CHAIRMAN’S REPORT – 2016 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF KCG
Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you for coming on this beautiful summer evening, and welcome to the 6th Annual General Meeting of The Kingsdown Conservation Group.
Our aim is to allow the formal business to be completed by 8.00pm, when we hope you’ll stay on to enjoy some light refreshments.
The only apologies are from Joe and Jenny Wall and David Harding
Item 2 on the agenda is my report.
As in previous years, the items discussed at last year’s AGM and much of my report on this year’s activities, have already been recorded in one or more of the six Bulletins and various other notices we have published since last July.
My thanks, as always, are to you, our members, for continuing to support the group.... And to my eight committee colleagues for their support and hard work.
I would particularly like to say thank you to Peter Cross and Simon Longland, who joined us as treasurer last July. They are unsung heroes because they do so much of their work behind the scenes, fulfilling
their roles not only with skill and patience but also with a good dollop of humour. Please join me in thanking them both...... Peter and Simon
Other areas of our work in the past year have involved planning issues, events, several important projects and things we sponsor.
Let me deal with each of them in that order
On the planning front, we have continued to devote resources to helping members phoning in for advice and guidance. These calls have become less frequent.... and I think this is probably a measure of our success in helping folks to understand the planning process more, and how they themselves can gather information and advice from other sources.
As of last night, there were 33 planning applications during the year. 25 were granted – mostly for extensions and improvements. No doubt this is a reflection of the national picture whereby homeowners have chosen to improve their properties rather than move or build new ones. Five of the 33 applications were refused... four of them for garden development and one for an extension in the conservation area. Two applications are still to be determined and one has been withdrawn.
The latest development threats are Dover Harbour Board’s application to remove vast quantities of sand and gravel from the Goodwin Sands, and the application by Kingsdown Water Company to re-locate to Ringwould. I look forward to seeing how both these applications progress.
I now turn to KCG’s events. As you know, Rosie Bolton stood down officially last July, having organized many excellent and enjoyable events for us over a period of several years --- the last of which featured the Marine Conservation Society.
And then, at the turn of the year, Annie Martin joined the team and immediately set about planning and organizing a new programme which proved to be equally enjoyable. This included April’s talk by Mike Phillips about Dragons in your Garden, May’s fascinating story of Butterflies in Kent by Ade Jupp, and June’s beautifully illustrated wildlife presentation by freelance naturalist John Buckingham.
Annie is now working on the autumn programme of talks and I urge you to look out for the publicity, book the dates in your diary and join the audience.
We will also be talking later about possible new ideas for events and talks but, before moving on, I would like you to join me, please, in thanking Annie for joining the team and for bringing fresh ideas and energy to the group. Thank you Annie
Next I would like to talk about KCG’s projects which, in the past year, have included the Conservation Area Appraisal, production of a Heritage Trail Map, development of our new website and publication of a Footpath Map.
I am pleased to report that these projects have continued to be successful, although some have imposed great demands on our limited manpower resources and our patience. Even so, they represent a really tangible example of what we as a group can achieve, and I think we should be proud of that achievement.
The Conservation Area Appraisal - which has been so skillfully devised and written by Julian Underhill and my wife Helen - is at last nearing completion..... after more than three year’s endeavor.
Here it is, but still not in its final form (WAVE DOC)
I would like you, please, to join me in thanking Julian and Helen, most sincerely, for their enormously professional work on our behalf. I would also like to re-iterate my thanks to Helen for all her work on planning issues. Julian and Helen, Thank You.
I regret saying this but I have to lay all of the blame for the needless delay in publishing the Appraisal at Dover District Council’ s door. The officers responsible have left a great deal to be desired and I personally pity any other volunteer organization like ours which agrees to work with the council on an Appraisal – or any other project for that matter.
Although we had earmarked some of our financial reserves to complete the Heritage Trail and Map, which has been ongoing for some three years, we were offered a grant of £1000 last autumn by the Up on the Downs Partnership Scheme. This allowed us to complete the research, write the copy and brief the illustrator and designer.
And here’s the final dummy (WAVE DOC)
It will go to the printers around the end of this month and will be launched at the members’ party on August 19th. Please note that date in your diaries and look out for more details. When published, the Trail Map will be sold in Del’s shop. Priced at £1:00, it’s a must for you, your family and friends and for visitors.
I would just like to make an aside comment here about Del. He has been an unfailing supporter of KCG from day one, and when I offered him commission for selling the Trail Map, he flatly refused. I hope all of us here give Del as much support as he gives us. God bless him and his team of helpers.
Now, and still on the subject of KCG’s tangible projects, I can turn to the Street and Footpath Map, which has been produced in its entirety by Joe Wall. 100 copies have already been sold from Del’s shop at £1:00 each, and version 2 is now available across the same counter at the same price. Unfortunately Joe is not here this evening for us to thank personally but I am pleased to put our sincere thanks on record via this report. I am also happy that Joe has agreed to continue as a committee associate, looking after our website – the one he devised from the outset and which now serves us so well.
Now I turn to sponsorship. I would like to thank Deborah Longland, who has also offered to continue serving the group as a committee associate and who so ably looks after our sponsorship programme of bulb planting around the village and the hanging baskets you see outside the shops and the Kings Head Thank you Deborah.
In addition to flowers, we have also continued to sponsor the enormously successful Garage Safari - organized by Rex and Rita Martin - and the Christmas lights you see at Yuletide as you come into the village from the lower end of Upper Street. Other good news is that the Memories of Kingsdown CD continues to sell well in the shops.
And finally, on other fronts, we have succeeded in pressurizing BT - our nation’s so-called communications company - to bring fibre optic broadband – and improved speeds – a little nearer to the village.
We have represented KCG members at meetings to discuss flood risks and defences, and traffic, transport and highway issues, and we have made a significant financial contribution towards the re-surfacing of Oldstairs Road, which has made such a difference in the centre of village And there is also ongoing liaison with our MP (about problems like Operation Stack), the Parish Council, Dover District Council, the new owners of the holiday park, the Kent Federation of Amenity Societies, Civic Voice, The National Trust and the Police.
On the matter of Stack, and the 40MPH speed limit between Folkestone and Dover – about which I have complained so much – I read that a Kingsdown driver who was fined for speeding has had her challenge upheld in the courts which means that those who have suffered similarly may have their convictions rescinded.
On the matter of the holiday park, I have just learned that the management company has been dismissed and the park is now being run by its owner.
Before closing my remarks, I would like to thank Barbara for her endeavours over the past year. Our working relationship with Barbara will continue, of course, because she is now busily chairing the Parish Council
There’s one other colleague I would like to mention but I have been asked to leave Jim Clugsden until later, so I will just say that he has become a much valued friend, and I look forward to continuing to enjoy his company in the future
In a moment, as you know, I will be standing down as your chairman after six years. Like Helen and Jim, I was in at the beginning of KCG. It has often been a bit of a rocky ride but I have greatly enjoyed the opportunity to do things for this very special village, and wish whoever takes over from me every success.
My only real regret is that so few people have been willing to donate just a few hours to their community. It’s really sad, for example, that after nearly six months appealing for support, only one person in this village of nearly 1000 souls has offered their services. I know this is something that will be discussed later in the meeting, and I hope that our manpower resources will get a well-deserved shot in the arm in the coming year.
So that, fellow members, is the end of my report for the year. Thank you for coming and thank you for listening. Before handing over to Simon for the next agenda item, I am happy to take brief questions on the report if you have any.