I should have liked to have left the branch in a stronger position. My successor faces significant challenges. While our financial position is relatively stable, we have a declining membership and we have found it difficult to recruit and retain active volunteers and trustees. I fear for the viability of the branch, but I am pleased to note that our National Office recognises the problems facing small branches and is stepping up its branch development campaigns.
The voice of CPRE desperately needs to be
heard, especially in our area, which faces huge development pressures, and given the anti-planning stance of the government. In the past we have dealt with the government’s pressure to develop along the A1 and M11 corridors, focusing on the stimuli of Peterborough, Cambridge and Stansted Airport. Now to that we can add the Oxford/Cambridge “arc”. In respect of the latter we have been making sure we are liaising with the other branches concerned.
On a positive note, the government has strengthened the role of Neighbourhood Plans, and we, with Cambridgeshire ACRE, held a joint conference in March at Ely to promote understanding of the opportunities this presents, which was well received.
This year sees the 90th anniversary of the founding of CPRE, and the country owes much to it. We celebrated the event in July with a joint East Midlands/East of England conference in our area at Peterborough, with a keynote address by Dame Fiona Reynolds on the need to appreciate the beauty of our landscapes.
The branch executive committee continues to meet six times a year, although much of the work is carried out by email between meetings. I am grateful to the members of the committee for all their hard work.
Our “Eyes and Ears” scheme continues to work well, identifying issues on the ground and bringing them to our attention – and is a way of involving more volunteers.
Finally, but by no means least, my thanks to Tracey Hipson, our branch administrator, for her effective and professional approach, and to Alison Sargent, our press officer, who has ensured that our work and concerns reach a wider audience.
And so I bid you a fond farewell, and thank you all for the support you have given me over the past six years.
Michael Monk Chairman, CPRE Cambridgeshire & Peterborough
To read the complete annual report click here.