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BCA 2015 AGM REPORT

Members listening to the Chair's report at their 46th AGM

Poole’s Cavern visitor centre was packed for Buxton Civic Association’s 46th AGM. Mike Monaghan in his first address as Chair of the Association welcomed members to the meeting and described how the next few years could be the most exciting in BCA’s history. Building on the strong foundations that had been laid down over the past ten years, Mike explained that the Association was now able to focus on using its wealth of experience and knowledge in reaching out to other Buxton organisations and developing influential partnerships to help shape the future of the town.

Mike Monaghan addressing Buxton Civic Association AGM

Paying tribute to the board and to the staff, Mike said that the strong business model that Poole’s Cavern provided enabled BCA to manage and constantly improve its extensive estate of woodlands, and to provide support to other like-minded organisations in the town.

Peter Philipson, Director with responsibilities for the Woods gave a presentation on the work of the Wood Watch committee and explained in detail the work that had been done earlier in the year to create a woodland ride. Supported by RSPB and a grant from the Forestry Commission he explained that this work would complement the glades, which gave Grin Wood its SSSI status.

Considerable investment had also been made in improving some 1.5km of paths in Grin Woods and also in Corbar where the final link in the Ring of Trees walk had been completed. This would not have been possible with out the generous donations of materials from Lafarge Tarmac and support with transport from Lomas Distribution.

Simon Fussell talked about the Environmental Quality Mark that the Association had been awarded for a second year, and explained how the EQM supported the board’s objective in providing an environmentally sustainable business model. It provided a benchmark against which decisions could be made to ensure that the environment was always put at the forefront. The Association was also pleased to be able to support the work that Derbyshire Wildlife Trust was doing to vaccinate badgers in the area from Bovine Tb.

Brian Shawcross, Finance Director, reported another successful year. We increased visitor numbers, controlled costs and generated a healthy surplus on a turnover of over £0.5 million which will allow us to plan for future improvements.

Mike thanked the two retiring director’s, Tim Middleton and Owen Longden for their hard work and support and welcomed Nigel Manning to the board.

It had been decided at the last AGM that major planning issues would be opened up to the membership and it was encouraging that so many members attended the meeting to discuss the Nestle Station road proposal and made their feelings about the scheme clear by voting unanimously to reject it. BCA needs to continue to be vigilant on the planning front and the strengthening of the planning group was to be welcomed, with the addition of Derek Bodey and John Anfield as consultants.

Mike thanked the Association’s staff, the directors, volunteers and other committee members, and everyone else who had supported the Association.

Following the formal business of the AGM, Mike Wilde (Chair of the Membership and Communities Group) and Simon Fussell (Business Development Manager) gave an interesting and stimulating presentation on the recent project “Places and Spaces – telling the story of Buxton.”

AGM Documents

Chair Report to 46th AGM

Environmental Report

Hilary Lawrence leaving presentation

Mike Monaghan chair of Buxton Civic Association presents a leaving gift to Hilary Lawrence

Hilary Lawrence has resigned after twenty seven years as a director of Buxton Civic Association, and to celebrate her outstanding contribution, a presentation evening was held at Poole’s Cavern visitors centre. She was presented with two pieces of work by a local artist Pauline Townsend, by Mike Monaghan the Chair of BCA. Mike told members that he was delighted that Hilary was going to remain a member and that Brian her husband was now on the board. He paid tribute to her dedicated service over the years, in particular with her leadership of the planning committee. She had done a difficult job extremely well and had guided the Association through the minefield of planning with great skill and diplomacy.

Replying to Mike, Hilary explained how much the Association had changed over the years that she had been involved.She explained that she felt that the catalyst for change was the introduction of planning awards by BCA. This got people involved and the Association became better known as a result.

She had enjoyed her time on the board, and paid tribute to the people who had served on the planning committee with her, and reiterated her feeling that it was vital for BCA to be continue to be active in the planning process. She wished Mike and the Association well for the future.

REPORT ON BUXTON CIVIC ASSOCIATION 45th AGM

YOUNGER GENERATION STEPS IN

A packed AGM at Buxton Civic Association’s Visitor Centre paid tribute to retiring Board members and welcomed younger ones to take on new roles and responsibilities.

Chairman Paul Dinsdale covered a wide range of topics reflecting the great number of responsibilities currently undertaken by the Association’s special interest groups. These include the Woodlands Group, chaired by Peter Phillipson, who gave an illustrated talk on the work done on paths, stiles, walling and steps in Grin Low and Corbar as well as reporting on storm damage which cost several thousand pounds last year alone. He emphasized that trees fallen or felled from necessity, left space in the canopy allowing young saplings to regenerate, while fallen timber provides an invaluable natural habitat for insects and small animals.

Vice-Chairman Mike Monaghan spoke of the progress being maintained in sourcing good quality Fair Trade and local produce for the popular Café at the Cavern and of our aim to recycle water where appropriate. He also applauded our achievement in gaining the County Council’s coveted Environmental Quality Mark, testifying to the Association’s overall environmental awareness and initiatives. He also complimented Paula Pickering, manager of the highly successful Café at the Cavern, which has recently again been awarded the highest five star rating by Council Environmental Health officers.

The Community and Membership Group is now lead by Mike Wilde, and is becoming involved in a wide range of community initiatives and projects, as well as organizing events for members and the public, and raising awareness of the Association and its work. In this, he is ably assisted by directors Alyson Phillips, who is also responsible for the production of the Association’s excellent Newsletter, and Tim Middleton.

Both Planning and Corporate Affairs Groups were mentioned by the Chairman who detailed recent changes. Hilary Lawrence, formerly Vice-Chairman and Chair of Planning, has stepped down from those roles, and the Chairman paid tribute to her support, and her long, dedicated and enthusiastic service. Stephen Robinson, also a member of the Association’s Planning Group, has decided not to stand for re- election after many years as a director.

The meeting elected three new directors, Jonathan Davey, Owen Longden, and Brian Lawrence.

The Chairman thanked the Association’s staff, volunteer directors and committee members, and all those involved in supporting and running the Association, which was in a healthy financial position, its turnover approaching half a million, and currently employing around thirty staff.

Following the formal business of the AGM, members enjoyed refreshments, followed by an excellent and stimulating presentation by Dai Larner, Executive Director of High Peak and Staffs Moorlands Councils, on the processes involved and problems faced in the preparation of a new Local Plan.

For more information on the work of Buxton Civic Association, and how to join, please contact us on 01298 26978, or at communications@buxtoncivicassociation.org.uk

Advanced Notice of the AGM 23rd June 2014

The Buxton Civic Association will hold its AGM on 23rd June at 7.30 pm at the Poole’s Cavern Visitor Centre.

In addition to the formal business, Dai Larner, Executive Director of High Peak Borough Council and Staffordshire Moorlands District Council will speak to members of the Civic Association on "The process of producing the local plan."

Full details of the AGM will be sent to members in due course.

Introducing Our New Business Manager

An interview with Simon Fussell.

Our New Business Manager Simon Fussell

What are your main priorities for our charity?

There are, I think, four key objectives. Firstly to increase awareness about of the Buxton Civic Association and its importance as a guardian of the town heritage and its surrounding woodlands. This raised interest will generate more members - which is my second key objective. Thirdly we must maximise the potential of Poole’s Cavern and the Country Park as major attractions in the town and fourthly look at ways to develop new business opportunities and to generate the revenue required for BCA to fulfil its responsibilities to the town. I would encourage people to see Poole’s Cavern and the Country Park as a whole day out experience, incorporating the existing cave, Go Ape, and Country Park and additional attractions such as Country Craft days with Wild Food foraging, Flint Knapping and Falconry displays.

How else do you aim to put BCA on the local map?

Based on some conversations that I had running the successful stall, with BCA members, at the Spring Fair and the Charity Bazaar many local people are not aware that the Woodlands surrounding Buxton are owned and maintained by the Civic Association for the public. There is a vague assumption that the woods are owned by High Peak Borough Council or some other public body. So there is a need to raise awareness of the Civic Association and the work it has done, continues to do and will need to do in the future.

Some future projects include:

A NEW WEBSITE; We have plans to develop and launch a new website for BCA that will pull together the Civic Association, the Cavern and the Country Park under one consistent brand. The new website will enable members and non-members to have up to date information about their charity. It will be easier for members to comment on and raise issues.

OTHER WAYS TO KEEP IN TOUCH:

We plan to place a series of panels in the Cafe to explain the work that the Civic Association has done in the past, is doing in the present, and will need to continue to do in the future. Again this is about making people aware that the Buxton Civic Association is behind the cavern and the country park.

BUILD ON OUR LINKS WITH LOCAL SCHOOLS:

This is both to get the schools to use the woods and the cave as part of their curriculum activities but also to raise awareness about the work that the Buxton Civic Association does. Buxton Community School are interested in getting involved. In addition we will have a competition open to all local schools across the school age range to produce a painting or piece of poetry or prose that involves the Country Park in some way. This will, increase awareness of and
raise the profile of the Civic Association and give the opportunity to explain what we do to a wider audience and to attract the interest of the younger generation.

The plan is to announce the competition in the autumn with the judging to take place in the early summer.

RSPB LINKS:

We aim to get a survey carried out of the woodland birds. As well as being able to produce a guide book similar to the excellent one on wild flowers that was written by June Noble, it will provide us with a bench mark of species which we
can use to promote a range of educational activities with schools and members of the public. For example the sitting of species specific nest boxes in addition to the ones we already have, could enable us to set up nest cams and show the results on a screen in the cafe, “bringing the woods inside” in effect. Again this provides positive news stories as well as creating additional interest in the woods and the cafe.

CORPORATE LINKS:

Another project is to develop a corporate membership for the Civic Association and to look at ways of gaining corporate sponsorship to help defray some of the enormous costs faced when managing and maintaining woodlands. We would also
welcome the range of additional skills and expertise that companies may have to offer.

FINALLY:

…How about an Ambassador for the Civic Association? We have had a number of suggestions but more are welcome, so if you know of anyone famous or wellknown who shares the values of the Civic Association and who might be interested then contact Poole’s Cavern or email: communications@buxtoncivicassociation.org.uk where all ideas and suggestions are extremely welcome.

Another Challenging Year

Freezing Temperatures Frosts and Snow

Poole’s Cavern is doing well despite these difficult times. On the back of the Jubilee and the Olympics when the whole world seemed focused on Britain, the question was this year what could we do to top that. Well we started off with a dreadful spring; remember the cold Easter with the car park under three feet of snow?

But … it’s been a really good year with lots of school visits and high visitor numbers. Caves have been promoted nationally through the Cool Caves hash tag with the English Tourist Board. The idea was to chill out in blistering heat – remember those days?

We now have planning consent for the toilet for the disabled which will include a baby change facility. This new toilet block is for use when the Visitor Centre is closed.

We must send out a huge thank you to all the cavern staff . Five star Recommendations have been scored on Trip Advisor and that’s because we have a great cave and friendly staff .

Download the full BCA newsletter Issue 25 Autumn 2013

The Environmental Quality Mark Awards 2013 (EQM)

Peak District businesses celebrate 2013 environmental awards Nine new Environmental Quality Mark (EQM) Awards were presented to Peak District businesses at a special 10th anniversary dinner.

Cllr Tony Favell, chair of the Peak District National Park Authority, presented the awards during an evening ceremony at Thornbridge Hall, near Ashford in the Water. Cllr Favell said: “The success of the Environmental Quality Mark scheme is down to the people involved and the passion they demonstrate in creating unique products and services that help look after the environment as well as local people and communities.

“Each of these businesses supports their local economy, works to reduce their environmental impact, plays an active role in their local community and helps conserve the Peak District National Park.”

Some businesses attending the event were amongst those awarded at the scheme’s launch in 2003 and have maintained its high environmental standards for over 10 years. Two special awards for outstanding contributions to the scheme were made to Paul and Elspeth Walker of Dove Valley Centre, Sheen, who have enthusiastically demonstrated their environmentally friendly ways of working for 10 years, and to Ken Parker, now retired, who founded the scheme when he worked for the Peak District National Park Authority.

The awards celebration was organised by the Environmental Quality Mark community interest company, which took over the running of the scheme from the national park authority in 2012. EQM director Faith Johnson said: “As a not for profit company the awards dinner is achieved on a small budget made possible thanks to the Environmental Quality Mark award holders, from farmers to butchers to gourmet caterers, who donated their wonderful produce.

“Our 10 year celebration was extra special thanks to Jim and Emma Harrison who invited us all to Thornbridge Hall for the occasion.”

The event was also attended by businesses from Staffordshire who participate in a sister scheme, the Staffordshire Environmental Quality Mark, supported by Staffordshire County Council. Losehill House Hotel, Castleton, lent lovely white linen and tableware, The Dorothy Clive Garden, in Staffordshire, created beautiful table centre pieces from seasonal foliage and fruit freshly gathered from
the garden. Welcome drinks were Renishaw Hall pink sparkling wine and Rowley’s Cardinal Punch provided by Fischer’s of Baslow.
Gourmet Express and Strand Fine Catering worked together to create a spectacular locally produced banquet using Environmental Quality Mark ingredients. Beef was donated by E.W.Coates butchers, Two Dales, lamb donated by J W Mettrick & Son butchers, Glossop and free range pork sausages were donated by Essington Fruit Farm, Staffordshire. Deserts were provided by award recipients The Village Green Café in Eyam, Tindall’s of Tideswell, Hope Valley Ice Cream and Matlock Meadows Ice Cream. Handmade after dinner mints, truffles and a celebration cake were donated by Bakewell company, Naughty & Nice.

There was also a display of award-winning crafts including handmade ceramics, natural soaps, Peak District wool products and turned wooden bowls made from local sustainable timber.

The Peak District award winners 2013 were:

Tourism and recreation:
Buxton Civic Association (Pooles Cavern and associated woodland),
Buxton Discover Buxton, Buxton Village Green Café, Eyam

Local makers and producers:
Bakewell Soap Co, Bakewell
Green Farm Plants & Herbs, Birchover

Accommodation:
Ballfields Barn, Bradnop
Peat Pits Farm Holiday Cottages, Bradfield
Sladen Lodge, Hathersage

Tourism and recreation:
Buxton Civic Association (Pooles Cavern and associated woodland), Buxton
Discover Buxton, Buxton
Village Green Café, Eyam

Training and facilitation:
Wayahead Training, Buxton

The 2013 awards take the number of current Peak District Environmental Quality Mark award-holders to 68. Award-holders are able to display the Environmental Quality Mark logo, and their listing on the national park website gives a boost to their search-engine rankings.

More information is available from 0770 245 2777 or at www.eqm.org.uk/peakdistrict

He moved us forward and now he’s Moving on (Bill Preece)

By Paul Dinsdale - Chair of Buxton Civic Association

Development Director Bill Preece has resigned from the BCA Board, in view of his
forthcoming retirement to his home city of St David’s. The Association is hugely in his debt for all of the hard graft, inspiration and sound advice that he has contributed in twelve years on the Board.

Not only that, but our entire redevelopment programme was largely based on colleagues’ trust in his cool and impartial judgement and his wealth of commercial experience – it would have been difficult to gain approval for the scale of investment required without the confidence which his support inspired in others. Highly regarded on a much broader stage, of course, his Directorship of DDEP and his high level contacts in EMDA certainly didn’t do the Association any harm, either!

Over his years on the Board, Bill became adept at sourcing various substantial grants that have been crucial in underpinning the projects that have resulted in our growth and financial stability today.

Bill was an obvious choice to undertake our recent Management Review - a task that he carried out with typical efficiency, enthusiasm and professionalism.

On a personal level, I too am largely in Bill's debt, for all the years of support and good advice, particularly since I became Chairman. Those exhortations to “keep a cool ‘ead”, to “never let the sun set on your anger”, and, perhaps the most irritating of all, “If you haven’t done it, you haven’t done it”, have, hopefully, made some impression on me – although Bill may sadly regard it as very much a work still in progress!