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Clifton and Hotwells
Improvement Society (CHIS)

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Chairmans Report for year ending 31 August 06

Brian Worthington Chairman

Social Events.

We have had a full, interesting and wide-ranging programme of talks and local walks arranged by Mike Pascoe. There were talks on Recording Clifton; Street Furniture in and About Bristol; An Audience with Sarah Guppy; A Trees-Eye View and a Bristol Historical_Filmshow (forthcoming) as well as a Visit to the Synagogue, Park Row, and A Tour of St Andrew's Churchyard. Again audiences were sizeable and some at record levels. Next year's programme promises to be equally good and varied. The elegantly restored Clifton Hill House is a delightful venue. The introductory talk on Trees by Laura Thomas proved to be a fine opening to last year's AGM. This CHIS pre-Christmas lunch had to be cancelled once again for lack of sufficient bookings; we hope for better success this coming season.

Donations.

CHIS has funds which it gives to help local initiatives. The annual rent of 835 for the Lower Mall Gardens was received. A grant of 1,000 was made to members in Vyvyan Terrace for help with provision of ornamental floral tubs. The same sum was given to the Committee to Reinstate Brunel's Swivel Bridge in Hotwells for investigative work and an application to the National Heritage Fund. Those who had given pledges for expenditure arising out of the Society's appeal over the Suspension Bridge Road (Visitors' Centre) Stopping Up Order (13 October) received sums in proportion to the difference between their contribution and the costs incurred.
A supporters group near Fresh and Wild donated 400 in gratitude for past help from CHIS. A sum of 500 was given by Bristol Zoo towards the cost of the Clifton Walks booklet.

Letters of Appreciation.

These are offered when a building, landscape or something else positively improves the area. Hydes estate agents have been congratulated upon their sensitive and extensive refurbishment of the offices on the corner of the Mall and West Mall (formerly the second oldest chemist's in the Kingdom, we believe). A letter was sent to the Chairman of the Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust welcoming its decision to reconsider the siting of a Visitors' Centre and emphasising our support for alternative sites that CHIS had earlier suggested. The Trust was separately thanked for its hospitality at the opening of the Avon Gorge Squill Garden by the Bridge, and at the dazzling Brunel 200 Celebration and inauguration of the new Bridge Lighting Scheme. The excellent relationship between the Bridgemaster, John Mitchell, and CHIS over many years has been acknowledged by the Committee's entertaining him and his wife to a lunch. We are especially grateful for the interest and support of three Clifton councillors, Barbara Janke (Leader of the City Council), Brian Price and Simon Cook and to our MP, Stephen Williams.

Documents Studied and Meetings Attended.

The Bristol Evening Post is read nightly and relevant items followed up. The Western Daily Press often consults CHIS as do the Clifton Life and Bristol Life magazines as well as BBC and HTV local stations. The revival of The Clifton Chronicle was welcomed as were its full, balanced and informative coverage of the Society's policies and activities. Members of the Committee have attended meetings on many topics including rubbish collection and street cleaning, Bristol in Bloom, street lighting consultation, Remembrance Day, the Museum of Bristol, Suspension Bridge Trust, Clifton College and Canynge Road rifle range projects, Conservation Advisory Panel of the City Council, Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings, Hotwells and Cliftonwood Community Association, Licensing Act, Clifton Gardens Competition, St John's Residents' Association, National Organisation of Residents' Associations, Avon Gorge Hotel and Spa Pump Room projects, McArthur's Warehouse project, the Downs Stakeholders' Committee, Urban Creation's project for the Pro-Cathedral, The Mall Garage site plans, projected development of the W H Smith - Aruba cafe site, the studentification, the City Council's Forum for Recycling schemes, the grand plan for the development of Bristol University's Precinct, the City Council's aim to improve local libraries (including our letter to Councillor Simon Cook recommending ways in which Clifton Library might best fulfil a community role), the Chamber of Commerce site, Granby Green, 70 and 50 Princess Victoria Street, 42 Bellevue Crescent, cycle ranks at Caledonia Place and Clifton Down Road, Canynge Hall, the re-siting of the Samuel Plimsoll bust, the Brunel Swivel Bridge restoration, Bridge House, the Royal Courts of Justice, Mortimer Road Class A drugs Unit, Suspension Bridge tolls and closures, Bridge House, CCTV cameras in Clifton Village, delivery lorries at the new Tesco, lighting and lamp-post design, overhanging vegetation, lawless cyclists, obtrusive bill-boards, cafe tables and chairs on pavements, the plethora of estate agents' boards and their late removal, the Zoo residents group and the Bristol Parks Forum.

Parking and Traffic.

After a legal delay, officers promised to allow two hour parking in central Clifton before the end of 2004. It has been implemented in places. We are still opposed in principle to applications to turn front gardens into hardstanding, off-street parking. We welcome the developing controls on parking and riding on the Downs. We encourage the City Council to establish a promised re-assessment of yellow lines etc in the area and to stop cars parking dangerously on lowered pavements. The ward police officer has helped in the reinstalment of the cycling police in our area and is strict in fining law-breaking cyclists. Regular discussions are held with the area Police Officer at his stand in Clifton Down Shopping Centre.

Newsletter.

Four newsletters are circulated to members each year containing items of local interest and information, a list of future events and details of major planning applications and their outcomes. Occasional inserts have been included, as have advertisements.

Local Matters.

The Committee has not been idle. In addition to achievements previously documented, Commemorative plaques were unveiled: to Sir Fabian Ware at Glendower House, Clifton Park; to record the surrender of Prince Rupert's to the Parliamentary Forces at the Royal Fort (organized in conjunction with Bristol University) and to Sarah Guppy at 7 Richmond Hill. We hope to restore the fountain by Victoria Square and have repainted the railings of St Andrew's churchyard. The gates are still to be done. We are still lobbying the City Council about several unsightly aspects of the unfinished Victoria Square development eg some crude paving, wrong placing of alighting platforms, cycle racks, unemptied bins and seats and screening for the waste bins as well as planting. The prevalence of graffiti and illegally posted bills is a national problem; we are investigating ways of tackling it and appreciate the City Council's actions. We will continue to support the aims of those trying to retain the Whiteladies Cinema. Developments such as the Observatory, Bristol University's plans which would move the Students' Union activity to Redland, the large-scale Avon Gorge Hotel project and mobile phone companies' applications to erect antennae such as by Litfield House are under continued scrutiny. The steady restoration of the Rocks Railway is actively supported by CHIS and by Stephen Williams MP, whom committee members accompanied on a tour of the tunnels. We are glad to hear that it may be Bristol's entry for the BBC's Restoration programme. The presentations by Julia Killingback, Mike Pascoe and Maggie Shapland for Clifton in the final three competitors' bid for the title of Best Urban Village in the Kingdom and the elegant, informed and practical booklet produced, as Brunel's Clifton walks, by Julia Killingback, Richard Bland and Mike Pascoe have been lauded. Ideas for Bristol 200 were submitted by those committee members too. On Radio Bristol the Chairman debated with the owner of the Observatory the necessity of an authentic restored dome for the structure. A competition for a poem to celebrate the Centenary of Sir John Betjeman's birth (in some ways a Clifton Laureate) was launched. We agreed to the request by the Leader of Bristol City Council that we monitor and report on responses by members to the new waste collection scheme. We welcomed the Council's approval of the Glassboat's scheme to save the Clifton Pool and the leasing for 35 years of a small open space in Cliftonwood to a local company. The website continues to expand in range of information and audience at home and abroad - a reward for the work of Sue and Jon Goodland and Maggie Shapland.
Suspension Bridge High Court Decision: On 13th October 2005 a two and a half hour hearing took place at the Royal Courts of Justice in the Sterand. Distinguishe solicitors, Lovell's, and barristers, Landmark Chambers, gave their services pro bono. In November, the appeal was rejecte; out of total costs of 7,000 plus, CHIS was required to pay 3,000, which came out of a fund of 5,000 pledged beforehand by members, so that the Society's finances were not affected. Some months later the Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust announced that it was considering alternative sites for a Visitor's Centre
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