This month's open meeting is this Friday, 17th February, in the Free Church at 7.30pm as usual. Our speaker will be James Fairbairn of Oxford Archaeology East who will give an illustrated talk on The Excavation of Spitfire X4593 at Holme Fen. This dig was carried out in 2015 and received television coverage at the time.
I also remind all members wanting to use Harrison Way after 8.30pm this week or next the Great Ouse river bridge section of the bypass will be closed from the Low Road roundabout northwards. Consequently, from the south, you will be able to get to our Open meeting as normal but will have a long diversion to drive home. One alternative may be to park in the Dolphin Hotel car park. This is a pay on exit car park, £2 coin required.
At our meeting in January a collection was held for the Free Church 'Save our Spire' appeal. A total of £63.30 was collected and more was donated by Gift Aid. If you wish to contribute to the appeal for repairs to the Spire there are collection points and gift aid forms are also available.
Following Huntingdon District Council's plan to move the Huntingdon Market from the Market Square on to the High Street, it seems from press reports their next target is to move part of St Ives' Monday Market. Whilst we do not yet know any details the intention is to start using Bridge Street for part of the market. A review will be carried out in St Ives with the plan of removing the road closures, and the need for staff to control vehicles, this will allow the reintroduction of Blue Badge parking on Market Hill. HDC intend to consult Market Traders and retailers.
I will be pleased to receive your views on this proposal.
Chairman, Civic Society St. Ives
After eight years as Chairman, Peter Baker has resigned from both the Chairmanship and the Committee. As I said at last month's AGM in my Vote of Thanks "That is a long stint, attending monthly committee and open meetings, making contacts, influencing the right people, and quietly making things happen. Only occasionally has, during Peter's Chairmanship, it been necessary to make a noise to get a proposal changed."
Peter's resignation was not a surprise to your Committee, he had given notice before last year's AGM, but he reluctantly agreed to complete one more year. We owe Peter a big debt of gratitude for his work over the years on behalf of the Civic Society.
Richard Probyn, who had guided us on Planning matters, also resigned and of course we have already reported the death in August of Pat Allan, for many years our Secretary and then acting secretary. Both Pat and Richard gave valuable advice, as well as time, to the Civic Society During the time they were committee members.
At the AGM your new committee was voted in. They are: Peter Whatnell, Vice Chairman; Dr Tim Reed, Secretary; Basil Belcher, Treasurer; Helen Eveleigh, Membership; Jane Amaral; Peter Jackson; Margaret King; David Knights, Peter Newbould; Barbara Richmond; and Peggy Seamark. Both Peter Whatnell and Tim Reed are new committee members in the past year, we are very grateful for this new blood.
It became clear at the AGM, and from comments that have been expressed quietly, that the committee needs to give more emphasis to Planning matters. We have set about achieving this. Also, we have some work to do on the changes to the constitution. One proposed change was approved, the other change, after advising members, will be brought back to either an extraordinary GM or to next year's AGM.
Recently Morrisons, who have planning permission for a new large store on the site adjacent to the Marsh Harrier, have submitted a new design for a smaller store but with a secondary unit for a non-food retailer. Whilst it's good to know that Morrisons are again looking at St Ives there are reservations about the smaller store, this 'out of town' store may reduce shoppers in the Town, something we are keen to resist. We have made our comments known to the planners. There is also a proposal for a new fast food centre, this has not yet been submitted as an application but will be watched carefully, as it seems to me access to the site is unacceptable in terms of further congestion on St Ives' roads.
Finally two reminders: The Civic Society's web site http://www.stivescivic.org.uk/ has details of all our open meetings for this season. Any late changes to talks will be announced here.
Secondly, at this Friday's open meeting we will hear John Deeks' talk on The History of Fenstanton. As normal the meeting will be held in the Free Church at 7.30pm. Please try to attend if you can.
Chair: Civic Society of St. Ives
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