The Society’s executive committee’s report and accounts for the year 2016 were presented at the Richmond Society’s AGM on 8th December 2016.
The last year has once again been encouragingly active for us as you will see in the following committee reports which cover many important topics such as the new borough local development framework, the new leases for Old Deer Park, Heathrow expansion, riverside amenities, public lavatories, alcohol licenses and other subjects including our social events. Thank you to the chairs, committee members and all the others who volunteer to make these activities happen. Richmond Society has no paid staff so everything that happens needs someone to volunteer to do it! I should like most profoundly to thank everyone who helps, and hope that the 100+ members who volunteer find it worthwhile and (mostly!) enjoyable.
At our last AGM in December 2015 we agreed a legal format of a charitable incorporated organisation and a draft constitution. The Charity Commission approved our registration on 7 September 2016 without requiring any significant modification to our draft constitution. Special thanks to our Treasurer Andrew Coleman for steering us through this complicated exercise.
Membership has continued to grow, with 139 new members producing a net increase to a new high of 1,185 at the end of the financial year 30 September. I am fairly confident that at our AGM I shall be reporting that we have topped 1,200. This has contributed to some of the increased numbers attending our events. For example, when we were in the Vestry Hall our talks were usually to 40 to 80 people. We moved to Duke Street Church for a year up to November 2015 to accommodate larger numbers, but unfortunately they were planning major refurbishments and so we switched to the Richmond Adult Community College (RACC) in January 2016. Numbers attending talks are now between 120 and 200 and everyone is delighted with the warm and welcoming atmosphere of RACC.
Last year I reported on our success in lobbying for more community toilets, up from one to twenty-six. Over the first year of their operation some have worked well but a survey we undertook showed that about a quarter are not satisfactory and the distribution of the remainder is uneven e.g. with none along the riverside. You will read several references to this subject in the committee reports and we shall continue to campaign on this issue.
Although technically not in the year under review, it is worth reporting that on 1 October 2016 Richmond Council introduced a shared staffing and management arrangement with Wandsworth Council in order to save money, reduce overheads and protect front-line services. There is now one Chief Executive in charge of the two boroughs. In October we had a Forum on this subject and many members in the audience expressed concern.
Last but certainly not least, we were delighted when Baroness Ronny van Dedem accepted our invitation to become an additional Patron of Richmond Society. Along with her husband Baron Willem van Dedem, who sadly passed away in 2015, she has given the wonderful grounds of Trumpeters House for our summer party for many years. Already she has attended our Annual Review and Awards evening in September and presented the awards.