Buntingford Civic Society Buntingford Civic Voice
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Issue 6, December 2010
Civic Voice - talking civic sense

your voice

www.civicvoice.org.uk | 0151 708 9920 | info@civicvoice.org.uk | @civic_voice


Welcome to the sixth issue of your voice which brings 2010 to a close. We have news of some major events bringing civic societies together across the country as well as an announcement about the venue of the second AGM next October. There is also news of new civic societies being formed, websites being revamped and civic societies being renamed. You can also download new guidance on fundraising and engaging with young people and sign up for our growing programme of workshops on Civic Day, planning and urban design. Do let us know what you think of your voice and how we can improve it. Enjoy reading your voice and the festive season and a big thank you for your support and interest in our first year. You can read some highlights from our first eight months here. Roll on 2011 and new opportunities for the civic movement to go from strength to strength.


Spring Network events in Reading and Manchester

We are pleased to announce two major new events bringing civic societies together to debate views and share ideas and inspiration.

Spring Network North - Manchester Friends Meeting House - Saturday March 19th

Spring Network South - Reading Town Hall - Saturday March 26th

These events will help build the foundations for the next chapter of the civic movement and include workshops tackling the issues that members believe to be the most important to strengthen civic societies. Put the event most local to you in your 2011 diary!

You can register here for just £ 10

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Sheffield to host Civic Voice 2011 AGM

Our second AGM will be hosted by Sheffield Civic Trust in October 2011. Sheffield is one of the newest civic societies and has already developed a strong track record of events and campaigns. The programme and the dates for this flagship event, including a visit to Parkhill, the largest listed building in Europe are being finalised and bookings will open next year.

Find out more about Sheffield Civic Trust here and follow them on Twitter here

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Workshop programme

We are running a programme of free workshops on different topics around the country and are putting on more events about Civic Day in response to demand. Find a workshop near you and sign up using the email below:

Street Pride - clearing the clutter and effective campaigning

  • Liverpool - January 29 (10 - 4)

Introduction to the planning system - with Planning Aid

  • Manchester - February 19 (10-1)
  • Blackpool - March 12 (10-1)

Understanding places - urban design for civic societies- with the architecture centre in the North West, Places Matter

  • Preston - February 26 (10-4)

Civic Day - making it a success

  • Exeter - January 19 (10-1)
  • Chester - January 25 (10-1)
  • Portsmouth - January 26 (1-4)
  • Blackpool&nbsp - February 5 (10-1)
  • Newcastle - February 7 (2-5)
  • Sheffield - February 9 (1-4)
  • Lincoln, February 12 (10-1)
  • London, March 5 (10.30-1.30)

Sign up by sending your name, civic society and contact details to info@civicvoice.org.uk or calling 0151 708 9920

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Civic news

Eight months on

It is just 8 months since Civic Voice was launched. With your support we have hit the ground running and made an impact. We have summarised some of our achievememnts here and would love to hear from you about what more we can do to help.

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New websites spring up

There is a wide variety of civic society websites and new ideas and formats keep springing up.

  • Chester Civic Trust has recently revamped its site with a clean new look here
  • Vauxhall Society in London has a particularly lively and informative site here with news, membership information and links to its Facebook site.
  • York Civic Trust even captured the regional newspapers with its new site - see more here

Remember that if your group does not have a website then Civic Voice offers a free service to set you up with the basics. Contact us at info@civicvoice.org.uk if you want your civic society to go online.

There is also a growing movement towards creating "hyperlocal" websites that civic societies might get involved in. These can be a powerful influence on local decision making and put local communities more in the driving seat. Read more here.

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Civic tweets

A growing number of civic societies are joining the debate on twitter. It is a great way to keep in touch, to build support and even campaign. You can look at what different civic societies are saying using the links below and set up your own twitter account in seconds at http://twitter.com

If you want to set up a Twitter account, but do not know where to start, let us know at info@civicvoice.org.uk and we can walk you through the steps. If you have a Twitter account and are not on the list then let us know and we will follow you.

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New civic society

We are pleased to welcome Blackburn with Darwen Civic Voice as the new civic society for this part of Lancashire. It has been set up as a result of a major campaign against greenfield housing development and a desire to conserve local heritage. Read more here

Swindon Civic Trust has also renamed itself Swindon Civic Voice as part of its new strategy to 2013 - read its strategy here

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South East regional association wound up

Civic Trust South East has wound itself up as civic societies in the region work together on a more local level and with the arrival of Civic Voice. Its resources have been passed to Civic Voice and will be invested in the Spring Network South event, in Reading, next March.

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New trustees welcomed

We welcome Carl Carrington and Neil Sinden as trustees of Civic Voice. Carl replaces Paul Myers who stood down in September due to the pressure of other work. He is a member of both Blackpool Civic Trust and York Civic Trust and read out the message from the Prince of Wales at the first national convention for civic societies in Blackpool in October last year. Carl works as Built Heritage Manager at Blackpool City Council and was next in line in the ballot for trustees conducted earlier this year.

Neil Sinden is Policy Director at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and was appointed by the Board following a nomination by the Civic Panel. The Civic Panel is made up of ten not-for-profit organisations who share the civic movement's passion for quality places to provide an external perspective and challenge to our work. It includes Keep Britain Tidy, Living Streets, National Trust, Heritage Alliance and the Association of Small Historic Towns and Villages. Neil is a member of the Friends of Epping Forest.

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Opinionated blogs

We all know there is no shortage of views on architecture, design and the future of the built environment. This is particularly true in the "blogosphere" with lively and informative views adding colour to the debate. We have selected a few of the more interesting ones below for you to try out:

Confessions of a Conservation Officer

Ghost of Nairn, Bad British Architecture


Landscape PING!

Anna Minton

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Strengthening your civic society

Civic Voice has produced a number of briefings to support civic societies on the issues that you raise with us. The two latest briefings are on fundraising and engaging with young people. These are both very relevant to Civic Day next year. They follow hard on the heels of the special briefings provided on communications, campaigning and making your own videos. Have a look using the links below:

The online poll is still running on the Civic Voice website home page (www.civicvoice.org.uk) asking for your votes on what support you need most to strengthen your local group. Recruiting members and running a website are ahead at the moment. The poll will close shortly so don't miss out on your vote.

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Looking for inspiration - try a Travelling Pantry workshop

The Social Spaces project is offering free workshops to help stimulate new ideas and thinking in your community. They can be organised around a kitchen table as well as in the community hall or run in the evening or for half a day. The format is flexible and can cover everything from generating new projects to running productive meetings or tapping into social media. The results so far have been impressive and show just how much more capacity and talent is locked up in local people than we realise.

Find out more and see if there is Travelling Pantry workshop near you or request one here

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Community action tool kit

The Young Foundation has produced an array of new information, advice and examples on how communities can take action to improve their surroundings. It includes ideas for getting more people involved in your work and the role of local councils. Read more here

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New legal advice for voluntary groups

A new online resource for voluntary organisations and charities with legal queries about how they are set up and run has been launched. This will be useful for any civic society with questions in this area and includes a "decision tool" which helps point you to the best legal documents. Read more here

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The future of cheques

You may have heard that the Payments Council has set a target date of 2018 to close the central cheque clearing in the UK. Cheque use has been declining since 1990 and it is clear that cheques are in permanent decline. Equally, we know that many civic societies currently rely on cheques and there is concern about their loss. The Payments Council (the body responsible for ensuring payment systems meet the needs of users) is working to ensure that acceptable alternatives are developed and made available before the target date is confirmed in 2016.

There are still plenty of situations in which cheques are used extensively - not least by voluntary organisations. The Payments Council has made this sector a priority and ihas run a series of workshops around the UK with charity and voluntary organisations' on their use of cheques and opinions about alternatives to understand their requirements. Discussion has covered issues such as the need for some payments to be counter-signed and that some volunteers don't have the IT skills to make electronic payments.

The challenge of moving onto alternative payment methods is not to be underestimated. The Payments Council is focused on setting out a plan for how the country as a whole can manage the move away from cheques in a careful and planned way over a long period. More information is available on its website about the background to the decision, its planned work as well as fact sheets which civic societies may find useful.

Find out more about The Payments Council at www.paymentscouncil.org.uk

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Holding a street party?

A new guide to organising a street party has just been published by the Government following simplification of the relevant rules and regulations. It includes a simple form to inform your local council. See a copy here

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Benefit from local giving

A new social enterprise - localgiving.com - has been set up to help people donate to local groups which might otherwise miss out. People can find local groups in their area to donate money to and civic societies may well want to sign up. All groups are approved by the local Community Foundation before being registered. Find out more here and contact your local Community Foundation to join here. You do not have to be a registered charity.

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Help from the Media Trust

The Media Trust can support civic societies on a wide variety of communications and media issues, including free services, events and workshops. The services include

Community Newswire - This is a free-to-use service! Charities and community groups can submit press releases to professional journalists where the most newsworthy are written up into news stories and distributed via the Press Association's networks, to thousands of newspaper, radio and television journalists throughout the day. See more here - newswire

Media Matching - With this free service you can place a request for the services of a media or communications volunteer. With hundreds of media professionals signed up as advisers, you can get valuable advice on a wide range of media and communications services including PR, marketing, web, branding and design. See more here - media-matching

Mediabox - Mediabox is a fund that offers disadvantaged 13-19 year olds (up to 25 if they have a disability) the opportunity to create their own media projects. There are a number of levels of grant ranging from £ 500 to £ 40,000. See more here - media-box

Training workshops- The Media Trust's live events are designed to inspire, equip and empower you to transform your communications and add impact to your work with communities. It brings together leading people from across the media, marketing, communications and third sectors. It can also provide bespoke media and communications training packages to cater to particular needs. See more here - training

Marketing Support - gives practical advice on the fundamentals of marketing. See here for more details - Marketing Support

Productions - Media Trust Productions produces award winning films for charities and the wider not-for-profit sector. Read more here - Productions

Free Resource Hub - The Media Trust a wide range of inspiring support information to help with marketing, PR and communications. The hub includes free guides, videos, tips and fact sheets. See the hub here - resources

Community Channel - Owned and run by the Media Trust, Community Channel is the UK's only digital television station dedicated to highlighting issues from both local and international communities as well as the voluntary and charity sector. See more here - Community Channel

To find out more about these services and others visit the Media Trust's website.

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Heritage Lottery Fund announces extra £ 45m

Civic societies looking to find funding for small project can welcome news of an extra £ 45m funding from HLF. This is due to higher lottery ticket sales and the increased share of the Lottery which is now going to heritage. Civic Voice helped lobby for this change. HLF is allocating an extra £ 5m to its Your Heritage small grants programme for projects between £ 3,000 and £ 50,000 which is ideally suited to civic society projects.

Read more about the extra funding here

Read more about the Your Heritage grants programme here

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Jubilee People's Millions

The Big Lottery Fund has announced the Jubilee People's Millions looking for applications from community groups for projects which improve local places and lives in your community. Projects of between £ 20,000 and £ 60,000 are being sought in advance of the 4 February 2011 deadline. They will be promoted on television and put to a popular vote - with around four projects per region expected to be supported. The projects will need to be underway in 2012.

Find out more here

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Big Society champions

Do you know a group or individual in your community who deserves being recognised for the contribution they make? The Big Society Awards have just been announced by the Prime Minister and there is no deadline for nominations.

Read more about the Big Society Awards and make a nomination here

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Civic societies in action

Civic Pride Award

Merseyside Civic Society has had huge success in developing a design award with a twist. In April 2010 Merseyside Civic Society made the decision to re-launch the MCS Awards.

In addition to the standard "Design Award" many civic societies organise, Merseyside Civic Society created a new "Civic Pride Award". Click here to see how it organised a public vote to "tap into the mindset of the x-factor generation and found thousands of new people to get involved

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Ponteland Street Clutter Report

Inspired by Civic Voice's Street Pride campaign, Ponteland Civic Society spoke to Ponteland Town Council to seek its views on the issue of street clutter. It was agreed by both parties that it would be a worthwhile initiative for the civic society to organise a report highlighting the problems caused by A-boards, redundant posts and other unwanted street furniture. You can read the completed report here. A copy of the report was submitted to the full Town Council, which is considering next steps.

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Fleet and Church Crookham Society Town Healthcheck

The civic society for Fleet and Church Crookham in Hampshire has undertake a town health check to establish the community feeling on various topics. This will give an evidence base to decision-making and prioritisation and act as a catalyst for other projects.

You can read the report here

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Civic Society supports church at risk

The Malvern Society has moved all future society meetings to Christ Church, Malvern to play its part in keeping the Church as a focus point for the community. With a declining congregation, Christ Church is keen for groups to use it to ensure it has a viable future. The Malvern Society feel that is is important that local groups give practical support to this important local building and have contacted Civic Voice to recommend that other civic societies should consider holding future meetings in local churches to keep them alive and well used.

Leicester Civic Society has also launched a Facebook campaign to help save St Saviours Church, Leicester. We would be interested in hearing about any other campaigns or initiatives you are involved in to keep these local buildings alive.

Nonetheless, Hale Civic Society has been defeated in plans to save Hale Methodist Church - a century old building - after the local planning committee passed an application to create three detached properties.

Read more about campaigns to save churches here

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Get involved

Volunteer for Civic Voice

We are a small, light footed organisation with few staff and lots to do!

We want to make the best use of all the volunteer expertise in the movement. There is plenty going on - from managing memberships and organising meetings to developing websites and researching new campaigns. You may also have particular expertise - on land use planning, listed buildings, volunteers or fundraising for example - which might help other civic societies. If you'd like to volunteer locally, please contact your local group.

Civic Voice is run on a shoestring of just two staff and depends on volunteer support to be effective. We have received a number of enquiries from people wanting to know how to volunteer. The following opportunities describe just some of what is available:

Office support - Volunteers are required to help with general office support including database management and assisting with telephone duties and internet enquiries. We have further opportunities for more specific roles such as fundraising and helping with publicity. Much of this work can be done at home as well as in Civic Voice's Liverpool office

Event management- we are keen to improve the quality of our events and with your help, we can. This work can be home based

Website management- How can we provide the online support which best meets the need of civic societies? How can the website build a stronger civic network? Can you help manage the site? This work can be home based

Policy analysis- are you interested in reviewing Government and other policy reports and publications for their implications for the civic movement? For example, what does the new PPS5 on planning and the historic environment really mean? What should we think of English Heritage's National Heritage Protection Plan? Does the Localism Bill do everything it can for civic societies? Would you like to join a group offering advice and providing evidence and examples which can be used to ensure the results work for the civic movement? This work is home based

Photographs - are you a keen photographer with an eye for a good picture? We need you! Civic Voice is always on the lookout for photographs that fit our style and we also need a volunteer to manage the Flickr site.

Contact Ian Harvey on ian.harvey@civicvoice.org.uk or on 0151 708 9920 to find out more

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Join Civic Voice

Why not join the fastest growing movement in England making the places where everyone lives more attractive, enjoyable and distinctive. Over 270 groups have joined in our first eight months - join them. Only through a growing membership can Civic Voice become independent: supported by the civic movement, for the civic movement.

As well as signing up your local group why not become an individual member - it's just £ 10.

Join here

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Spring Network events in Reading and Manchester

Sheffield to host Civic Voice 2011 AGM

Workshop programme

Brooklands Design

Buntingford Heating

Buntingford Karate Club

Chris Dellar

Christines Will Writing

Country Maids


J Oliver Radley

John D Kilby

Judkins Solicitors

KB Tyres Ltd.

Layston Nursery

Learn PC

Linden Flooring

Mark Addison Ceramic Tiler

Marketing Zone