The Chair, Lorna Hoey, welcomed members (approximately 50) to the meeting and explained the format of the evening. There followed apologies for absence and signing off the minutes of the 2016 AGM.
Lorna then gave the Chair/Executive Committee Report which covered the main achievements, events, concerns and business undertaken by the Committee and Society during the past very busy year. These included:
Bus station – in view of huge opposition in the town to moving the bus station to Girling St, Babergh District Council is “looking again” at plans and alternatives.
Belle Vue House – has been boarded up since it was vacated by the CAB last July. Unsurprisingly, it has been vandalised and Lorna wrote to the press immediately after the damage was discovered to reiterate the Society’s view that the building is a prime target for wilful damage and needs to be permanently supervised.
Walnuttree – demolition has begun and the site is being cleared except for the Victorian core which is to be retained, thanks in part to the Sudbury Society.
St Leonards – demolition has also begun there with, again, the original main building retained. The plans for the proposed new buildings were viewed by Committee members and look very promising.
Sudbury on Show (February 2017) was particularly successful in that visitors to the show seemed to be much more aware of what the Society stands for and actually does. Five new members were enrolled.
The LoveSudbury Campaign was launched at Sudbury on Show and has already attracted much attention, support and press coverage. Society member Val Herbert is handling the LoveSudbury publicity and press. The Society has already awarded a plaque to Sarah Titford for her planting on Bullocks Lane. More plaques will be awarded in future for similar ‘adoption’ of land. Bradley Smith, Community Warden, will be at the next Society meeting to advise on plants, planting, litter and land use.
The Society will have a plant sale stand at the St George’s Day event on 23 April.
The Society has been asked by individuals to lend its support in various ways particularly in relation to planning and conservation and has done so where it was felt appropriate.
The Society has also been asked to participate in the Sudbury Summer of Silk in 2018. Lorna is a member of its working party; because of her background and on-going interest in education and involving young people in Society work, she has agreed to go into schools to promote the Society.
The Society will not run the Visions of Sudbury art exhibition in 2017 due to so many other commitments resulting in a lack of Committee support. An event such as this requires a great deal of time and organisation and the Committee felt that it would be better to wait until a more appropriate time and then to do a really good job. It is hoped to run it in 2018.
As the URC church and its adjoining Friars Hall is closing in December 2017, the Society will have to find another meeting place. The Committee has been investigating alternative venues.
Ian Liddell, Treasurer, gave his report. A copy of the accounts was provided to all members attending the meeting. There were several queries from members regarding various accounts. Lorna confirmed that the Wheeler legacy money was to be used only for ‘special purposes’ (e.g. the Stephen Binks’ painting now in the Heritage Centre, the projector, screen and sound system, etc. and not for the everyday running of the Society.) Andrew asked for more ‘specificity’ in next year’s accounts (e.g. naming and defining Society projects) and an easier to read layout. There was some concern that the accounts had not been audited. Ian stated that this was not required by the Charities Commission if under a certain amount. The accounts were accepted as true as they stand, but Lorna noted members’ concerns that (1) the accounts sheet was difficult to understand and (2) the need for clarification on whether auditing the accounts was needed, and members were told that this would be re-visited and the outcome reported to members.
Then followed the Election of Officers and Committee. Andrew Phillips, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, kindly agreed to continue to be President of the Society. David Burnett has also agreed to be our Vice-President for another year. Both were thanked for their continuing support throughout the year and their constant willingness to give advice and help where necessary.
Any Other Business : Members were asked for comments:
The old tax office site on Newton Road is very untidy; what can be done about it? The Committee response was that not much can be done except perhaps, a personal letter to the company requesting that it be tidied up.
What of the possibility of a plaque on the house in Cross Street where the bunting for the US flag had been made in the 19th century? This flag was the inspiration for the national anthem of the USA. Committee agreed that this should be public knowledge and is working on an idea for plaques on buildings of historic importance.
The subject of the bypass has recently be revived but members felt that although they supported the idea, they were not hopeful that progress would be made in the near future.
The AGM closed at 8.30pm.
It was followed by an inspiring talk by Lord Phillips on Sudbury and its character, with the changes that have affected it and are present now. He reminded us what a privilege it is to live in this lovely town.