Chairmans Report for year ending 31 August 08Brian Worthington Chairman CHIS was established in 1968 and now has a membership in the region of 1000. It is one of the biggest societies in Bristol and one of the largest amenity societies in the country. The area CHIS covers is urban Bristol 8, which is a diverse area, including Hotwells, North Clifton, Cliftonwood, the west of 'The Strip' and Clifton Village. Different problems or different solutions to the same problem arise. Each planning and licensing application is considered on its own merits, bearing in mind its location. Then there are matters, which affect the whole and adjacent areas, public transport, parking, licensing laws and the knock-on consequences to retailers, residents and visitors if alterations are made to these. In recent years there has been increasing concern about the number of either conversions to multiple occupancy or purpose built developments. Given the relentless increase in population in Bristol 8, it is hoped that the area's substructure will be able to accommodate the newcomers.
Over the years CHIS has earned the reputation of holding sound and balanced views and not acting on rumours. Facts are checked first. We are now consulted by the Council, the Police and other bodies and our opinion sought on many occasions. This is good and a reputation of which we are justly proud. I am sure you all appreciate the amount of work the members of the Committee undertake and the care and diligence with which they fulfil their responsibilities. I thank them all very much for this and for their help and support to me.
When there is a worthwhile cause CHIS does fight and does fight well. We win some outright victories, but more often our objections are taken into consideration and a compromise drawn. These are the matters that make the news and to a great extent how non-members judge the Society. All amenity societies suffer from the fact that they can appear to be a predominantly negative force. A new constitution based broadly on the model recommended by the Charity Commission and those of other charities with aims and structures similar to our own will reflect changes in charity law which have taken place over the last forty years as well as including better defined procedural rules in various areas. In this Annual Report, I will show that CHIS has also been positive in the year from September 2007.
Social EventsWe have had a full, interesting and wide-ranging programme of talks and local walks arranged by RoseMary Musgrave. Our Fortieth (Ruby) Year commemorations began with Clifton Observed, at which members shared memories of Clifton and Hotwells. Next, Dr Mark Horton of BBC fame gave a fascinating talk on The Architecture of the Coast. Ray Barnett intrigued his hearers with Insects in Folk-Lore. Two events carried over from last year were Dawn Dyer's illuminating talk on Suffragettes in Bristol and an exhaustive, educational tour of the still-new University Botanic Garden at The Holmes, in fair weather this time. Mike Pascoe conducted an authoritative and entertaining tour of central Clifton and RoseMary Musgrave led groups to visit Bletchley Park and Acton Court. A private tour of the Rocks Railway given by Maggie Shapland completed the customary format of events to August. There will follow: a Reception at Engineers' House (12th September) to celebrate Forty Years of CHIS; our sponsored West Bristol Art Trail (18th & 19th October) at Clifton Club; Wine-tasting hosted by Ian Abrahams (22"d October) and pre-Christmas evening on 2"d December with wine, soft drinks and light refreshment and the Great Bristol 8 Quiz. Last year's AGM address by beat constable Nick Shaw was lively and encouraging. Next year's progamme will revert to the formula of one evening, Tuesday, for each meeting.
Two exceptional occasions were the Great Britain-Australia (West of England Branch) Bristol Cathedral service and annual meeting at Clifton Club when the CHIS plaque to Francis Greenway, father of Australian architecture, was renewed and re-dedicated, and the celebration on April ist, the precise fortieth anniversary, of our foundation. A reception was held at the same venue, addressed by the distinguished architect and founder-member of CHIS, Michael Jenner. Presentations were made to RoseMary Musgrave, Mike Pascoe and Julia Killingback to acknowledge their outstanding contributions to the Society over many years.
DonationsCHIS 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 for the Art Trail to exhibit at Clifton Club. Clifton Hill House Performing Arts Association received £100. We paid £500 to the creators of the Snake Path off Constitution Hill.
Since the Brunel Swivel Bridge Restoration is to benefit from the success of SUSTRANS in winning the People's Lottery our offer of £1,000 should not need to be taken up.
Letters of Appreciation and other lettersThese are offered when a building, landscape or something else positively improves the area.
- The Headmaster of Clifton College was congratulated on the cleaning and restoration of the Wilson Tower
- and the ViceChancellor of Bristol University on the cleaning of the Wills Memorial Building.
- P.C. Nick Shaw was thanked for his address to the AGM and was nominated for the award of Best Beat Constable.
- Francis Greenacre (past Chairman) was thanked for his speeches at the re-dedication of the Francis Greenway plaque and at the April reception.
- We wrote on the occasion of his retirement as City's Chief Planning Officer to Steve Perry in appreciation of his quarterly meetings with our Planning Group.
- Councillor Barbara Janke enabled those sessions to take place, for which we thanked her.
- We wrote to the Chief Constable of Avon & Somerset quoting the resolution at the AGM to protest at the rumoured closure of Redland Police Station
- and to the Post Office about the closure of the invaluable Alma Vale Post Office.
- Annie Burnside was thanked for dedicating the plaque to Empress Eugenie
- and Anne Hancock for hosting the reception at her flat.
- Our sister society, The Chislehurst Society (another CHIS), wrote to congratulate us on our Ruby Year, noting that Eugenie, having been a schoolgirl in Clifton, retired to Chislehurst.
- Many members praised the new style Newsletter and membership forms as well as the booklet Forty Years of CHIS.
- In response to Bristol City Council's proposals on Residents' Parking we wrote to all members to obtain their views. Over 100 replied. We were represented at on open meeting at the Students' Union in July.
- Julia Killingback was thanked for her energetic and imaginative help with Newsletter illustrations, research into members' views, recruitment of new ones and unstinting work in committee for the benefit of Clifton.
Documents studied and Meetings attendedThe Bristol Evening Post is read regularly and relevant items followed up. It and the Western Daily Press often consult CHIS, as do the Clifton Life and Bristol Life magazines as well as BBC and HTV local stations.
Members of the Committee have attended meetings on many topics including
- rubbish collection,
- street cleaning,
- Bristol in Bloom,
- Remembrance Day,
- Conservation Advisory Panel of the City Council,
- Society for the Preservation of Ancient Bristol,
- National Organisation of Residents' Associations,
- PACT (Partnership and Communities Together),
- Community Liaison Group with both universities and the City Council,
- Caledonia Mews Residents' Group,
- Avon Gorge Hotel and Spa Pump Room projects,
- the Downs Stakeholders' Committee,
- Urban Creation's project for the Pro-Cathedral,
- 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 further hopes for a community centre in Clifton Library),
- paving in Princess Victoria Street,
- the Swivel Bridge restoration,
- Bridge House,
- Mortimer House development,
- Byron Place Gardens,
- the Bristol Planning Network,
- the Core Strategy Report, the Cumulative Impact Report,
- the Rocks Railway Society,
- the Civic Trust conference,
- Heritage and the Built Environment, and the creation of a new body,
- the old NatWest Building on Blackboy Hill development,
- Residents Parking Scheme,
- delivery lorries to Tesco and Somerfield's,
- lighting and lamp-post design,
- Status and Protection of Communal Gardens,
- overhanging vegetation,
- lawless cyclists,
- obtrusive bill-boards,
- cafe tables and chairs on pavements,
- the plethora of estate agents' boards and their late removal,
- and the Bristol Parks Forum
Parking and TrafficThe Committee is responding to Bristol City Council's proposals for a Residents' Parking Scheme and to members' views.
We are still opposed in principle to applications to turn front gardens into hardstanding, off-street parking, now more so for its effect on flooding. We welcome the developing controls on parking and riding on the Downs and the creation of a new body, The Friends of the Downs and Avon Gorge, on which we are represented. 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 reinstatement of 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. We have successfully requested better signing on bus routes 8 and 9 and are keen on a bus from the Park and Ride venues. We have expressed concern about double parking in The Promenade by Engineers' House.
Local MattersThe Committee has not been idle. In addition to achievements previously documented.
- A commemorative plaque was dedicated to Empress Eugenie at Eugenie House, Royal York Crescent.
- The project to pedestrianize Boyce's Avenue and King's Road has been put persuasively to traders and the Planning Department.
- We still hope to restore the fountain by Victoria Square.
- We are still lobbying the City Council about rubbish collections. An exhaustive report with recommendations has been written by Sharon Baker, to improve waste collection by Richmond Terrace.
- Maggie Shapland's extensive illustrated catalogue of lamps in our area came appropriately at the time when even the national press peddled the notions that lamp standards in the St Andrew's area were to be moved to "the leafy suburb of Clifton". The Bristol Evening Post published our letter of correction and Maggie spoke on local radio.
- 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.
- Developments such as the Observatory, Bristol University's plans which might 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.
- Radio Bristol expressed interest in our views about a tall wind turbine on the Downs.
- The steady restoration of The Rocks Railway is actively supported by CHIS.
- The website continues to expand in range of information and audience at home and abroad - a reward for the work of Maggie Shapland and the original webmasters, Jon and Sue Goodland.