3500th member

Leighton Jones (Chairman) presents 3500th member certificate to David Hofton (right)

The Knowle Society is proud to announce that it has now reached over 3,500 members, thanks largely to the sterling work done by our recruitment team and Martin Warr in particular.

Our 3,500th member is David Hofton, a Director of Hunters Estate Agents. David said: “Having worked for over 20 years at Hunters in Knowle, I felt it long overdue to join the Knowle Society who do such a sterling job in preserving the character of the Village and the local environment through such changing times.”

We have come a long way since the Society first started in 1962 with the aim of preserving the character of the village. We believe that we are the second largest Civic Society in terms of paying members in the country. Reaching 3,500 members is a fantastic achievement and will ensure that our voices continue to be heard on issues that matter to the residents and businesses of Knowle.

Membership as at August 2013 has now risen to 3600!

Matters discussed by the Trustee Directors in February 2012

1. A meeting was expected shortly in which Kimberley Developments will explain to the Society’s Planning committee representatives what steps it is taking in response to the objections raised by the Society to its latest planning application for a Waitrose store et.al.

2. Yorkshire Tea was reported to have made a generous donation of teabags and decorative paraphernalia for use in the Village Tea Party to be held in celebration of the Society’s Golden Jubilee on 5th May.

3. Any Questions? – This event has been oversubscribed, the name of the fourth panellist has yet to be announced. All arrangements with Arden Academy are now in hand for this prestigious event.

4. AGM – Gary Masters announced that he will be retiring at this AGM and therefore there will be a further vacancy for a Trustee Director. The name of a possible new nominee was discussed. It was agreed to continue with previous practice and have a tea/coffee break after the formal business.

5. The two councillors present provided updates on the Solihull Local Plan (the final version to be submitted for approval by the Secretary of State is out for discussion – the Society will be making a submission on the intended advancing of plans to build housing in Four Ashes, Hampton Road and Grove Road); the removal of protection of the Relief Road Line (aka the by-pass land) [*see further detail below]; the Royal British Legion building will be used again for a polling station instead of Arden School; an area of the Borough (not Knowle) will try reducing street lighting hours on an experimental basis; the Conservation Advisory Committee (CAC) will be brought out of mothballs for consideration of the Kimberley/Waitrose planning application – SMBC decision on this application is expected in late March; a free parking period in Borough car parks will continue – the hours are subject to further discussion; Tilehouse Green Lane is due to be resurfaced in the Spring.

6. No 8 Wilsons Road (the last one in residential use in that block) has been approved for conversion to office use.

7. Copies of a report on an aircraft noise monitoring exercise in Knowle were circulated; the Society is pressing for further clarification on the data about flights made at the extreme edge of the allowed corridor where these pass closest to Knowle.

8. Planting of a tree, possibly in Jobs Close (Knowle) Park in commemoration of the Society’s Jubilee was discussed. Details of the Streamside Trust (land by Wychwood Avenue) were explained by one of the local councillors and the Society expressed its continued interest in being able to contribute to the future trusteeship/management of that land.

9, A very successful guided tour of Knowle for a local cub pack was reported. It was recognised that this sort of activity was important if youngsters were to be encouraged to take a future interest in civic matters; the Society being keen to develop a youth interest within its structure.

10. A new committee of the Trustee board was under consideration that would combine the current one-man-bands of publicity, membership, newsletter, distribution and the website.

11. A member had expressed an interest in moving forward the Knowle Green Community Project (the old toilet block) and the Society would be meeting with him to explore his interest.

[* Reasons given for removal of protection on Relief Road Line were: a) The Highways Agency says that it is no longer needed as the M40/M42 have proved to be effective in carrying traffic away from Knowle, b) a by-pass might prevent people from coming into Knowle to shop, c) the route would cut right between residential areas and cut them off from the village centre and d) a by-pass wouldn’t actually be put on that line today anyway.]

Matters discussed by the Trustee Directors in January 2012

1. No further developments were reported in the Kimberley/Waitrose planning application which is expected to be heard by Solihull Council in February. In the meantime the Society will be meeting with the Council to discuss Conservation Area concerns in respect of the application.

2. Arrangements were tabled for the four events celebrating the Society’s Jubilee year. It was agreed in particular that the ‘Tea Party’ with birthday cake to be held in the Village Hall would be thrown open to the whole community, whether members of the Society or not. It was noted that the Any Question? broadcast was likely to be over-subscribed.

3. It was agreed to continue exploring the possibility of a full-colour newsletter – perhaps using a design and print service, though there were reservations about taking that route. The change could be made coincident with appointing a new editor, for which volunteers would be sought.

4. It was agreed to form a new committee (possibly to be named ‘Membership Services’) which would pull together the five member-related activities of Membership, Newsletter, Distribution, Website and Publicity. The need for greater coordination of these activities was recognised as the Society continues to respond to changes in communication and technology.

5. Although the Society has adequate funds at present it is recognised that is growing role in community events (such as the Christmas lights) and developments in the newsletter may cause regular expenditure to exceed income and that the subscriptions which have remained unchanged for many years, could require review.

6. Knowle Green Community Project – It was reported that there was possible private interest being expressed in developing this block. The Society would look further into this report but also noted that the block was actually owned by the Council.

7. Diana Holl-Allen representing the Knowle Councillors assured the meeting that the Local Development Framework would be seeking a lot of input from the community; she also stressed that if the community does not respond then decisions will be imposed upon it. She also reported that Council Tax is to be frozen for the next year and that the cemetery at Widney Manor is to be expanded.

8. Knowle Library – it was reported that the relationship with the library service over our Saturday afternoon opening arrangements is becoming increasingly positive and further developments are anticipated. Some 700 people have used this facility in which a 70% were children.

9. Christmas Lights – the condition and quantity of the remaining tree lights was such that it was agreed that enquiries would be made about the purchase of new LED lights.

10. One much valued committee member resignation was noted and two new ones were approved.

11. The future of the former bypass land and the lack of a potential walking link between Longdon Road and this land; the Society’s continued interest in being willing to assist with the Streamside Trust and the difficulty in selecting a suitable place for planting of a Jubilee tree in the autumn land was discussed. Solihull Council had expressed its willingness to cooperate in the planting a tree.

Matters discussed by the Trustee Directors in December 2011

Committee meetings are sumarised for the website however there has been an unintentional gap of six months but we now hope to resume these regularly and ensure that members who so wish are able to keep abreast of what is being discussed in-between reports in our quarterly newsletter.

1. St Johns Close development – two submissions have been made to SMBC raising concerns about the proposed development. The submissions collated responses from the public meeting and input supplied through feedback forms, the website and other sources. The society had also commissioned professional reports on the Conservation Area and the proposals for trees. Original research has also been done on car parking and access routes. The major objection raised by the Society has been the inadequacy of parking arrangements for the size of store proposed.

2. Jubilee celebrations – plans for the Society’s Jubilee celebrations are now all agreed. Arrangements for handling tickets at the BBC Any Questions event will be finalised by a small working party. Plans for the Queen’s Jubilee were discussed but further work is needed to nail down exactly what will be presented. It was suggested that the Society could also be the focus for an exhibition of Coronation memorabilia on the Bank Holiday and members would be invited in the April newsletter to offer their personal examples for that exhibition.

3. Arden School/Academy – satisfaction was expressed at the positive links that have been developed with the school recently and in particular with the new head. It was expected that new initiatives of mutual benefit will be forthcoming.

4. Christmas lights – the event was deemed successful but in need of a little enhancement, perhaps involving a small amount of hot food and more carols, maybe with a choir; the jokes were thought to have had their day! Numbers seemed slightly down this year but the event was clearly very popular. Distribution of food should be commenced from both ends of the crowd as many people see none of it. The tree is a different variety and extremely heavy, so it may be necessary to reduce the height in future years for safety of erection which was almost a mini disaster this year. The lights do not reach the top this time which was a pity and also they are probably on their final year. Any replacements sought would be coloured (red, yellow, green etc.) rather than just all white or all blue. Once again the Society was sad that so much of the press publicity or reports failed to mention the Knowle Society at all as the Society had actually taken the lead as usual in arranging the event, on top of which the organisations listed were incorrect anyway.

5. Copyright – it was agreed that steps would be taken for key personnel in the Society to sign a form, perhaps annually, which ensured that copyright on materials prepared for the Society was assigned to the Society. It was recognised that this is a subject which has caused difficulties and which has the potential to do so in future if reasonable precautions are not taken.

6. Accounts – The accounts for year ending 2011 are currently being prepared by the accountants for audit. The directors considered the reducing balances, the recent additional expenditure related to the St Johns Close development proposals and the potential increased cost of taking the newsletter up a notch to full colour and adopting a more modern presentation. It was agreed that estimates would be obtained and a more holistic view of the costs, balances and potential need for subscription increases in a year or so would be undertaken and also the pros and cons of taking in advertising which has hitherto not been accepted.

7. Councillors’ Report – The main discussion centred around the Streamside Trust and how, if at all, the Society might be able to contribute to the Trust’s work.

8. Reports from committees – reports had mostly been received earlier of the Society’s committees and these did not lead to any significant discussion on this occasion.