Director Hilary Newport, left, presents outgoing chairman Christine Drury with flowers
… and new chairman John Wotton
President Graham Clarke was as entertaining as ever
Seventy-four members enjoyed (we hope!) this year’s CPRE Kent AGM.
Held at Lenham Community Centre on Friday (November 9), perhaps the most significant feature of the day was the end of Christine Drury’s five-year term as chair.
Having got matters under way, the time soon came for her to hand over the reins to new chairman John Wotton, who is already chair of the Kent Historic Buildings Committee.
The tributes to Christine were warm and generous, and she was presented with gifts and flowers by director Hilary Newport.
CPRE Kent president Graham Clarke, meanwhile, was in fine fettle as he rattled out two humorous poems – Let it Be, an impassioned plea not to ruin the unique treasure of Dungeness, and Horatio, a whimsical look at one of our finest seamen.
It’s a bit of a cliché to say it has been a busy year for CPRE Kent – but it has been, and Hilary gave a report on what has in truth been a taxing 12 months.
Guest speaker was Damian Green, MP for Ashford, who, among other things, spoke of his dislike for land agent Gladman (the only company with which he had “flatly refused” to speak) and the unfortunate role of some ratepayers in contributing to CPRE Kent funds through Dover District Council’s Farthingloe planning decision and the subsequent legal action.
John Wotton gave a powerful debut speech as chairman, while there was of course the standard fare of an AGM as Michael Moore ran through the accounts, honorary officers and board members were elected and ploughman’s lunches were feasted upon.
- We will publish the AGM minutes on this website in due course.
Monday, November 12, 2018
Food for thought… Christine Drury rarely took a breather from considering the issues of the day
At next month’s AGM, Christine Drury’s five-year term as CPRE Kent chair comes to an end. Here she offers some thoughts and reflections after what has been, even by this organisation’s standards, an extraordinarily busy time
I have lived in Kent now for 35 years; I can almost say I have put down roots here.
Certainly since I left Unilever in 2003 I have been able to get involved in my local community, campaigning and a variety of trusteeships.
In my last 10 years at Unilever I was a part of its strategy to be an environmental leader as well as a brand marketing company, setting up the Marine Stewardship Council with WWF to certify fisheries that could be called sustainable. Unilever needed 200 tonnes of sustainably-caught fish for its Birds Eye fish fingers and fillets.
We also evolved the refrigeration systems for Unilever’s two million ice-cream cabinets in a joint venture with Greenpeace.
Not everyone in the company was happy to be working with “enemy NGOs [Non-governmental Organisations]” but having been in the business for a long time I had some trust as an “internal activist”.
I always preferred the route of getting unlikely partners in the room together and we did a lot under the umbrella of Green Alliance – the organisation that former CPRE chief executive Shaun Spiers now heads up. It is a small world.
Switching from global to local sustainability when I left Unilever seemed perfectly logical, and I have probably always been a campaigner.
When Charles Oliver, then regional chair, asked if I would help CPRE in succeeding him, planning was entirely new to me.
The 2004 Planning Act had just introduced regional plans so the role of regional chair for the South East was interesting and new. Regional plans only lasted until 2009.
I was also a member of my Ashford district committee. Hilary Moorby was a very good teacher, but we did all have to keep up!
By then I was also a parish councillor and learning about planning in CPRE has always been a great help in that role.
I had also started campaigning in Ashford for a solution to the borough’s overnight lorry-parking problems, which I and others recognised as much a social and employment issue for the drivers as an environmental issue for communities.
While chair of the CPRE South East region I asked Gary Thomas if he would be a vice-chair.
He agreed provided I reciprocated, which in a nutshell was how I became a trustee and then vice-chair of CPRE Kent.
Richard Knox-Johnston succeeded Gary as CPRE Kent chairman and I took over from Richard at the November 2013 AGM.
Richard became regional chairman in addition to continuing to help CPRE Kent as a vice-president.
His was a hard act to follow. The huge public inquiry at Maidstone into the Kent International Gateway proposals had just been won, while events and campaigning were very active under the name Protect Kent.
This was a slight dilemma for me as I was also a trustee of national CPRE and I suggested we evolve to become CPRE Protect Kent.
Board meetings were still dominated by the enormous task of realising the Ivor Read legacy – a long and complicated story on which I acknowledge the depth and diligence of the work by Hilary Moorby and Alan Holmes as well as Gary.
Richard had almost completed it during his term as chairman, meaning I have been able to focus on managing the funds as if the legacy was an endowment.
The legacy has of course been transformational: it means we can have a depth of planning expertise in the branch to be able to work with districts to comment on most Local Plans and the seriously large or challenging planning applications.
We can also engage and campaign on many other issues across Kent. The Farthingloe application for more than 600 homes in the AONB has been with me throughout my time as chair.
When I took over, we were looking for ways to challenge a bad planning decision by Dover District Council.
By September 2016 the decision was quashed at the Court of Appeal, and in December last year that was confirmed in the Supreme Court. The road to victory was by no means smooth, potholed with legal uncertainty and quite large financial risk to the charity at each stage.
We would not have succeeded without the challenge and clear thinking of the Board of Trustees and of course our legal team.
It was a salutary reminder of the risk and costs of going to court that shortly after winning at the Supreme Court we lost a case at Maidstone after a long campaign to promote the countryside over development at junction 8.
I have been asked what has changed in the five years. Some campaigns are much longer than a chair’s term; Farthingloe is just one example of that.
Change is also permanent. We all adapt to staff changes as people move on to develop their careers, and to volunteers changing as they move away – Cally Ware, for example, is now much appreciated by CPRE Shropshire.
Others we lose to mortality. I was very lucky to have Alan Holmes and Hilary Moorby for most of my time as chair.
Some retire and are difficult to replace: Margaret Micklewright’s outings have been as much part of who we are as CPRE as the planning battles.
We need to be able to reinvent what we do and how we organise ourselves.
A lot of change has also occurred at CPRE nationally. Tom Fyans has honed our evidence-based campaigning skills to make us more effective.
Alliances and partnerships are becoming even more important. They are unavoidable with such a wide range of challenges to the countryside, and they make our arguments stronger.
Five years ago, national office may have seemed less important to Kent –now we work as One CPRE and try to think of ourselves as the network rather than branches and national office. We remain independent charities, which is why good governance is vital.
I am often asked by people who know CPRE but who are not members why CPRE is so obsessed with Green Belt.
Even though we can point regularly to development incursions into Green Belts, it is instructive to listen to people in village communities who appreciate the countryside and green spaces around them but who are and feel immensely vulnerable to their countryside next door being swallowed up.
With no protection and councils frequently losing the power to decide on applications if they fail the five-year housing land supply test, Green Belts are a very important planning tool to promote and enhance communities that are not against development but do want it to be respectful and relevant to their community.
Housing is needed, but there is still a long way to go to get the right housing in the right places with the right infrastructure, not least fibre broadband! I think I will be campaigning for a while yet.
Thank you for the patience and support everyone has given me during my time as chair, including a special thank-you to Hilary Newport, and to all the staff with whom I have worked since November 2013 – those who have retired or moved on and, of course, David, Paul, Julie and Vicky.
I will hand over to the next chairman at the AGM on November 9th when my five years is up.
CPRE is a great team. I will still be around but may be doing a little more travelling with Jolyon, gardening with the robins and enjoying adventures with my grandchildren. My term as a national trustee continues until June 2019.
Monday, October 29, 2018
Our president Graham Clarke with one of his wonderful poems at last year’s AGM (pic Paul Buckley)
This year’s AGM will be held on Friday, November 9, at our usual venue of Lenham Village Hall.
After positive feedback from last year, we will hold it once again in the morning, starting at 10.30am and ending after lunch, which will be served at 12.30pm.
As well as our usual presidential address we will be hearing from our keynote speaker, Rt Hon Damian Green MP.
This is a chance for you to meet the team in person and find out more about the wonderful work that CPRE Kent is doing.
We hope you will join us.
Please let us know if you would like to appoint a proxy to vote if you are unable to attend, or if you would like to join us for lunch after the meeting (the charge for lunch is £12 per person, cheques payable to CPRE Kent, please, to be received no later than Wednesday, October 31, or via BACS payment at the details in the invitation form posted below).
Invitation AGM 2018
Trustees report and accounts 2017-18
AGM draft minutes 2017
Monday, October 8, 2018
Our president, Graham Clarke, was, as ever, in good form as he got the meeting under way…
If you didn’t go, you missed a treat!
We are of course talking about our AGM, held at Lenham Community Centre on Friday (November 17) and which pulled in 71 members.
CPRE Kent president Graham Clarke got things off to a humorous start and treated us to a rendition of his poem Night Shift, highlighting the joys of finding good tradesmen.
Treasurer Michael Moore confirmed that we were looking after our finances well despite the costs of our activities in court fighting for the county’s countryside.
It’s been an incredibly busy year for CPRE Kent, as you know, and director Hilary Newport gave a detailed report on the past 12 months.
She told the audience how our work fell into three broad categories: housing, infrastructure and the planning system, which increasingly is becoming unfit for purpose.
Guest speaker was Helen Whately, MP for Faversham and Mid Kent. After giving an address with three main topics – Operation Stack, the proposed Cleve Hill solar farm and housing – she took questions from the floor on subjects as varied as Maidstone Borough Council’s “awful plan”, some implications of leaving the EU and the failure of the planning system (spot a theme here?).
Finally, honorary officers were elected, a general Q&A on CPRE Kent’s work was held and ploughman’s lunches were eaten. It had been a good day.
- It is intended to publish the AGM minutes on this website in due course.
Friday, November 20, 2017
This year’s AGM is being held on Friday (this week – November 17!) at the usual venue of Lenham Community Centre.
This time we are holding the meeting in the morning, starting at 10.30am and ending after lunch, which will be served at 12.30.
Please let us know if you would like to appoint a proxy if you are unable to vote, or if you would like to join us for lunch after the meeting (the charge for lunch is £12 per person, cheques payable to CPRE Kent, please, to be received no later than Wednesday, November 8).
The agenda, location details and forms for lunch and proxy votes, together with the minutes of last year’s AGM, are available at the links below:
2017 Final Draft Accounts
AGM 2017 agenda
AGM 2017 location map_proxy vote_lunch
Minutes AGM 2016
We hope to see you there!
Updated Tuesday, November 14, 2017
The 2016 AGM of CPRE Kent will be held at 2pm on Friday 18th November at Lenham Village Hall.
Flax field by Vicky Ellis
At the meeting the Honorary Officers and members of the Board will be elected, accounts considered and membership and volunteering opportunities discussed.
Following the AGM business the Keynote Speakers will be Sue Chalkley OBE FCIH, Chief Executive of Hastoe Housing Association, and Helen Whately MP who will talk about “Delivering Rural Affordable Housing”.
The AGM will be preceded by a ploughman’s lunch at 12:30 (£12 per person). Between 12:30 and 2pm there will be an exhibition of CPRE Kent’s campaigning work, as well as interesting books and gifts for sale.
To view the agenda click here.
To view the invitation and book the ploughman’s lunch click here.
To read the minutes of the 2015 AGM click here.
For nominations see the letter here and form here.
The director’s report and financial statements to 31 March 2016 are available here.
October 11th 2016.