AGM 2010 - comments board
Posted: 14 October 2010 11:44 AM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  117
Joined  2010-04-27

The recent AGM in Peterborough included an opportunity for people to post thoughts, ideas and suggestions.  These are being posted below along with some replies from Civic Voice.

The first batch of comments are below and relate to:

Campaign Issues

Disposal of assets will be a real problem over the next few years. We will need help with protecting our heritage.

How can Civic Voice help local civic societies who are concerned with the current review of the 2003 licensing act?
Licensing – getting a balance of the wellbeing of those communities especially in town centres is tricky.

Guidance would be good on who are the key contacts in my authority e.g. who is on design panel
We shall need to talk to our local authority to ensure they see us as well as the parish council as the voice of the local community.

I am happy to contribute to the volunteer group on changes to the planning system
The Coalition wants neighbourhoods to draw up local plans. Some people are worried that this will mean more power to the NIMBYS. How can we allay these fears?
How far has Civic Voice got to having a panel of professionals i.e. architects to whom individual societies can turn to for expert advice when responding to planning applications?
Will “localism” strengthen local authorities resisting threats by national builders?
Buntingford has actively become engaged with planning officers and councillors but it remains to be seen if this consultation influences the LDF

Please raise the issue with HM Government of the VAT on renovations of historic buildings. As English Heritage Chief Executive recently said “funds for renovation from government will be much less so why heritage should be paying so much more back. Please campaign to abolish this.

Point to push – carbon footprint is about 3 times more with demolition of old properties than restoration
Although the environment agenda may not be core activity, it is a way by which civic societies can make themselves “relevant” and as a good medium for bringing the sustainability message home to communities i.e. an opportunity!
More “inter-connectedness between Civic Voice and green/sustainable organisation could help draw in younger members
Civic societies are owned by their members and often the members are not environmentalists. They want to use their cars and have cheap parking. There is a limit to the preaching civic societies should do. They represent their members.
In Winchester our society is involved in working closely with the leading body on climate change “Winchester action in Climate change” in producing a new vision for Winchester’s future. This involves sharing consultations, meetings and resources.

Civic Voice responses in next post

Posted: 14 October 2010 11:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Total Posts:  117
Joined  2010-04-27

Campaign issues - Civic Voice responses

There are lots of issues here and some great ideas for where we should be focusing our campaign efforts.

Disposal of assets – We agree this is going to be a serious issue as local councils, Government Departments and other public bodies look to save money and generate funds.  We provided a lot of information and links in Issue 3 of civic sense in July – let us know if you want a copy

Environment and sustainability – There was a lot of interest in this during the AGM discussions as well and it is clearly something where a good debate about the role of civic societies would be helpful.  There are a lot of organisations involved in campaigns on climate change, sustainability and green issues – the civic movement has something to add perhaps by bringing things to life in terms of the impact on real places; whether it be the consequences of adapting too and mitigating climate change, promoting local food, or the impacts of doing nothing.  We would welcome volunteers coming forward who might want to kick off a discussion about this

Planning – We’re the most numerous participants in the planning system so it isn’t surprising that planning is so important to civic societies.  The Coalition Government’s plans for “collaborative neighbourhood planning” offer real opportunities for civic societies as they are intended to put communities at the heart – we can prevent this becoming NIMBYism by getting involved.  We would welcome those with planning experience coming forward to help advise civic societies on planning issues or support Civic Voice in tackling the planning reforms.  What we do know is that civic societies can make a real difference through the planning system and it shouldn’t be left to experts, it is for everyone to get involved.  We’ve started up some introduction to planning workshops and hope we can do more.  Find out more about the Planning for People campaign at

Licensing – We know the problems of late night drinking and town centres is a big issue for many civic societies.  We are, therefore, working with the Open All Hours group of civic societies, residents groups and others to shape the review of licensing controls which is intended to give more power back to local communities, and also encouraging the role of Purple Flag to promote good standards of management in the night time economy.  Watch out for more in early November when the Open All Hours campaign kicks off

VAT – There is no doubt that removing VAT from maintenance and repair of historic buildings would be a major boost to their care but there is very little political interest at the moment.  VAT has been a focus for much campaigning by heritage groups in recent years and we need to be realistic about what can be achieved, certainly in the short term.  We will continue working with heritage bodies on this and other issues and focusing our limited resources where we believe we can make the most impact – regrettably this is unlikely to be on a VAT exemption.

Council relationships – Councils should increasingly be seeing civic societies as important community partners.  Do let us know where you are succeeding so those civic societies with less favourable councils can point to what others are doing.  Remember to ask your council which councillor is its Design Champion and which its Heritage Champion and if they don’t have one then ask why not!

Posted: 14 October 2010 12:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Total Posts:  117
Joined  2010-04-27

Promoting civic societies

Is Civic Day instead of Hods or in addition? We are already committed to HODs each year and wonder how we can do both. Also – is this Civic Voice getting into competition with English Heritage?

Can you come up with a Local Listings workshop format for use on Civic Day

There is a strong economic case for the role of civic societies – it would be useful to emphasise this.

We need to emphasis and promote our expertise to all. Societies are in favour of sensitive development and can inform investors, planners, developers

Societies are pro-active to – not just reactive!

Civic societies are non-political – how can we engage our MPs without being classing as political…

Posted: 14 October 2010 12:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Total Posts:  117
Joined  2010-04-27

Promoting civic societies - Civic Voice responses

Civic Day – A number of these issues were discussed on Civic Voice Live on 14 October so do look at the discussion.  Civic Day and Heritage Open Days are very different and we continue to work closely with English Heritage on HODs.  Do have a look at the Frequently Asked Questions we have pulled together and don’t miss out on the workshops – see

Promoting civic societies – There is no doubt civic societies have a lot to shout about – if you focus on what you achieve and the positive things you do then more and more people will offer their support.  Civic volunteers know their places better than anyone as well as often having particular planning, design or heritage knowledge and skills.  And as this year’s Heritage Counts document from English Heritage and others shows there is a compelling economic case for the historic environment

Getting political? – Civic societies do not get involved in party politics and there is nothing party political about lobbying MPs or local politicians.  That is what they are there for – and once elected you will find all MPs say they represent everyone in their constituency not just those who voted for them!

Posted: 14 October 2010 01:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Total Posts:  117
Joined  2010-04-27

Building a movement

To increase connectivity between the national body and local societies/trusts/societies etc. could we encourage the use of the word Voice i.e. Salisbury Voice, Guildford Voice – maybe the word “society” is dated and historic

The London Problem – form a clear agreement with the London Forum it is clear that CV is adding great value and LF is complimentary. Societies should belong to both

Met with representatives from Leeds, Manchester and Bristol – keen to get together to share knowledge and experience

Only 50% of societies are members! The website and information such as Your Voice are available to everyone. Should this not only be for members?

Great buzz at the AGM and conference. If only this could be communicated to those societies that have not yet joined.

Try to visit some societies in the SE England – all I hear is about the North

On website please – suggestions highlighting what other civic societies are doing

Civic Voice communicates with its members by email to save money BUT to spread Civic Voice’s message wider, we need more hard copy to give out to persuade people. Print outs from the website are not good enough. We need something glossy and eye catching.

The presentation was inspirational. We need it to persuade our members to join up with the national organisation, Civic Voice!  Can you put it on the website and email it to your entire list
Well done and congratulation to the Board and staff of Civic Voice for what you have achieved so are

Congratulations on the “you said… we did” presentation   - Now find ways to communicate this to non-joiners

We suggest Brighton as the venue for next year’s AGM!

For next year’s AGM please get a High Profile speaker!!!!

Do your grant figures include lottery grants?

Posted: 14 October 2010 01:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Total Posts:  117
Joined  2010-04-27

Building a movement - Civic Voice responses

Communications – There’s no doubt that good communications is vital to civic societies working together as a movement.  We have put the key presentations from the AGM online  We recognise the need for more promotional material to add to the current Civic Voice leaflet although this is expensive and hard to distribute among so many groups.  It would be helpful to know what people would find most helpful. 

Sharing ideas – We are planning to do more to build on the success of the Peterborough session where civic volunteers presented and discussed a variety of initiatives.  There is already a lot in civic sense and your voice on this and more ideas on the Civic Day page of the website  What would you find most helpful?

Use of “Voice” – The question of whether the term “Society” feels a bit closed and not welcoming to new members was also raised in discussion at the AGM.  This is something that every group will want to consider as part of the way they promote themselves and what they do.  We know Swindon Civic Trust has renamed itself Swindon Civic Voice and others are considering it.

AGM – We have had a number of suggestions of places to hold next year’s AGM which is really encouraging – and thank you Brighton for adding to the list.  We are keen for the AGM to be hosted by the local civic society and supported locally.  We will look carefully at the programme and invite your views – as we did this year.  We decided that our first AGM was a place where it was the voice of civic societies that mattered rather than a high profile guest speaker.

London – We agree that the work of Civic Voice and the London Forum is complementary and they should both be valued by civic societies in London.  We hope to meet and discuss with the London Forum shortly how best to work together and increase Civic Voice’s membership from London groups.

Covering the country – It is great to see how civic societies from different parts of the country are getting together to discuss issues of common interest.  Spreading ourselves evenly across England is always going to be a challenge given the number of different groups.  We have been or will be involved in a number of meetings and events in the last year in southern England – Portsmouth, Winchester, Sydenham, Tunbridge Wells, High Wycombe, Reading, Guildford, Bury St Edmunds, Canterbury, Abingdon, Angel, Aylesbury, Chelmsford, Ipswich – and hope to increase the number of workshops.  We are also planning a Spring Conference and will try and move this around the country

Grants – Civic Voice isn’t receiving any Lottery grants – the grants income is from Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Communities and Local Government and English Heritage and it is core funding during the transition to what we hope will be fully funded by the civic movement.  It doesn’t have strings attached and we can’t rely on it for the long term

Member benefits – It s important that membership of Civic Voice brings benefits and we are keen to improve these.  You already get free day access passes for your members to the National Trust, a Co-op bank account facility which pays interest, free membership of NCVO and a good deal on insurance from Bluefin as well as voting rights at the AGM among other things.  We are keen to work in as open a way as possible for the benefit of the whole movement and so have chosen not to limit circulation of our bulletins or have a members only section of the website.  We also hope that this will encourage people to join us.  We may have to revisit this approach in the future but out starting point is to be as “open source” as possible

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