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Issue 6, January 10

Civic Soc Initiative Logo Returntostart BULLETIN

Contact us: W: www.civicsocietyinitiative.org.uk T: 0151 708 9920 E: admin@civicsocietyinitiative.org.uk
Welcome to the sixth Civic Society Initiative Bulletin which comes to you in the first week of the New Year.
It will be a busy few months for the Civic Society Initiative as we lead up to the formation of the new national body in April. Details of the new body are now being finalised, including membership fees and voting rights, and will be announced in February. Civic societies will be able to join immediately and we hope to have built a real momentum of support by the time of the April launch.
We have seperated this Bulletin into two sections - the first with news on what we are doing and the second with news from civic societies around the country and information on how to strengthen local groups. You can navigate quickly to the item interesting you by clicking on the hotlinks.
Civic Society Initiative civicsocietinitiativeinthennewsUpdate
Final feedback to finalfeedbacktoownthefuture Own the future published
We had 126 responses to the report published at the national convention in Blackpool last October. This includes feedback from 99 civic societies as well as responses from four regional associations, individuals and other organisations. A final summary of the responses is on the website and is well worth a read.

The principles proposed for the movement and for the new national body are very widely supported.

  • There is near universal support for a new national body for the civic movement.
  • There are different views about the priorities for the new national body but the emphasis is on its role in representing the movement through campaigning, lobbying and profile raising.
  • The proposals for more fluid arrangements for civic societies clustering together are widely supported and stimulating a number of fresh ideas and initiatives.
  • Regional arrangements are supported in some areas but a majority of respondents are keen on more local clusters and more flexibility.
  • There is real interest in networks of civic societies working around different topics of interest. The arrangements for civic societies working together should respond to the demands expressed by civic societies and not be centrally managed or prescribed.
  • The proposals to base the common thread of the civic movement on place, pride, identity and community has near universal support with respondents keen to define what makes the movement distinctive.
  • There are divergent views on the proposed funding arrangements but a majority support the principle of a per capita levy. It is widely recognised that the shift towards civic societies funding the new arrangements and securing their independence is both essential and difficult to achieve.
Read the summary of responses to Own the future here
Structure and governance structureandgovernancefinalcall- final call
There has been a lot of interest in the way the new national body for the civic movement is set up and run. Detailed proposals were published at the beginning of December along with a background paper setting out the reasoning. We are looking to finalise these arrangements soon and for your feedback by Friday 15th January at the latest.

You can download the discussion paper on structure and governance here

Time to decide timetodecideleafletleaflet

We wrote to every civic society in early December with copies of the new Time to decide leaflet setting out the benefits of joining the new national body and encouraging discussion by local committees. The leaflet has been positively received and helped spread the message. Please pass copies on to anyone who you think would be interested and encourage your local civic society to prepare for the new national body which we will announce next month.

You can download a copy of the leaflet here or request copies to be sent to you in the post by emailling admin@civicsocietyinitiative.org.uk
Return to section start
Binding us all bindingusalltogethertogether

It was clear from the debate leading up to Own the future that civic societies wanted work to be done on clarifying the unifying mission and purpose of the movement.

There is always going to be healthy debate about such things in a movement as lively and diverse as civic societies and we have been fortunate to obtain the services of consultants Dragon Rouge to help us articulate the "story" of the civic society movement in a way that will help bind us together and communicate with others. This is an essential starting point for establishing the formal purpose of any new national body, along with its style, identity and tone of voice and even the name.
In a workshop in December a group including three Regional Chairs, a Charity Commissioner and several civic society activists came together to shape the "thread that binds us all together". There was a lot of consensus and the discussion reflected the healthy optimism for the future of the civic movement. Words like, place, pride, community and civic continue to be key and there is an ambition to be more actively shaping things and involving people. The outcome will shape the February announcements on the new national body.
If you have any thoughts on the purpose of the movement, please email admin@civicsocietyinitiative.org.uk
Six month sixmonthaccounts accounts

A copy of the first six months accounts of the Civic Society Initiative is now available on the website. Our funding runs till the end of May 2010 and so it will be important that the new national body gets off to a flying start in April if we are to secure a strong future for the movement in the years ahead.

View the Initiative's six month accounts here
A history of the civic movement historyofthecivicmovement- call for volunteers

The civic movement has long roots which go back to at least the 1840s and it has played a seminal role in shaping the social fabric and heritage of the nation. There are a growing number of individual histories being written about different civic societies and we can expect many more as the 50th anniversaries of the wave of societies set up following the creation of the Civic Trust and the introduction of conservation area legislation are reached. Yet, there is no true history of the civic movement as a whole.

With your help the Civic Society Initiative is hoping to fill this gap. We have secured a promise of some funding and are seeking more for a small project that will provide a history of the civic movement for the first time. We need volunteers to help us do this. We know there are many enthusiastic local historians involved with civic societies and would like to set up a network of local volunteers able to give time and energy to the project. The final arrangements have still to be decided but it is likely to focus initially on two or three key periods in our history and also develop the history of a number of individual societies in their wider context.

If you are interested in being involved or simply being kept in touch then please email admin@civicsocietyinitiative.org.uk And if you know someone who might be interested then pass it on. We would also welcome copies of any information or publications which give your local civic society's history.
Street clutter.....streetclutterstreetpride Street Pride!

Civic societies across the country are taking action to create better streets for people and in 2010 we will be running the Street Pride campaign to help rid our streets of unnecessary clutter and create streets we can be proud of.
The campaign responds to the enthusiasm expressed by civic societies during the recent Own the future debate undertaken by the Civic Society Initiative for action to improve our streets. It builds on excellent campaigns already undertaken in Stamford, Oxford, Salisbury, Alnwick, Bath, Wakefield and elsewhere and the website is now featuring over 45 groups.

To make sure your society is registered for the campaign and view the societies participating, click here.
For a flavour of the recent media coverage click the links in the margins above for Civic Society Initiative in the news.
Civic Society civicsocietylive12janLive - 12 January

The next live debate on our discussion forum will focus on the governance proposals - although feel free to raise any other issues of interest. This will be an opportunity to debate things directly with Tony Burton and other civic society volunteers. The discussion will run between 11am and noon on 12 January. It is easy to get involved - click on "Join the discussion forum!" on the home page of our website www.civicsocietyinitiative.org.uk and the registration process takes just a few seconds.
The previous discussion on 15 December broke our records for most people online and participating. Since the discussion it has been accessed over 1000 times. View it here.
Strengthening civic stregtheningcivicsocietysocieties
Diamond DiamondJubilleeJubilee celebrations

The Government has announced an extended Bank Holiday on Monday June 4 and Tuesday June 5 2012 and a competition for towns to bid for city status which will be launched later this year. These both provide opportunity for civic societies - giving a focus for campaigns to celebrate and involve people in caring for the character and heritage of the different cities, towns and villages across the country.

A Diamond Jubilee website has been set up here
Salisbury in Detailsalisburyindetail - book launch
A very successful launch of Salisbury in Detail was held in the Gallery of Salisbury Library on 24th October with the Mayor of Salisbury present. Sir Terry Pratchett, who contributed the Foreword, signed copies of the book proffered by the 75 or so people present and an equal number of books were sold at the event. The book was the culmination of an important project by Salisbury Civic Society and provide a fascinating photographic journey through the architectural detail of the historic city.

The success of the book has been extraordinary, so much so that Salisbury Civic Society have exhausted the first print of 1,000 copies and has ordered a second print run of 800. Nine retail outlets in Salisbury are now stocking the book including the Cross Keys Bookshop, Waterstones, WH Smith, Sarum College, Salisbury Museum & the Cathedral Bookshop.
You can read a full background to this book, by Alastair Clark, which may be helpful in undertaking similar projects elsewhere by clicking here and going to "books".
Hackney hackneymodernrestored- Modern, Restored, Forgotten, Ignored - new book
Hackney - Modern, Restored, Forgotten, Ignored features 40 buildings to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Hackney Society. Written by 40 authors the book draws attention to good quality modern architecture; recent restoration projects; buildings that have been lost; and buildings that are currently at risk from neglect or demolition.
Civic Society civicsocietygetsacoatofarmsgets a coat of arms

Birmingham Civic Society marked its 90th birthday by becoming the first in the country to be awarded a Grant of Arms.

The presentation at Birmingham Council House was made by the Lancaster Herald, Robert Noel, before more than 100 invited guests and was attended by Society President and Lord Mayor of Birmingham Councillor Chauhdry Rashid.

The occasion marked the founding of the society in 1918
Blue blueplaques1plaques

Nearly one third of civic societies are involved in a blue plaque scheme and there is a lot of experience to share. We have established a new section on the website to highlight the wonderful work being done to promote local heritage through commemorative plaques. This might provide the focus for a new topic network.
Visit the site here and see what you think.

There is further good news that English Heritage is organising a two day conference in London on Commemorative Plaques. This is the first event of its kind to be organised and is being held at the Royal Institute of British Architects on 18 and 19 February 2010. The £95 conference fee covers both days, including the walking tours and conference reception. The event will include discussion of key areas such as selection criteria, plaque design and inscription, historical research, gaining consents and promotion. Details and a booking form are available from www.english-heritage.org.uk/plaquesconference or by ringing the conference office on 01272 882 112
The challenges ofbullbridgeandsawmills being a new civic society
Freda Raphael, Bullbridge and Sawmills Civic Society tells the story of the challenges facing a relatively new society.
Bullbridge and Sawmills Area Civic Society (BASA) came about in spring 2009 as the impulsive reaction of myself and Gill Hirst (now BASA Secretary) to two big planning changes threatening our small, adjacent communities.
The first big change concerned the Bullbridge dye works which had closed in 2008 after a hundred years of employing local people. Until relatively recently it had employed up to a thousand people, many living close by, so its decline over the past decade and more, as orders increasingly went to the Far East, had left a degree of depression locally. Now a Birmingham property company was proposing an unimaginative housing estate on the site, of more than two hundred houses, which would swamp local character. In addition, the proposal totally ignored the facts that an important stretch of the derelict part of the Cromford canal runs across the site, and that sufficient local people want to see the whole canal restored.

If this wasn¹t shock enough, on the same day the local haulage and warehouse contractor, who had not built the best of community relationships, announced plans for a massive extension of his premises. You could say that a mini revolution erupted, in a rather scattered community of around a thousand souls ­ rather appropriate when we are in walking distance of Pentrich, which boasts the last revolution on English soil, in June 1817. Gill had several friends who also thought that enough was enough, and so BASA was born. Forming a civic society rather than a residents association, for instance, seemed the obvious route to take. I had encountered civic societies here and there and they seemed to comprise people who got things done whilst to me, the Civic Trust was a nationally recognised body with clout, and we needed to be taken seriously fast. We had no idea at the time that the Civic Trust was about to go under.
With naive confidence in what we had become we called a community meeting in our village hall. The response was overwhelming. We seemed to have tapped years of pent-up dissatisfaction and grievances. Our two small, adjacent hamlets straddle boundaries and have a relatively short history. The result has been an absence of voice and a lack of local power. People felt that we were perceived as an easy place to exploit.
From the very start our attitude has been to make every effort to get our own way by building new relationships of respect and understanding, rather than to demand results by confrontation. We also believe that by combining our efforts and speaking out in a co-ordinated way we are more likely to achieve positive results. Perhaps it¹s just beginner¹s luck; perhaps were in the right place at the right time, but we do seem to be making changes for the better already. Some of the BASA men volunteered to negotiate with the local haulier and have built a good working relationship with him. The result was that his planning application was eventually passed but on condition that he includes provisions to keep noise and light pollution to an acceptable minimum, as agreed with BASA. As a goodwill gesture he has also instructed his drivers to reduce their speed through the hamlet. So what began as a very threatening issue has ended with considerable good feeling in the community.

Negotiating the planning application was a minefield and we were desperate for help here. With the Civic Trust in disarray we turned instead to Planning Aid whose volunteers gave us endless support. But we could also have done with talking to ordinary people, people like ourselves, who had negotiated similar planning nightmares. This is something that I hope a new civic society movement will be able to support via a web forum, emails and phone. Attending the Blackpool Convention in October I realised just how much practical experience and expertise there is, in both small communities like our own and in towns and cities, which could so easily be made more available to other civic groups across England.

The haulage planning application was complex, partly because it had a
long history of previous applications and partly because its issues spanned several departments within both the Borough Council and Derbyshire County Council. However, because we had to bombard specific council officers with requests for information and action, we quickly became known as a forceful and determined new society. I even had the delicious experience of hearing from my daughter, who belongs to another campaigning group in nearby Belper, that she'd been told she ought to contact that new society in Bullbridge for advice. "But that's my Mum", was her astonished reply.
We are now putting our BASA heads together to try to influence how the nine hectare dye works site is to be redeveloped. We have already, with the Friends of the Cromford Canal (FCC), persuaded the developer that a sufficient corridor, to allow the canal reinstatement, should be left through the site. Now we face another, greater campaign. Our vision is that one day our two hamlets will once again be united by a restored Cromford canal, its mighty aqueduct once more striding across the Amber gap. (Remember that the Falkirk Wheel was cast just along the Cromford canal in nearby Butterley. This historic iron works tragically closed last year, causing more local depression.) The Amber valley is a natural gateway not only into the Peak District but also into the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site (and BASA has contacts here, now, too). We know that we are being ambitious: even a year ago few local people could dream that the vision could be possible: but now, why not?
It's very attractive to the ego to be involved in grand plans, but within a small community it's the small things that determine the quality of life. And this is where we hope a vibrant civic society movement will assist in achieving local results. Recently, for instance, exceptional rainfall and resultant flooding have hit the headlines. But we have our flooding problems too. Only half a dozen houses are affected, but that's half a dozen families' lives in ruins for a year and more. And in a community of little more than four hundred homes, half a dozen is locally significant. Politicians are perceived as being interested only in winning votes: small issues are the losers. But this is where we hope that our civic society will succeed. We are non-political; we care about where we live; we want the best for our neighbourhood. But without a national body conferring authority I feel that we risk being perceived as parochial busy bodies. This view is shared by other civic societies. I do hope that a new national body will have the broader vision and authority to encourage small local societies like BASA to stay lively and active into the future.

Freda Raphael
Bullbridge and Sawmills Area Civic Society
Setting up assettingupasacharity a charity - should we do it!

Approximately 40% of civic societies are registered as charities and the majority - if they chose to do so - would be eligible to become registered if they want to. We have been asked by a number of different groups what are the criteria and benefits for a group in becoming a charity, so we have put together this short article giving you the basic information you need.
Essentially the minimum requirements you must meet are
  • to be set up in England and or Wales
  • the majority of your trustees live in England and Wales
  • the majority of your assets are in England and Wales
  • to be registered as a company in England and Wales
  • your total income is no more than £5,000 a year
Some of the advantages of becoming a charity are:
  • people are more likely to offer time, energy or money to a registered charity
  • many grant-makers and other funders ONLY give to charities so this will open up funding streams
  • many organisations offer free or discounted help and advice to charities
  • charities receive a wide range of tax breaks, including Gift Aid
  • the respect you will get from others, including those you want to influence
These are the main points and advantages in setting up a charity, but be mindful it can be a lengthy process and you should not underestimate the work involved. More information on registering as a charity can be read here. You can find more out here about the alternatives to registering as a charity.
Feedback please

This Bulletin is intended to keep you up to date with all matters "civic". We are keen to make it useful for you and would love to have your feedback.

Please submit your feedback here
In This Issue
Final feedback to Own the future
Structure and governance
Time to decide leaflet
Binding us all together
Six month accounts
A history of the civic movement
Street clutter - Street Pride
Civic Society Live - 12 January
Diamond Jubilee celebrations
Salisbury in Detail - book launch
Hackney - Modern, Restored, Forgotten, Ignored
Civic Society gets a coat of arms
Blue plaques
Challenges of being a new civic society
Setting up as a charity - should we do it?
Feedback please
Forthcoming events
Tell us your events here
Civic Societies in the news
Ilkley Civic Society
Bristol Civic Society
Leeds Civic Trust
Lynn Civic Society

Civic Society Initiative in the news


SJS Plumbing & Heating

S P Saban

Touch Of Glamour

Traceys Travel

A Cut Above


B&M Installations

Brooklands Design

Buntingford Karate Club

Calm Holistic Therapies

Chris Dellar

Christines Will Writing

Country Maids

FCB Maintenance


J Oliver Radley