At our recent AGM Dr. Tony Geeson's speech outlined the positives and negatives of the last year.
- achieved a judicial review into the massive poly tunnel development proposed for Ocle Pichard,
- increased co-operation with the Shropshire Branch and colleagues in CPRW,
- produced detailed mapping of phosphate pollution revealing the scandalous reduction in monitoring work by the Environment Agency,
- welcomed our new President Professor John Whitelegg.
Looking forward to the next 12 months, we also see positive signs in
- the changes in political control at Herefordshire Council,
- the potential of a ‘pause and review’ of major road building in the county,
- the recent hardening on Natural England’s position on phosphate pollution in the Lugg catchment delaying planning approvals
- and the prospect of a review of the Core Strategy and the implications that will have for the countryside.
However the majority of his message was less positive....as Dr. Geeson explained:
"The Branch is in serious trouble - we do not have enough active members.
Without more help 2019/20 could easily be our 86th and final year. Bluntly if the number of Trustees does not increase and we do not get substantially more voluntary help very soon, we will have to approach the Charity Commission to begin an orderly closure of the charity in the next 12 months.
We need a minimum of three more Trustees next year to replace those who cannot stand again - and that assumes that the remaining trustees are willing to stand and are re-elected in 2020.
An Executive Committee of only six Trustees – which is the current position - barely covers the formal roles of Treasurer, Secretary, Chair, Vice-chair and Vice President. Having a larger Executive is highly desirable.
We also need:-
- a new Chair
- more volunteers - to examine planning applications……….. to increase membership………. to fund-raise………..to write regular press releases ……..to organise public events (Your existing six Trustees are already spending an increasing proportion of their time simply running the Branch. Events like this……….. producing newsletters……. ensuring we are GDPR compliant……… that our accounts are audited…….. that our website looks good ….. all this takes time from actually campaigning locally and we are good at that!)
- more planning volunteers, because the team that responds to planning applications (PLAN) is so small, we are really limited in what planning applications we can investigate and respond to. There is immense knowledge and experience, a vast love of the Herefordshire Countryside and huge dedication in the PLAN team. But the stalwarts of the team are over 85 now, it is unfair that they have to choose between equally awful applications and we need to succession plan. Recently one or two new people have asked if they can help – great news but we still need more volunteers please! We can train you.
Your Trustees do not have time to spend on regional or national matters, a day away in London or Birmingham is a day too many except in truly exceptional circumstances. Other commitments meant we couldn’t even spend time celebrating Ben Nash’s lifetime achievement award – how sad is that. We’re really sorry that we could not be there to share Ben’s day.
Outside of the Trustees we have two, possibly three active volunteers with specialisms such as nitrates/water pollution and are hugely dependent on one or two local planning consultants who spot serious cases where planning principles are at stake and can point out flaws in the way Herefordshire reach decisions. We're so grateful to them for taking time away from your businesses and giving your time for free.
These people are hugely important when it comes to legal challenges - for instance they usually identify appropriate people to make the case in court for us and then brief solicitors/barristers. Without their help issues like the polytunnels at Ocle Pychard would never get to court. We can support with some funds but we increasingly need local people to make raise significant sums of money locally to match our contribution and they put considerable amounts of time and effort in on the ground, not Herefordshire CPRE.
Looking to the future…………
In the next 12 months we want to boost our media presence even more - could you help with social media or write press releases?
We have held successful events in recent years – on intensive livestock units, BREXIT and the Washbourne lecture. We want to do more - but these take a lot of organising and do not generally produce new active volunteers."
So get in touch and offer your help - we'd love to hear from you!