It includes the annual Statement from the Chair, Professor Ian Bruce CBE.
As we go to press one of the most significant local issues is the decision on whether Heathrow will have an additional runway. If the answer from the government is yes, it will be a blow, especially in the light of earlier promises, but the battle will not be over: there will be judicial process challenges and challenges for Heathrow to meet legal, regulatory and common sense requirements on air quality/health, safety and finance, leaving aside the inevitable outcry over the misery that will accompany a fifty per-cent uplift in planes flying over one of the most populous cities in the world. The Richmond Society has been active in opposition throughout the year through its active participation in Richmond Heathrow Campaign chaired by the indefatigable Peter Willan.
Last year I mentioned Village Planning as one of the subjects engaging our attention, with over 100 members involved in discussing and drawing up priority lists of positive change they would like to see take place. Our method of working has been recommended to other community groups. This engagement has continued during the year with progress already on some of the priorities, such as access to public lavatories. While we still have no additional “good old fashioned public lavatories” the need has been recognised by the Council and increased financial incentives for commercial outlets to make their facilities open to the public has worked. For example numbers of ‘community toilets’ in Richmond and Richmond Hill have risen from only one in full operation to 26. See www.spendapennyrichmond.com
We have had another year of excellent speakers organised by Janice Kay with, for example, Michael Frayn drawing in a rapt audience of 300 members and guests. Indeed guests at our talks are a major source of new members who totalled 120 this year, producing a net gain to a new membership high of 1,134 as of the end of the financial year. We are recruiting more members with young children, aided by three events a year aimed at this group, with the high spot over the last year of a Barn Dance in the garden of St Mary’s vicarage using historical tunes and steps which attracted members from one to 90 years.
2015 was a national election year and we were delighted to partner with the Kew Society to put on a Hustings at Duke Street Church at which all the local parliamentary candidates were questioned by our memberships – answers which helped people to decide how to vote. Promoting civic engagement is an important function of the Richmond Society.
Hon Secretaries do a lot of work in relatively little limelight and so it was well deserved to see our own Pat Spaight being recognised among the community awards given by the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames this year. May I also acknowledge Geoff Hyde who, as our Hon Independent examiner, plays an important part in giving people confidence that our affairs are managed properly. We are also grateful to Ginny Curry who has taken up the role of Membership Secretary. Our Executive Committee, and indeed all our committees and volunteers have worked hard this year to bring about our successes, and I thank everyone who has contributed.