Ely - October 2012
Ely - May 2011
Cambridge - June 2010
Ipswich - April 2010
Bury St. Edmunds - June 2009
Cambridge - Sept 2009
Kings Lynn - Oct 2009
Welcome to the East of England Civic and Amenity Societies
Message from the Chairman
Power to Change Your CommunityPower to Change is a new initiative which will invest up to £150 million to support the development of sustainable community-led enterprises across England. It will be delivered by an independent Trust to be established later this year. More information
Meeting of regional committeeAt a meeting of the East of England committee on 16 April I gave a report on the recent regional chairs meeting. In particular we discussed matters of concern to us in relation to the NPPF, and which might go into the Civic Voice manifesto for candidates in the 2015 election. We agreed that I should feed the following points back to Civic Voice:
East of England Historic Environment ForumOn 1 April the HEF met in the mews of Palace House in Newmarket, which was built by Charles IIi and is being extensively refubished so as to become a national gallery of Britsih sporting art. The HEF was told of the consultation about NHPP2, the second National Heritage Protection Plan. Its predecessor NHPP1 led to 10 organisations creating action plans, and to 400 projects, for example one on solar panels in the countryside. (We learnt from the CPRE representative about a huge increase in the number of applications for these to be allowed.) But there was lack of interest in NHPP1 at local level because it was too complex. NHPP2 will run from 2015 to 2020 and be facilitated by Historic England, overseen by a board that will basically be the national HEF. The consultation will seek views on what should go into the Plan: I suggested Local Listing. The national review of architecture and the built environment led by Sir Terry Farrell was mentioned as being important and we intend giving it detailed scrutiny at our next meeting. I brought up the matter of the general poor design of new buildings, and it was agreed that the review's proposals to appoint people in each local authority to champion local design quality was therefore important. We learnt that, nationally, there are now 295 archaeology staff in local authorities, compared with a peak of 410 a few years ago. However, in our region the reduction has been very small.
Meeting of regional chairsWhen Civic Voice was formed it deliberately excluded any regional voice in its deliberations. This has now changed: its rules now allow an non-executive advisory regional forum so as to reinforce the role of the regions. How formal it will be has not been decided, but an informal meeting of regional chairs took place on 19 March. Among the points made were:
Historic Environment ForumPeter Lee reports from the recent meeting of the region's Historic Environment Forum:
Charter to save the countrysideCPRE asks everyone to sign a charter with 3 key demands:
Heritage Counts 2013The report for our region is here
Our regional economySome interesting facts and figures showing the strength of our regional economy are here.
Our waterway systemDefra has has significant obligations under the EU Water Framework Directive, but is being subjected to continuing funding cuts. Therefore it is promoting the creation of a nation-wide network of third-sector organisations to work with the Environment Agency, water companies and other appropriate bodies. The project has the name Catchment Based Approach. Among the threats to the waterway system that the network will address are
Wellbeing EastFollowing the demise of COVER, the umbrella group for voluntary organisations, Wellbeing East has been set up to take up its work in health and care. At its first full meeting on 22 October we learnt something of the complicated bureacratic structure of this sector, with Health and Wellbeing Boards and Clinical Commissioning Groups among other bodies. More information is here. At the meeting I asked how this structure will handle the issue of loneliness to which I refer below, but I did not really get an answer.
LonelinessOne of the things to which I drew attention in a talk I gave last month to the regional branch of the RTPI is that the biggest killer is loneliness, so it was good to hear Health Secrtary Jeremy Hunt take this up. According to the Campaign against Loneliness,
Dash for gasI recently heard a lecture by a senior executive of Royal Dutch Shell, who told us that by 2050 global gas demand will have doubled. It is not only an important fuel, but a source of chemicals for plastics, detergents, coatings etc. He said that, while replacing coal with gas is the fastest and cheapest way to meet CO2 reduction targets, in Europe the trend is actually in the opposite direction: coal use is increasing and gas decreasing. On fracking, he maintained that it is completely without danger so long as it is properly managed, but he was pessimistic about overcoming public resistance in the UK. Liquid natural gas is big business for Shell; some of the new ships to transport it are more than half a kilometre long!
Keeping local services goingEarlier this year my wife and I had a holiday in the island of Jura off the west coast of Scotland, which has a population of 180. The local shop was struggling so, with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Community Right to Bid was used and it is now run by volunteers. Its web site tells us that there are currently 301 community owned shops in the UK and only 13 ever closed. The Jura ambulance service also is staffed by volunteers, and throughout the UK community transport is becoming increasingly important to maintain village bus services.
Dementia researchAccording to Alzheimers Research UK, while UK research expenditure on cancer is £590 million a year, for dementia it is only £50 million. But dementia costs the UK economy £23 billion per year, twice that for cancer There are currently 800,000 people with dementia in the UK There will be over a million by 2021 according to Alzheimer's Society.
Natural Health ServiceAt a recent meeting of the Greater Cambridgeshire Local Nature Partnership it was suggested that getting people out to walk in the woods is better than going to the gym, because fewer drop out. And dancing for fun is successful with older people, while vigorous house cleaning is also good exercise. It was remarked that the money is with GP commissioning groups, and they should be lobbeyed to spend some of it to promote such things.
Historic Environment ForumSome of the things I learnt at the recent meeting of the region's Historic Environment Forum:
Goods deliveryAt a meeting on transport organised by the Technology Strategy Board we learnt that 22% of road traffic is NHS-related. There was also discussion of the need to encourage stakeholders to work together to devise new models for the delivery of goods, particularly in towns. They should cooperate so that there is one delivery per day of everything, outside the times of congestion, and there should be warehouses with goods positioned near customers. I drew attention to a service provided by our local John Lewis. I can go to their shop in town and choose what I want; then 3 minutes later I can pick it up from their warehouse at a Park & Ride. If more retailers collaborated to do something similar, it would help to reverse the decline in town centres.
ImmigrationI have learnt a number of interesting things from a lecture by a Home Office official:
Peter Landshoff: pvl at damtp.cam.ac.uk
Chairman, East of England Civic and Amenity Societies
Civic Voice now has 290 member societies, of which 29 are in our region: