Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The end of the Croydon Society?

Tonight, 1 May, sees the Annual General Meeting of the Croydon Society, our local civic society.

This meeting could be the Society's last. The post of secretary has been vacant for a while, and other officers including the chairman are stepping down. Many of the executive members are getting on and new people have not been getting involved for some time. For those reasons, the executive have tabled a motion to wind up the Society and grant members membership of the Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society for the rest of the year.

To some extent, the motion is a threat, tabled to flush out those members on the edge of the society who could take on a greater role and take on some of the administration. But it is a high risk strategy. Some new nominations have been found for executive members, but without a strong chair of the Society and a collective vision of the Society's future, there may be little point.

Let's face it, as things stand, the Council does not really respect the Society. When decisions are being made on planning, heritage, transport or parks, the Society is not engaged and its views do not sway councillors or officers. But there is the need and the opportunity for a strong civic society. The Croydon Society could be a think tank for Croydon, engaging residents groups, faith groups, conservation groups and small local businesses on a long-term vision for our town that guides the Council and other decision-makers. The Society could work in a cross-cultural, cross-political, cross-borough way that politicians find it hard to. Organisations like the New Economics Foundation - particularly their project in Leeds - have shown the way that groups can develop strong voices and visions locally.

The meeting is at 19.45 at the United Reformed Church, Addiscombe Grove, East Croydon. Go, join and help create a vision for our borough.

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