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2019 Chairman's Report to A.G.M

 

The Report below was presented to the Annual General Meeting held on Saturday 9th March 2019 at The New Milton Community Association by Alan Watson

Now well into 2019, it is time to review and measure your Association’s performance in 2018 against our stated five Aims and Objectives:-

To use our best endeavours within the constraints of existing legislation to protect the character of our town and the quality of its environment.

Like many of you, we have been frustrated at the progress made with the New Milton Neighbourhood  Plan, much of which has been outside of the control of the Steering Group, and partly because of New Forest District Council’s own Local Plan which itself has suffered some lengthy delays.  However, during the year, your Association's representatives, Jill Hennah, Julia Stamper and myself, have been involved in meetings and in many elements of the production of the final plan.  It is hoped that this Community Plan will be approved and adopted by the Town Council at its April Meeting, and that we can then move forward towards its examination by New Forest District Council and subsequently by the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol, prior to being put to you all in a Referendum by the end of the year.  The Steering Group must thank our Town Development Officer, Suna King, for the many hours of work that she has put into drafting the Final Plan, based largely on the views expressed by our Residents during the Public Consultations.

 

It is believed that the Plan reflects the public majority view, who wanted to see the character of our Town retained, but enhancements made to improve the quality of the built environment especially in the town centre, and to ensure that there was more affordable housing locally for our young people.

 

New Forest District Council’s views on the strength and quality of our Neighbourhood Plan, especially when looking at the regeneration of our town centre, clearly had an impact when they invited New Milton to bid for up to £25m from the Government’s Future High Streets Fund.

 

To seek to ensure, with members’ support, that any new development is compatible with that objective.

The Association continues to monitor all aspects of major developments in our Parish, and where appropriate, to support or object to planning applications which come forward throughout the year.

 

Probably the most intensive area of our Town has been in Barton Common Road, where a number of unacceptable and wholly inappropriate developments have been put forward and the Association has tried its best to support the local residents in their fight against them.

Whilst the Association does not support or become involved in single applications, it does continue to get involved where a specific application affects a number of our members. Examples of these have been in Kennard Road,  and Barton Lane, amongst others.

 

To encourage the maintenance and improvement of local amenities.

NMRA continues to financially support the provision of floral displays across the town.  Unfortunately, the wild meadow on the Lymington Road was not as good as it was in 2017, being taken over predominantly by yellow flowers.  The Council’s team has been investigating this and is planning a different seed mix for this year.  Illustrating continuing support from the Community and from local Businesses plays an important role when it comes to judging the “In Bloom” competitions.

 

We will have a continued focus on this objective as we move forward with some of the  key plans currently being evolved for the Town Centre, for the Youth and sporting facilities, for the Heritage Centre, and other projects.

 

To promote care in the Community and awareness of the needs of others.

The Residents’ Association in 2019, through it’s Community in Action Team,  will once again be holding a Senior Citizens Afternoon Tea in August, which is always  appreciated for the social interaction that they provide for many who perhaps are on their own, or who aren’t able to get out without the transport that is arranged for them.

 

One of the key aims of the Association is to widen the demographics of our membership and to become better known by younger families in our Town.  One of our objectives is to be truly representative of all age groups in our society.  With this in mind, the CIA Team organised an excellent Children’s Christmas Party, led by Julia Stamper, which introduced some 30 younger families to the Association and gave more than 60 children a really fun afternoon, including a visit by Father Christmas (in the guise of John Ley-Fleurie) to whom we are most grateful.  We should give our thanks to many on the Association Committee for their assistance, but especially to Committee Member, Councillor Goff Beck who produced a magical Santa’s Grotto complete with Reindeer, assisted by members of his family. Thanks to local Resident, Jed Holyoake who loaned us the reindeer from his massive collection used in the Byron Road Annual Christmas Lights.

 

Our varied programme of Coach Trips, organised by Gerry Bryer and Janet Moyles continue to be very popular. These included in 2018 a Theatre Dinner & Show at The Mill at Sonning, a visit to The Milestones Living History Museum and Barge Trip, an outing to West Dean Gardens and Arundel Castle, and a visit to the Isle of Wight including Osborne House and Gardens.

To provide a forum where members can express their views and concerns publicly.

We continue to experience a wide variety of attendance figures at our General Meetings and 2018 was no exception. We had a range of topics and speakers to whom we were grateful for their enlightening talks.  My own view is that there are numerous other organisations that offer programmes on a variety of topics, and that we as an Association should pay greater attention and include presentations, discussions and debates,  on some of the more contentious issues about living, working and playing in New Milton.

 

Please let your Association’s Committee know your views on this subject, by either emailing me or calling me on the number below.

 

We sometimes receive comments that we appear to have increased the numbers of adverts in FOCUS. I can assure you that the amount of paid-for advertising has not increased now for a number of years.  It is possible that this is perceived because of the number of promotional flyers that we reproduce each month from various community groups. I however believe that this is an important function of FOCUS, to keep you all fully informed about all that is happening in and around New Milton.

 

Final Comments

There is a great deal that needs to be considered and debated in the year ahead, based on the developments in the Town outlined in the Editorial Comments, and it is important that we have a strong and vibrant Committee  to take things forward in the Association.

 

I am saddened especially that Phyllis Inglis and Marie Morgan have decided the time is right to resign from the Committee, both having given sterling service to the Association for so many years.  We will miss both of them, and I personally will miss the efficiency with which Phyllis has guided the Association during my Chairmanship, and for many many years before I came on the scene. We are also sad to lose Shelagh Levett from our Team, however I am pleased that Janet Moyles has agreed to stand for election as our new Secretary.

 

It is therefore very important that we encourage new members to join the Committee, which is not an onerous task, involving a couple of hours at our Committee which meets every six weeks.  With all the exciting developments already outlined, we are sure that some of you will find it an enjoyable, interesting and stimulating task.  So please, think about joining the Committee by giving me a call or by emailing me at the address given below.  I’d love to hear from some of you!.

 

My thanks also go to all of the Committee; to our Vice Chairman - Gerry Bryer, and to our Honorary Treasurer, Harry Nash, without whom we would not be on top of our finances. 

 

My thanks also go to all of you, our members, the readers of our FOCUS magazine for your continued support.

 ALAN WATSON

Tel : 07771 754025    chairman@nmra.org.uk

 

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