Minutes of the meeting of Brierley Hill Civic Society held at St Michael’s Church, Bell Street South, on 17th March 2014 commencing at 5.30pm.
Shane Bastock, Beryl Biggs, Ruth Childs, Joy Cooper, Beryl Fisher, Robert Franklin, John Heathcock, John James, Betsy Lafferty, Tim Lee, Brad Jones, Andrew Mann-Ray, Lorna Morrison, Maggie Norton, Jenny Sunter, Tim Sunter, Rosemary Tomkinson, Dennis Whittaker
Judy Foster, Rachel Harris, Peter Hobbs, Zafar Islam, Ray Norton
Minutes of the previous meeting
The minutes of the previous meeting had been circulated and were agreed as a true record.
Rosemary Tomkinson asked for clarification on the role of Dudley Council in the Brierley Hill in Bloom project. TS explained that it had been agreed to purchase and the punters through the council to achieve cost savings. SB enlarged on this point by explaining that the management of risk and therefore liability would remain with the local authority which afforded protection to organisers of the scheme.
JS informed the meeting of the correspondence received since February.
Membership dues to Civic Voice were now due. This amounted to £1.50 per member. So far between 10 and 15 members had renewed. The Civic Voice membership came with the benefit of free entry to a National Trust facility. It was noted that it was on the agenda for discussion later.
A leaflet had been received from Dudley Council concerning the Dudley Trail taking place on May 4th.
Civic Voice were also organising a national Civic Day on June 21. It was suggested that this might be something the Society would be interested in for future years.
DW reported that at the last meeting the Society has £36.71 cash in hand, and £741.22 in the bank. £65 had been paid in membership fees on 17 February, and £15 was contributed as the room collection. This brought the cash in hand to £116.71. £100 has thus been banked. This meant that the society has a total of £841.22 in its account. Two cheques totalling £110 remained to show in the accounts, meaning effectively this society has £731.22 available in the bank.
TS reported that some of the funding had been achieved as a result of the Community First grant. £200 of this was to pay towards a pull up display. The rest was to cover the cost of speakers and room hire. This money would need to be accounted for in the near future. It was agreed that TS and DW would discuss how much of the grant had been spent to date such action could be taken appropriately on any remaining funds.
A discussion ensued on how to cover the cost of speakers for future meetings. The society had been paying £15 for room hire and a £50 fee for each speaker. However, this had been funded through a grant from Community First. The amount of income from room collections was not, if it remains the same, cover the cost of speakers. RT said that it was important that those who attended the speakers events were aware of the expected level of donation. It was agreed:
To apply for a further grant from Community First
To ask members to pay 2 pounds and nonmembers 3 pounds for each speaking event
To explore fundraising activities to create a resource for funding speakers.
Members requested that information regarding meetings be displayed on the noticeboard at Marsh Park, in Farm Foods, and elsewhere through the town. Notices of meetings should also be sent to the local press.
BJ and TL raised the issue of how a greater awareness of cultural issues could be raised in schools. The meeting felt that this was one of the key objectives of the Civic Society. It was agreed that BJ, TL, SB and TS would liaise to explore how this could best be achieved. TS agreed to set the ball rolling by email. BJ intimated that with the correct program funding may be available directly from schools.
The offer by Civic Voice of free entry to a National Trust property was noted by the meeting. A number of members indicated that they would be interested in taking advantage of the offer as a group. It was agreed to conduct a small survey to see which property members would like to visit and when.
It was agreed that the next three meetings would consist of Cllr Judy Foster and officials talking about regeneration issues in May, a talk on the conservation of the town’s buildings in June, and TS would talk of his research into Brierley Hill’s Great War in July. The Society does not need in August, but the following five meetings should consist of speakers with historic interests.
RH offered to facilitate speakers with a health interest should the Society so wish.
Brierley Hill SNOW
TL updated the meeting on the opposition to the Clean Power appeal. Over 900 letters have been delivered to the Planning Inspectorate opposing the plan. In addition to this a petition had gathered many signatures, a Facebook site and twitter account established, a website had been created and there has been extensive media coverage.
The SNOW campaign was hoping that the planning inspector would allow representation at the enquiry which is expected in mid June. If this was agreed a statement would be filed and spokespeople would be identified to put the case for local residents.
TL thanked Brierley Hill market for allowing them to have a stall for three days. The response had been overwhelmingly against Clean Power. One or two people had spoken in support of the employment opportunity, and one person had commented on whether the site would be suitable for residential development.
TS commented at how effective the campaign had been in mobilising public opinion. This was greatly to the credit of TL and his team. Following the last meeting the Society had written to the Planning Inspectorate to object to the proposals. A copy of the letter was available at the meeting for anyone who wished to read it.
Brierley Hill Christmas Festival
JS reported that the Christmas lights turn on will take place on 6th December.
Insight House was on board, the Santa Joggle was being supported by Birmingham Metropolitan College and DMBC were going to manage the lights switch onCommunity First funding may be available to support the project depending on the panel meeting due to take place on 18th March.
JS is keen to increase the participation of schools in the event. BJ and JS agreed to have a conversation on how this could best be achieved.
The meeting was appreciative of JS for her continuing work on this project.
Brierley Hill in Bloom
TS updated the meeting. £7500 of funding has been achieved through Community First, Brierley Hill Traders Association, and a legitimate anonymous donor.
The planters were on order and Birmingham Metropolitan College students were growing the plants.
It was hoped that individuals, community groups and schools would help to maintain the plants once they were in situ. This would require access to water within the town centre. The informal steering group were aware of this and working on plans accordingly.
It was agreed that the Civic Society would adopt some of the planters, and TS agreed to explore a rotor arrangements for members to look after them.
SB and TS has met with New Heritage Regeneration at its request to talk about Brierley Hill. The meeting has been positive and discussions regarding ERDF funding has taken place. It was proposed to create an informal “doers” group to establish an action plan to press ahead with regeneration in Brierley Hill. SB and TS felt it was very important after this to succeed the local authority needed to view it as more than an exercise in ticking boxes.
The meeting discussed its disappointment that the momentum in the regeneration of Brierley Hill has been lost in recent years. It was hoped that the new initiative would enable some ground to be regained. It is aimed for the first “doers” meeting to take place by the end of April. Thereafter it would be possible to report back to the Society.
AMR reported on the proposed Celebrate Brierley Hill event which was taking place at Brierley Methodist Church on Tuesday, March 25. This builds on the success of last years Round Oak Memorial event. It was hoped to have speakers on Brierley Hill’s past, present and future. DW agreed to liaise with AMR regarding Brierley Hill’s past.
Any Other Urgent Business
There was no other urgent business. The meeting closed at 7pm.