7.30pm Wednesday 6th November 2013

 Phil Campbell (Chairman) welcomed 25 members and visitors to the Annual General Meeting.

Apologies:  Victor de Quincey, Tom Hughes, Barbara Barker, David Cornwall, Liz Taylor, Rebecca Hanson.

Minutes of the meeting of 2nd November 2011:                                            

Shirley Campbell proposed that the minutes be accepted as a true record – this was seconded by Darren Ward and passed unanimously.

Matters arising:          None                  

Secretary’s Report:                John Dent

The 2012/13 Winter programme of lectures was well received by all who attended the events. A special members meeting was held on 13th February where presentations were given to keep members updated with latest developments around the town and where members could express their views. On 22nd February we hosted a visit from Steve Graham, Chief Executive of Civic Voice and members were invited to a question and answer session held at Jennings Brewery.

The annual dinner was held at the Allerdale Court Hotel on 17th April where the after dinner speaker was Vanessa Graham, owner of J.B.Banks.

The annual day trip was to Lytham St Annes on the 12th June, hosted by Lytham St Annes Civic Society, and was enjoyed by all who went.

The Trust has continued to comment on the various planning applications as and when appropriate and is using the “Building for Life” method of assessment. We have tried to be more pro-active than in previous housing developments by talking to the Strawberry Howe developers before any submission for planning permission. We have also taken up various valid comments with the appropriate authorities with some success. We have continued to be involved in the formation of the new Allerdale Local Plan and have submitted our comments accordingly. We are now turning our attention to working on a Local Heritage List.

The Trust continued to have involvement in the Main Street repair, the Neighbourhood Development and the Flood Defences projects.

Copies of “Bradbury’s History of Cockermouth” have been presented to local schools.

On Friday 8th February we walked round the route of the first ever “Walk of Pride” in Cockermouth, held in July last year, to assess the progress in the improvements we had championed. One of the actions that resulted from the 2012 walk was to improve Lowther Went. Consequently, using funds from the now disbanded Fearon Fallows Society, artwork featuring Fearon Fallows created by member Victor de Quincey, was unveiled by the Town Mayor on Wednesday, 3rd July. This event was featured on TV as well as in the local press. A second artwork by Victor, sponsored by local businesses and members, featuring a montage of buildings and places in the town, was unveiled on Wednesday, 2nd October. The second “Walk of Pride” was held on Friday, 26th July this year.  As per last year all members and any other interested residents were invited to join together in identifying building and streetscape that the group was proud of, as well as areas that could be improved for the benefit of the town as a whole. On both occasions we were joined by Joe Broomfield, the Town Centre Manager.  We also helped on the Town Spring Clean Day organised by Joe on Friday 24th May.

On Saturday, 15th June we organised a Civic Day event at the URC with displays and sales of books. A new publication “Main Street Reborn” compiled by Eric Apperley was launched by the Town Mayor. This book won an award at the national Civic Voice AGM and Conference held on 25th/26th October in Liverpool.

The Trust continues to be a member of the North West Association of Civic Societies (NWACTS) and of the national Civic Voice. Members of the Executive Committee have attended various meetings organised by Civic Voice and NWACTS.

The Trust has continued to host a website. Publicity throughout the year had been quite good with monthly articles in the “Cockermouth Post” and regular articles in the “Times & Star”. Unfortunately due to a dispute over the cost of an advertisement for Heritage Open Days, the editors of the “Cockermouth Post” have asked us not to submit any further articles.

The Trust actively supported the registration of the Cumberland Flag and this was used in the unveiling of the artworks in Lowther Went and was flown on the Castle Flag Tower during the “Taste Cumbria” event. With the help of Philip Tibbetts of the Flag Institute a flag for Cockermouth was designed. Unfortunately the principle of a flag for the town was rejected by the Town Council without whose support a flag cannot be registered.

The old Town Trail notice in Kirkgate was replaced with an upgraded one which was part funded by Wigton Motor Club and a legacy from John Chakko. The Trust participated in the “Heritage Open Days” event in September for the fifth year. Ten premises including a Roman Papcastle exhibition were open on the day plus two lectures.

In addition, Castle visits have been hosted in support of the Summer Festival and Cumbria Tourism.

The Trust has taken various groups round the Town Trail including Ambleside Rotary Club, Lake District National Park Volunteers and groups of students from Germany and Marvejols. Jane Sheppard organised a Treasure Hunt round the town for members of the Women’s Institute.

A donation of £50 was made to the Europe Prize Scholarship Fund.

Membership at the end of the 2012/13 year stands at 102. Currently 63 members are on the email list which saves the Trust printing and postal costs.           

Chairman’s Report:              Phil Campbell

Our Secretary has already reported on the detail of our activities over the last year. I think you will agree that it has been quite a busy & successful year for us. I would highlight in particular the following successes:

  • The Walks of Pride, which have resulted in visible improvements to the townscape, potentially with more in the pipeline.
  • The launch of our book, ‘Main Street Reborn’
  • The production and unveiling of the 2 artworks on the electricity substation building in Lowther Went.
  • A Civic Day event that drew in around 50 people, included the book launch & gained a Civic Voice award.
  • Close working with the Cockermouth Town Manager, Joe Broomfield, which has contributed to our successes.

All this is in addition to our normal member’s activities, town trail & castle tours, Heritage Open Days, etc.

Of course there have been some disappointments. Clearly in this respect there is the proposal for a town flag, which has currently floundered due to lack of Town Council support. Also developments have been approved without the quality that we have been seeking, in particular for the Fitz and Sullart Street. For this reason, we are looking to engage on design issues earlier in the process for future developments, in particular for the proposed Strawberry Howe development.

We have now been members of Civic Voice for over 2 years. This has been very positive for us in many ways and I strongly recommend that our membership continues. Through this membership, we have been able to contribute to the success of some national campaigns led by Civic Voice. The then Director of Civic Voice, Steve Graham, visited us in February and attended a special member’s meeting at Jennings. Steve has since left Civic Voice but we hope that the new Chair of Civic Voice, Freddie Grick, will visit Cockermouth at some point, maintaining our profile.

A continuing theme in common with other societies is an ageing membership & difficulties in attracting new members. Although we still have a total membership of over 100, the number of members actively involved is less than a dozen and the numbers participating in member’s events has reduced over the years.  This is an issue for the committee and members alike to focus on, because I do believe that Cockermouth would be poorer without its Civic Trust.

A key activity that we would like to progress in 2013/14 is the development of a Local Heritage List for Allerdale specifically including Cockermouth. Duncan Keeler is leading this and 3 of us attended a related workshop run by English Heritage organised by NWACTS. Such a list identifies buildings, places, etc which are not nationally listed but have local heritage value which needs to be considered in planning applications, etc. Creating the list represents an investment in our town’s future. This will be a significant task because it requires involvement of other organisations, public consultation and approval by the District Council.

And finally, I would like to thank everyone for their contributions over the last year, elected officers and members. Thanks in particular to Duncan Keeler for arranging the 2013/14 lecture programme. Thanks to all members who contributed financially to the second artwork. This year I would also like to propose two votes of thanks on your behalf for special contributions.

  • The first is to Eric Apperley for producing our book, ‘Cockermouth, Main Street Reborn’, which as you have heard enabled us to achieve the Civic Voice special publication award for Civic Day. Eric is also standing down from committee after many years of excellent service.
  • The second is to Victor de Quincey for producing the two superb artworks for us on the sub-station in Lowther Went, free of charge to the Trust.

Treasurer’s Report:    

Ian Dodsworth presented the Income and Expenditure Account and the Balance Sheet for the year ended 31st March 2013, copies of which were circulated to the meeting.

He reported that there was a deficit of income over expenditure of £1295.  He reported that he did not regard this deficit as a cause for concern. It arose from a decision to make worthwhile expenditure from reserves. Expenditure includes £687 on new signs to assist visitors, £277 on advertising for Heritage Open Days (HODs) (This was paid by English Heritage in previous years.), £288 on Civic Voice Membership and part cost of attending meetings and £110 for the Special Members Lunch Meeting with the Chief Executive of Civic Voice.

He reported that in the current year book sales have increased substantially and should result in an increased profit of £300. Also HODs costs have been reduced by £90. Ian stated that he expects the next year’s accounts to show an overspend of not more than £250. He said that with no major projects currently planned and with the balance sheet showing a balance of £8507 (£4142 cash and £4381 book stocks), there was no problem in running the Trust with the above deficit. There was no need therefore for any increase in membership subscription which has remained unchained for over 10 years.

Kathleen Keeler proposed that the accounts be accepted as a true record and this was seconded by Mary Bradbury and passed unanimously.

Election of Officers and Committee Members:

The present officers Phil Campbell (Chairman), Ian Dodsworth (Treasurer) and John Dent (Secretary) were happy to continue in their roles. There being no other nominations, Brian Coley proposed that the officers be appointed and this was seconded by Brian Munday and passed unanimously.

Of the current committee members Shirley Campbell, Darren Ward, Rebecca Hanson and Duncan Keeler were happy to continue. Their re-election and the election of new committee member Brian Coley was proposed by Georgina Dent and seconded by Margaret Coley. Their election was passed unanimously.

Any other business:    None

There was no additional business and the meeting closed at 8.45pm.