Chairman’s Report to the AGM

by paulcrosland on March 17, 2012



Welcome to this year’s AGM meeting. “Berkhamsted is changing. The changes will affect you”. Never has our mantra been so apposite. Changes are not just physical, either. It seems that the mood is angrier and so much effort is being put into opposition – to planning, to infrastructure and to reorganisation. The future of this organisation depends, however, on a more consensual attitude to this town’s challenges. I love Berkhamsted, and I believe it can have a positive future if residents act together for its benefit.


Nevertheless, the Association has spent the year fighting on several fronts.  We too opposed many planning propositions: the government’s changes to the national planning guidelines; HS2’s effect on the Chilterns; and, of course, the threat to the Green Belt in the shape of the South Berkhamsted Concept. Our opposition might be less strident than some, informed as it is by years of trying to defend Berkhamsted from inappropriate development, but vocal in the right quarters. A positive addition to the town’s protection has been the imposition of a whole raft of Article 4 Directions to protect our Victorian/Edwardian heritage. This is the outcome of many years of BCA campaigning. Our Town Amenities Sub-Committee continues its valuable work, now under the guidance of Paul Crosland. So many consultations and so little time!


Our Activities programme has had a mixed year, despite valiant efforts by Katy Brookes-Duncan and her team. We started with a successful talk about DTV, our local on-line TV channel; but our speaker from HCC on schools’ reorganisation was pre-empted by the announcement of a full-scale consultation which is still progressing; and our speaker on College Lake was taken ill during the bout of heavy snow. At least our walks seem to have attracted followers!


The opposition to the withdrawal of the mail collection facility by Royal Mail and its relocation to Hemel Hempstead has taken up a good deal of our time. The RM speakers this evening will no doubt explain why this has occurred and what mitigation they can offer. Such campaigns, involving meetings, press briefings and correspondence, take up volunteers’ time to a large degree. This brings me to our crie de coeur.  We need more volunteers who are willing to carry out tasks for the Association. Sitting on a Committee is useful, but doing that while taking control of the newsletter is even more purposeful. Please, search your consciences, and your address books, and find us some more helpers.


There are some positive things on the horizon. Our well-regarded Footpath Map continues to sell well; so well that we are able to finance some urban projects.  We almost have agreement with Dacorum Borough Council to replant trees against the rail track wall in Lower Kings Road; and we intend to plant an oak to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Thanks to all those who represent the ordinary ‘Citizen’ on many, varied organisations. The Association is willing to join in all civic activities; witness our front-of-house contribution to the Pirates of Penzance performance in the Castle.


And this report would not be complete without mention of our new website  It is still in the tweaking stage, but in time it will be very useful in bringing you up-to-date information and news about the BCA and what is happening in the town.


I hope you enjoy this evening; and being part of our great market town, which seems to continue to thrive, even during these difficult economic times, with your help and support. Thank you for your membership, comments and contributions over the past year – and your attendance here this evening.


Susan Johnson

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