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Ludlow Civic Society | 51 Julian Road | Ludlow SY8 1HD | Email:ludlowcivic@gmail.com

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Chairman’s Report at the Annual General Meeting held on Wednesday 13th May 2015

Thanks to Committee members for all their hard work during the past twelve months. Steady increase in membership and an excellent season of lectures. On behalf of the committee, we would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who support the lectures and we are always open to suggestions as to subject headings and suitable lecturers for inclusion. This past season, we thought that it may suit to make the lectures earlier at 6.30 instead of 7.30pm. It is up to you to decide which time is most suitable and we will take a vote at the end for the next seasons timing. Additionally we have found that the first and last lectures are not very well supported, in spite of the excellent feed-back on the lectures and speakers. With increasing costs involved and low audience numbers, it is proposed therefore that the first lecture will be on the 2nd Wednesday of October and the final lecture to be the 2nd Wednesday of March. Maybe we could also include a short talk at the AGM next year, possibly on Ludlow Conservation generally. Again we will take a vote at the end.

Interest in the Ludlow Civic Society increases and we help many visitors, who put questions to us via the website.

We are also launching an initiative to increase the number of Corporate Members. This will create a greater involvement of local businesses with the Civic Society and its work to improve the “fabric” of the town. Approaches are being made to a number of commercial and trading organisations. In return for corporate membership, they will be offered advertising in the Heritage News and Website and also attendance to the lecture series.

Turning to specific projects, The Jubilee Gardens has suffered undue delays, mainly due to the recalcitrant BT, who has been instructed to remove a pole in the middle of the site. The garden are is being kept tidy and it is hoped that work will start shortly on the site.

We have produced a booklet of Ludlow Walks which is now on sale around the town. This is based on a previous publication and uses the “Blue Plaques” installed by the Civic Society as a base. They are available from several outlets in the town, including Castle Bookshop.

The Civic Society is carrying out a joint project with Shropshire Council Conservation. This is a street survey of about 600 Ludlow properties. Each building or structure is assessed as to external condition and description, together with photographic evidence. The recorded information will be placed as an update on existing Council database and also on the Civic Society website when complete. It reviews listed buildings as well as structures and buildings of interest around the town. It will provide an invaluable tool for planning and general interest purposes. It also highlights any “buildings at risk”.

The Civic Society was formed in 1954. To coincide with 60 years of the Civic Society, we wanted to refurbish the Glenfield and Kennedy fountain in front of the Castle. This was at a cost in excess of five figures to be met by a “Just Giving” campaign organised by the Civic Society.

Unfortunately, after nearly a year of discussions with Ludlow Town Council, this was not able to proceed based on the Councils requirements being unrealistic. This has been covered in the Ludlow Journal and Adrian Kibbler has given a realistic account of events. I can only say that the rebuilding of the Coalbrookdale Gates in Hyde Park, which escaped damage through two World Wars and the gales which damaged the Park extensively in the 1980’s but were demolished by a Volvo Car in 1991, had less onerous requirements by the royal Parks Department that those which were to be imposed by Ludlow Town Council after 10 months of deliberation.

We are also looking into the condition of the “cobbles” in the central areas of Ludlow. Their condition is poor, mainly due to “vandalism” by groundwork contractors over several decades. Costs to repair may prove to be prohibitive but a sub-committee is working hard to seek funding. Added to this is the difficulty of being able to discuss with the powers that be at Shropshire Council. All roads and highways contracts are outsourced to “Mouchel” who take no responsibility for anything not specifically covered in their contract with the Council.

This is typical of the centralising of local government in that there is no one in Shrewsbury able to take decisions, particularly beyond the borders of the county town.

The Civic Society continues to work with other Ludlow Groups on issues which concern the town. With the reduced manpower and support given by Shropshire Council, it is essential to have a united front on planning and conservation to prevent unwanted and incorrect decisions being made at County level. An example is the formation of the “Love Ludlow” campaign. The main task is to get some sense into an application for an out-of-town supermarket. The group includes representatives from Chamber of Commerce and Trade; LCAAC; LTCRA; political representatives and some local experts on planning matters. Our attempts at “Localism” continue to be largely ignored by Shrewsbury. As a pressure group, we can only continue to work as hard as we can to maintain the high quality of properties and our heritage.

During the year, Lady Valerie Thomas has stepped down from Secretary to the Society. She continues to serve on the committee and representation at the LCAAC.

Juliet Diamond has taken over as secretary.

Also during the year, Bill Eastwell resigned from the committee after a number of years. His experience and knowledge on planning matters will be hard to replace. On behalf of all members of the Civic Society, I would like to thank Bill for the hard work he has carried out.

We have co-opted two members of the Society to advise on technical and planning matters. Colin Richards and Stephen Treasure. Their input has already been enormously helpful.

We would like to take a vote now on your choice of times and dates for the winter lecture series.

Dan Lloyd May 2015

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