Minutes January 2010
KIRKBY STEPHEN TOWN FORUM
Minutes Of the Meeting held on Monday 11 January 2010
Present: Jacqui Semple, Mike Walker, Ann Sandell, Joan Johnstone, Andrea Hines, Glenys Lumley, Liz Hall, Arthur Littlefair, Charles Thornton
1. Chairman’s welcome:
Jacqui Semple welcomed participants and thanked them for attending on a cold evening.
2. Apologies for absence:
Debbie Hylton, Linda Walker, Libby Bateman, Derek Thompson, John Thompson, Jacqui Scarr,
3. Minutes of the meeting on 9 November 2009:
These were accepted as a true record of the meeting.
4. Matters Arising (not otherwise included in the agenda):
Trolleys and storage for market stalls: This action is still outstanding. Concern was expressed about the Local Links proposal to demolish the storage buildings behind the old Grammar School without replacement. It was agreed that a letter should be sent from the Forum objecting to this demolition. Storage and handling needs for the market stalls would be determined by the outcome of this project.
Action: Mike Walker
The Calor Village of the Year® banner has been displayed outside the Emporium since early December. It was agreed to keep it in place as long as possible.
An item in the Cumbria magazine has showed Kirkby Stephen in a very positive light.
The Christmas lights fund-raising was promoted in Cleator’s window. Joan agreed to remove the display and advise the secretary, as there is an intention to use the window for a Rotary Club display. Action: Joan Johnstone
It was agreed to have a meeting of the Christmas Lights group to discuss experiences with the new lights and the proposed extension. Shiela Haughey had asked to be involved. Action: Mike Walker
The Council and Forum were disappointed about the vandalism on New Year’s Eve, when the Christmas tree lights were deliberately damaged. The Police have been of no help, and it was agreed that the Forum should make a formal request for Police presence on New Year’s Eve next year, following the recent experience. Various ways of reducing the problem were considered, a smaller tree, removing the lights before New Year’s Eve etc. It was agreed that an article should be written for the next Community Newsletter, expressing our disappointment about the damage and soliciting information about, or recompense for the possible £200 damage caused.
Action: Mike Walker
Christmas Windows were judged by Rev Richard Hall and his wife, Annabelle, and the winners were as follows: for the small window section, in third place, HSBC, in second place Cerberus and the winner, the Dentist’s. For the large window section, in third place, Age Concern, in second place Petstop, and the winner the Green Tree Pharmacy
Big Ben was displayed again at New Year. Unfortunately it is not possible to report that it helped to improve behaviour on this occasion.
The evaluation form for the Community fair has been submitted, and it has been agreed to use the surplus funding to produce a flyer about the various activities in Kirkby Stephen who were represented at the Fair, for the target groups.
Action: Mike Walker / Libby Bateman
5. Treasurer’s Report:
The Forum account is currently healthy with £5897 in the bank. This is made up of £3000 Calor prize money, £1000 for Britain in Bloom, and £170 surplus from the Community Fair. Some payments for Christmas trees and Virtual Tours are still outstanding and will be chased.
6. Tourist Information Centre:
The Forum welcomed Charles Thornton, Eden District Council’s TIC Network manager to speak to the meeting about the TIC service in Kirkby Stephen. Following problems during 2009, current staffing is down to two, Charles Thornton and Fiona Poole. Recruitment of two further members of staff is underway from March 2010 on a flexible basis, for deployment in Kirkby Stephen or Penrith as appropriate. Opening times will be maintained, and the message is that it is “Business as Usual” for the Kirkby Stephen TIC.
Charles is keen to promote relationships with local organisations and will use the TIC to promote activities, merchandising, event promotion etc. It was suggested that Charles should write an article for the forthcoming Community Newsletter and Mike agreed to provide him with details.
Action: Mike Walker
7. Role of Town Forum in Economic regeneration of KS - review of previous experience and possibilities for future:
The Forum welcomed Arthur Littlefair who had agreed to talk to the Forum about the work of the Economic Development Group during the 1990s in addressing issues of recession, employment and a bias of the County Council to West Cumbria. The EDG was set up as a means of getting all interested parties to speak with one voice representing the entire area, based on the catchment area of the Kirkby Stephen Grammar School. Experience had shown that the population of the area were resilient and resourceful, but normal mechanisms of engagement were inadequate. The EDG recognised that around 47 organisations had an influence on the community. The group sought to research and produce sound arguments to determine what was wanted in the area, and why the area was worthy of support. It was deemed necessary to engage with the most senior people in the influencing organisations, as the way to get them on side and get information across in support of the Upper Eden Community. The EDG raised the profile of the Kirkby Stephen area, and although may not have solved problems, certainly worked towards their resolution. As the Community & Council Centre was established, the EDG wound down.
Since the EDG ceased its work economic conditions have been better, and the Town Forum has concentrated on events for residents and visitors, which have a secondary impact on businesses. There has been limited focus on direct business support, but under the current pressures of recession, businesses are considering closure, and shops are emptying. It may be time to re-engage with these issues with a similar group to that successful in the 1990s. It was agreed that a group would be set up with membership from the Forum, Council etc. although would not be accountable to the Town Forum. For reference Arthur presented the original Business Plan of the EDG (attached) Action: Glenys Lumley
Although online shopping might be perceived as a threat to some businesses, there are successful businesses in Kirkby Stephen reliant on Internet sales and providing employment.
8. Report on visit to Settle Hydro:
Mike, Linda and Libby attended a presentation on the Settle Hydro-Electric project in November. Mike had written a report, attached to these minutes. The project had cost in excess of £400,000, and was estimated to make £20,000 per year from electricity sales. However, with loans of £135,000 to service, the economics did not look great. The River Ribble in Settle is already industrialised, and the project was able to use a pre-existing weir, fish ladder and sluice, which originally fed an old mill. Without this infrastructure the economics look less attractive. It was felt that such a project was not appropriate to the Kirby Stephen area.
9. Review of current suggestions for spending Calor prize money:
A suggestion scheme has been running since the Community fair in September and the list of suggestions is appended. It has been agreed that any decision on spending should be joint between the Forum and the Council, with a view that whatever we did should have some permanent nature and be appropriate for all age groups and future generations. The Council will establish a small group, with the aim of making an early decision. Action: Joan Johnstone
10. Forum activities in 2010:
The Forum has no definite plans for activities in 2010. It was noted that the History Society have a day on Dated Structures during February, that the Stainmore Railway Company have birthday and opening plans during the year, and there will be a Beer & Folk Festival at the King’s Arms in August.
Charles Thornton asked if there might be an opportunity during the Yomp in early June. It was agreed that we should consider promoting Walking in Eden, and Walker’s are Welcome at the Grammar School during the day of the Yomp.
Members were asked to consider other activities, which the Forum might carry out during the year.
11. Any Other Business:
There was no other business.
12. Date of Next Meeting:
It was agreed that the next meeting would be held on Monday 22 March 2010 at 1900 in the room above the TIC. (Note: This is two weeks later than the normal date due to the availability of the secretary) This will be our Annual General Meeting, and the positions of officers will be open to election. Nominations should be sent to the secretary.