I thought it about the right time to write to you as a CPRE member to bring you up to date on the changes and progress made here at your county branch of the charity since the 2021 Annual General Meeting held in July. If you would like to discuss any of the following in person, I would be delighted to receive an invitation to do so. I am easily tempted by a cup of tea and a village visit. Just e-mail me at email@example.com or call 01572 823465 or mobile 07710 328469. Thank you for being a member of CPRE Rutland. I hope I can live up to your leadership expectations. If you would like to know more about me you can find my CV at www.ronsimpson.uk
Ron Simpson BEM
As you will be aware from the circulated AGM minutes, I asked for time from the membership to address a number of governance and policy issues following the revelation that two of our long standing volunteers had completed the maximum period of service as a Trustee and that another will arrive at that position in 2022. Change was therefore inevitable. As the need to change was also an opportunity to acknowledge the new code of governance for smaller charities commended by the Charity Commission, the remaining Trustees have met and, with the support of the President and the national charity, taken the opportunity to modernise our approach to achieving the charity’s objects. Our new, less hierarchical, structure is reflected in the diagram below.
The new methodology will result in:
- Greater accountability by, and engagement with, the Trustees – they will now meet quarterly for board meetings expected to last no more than an hour
- Monthly meetings of a slimmed down Executive – who will be directly accountable to the Trustee Board
- The appointment of a number of existing and new volunteers and contractors as subject leads e.g. planning, membership, environment, housing, transport, health and wellbeing, farming, biodiversity, research, communications etc. – accountable to the Executive
- The establishment of a stronger voice for CPRE Rutland with the creation of an updated website and a strengthened social media presence
- The abolition of the existing large Rutland committee – to be brought to an AGM for retrospective approval once we have had sight of the much anticipated governance/structural change options to be forwarded by the national charity once it has completed its current governance review (we do not want to go through two more sets of constitutional change)
We anticipate that this new structure and way of working will increase the quality and quantity of our local output. We also hope it will attract a new generation of volunteers to join us all in our collective effort to ensure a positive and environmentally sustainable future for Rutland and its countryside.
Progress To Date
At the December 2021 meeting of the Trustees, I expect the board to: –
- Receive a report on CPRE Rutland engagement with the national charity since our AGM
- Receive Executive Officer Reports
- Officially Launch the 2021 Christmas Quiz – already prepared
- Approve the charity’s first ever set of financial regulations together with new volunteer/public safeguarding and equality policies
- Adopt new volunteer role descriptions prepared by the national charity and adapted to CPRE Rutland’s needs
- Appoint at least two new Trustees – please consider stepping forward for these opportunities
- Consider the appointment of at least one board vice chair – your thoughts are welcome
- Adopt a strategy to boost membership in 2022
- Consider the progress made with the Rutland Conversation and the first steps made by RCC toward a new Rutland Local Plan
- Update the charity’s approach to encouraging a more appropriate development at St. Georges and discuss the evident public concern over the conduct and capability of the local planning authority.
Projects and Statistics
At the time of writing CPRE Rutland has 87 members. I am delighted to advise that the first recruit since my appointment is Margaret Simpson BEM, my wife of 54 years. As a Rotary Assistant District Governor, Margaret is well placed to be an active advocate for the charity. I am also pleased that she decided to become a hedgerow champion at the parliamentary launch of this new national CPRE project. More news on this and other national projects in my next communication.
Liaison with Rutland County Council – a regular pattern of meetings between the CPRE Chair and the Leader and Deputy Leader of RCC has been agreed.
Local Plan – CPRE National Office has welcomed the success of the CPRE Rutland deputation presented to RCC full council calling for a fresh start with the Rutland Local Plan. CPRE Rutland has also called for a new senior appointment to the RCC planning function. The future of St Georges Barracks will remain a key issue.
The New Local Plan – our planning leads advise that a key issue here is ‘how much development does Rutland need in the next 10 to 15 years? This is fundamental to any new emerging local plan. An option is for CPRE Rutland to suggest that the answer is to encourage sticking to the Objectively Assessed Housing Need (OAN) with a modest safety net. That means 130 new dwellings completed per annum including windfall development on unallocated sites.
Bio diversity – a key step forward for RCC and the countryside would be the adopting of the principles of net gain in biodiversity for all planning applications, whereby developers have to make a financial contribution to the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to fully replace any measured potential biodiversity loss caused by their development proposals. RCC needs to implement this as other forward thinking LPA’s have already.
Health and Wellbeing Hospital Debate – following a CPRE Rutland written question on public transport plans put to the October meeting of the Rutland Health and Wellbeing Board, a private meeting with the Board Chair and Portfolio Holder has been offered to discuss the charity’s ideas for transport provision.
Affordable Housing Survey – the CPRE Rutland Parish Housing Survey is to be marketed to rural communities and parish councils throughout the UK from the end of the year via the charity’s upgraded website and social media pages.
Rutland Round – CPRE Chief Executive Crispin Truman OBE has expressed interest in supporting a CPRE Rutland initiative to explore the creation of a smartphone app for the Rutland Round walk.
CPRE Conference – as I am unable to attend this year’s conference myself, I have asked research volunteer Malcolm Touchin to represent the branch at this year’s conference.
Lead Member Appointments
After the AGM appointment of the CPRE Rutland Executive as myself as Chair, Geoff Clyde as Administrative Officer and Judy Geer as Treasurer, the following lead volunteer appointments have been agreed to date:
Research – Malcolm Touchin – research work will be allocated by the Executive
Membership – Annabelle Meek
Planning – Carolyn Cartwright supported by Cliff Bacon
IT support – local company ClockedIn
RCC engagement – Ron Simpson BEM
Our President (Sir Laurence Howard) and Vice President (Patsy Clifton) continue to serve and offer oversight of the Trustee board and the Executive, attending meetings as they see fit.
12.10.2021 – CPRE Rutland Chair to attend Rural Services Network Market Town Group Meeting
13.10.2021 – CPRE to publish research on why young people are being driven out of the countryside. See the Rutland Times on October 14th
18.11.2021 – CPRE Rutland to attend the virtual launch of CPRE, the countryside charity’s ‘State of brownfield 2021’ report in the presence of the Housing Minister Christopher Pincher MP – Want to join us? Call 01572 823465.
The charity would be pleased to hear of CPRE member engagement with countryside matters generally. I offer you a few snapshots of relevant member activity, often whilst wearing other hats.
Retiring Chair and Trustee Malcolm Touchin being presented with a national volunteer long service award by the Lord Leiutenant of Rutland, Dr Sarah Furness, at our 2021 AGM in the presence of CPRE Rutland President, Sir Laurence Howard.
CPRE members and others litter picking in Uppingham with Cllr Lucy Stephenson,
Deputy Leader of Rutland County Council and Climate Change Portfolio Holder.
CPRE Rutland Trustee and volunteer lead on planning matters Carolyn Cartwright, in her role as President of the Rotary Club of Uppingham, was the driving force behind the creation of a Rotary Covid Wood complete with rest area at Rutand Water. She is pictured at the official opening next to the large recognition stone which marks the beginning of the footpath up to the wood.
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs the Rt Hon George Eustice MP launches the CPRE research publication: ‘Hedge Fund – Investing in Hedgerows for Climate, Nature and the Economy’ at a CPRE reception in the Terrace Bar of the House of Commons. CPRE Rutland members were in attendance.
New CPRE Member and hedgerow champion Margaret Simpson BEM pictured at the national launch of the CPRE hedgerow project in London.
CPRE Rutland Chair and Neighbourhood Planning Champion Ron Simpson BEM arriving at No 10 to discuss affordable housing development.
See Ron presenting to government a few years ago at a DCLG event via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7WCcgKZh7Q