Clifton and Hotwells
Improvement Society (CHIS)

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Chairmans Report for year ending 31 August 09

Brian Worthington Chairman

CHIS was established in 1969 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 ~, which is a diverse area, including Hotwells. North Clifton. Cliftonwood, the west side of Whiteladies Road 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. AA%e are now consulted by the Council. the Police. major developers, and other bodies and our opinion sought on many occasions. This is good and a reputation of which we are justifiably 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 suggestions and objections are taken into consideration and a compromise drawn. These are the matters that make the news and to a great extent how non­members judge the Society. All amenity societies suffer from the fact that they can appear to be a predominantly negative force. Our new constitttion based broadly on the model recommended by the Charity commission and those of other charities with aims and structures similar to our own was agreed at the AGM in November 2008 reflecting chances irn 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 2008.

Social Events

We have had a full, interesting and wide-ranging programme of talks and local walks and tours arranged by RoseMary Musgrave. Our Fortieth Year celebrations were crowned by the award of the Lord Mayor's Medal to our Planning coordinator, Gill Blakeman in recognition of her notable work for CHIS and the Girl Guides.


CHIS has funds which it gives to help local initiatives. A grant of £250 was made for the Second West Bristol Art Trail. Payments of £100 to the Civic Trust initiative (upon the demise of the Civic Trust), £300 to heip establish the Friends of the Downs, £360 for window boxes at Clifton Library were made. Since the Brunel Swivel Bridge Restoration is now in question our offer of £1,000 to the Group may need to be taken up.

Letters of Appreciation and other letters

These are offered when a buiiding, landscape or something else positively improves the area. Congratulations were sent to Clifton Councillor Barbara Janke concerning her re-election as Leader of Bristol City Council and her role it. helping the Brunei Swivel Bridge restoration scheme. The newly elected councillor for Bristol West. Trevor Blytne. was contacted about any consequences of our being designated as part of the Cabot. Clifton West and Cli-fton East planning area. We wrote to object to the proposed building devefopment at Ashton and offered support for the Friends of th Downs and Avon Gorge as regards increased parking on the Downs. Letters and telephone calls were exchanged with Sustrans in connection with the local plan for the Brunel Swivel Bridge restoration. Delphine Lyddali was thanked for providing a reception in her flat after the dedication of a plaque to Mrs Hester Thrale. A letter of commiseration and appreciation on the death of Bill Birch was sent to his widow, Mary, a long-standing supporter of CHIS and former member of the Committee

Documents studied and Meetings attended

The 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, studentification, Bristol in Bloom, the Museum of Bristol, Remembrance Day, Conservation Advisory Panel of the City Council, Society for the Preservation of Ancient Bristol, National Organisation of Residents’ Associations (NORA), PACT (Partnership and Communities together), Avon Gorge Hotel and Spa Pump Rooms projects, the Downs Stakeholders’ Committee, the grand plan for the development of Bristol University’s Precinct, the City Council’s aim to improve local libraries, (including further hopes for community rooms in Clifton Library), paving in Princess Victoria Street, the Swivel Bridge restoration, Mortimer House development, the Bristol Planning Network, the Core Strategy Report, the Cumulative Impact Report, the Rocks Railway Society, Heritage and the Built Environment, Bristol Rotary Club, Residents’ Parking Scheme, lighting and lamp-post design, status and protection of Communal Gardens, overhanging vegetation, lawless cyclists, obtrusive bill boards, café tables and chairs on pavements, the plethora of estate agents’ boards and their late removal, and the Bristol Parks Forum.

Parking and Traffic

The 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 urged 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 requested better signing on the bus routes 8 and 9. This was introduced and is appreciated. We 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 Matters

The Committee has not been idle. In addition to achievements previously documented. A commemorative plaque was dedicated to Mrs Hester Thrale at 20 Sion Hill. The project to pedestrianize Boyce’s Avenue and King’s Road is still under consideration. We hope to restore the fountain by Victoria Square. We are still lobbying the City Council about rubbish collections. The exhaustive report with recommendations written by Sharon Baker has helped to improve waste collection by Richmond Terrace and the appearance of the disposal site. Maggie Shapland’s extensive illustrated catalogue of lamps in our area continues to be refined in detail, with recommendations to Council Offices. 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 are under continued scrutiny. Radio Bristol asked for our opinion to reinstate the Samuel Plimsoll bust. The steady restoration of The Rocks Railway is actively supported by CHIS. The website continues to expand in a 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. The newly constituted group under Linda Edwards is extending the range of the society’s publicity.


On the present Committee there are two co-opted members, Peter Rendle and Rachel Weaver-Tooley. Full Committee members and their years of election are: Sharon Baker (2006); Richard Bland (2006); Katherine Croft (2006); Maggie Shapland (2007); Linda Edwards (2008); RoseMary Musgrave (2008); Brian Worthington (2008). Michael Woodman-Smith has left the Committee but remains as architectural consultant. Anyone who was elected in 2006 has completed the allotted 3 years, but can stand for election for a further term. We therefore have 3 vacancies for election at the AGM. We would ask you to obtain the agreement of anyone before putting his or her name forward.
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