Phil Campbell (Chairman) welcomed 24 members to the Annual General Meeting.

Apologies: Received from Darren Ward, Pat Hardy and Kath Keeler.

Minutes of the meeting of 6th December 2017:

The minutes were accepted as a true record by a show of hands.

Matters arising:          None.

Secretary’s Report:                John Dent

The 2017/18 winter programme of lectures was well received by all who attended the events. The annual lunch was held at the Trout Hotel on 2nd May 2018 where the speaker was Nat Mitchell from Allison’s Chemists. The annual day trip was to Barnard Castle on 13th June 2018 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 continue to be pro-active by talking to the developers before any submission for planning permission. We submitted an objection to the planning application to have an out of town development on Low Road. We have also taken up various valid comments with the appropriate authorities with some success.

The first meeting of the Allerdale Local Heritage List Panel, on which we are represented, met on March 9th 2018. The Trust put forward 16 nominations of which 15 were accepted. An additional number of proposals is ready to be submitted.

The Cockermouth Vision Group, who we support, produced a consultation document and are liaising with the Allerdale Planning Department.

After much delay we finally obtained the licence to plant trees along the upper part of St Helen’s Street. The trees will be supplied by Cockermouth Travel and pupils from Cockermouth School will assist in the planting.

We were concerned about the proliferation of Himalayan Balsam along the banks of the rivers in the town. We have encouraged other groups to join us in removing this invasive plant. This will need to be an annual exercise.

The Trust was asked for suggestions to engraveon the Market Place uplighters blanking plates by the County Council. Our list of significant historical dates was accepted. A new booklet covering the dates, brief history, main buildings and artwork has been produced.

The Trust participated in the “Heritage Open Days” event on 6th-9th and 13th-16thSeptember 2018 for the tenth year. Four premises were open in Cockermouth for the event plus a guided tour of Cockermouth Castle. An exhibition of photographs of Cockermouth in 1967 compared to photographs from the same location in 2017, 50 years later, attracted over 200 visitors. A walking tour of Cockermouth Conservation Area was also well supported on the same day.

Castle visits have also been hosted in support of Cockermouth Live, 29th June – 2nd July 2018 and Castle tours were hosted for the Marvejols twin town visitors on 24th September 2018.

The Trust continues to be a member of the national Civic Voice but has resigned from membership of the North West Association of Civic Societies (NWACTS).

The Chairman and Secretary together with their wives attended the Annual Conference and AGM the Civic Voice held in Birmingham on 19th and 20th October 2018. The Trust entered Cockermouth in the competition organised by Civic Voice to find England’s favourite conservation area. We were one of 18 shortlisted out of 249 nominated and came 13th in the final vote.

The Trust has continued to host a website. Publicity throughout the year has been quite good with regular articles in the “Times & Star”.

Proceeds from the sale of the various publications this year have continued to ensure that our membership fees remain affordable. The booklet “Walks around the Town” has been updated this year.

Membership at the end of the 2017/18 year stands at 91 (including 10 life members). Currently 68 members are on the email list which saves the Trust printing and postal costs and keeps those members right up to date. We have ensured that the Trust complies with the new General Data Protection Regulation which came into force on 25th May 2018.

Chairman’s Report:              Phil Campbell

Our Secretary has already reported on the detail of our activities over the last year. I would just like to focus on some achievements & key issues for us in the coming year.

A major achievement this year is that Allerdale finally has a Local Heritage List, albeit just covering Cockermouth & District with nominations provided by ourselves. It has taken us around 5 years to achieve this. I would like to thank Duncan Keeler in particular for leading this project & his persistence in finally achieving our objective. There is more work this coming year as we consider additional nominations to potentially add to the List.

I would also like to thank the Cockermouth Vision Group, and in particular Ros Earthy and Darren Ward for leading it. It has produced a Vision Document for Cockermouth, a significant piece of work that has now been submitted to Allerdale BC for consideration in the Local Plan. This is in the continuing absence of any intent by the Town Council to produce a Neighbourhood Plan.

Last year we thanked Brian Coley for his work for our 50th anniversary in producing the photographic comparison of Cockermouth in 1967 and 2017. This year he moved on to produce a fantastic exhibition of the photographs for Heritage Open Days. This was very well received with around 200 attending, so many thanks to him again.

This time last year we were still concerned about the lack of maintenance of the Market Place roadway and what the county council would eventually do to it. A year on, the roadway in Market Place itself has been relaid. The stone ramps have been retained but the tarmac is now the ‘standard black’. The Council have decided that the 46 up-lighters are not economically repairable/maintainable and are covering them with metal covers. We have provided them with dates from Cockermouth’s history to engrave on the plates to add interest. We have also produced a new booklet ‘Exploring Market Place’ with information on its history, the artwork and the chosen dates.

A new venture for us this year has been the management of Himalayan Balsam on the river banks of Cockermouth. We have undertaken 2 ‘bashes’ ourselves, on the banks of the River Cocker and the south bank of the Derwent, as well as encouraging others to play their part. A significant success has been persuading the Town Council to include balsam clearance in their maintenance contract for the Memorial Gardens. Allerdale BC have also agreed to manage it at the Confluence Area and Harris Park.

On the planning side, we were very concerned this year about the potential impact on our town centre from the proposed out of town (B&M) development & were pleased to see its planning refusal. There will be more work to do if it goes to appeal.

We continued to seek to raise the profile of our Conservation Area and led a walking tour as part of HODS this year. We also decided to invest the time & effort to nominate Cockermouth in the Civic Voice competition to determine ‘Englands Favourite Conservation Area’. There are over 10,000 conservation areas nationwide and 249 were nominated in the competition. 18 were short-listed for the public vote & we were clearly pleased that Cockermouth was one of them. In the end, we came 13th, a creditable performance.

In September, I gave a talk by invitation to Probus about Cockermouth Civic Trust. It appeared to be well received, it certainly was good to ‘spread the word’ about what we do.

Finally, I would like to thank everyone for their contributions over the last year, elected officers and members. We still need to broaden our membership base so please do help by advertising what we do to friends and neighbours.

Treasurer’s Report:               Elizabeth Silman

Two particular changes occurred during the course of this year – following my election as Treasurer at the AGM on 6 December 2017 Ian Dodsworth handed over the role to me with effect from January 2018.  This coincided with the switch of our bank account from Natwest to the Cumberland Building Society.  The Committee considered this advisable in view of the closure of the Cockermouth branch of Natwest.

The Income and Expenditure Account and the Balance Sheet have been examined by Eric Apperley.

I am most grateful to both Ian and Eric for their help and advice.

The Trust ended the year with a net surplus of £243.  Book sales were higher than the previous year but subscriptions lower.  These are the Trust’s two main sources of income and it should be borne in mind that book sales may not be maintained at this level.  It is therefore important to continue with the strategy that projects and activities should be largely self-financing.

The Trust purchased a projector for use at lecture evenings and other events.

Given the Trust’s position at 31 March 2018 the Committee decided to make no change to the subscription rate for 2018/19.

The accounts for the year ended 31st March 2018 were accepted by a show of hands.

Election of Officers and Committee Members:

The present officers Phil Campbell (Chairman), John Dent (Secretary) and Elizabeth Silman (Treasurer) were happy to continue in their roles. They were elected by a show of hands.

The current committee members, Shirley Campbell, Darren Ward, Duncan Keeler, Brian Coley, Margaret Coley and Ros Earthy were happy to continue. They were elected by a show of hands.

Phil Campbell stated that new committee members would be welcomed and could be co-opted at any time. Brian Coley reminded members that they could attend any committee meeting as an observer.

Any other Business:    None.

There was no additional business and the meeting closed at 7.36 pm.