President's Comments to the AGM, 10th September 2018
2018 has been a momentous year for the Society. Our 80th birthday celebrations at the Summer party, so generously hosted by Nigel and Claire Bunting, coincided with some positive outcomes for our campaigning.
The exceptional quality of our magazine is a great tribute to the work of David Eking, our editor, and everyone who contributed.
We have more members than at any time in our history and we are building a strong financial reserve in case we need to employ experts in the battles ahead.
And battles ahead I'm afraid there will certainly be. The relaxation of the planning laws has allowed developers a free rein.
In Bures, where the Braintree District Council has twice turned down proposals for 98 houses in a site which will jeopardise the AONB extension plans if allowed, the developer, Gladman, has appealed and representations have to be in by 19th September although the inspector's hearing may not be until next February. The developer has made a further proposal which may also be appealed if it is turned down by the Council. So this one will drag on for a long while yet.
Konings has put in another application which we must oppose if it is still unsatisfactory.
We have to be alert and on the ball at all times. In my view, more new members are needed and also people who are prepared to liaise with the planning departments of all the councils in the area we cover. I hope members will volunteer to be parish councillors and we need more members on county and district councils as well.
We need members who will work with CPRE and our neighbour amenity societies, the Colne Stour Countryside Association and the Stour & Orwell Society.
In particular we must maintain and strengthen ties with the Dedham Vale & Stour Valley Project, the statutory body which manages the Vale and the whole Stour valley. If we work together we can be a formidable force for maintaining and enhancing our beautiful and precious gem which is the Stour valley but make no mistake, the pressure on it is relentless.
Many of us on the committee have been involved for a long time and are no longer in the first flush of youth. We need new, younger members to pass on what we know and let them carry the torch.
Our excellent Hon Secretary, Kate Warburton, Will Sambrook and Georgie Russell, who is our main contact with the media, are the vanguard of the younger generation and a breath of fresh air. We need more like them.
If you are prepared to volunteer or know of someone who will, please let us know without delay. Your committee have done a wonderful job but they cannot go on for ever.
Robert Erith TD DL
10th September 2018