I hope you have enjoyed our late Summer. Indeed the last weeks have been most kind but soon Autumn will be here providing we don't enjoy an Indian Summer.
I returned from holiday last week to face a row over the potential three evenings a week licence for the Bridge Chapel and have been busy ever since trying to get on top of the correspondence. So let me explain the role of the Society in this. As Chairman I was approached by the applicant (Andrew Jennings) before the Licencing Application was submitted; he asked for the Society's views. We discussed this in Committee and focussed on the protection of the Chapel and Old Bridge. We knew that Cambridge County Council had given provisional approval for the venture - thus they were happy that both theinternal and external aspects of the Grade 1 Listed Structure would not be jeopardised. We looked at the pre-application facts before us and concluded that we had concerns about road safety, hygiene, electrical supply and noise. These concerns were fed back to the applicant who addressed them in his formal application (only seen yesterday). At the following Committee Meeting the draft answers were put to Committee which voted and agreed (bar one) the proposal provisionally. We did not debate the morality of the venture as such judgements are not in the gift of the Society's aims, objectives or legacy statement.
I have heard very recently that the County Council has withdrawn its approval and on that basis we will take no further part as we would have no authority for checking that the building remained unscathed. Incidentally, no official correspondence was sent to the Society as we are not a consultee. All we have gleaned has been through third parties.
Onto another matter - HOD's. After years of St Ives participating in the National Heritage Open Days (HODs) weekend in September, your Committee (in common with many towns) decided to stand back from it this year, hopefully to return to it afresh in 2017. This provides an opportunity for all to visit other towns and cities across the country to see what they do and come back with ideas that can be applied here. So please consider some days out between 8th and 11th September. Guidance can be found on www.heritageopendays.org.uk. We look forward to hearing about new ideas. All HOD's events are free so why not give it a try. Additionally, "Open House London" is the equivalent of HOD's when all sorts of buildings are open, from Government buildings (the staircase in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is worth a visit) to Turkish Baths. Events across all 32 Boroughs include architecture, walking and boat tours. These events are usually held on the weekend after HOD's, so 17th and 18th September this year. Further information on www.openhouselondond.org.uk
Finally, our first talk of the new season will be held on Friday 16thSeptember in the Free Church at 7.30 pm when Veronica Bennett will speak on "National Trust Gardens of East Anglia" We hope to see you there.
Peter Baker and your Committee