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Chairman's report

A sub-committee has performed an incredible amount of work researching the origins and history of the Association, including both the predecessor organisations, the Billericay Residents’ Association and the Buttsbury Residents’ Association which merged to form the BDRA.

This has been the first full year in their posts of our Vice Chairman, Andy Maddocks, and our Treasurer, Peter Sharp, and the operation of the Association has been greatly enhanced by their participation.

One of the focuses of the Executive Committee this year has been the management of our membership. We felt the need to better understand the coverage across the area of our membership, and the ways in which we manage our members. We have confirmed that we have about one-third of all households in membership, that is about 4,300 households, and the membership lists are managed by five area membership secretaries, and that 177 volunteer road reps go out in all weathers to deliver “The Resident” and collect subscriptions. (To be honest, if they are like me, they go out when the weather is fine!) We would like to promote membership of the BDRA, but first we need to understand where we have good coverage and where there are gaps. To assist us with this task we co-opted Paul Gayford, and gave him the grand title of Membership Co-ordinator. He has done considerable preparatory work by meeting with and discussing membership management with each of the five area membership secretaries, for which we are most grateful, but has now, decided to hand the task back to the Executive Committee.

The Local Plan
Without doubt the most high profile and challenging task in the last 12 months has been the production of a response to Basildon Council’s latest Draft Local Plan. As expected this was published in January with an eight week consultation period. We used the February edition of “The Resident” to invite all our members to let us know their views, and then held a grand committee meeting to garner all our opinions and views in order to brief our professional planning consultant, Paul Sutton of Cheffins. The key points are that Green Belt should not be released for additional housing, and that the infrastructure of Billericay cannot take any more population. The full submission can be found on our web site. Later in this year, another version of the Local Plan will be produced, with a further limited opportunity for comments.

West Area
For some years the Association has not operated an effective committee for the West Area, and a year ago a few people started meeting to consider whether to establish themselves for that purpose. With support from me and Maureen Dann this group has established itself, and has found some hot topics to discuss.

Area Secretaries
There have been some changes to area membership secretaries in the year. Tesni Blee has handed over to Hilary Minto for the West Area (excluding Queens Park), and Pam Heazel has handed over to Helen Cherifi for the South Green and Great Burstead part of Burstead area. Helen Hill, who has served as membership secretary for East Area for many years has indicated her wish to stand down, so the usual request for a volunteer to take over has appeared in “The Resident”.

Executive Secretary
Another long serving and essential contributor to all the activities of the Association who has decided to step down is our Executive Secretary, Maureen Dann. The Association is hugely grateful to her for all the behind the scenes effort she has made for over 20 years to keep BDRA running. She was totally caught by surprise recently when members of Executive Committee turned up unexpectedly at the West Area committee meeting and presented her with a bunch of flowers and a gift voucher to spend at Shelleys. She will be a hard act to follow, but, apparently up for a challenge, one of the members of the West Area committee, Lesley Mitchelmore has offered to take this on.

Sponsorship and grants
From time to time the Association is approached by local groups who are fund raising to achieve something of value to the town. Each such request is treated on its own merits, and does not set any sort of a precedent. A year or so ago we contributed towards the disabled access ramps for Langham Hall, and last year we sponsored the “Jazz in the Park” organised by Friends of Lake Meadows. Earlier this year I was pleased to attend a “thank you” event at Quilters Junior School, because we had made a contribution to the replacement of the plant room equipment for the swimming pool. Not many junior schools can provide swimming tuition on the premises, and this is a privilege not to be lost. The school pool is available outside school hours for private swimming schools to operate classes as well so it is a real community facility.

Coach Trips
With all this going on, it is good to report on an aspect of the Association’s operation which is running smoothly and going from strength to strength. Yvonne Cave and Kathleen Fox are our coach trip organisers. Between them they have organised and carried out about 15 trips in the last year, all of which were greatly enjoyed by all who went on them. Many more outings are in the pipeline including re-runs of one or two which were so oversubscribed first time round that they know they can fill another coach! Thank you, Yvonne & Kathleen.

Area Committees
Any organisation like this is only as good as the volunteers who get together, discuss things and sort them out. I have already mentioned several of these volunteers, and a lot of things that have been done by the Executive Committee, but nearer to the grass roots we have the joint East/Burstead Committee which has continued to meet regularly under the chairmanship of Eve Oliver, and regularly hold various statutory and other bodies to account for the state of public facilities in their areas. The new West Area Committee has now appointed a Chairman, a Vice-Chairman and a Secretary so there is no doubt that all aspects of public life in that part of town will be well monitored.

This could be you !
Both the Area Committees will always welcome new members, and there would even be scope, if enough volunteers came forward, to re-constitute a separate East Committee and Burstead Committee.
If you would like to become more involved in any way, please let me know.

John Buchanan, Chairman
Phone:         Billericay 656715