm delighted to say we have gained Peter - Peter Hay, who is our new Membership Secretary. The email address for queries about membership is membership@buntingfordcivic.org.uk or you can raise queries or other issues at the A.G.M., where we hope to see as many of you as possible.

As seems to have been the case since my first article for the Journal, we are still under siege from developers who are seizing the opportunity to build as many houses as possible on sites around the town. This is due to lack of protection from East Herts DC who do not yet have an up-to-date District Plan. However, we have recently been encouraged by a statement from housing minister, Brandon Lewis MP, who advised our local MP, Sir Oliver Heald, and our two Disrict Councillors, Stan Bull and Jeff Jones, that if we have a Neighbourhood Plan in place this will carry weight with Planning Inspectors. Following this advice, the Neighbourhood Plan (NP) team have been burning the midnight oil to fast track the NP to a point where it will be recgnised as a legitimate planning document. By the time you read this article the first round of public consultation on the policies in the Neighbourhood Plan will have been completed and they will have been modified to include comments from residents of the Neighbourhood Area.

Some of you may recall that I represented the Society at a select committee forum in September 2014 investigating the impact of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) on local communities. The select committee's report was issued in late December 2014 with many recommendations for change to the NPPF. However, the latest report from HM's coalition government is that they do not agree with all of the suggested changes. This has resulted in a critical statement from the chairman of the select committee, Clive Betts MP, who has accused them of "burying their heads in the sand", a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly concur.

The project to create a new cemetery adjacent to the existing one at Layston is now moving towards its design phase. This should be carried out over the coming weeks by the selected company, CDS Ltd. Once the design is completed and accepted, the next phase will be applying to East Herts DC for planning permission.

The Civic Society is planning a 'Heritage Day' on Sunday 21st June, the date chosen by Civic Voice as this year's 'Civic Day'. Robin Webb will lead two guided walking tours of the town's conservation area, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Places will be limited so the tours will need to be booked in advance - they will be free for BCS members, with a charge of £1 per person for non-members. Also, Mandy and Martin have kindly offered to hold an open day at St Bartholomew's Church for those who would like a closer look at the results of their painstaking restoration work. There will be more information on this, including how to book onto a walking tour, in next month's Journal.

And finally, walking down Hare Street Road the other day, I noticed a chap walking towards me with a cabbage on a lead. Being curious, as I am, I asked him why he had a cabbage on a lead. He looked at me with a puzzled expression and said "They told me it was a collie"!

Graham Waite, BCS Co-Chair

If you have any queries about Buntingford Civic Society or issues you would like to raise, you can email the Chairman direct at chairman@buntingfordcivic.org.uk.

BCS AGM on 22nd April - click here for more information.

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