CHAIRMAN’S REPORT FOR THE YEAR ENDING 31st DECEMBER 2016

This has been a year of mixed progress and frustration. Progress in so far as we have seen more members and friends attending our four open meetings, and the major success and achievement, largely due the initiative of Jim Blake, of our sponsoring an evening to celebrate the life and music of David Bowie and the Beckenham Arts Lab. This did much to bring the Society to the attention of a wider public, and incidentally to secure our finances, but frustratingly has not enabled us significantly to increase our membership or widen and rejuvenate membership of the Committee, both of which we had hoped to achieve this year.

The well attended meetings have covered the detailed proposals of the High Street Improvement Scheme, education in the Borough (What is happening to our Schools?), the history of St George’s Church and the Parochial Charity Almshouses, including a visit to the Church, and finally a talk on Beckenham’s Parks and Green Spaces. The latter turned into a rather heated argument about the future of golf at Beckenham Place Park, with advocates for retaining a golf course there haranguing the speaker from Lewisham Council for frustrating an adequate consultation on that Council’s proposed ‘improvements’.

Meanwhile your Committee has been busy, having considerable involvement with the Town Centre Working Group, particularly with regard to the detailing of the High street Improvement Scheme and the Alley naming project. We have submitted further comments to the Council on the closure of the public toilets, which we consider to be an ill-considered decision not justified by the supposed savings it might achieve, on the extension of the High Street Conservation Area, where we have at last prevailed on the Council to include almost all the shopping area, and on confirming Beckenham Green as a Local Green Space.

During the year we have continued with the regular circulation of our Newsletter, for which we are indebted to David Wood, our President, who acts as editor and co-ordinator. He is however, dependent on contributors coming forward with articles and suggestions for new items, so please let us know what matters you would wish to be explored or developed in forthcoming editions.

There is so much more that needs to be pursued if only we had the time and personnel to do so. Since the end of the year we have been heartened by recruiting one new member for the Committee, but we could do with more and younger support for tackling the challenges we see around us. We hope that during the current year we will achieve this elusive goal, so we will be glad to hear from any of you who might be minded to lend a hand in keeping Beckenham a place worth living in and looking after.

Alan Duncan (Chairman)