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BDRA Chairman's Report 2017

Welcome to the AGM for the 91st anniversary of the Billericay District Residents’ Association

The early part of the last 12 months was still part of our 90th anniversary year, when our planned 90th birthday events took place. Perhaps the most significant was the creation of a “Time Capsule”, in the form of a wooden box into which documents relating to the hopes and fears of the people of Billericay for the next 10 years have been placed, along with various documents from the year 2016, and sealed, to be opened in 9 years’ time for the Centenary. This capsule has been entrusted to the care of the Cater Museum.

We held an afternoon tea for our volunteers, and gave out BDRA 90 bags as a memento. The event was very well received. with several people meeting their friends. Our next event for volunteers is in June.

The saga of the Basildon Local Plan rumbles on -  In October we decided that it could be beneficial to work together with other groups in the area, so we approached the Billericay Action Group, and the Billericay Society, and created a joint committee, specifically to deal with this topic.
 Unexpectedly, just as the committee held its first meeting, Basildon Council announced a short notice and short duration consultation on 17  “new and alternative” sites for potential development, nine of which were in this area. The triumvirate sprang into action and organised a public exhibition and open day which was attended by about 400 people.
 Basildon Council received over 1500 responses from about 750 individuals and organisations (including a formal response from BDRA prepared by our professional planning consultant); We now await the next draft of the plan.

 Our members have been lobbying us during the year about speeding particularly Stock Road, Queens Park Avenue, and Greens Farm Lane.
Some of these locations have Vehicle Activated Signs which show what speeds the cars are travelling at, so we monitored this at three locations, by noting down the speed readings for each car over a period of an hour on a Friday afternoon. This indicated that at each location many cars exceeded 40mph and a few exceeded 50mph. We made contact with the “Safer Essex Roads Partnership” and received a very detailed response about speed monitoring, accident statistics and so on. We decided our response was to form  a “Community Speed Watch” group.
Mervyn Wright has offered to be the coordinator, and so far three others have volunteered, so we need a few more.

Administration of an Association run by volunteers can be fraught with ups and downs, some expected and some a little bit unexpected. We entered the last 12 months with a newly appointed Executive Secretary, but it wasn’t long when for personal reasons she had to step down. Another person came along and gave it a go, but found that particular task didn’t suit him. These events have put more tasks onto myself as Chairman, as well as on Andy as Vice-Chairman, and our Treasurer Peter. The post of Executive Secretary is still vacant, for someone who can take minutes, write letters, and do some general admin.

The work on membership administration which was started in the previous year has been continued by Peter Sharp, and this included a review of membership processes with the four area membership secretaries and myself acting as East Area Membership Secretary since Helen stood down in July. (That is another vacancy still waiting to be filled!) We have introduced a standard practice for handling the difficulty in collecting the subscriptions from the last few members on a round who always seem to be out, and we have also agreed that new members joining after the July “Resident” has been published need only pay £1 subscription for the remainder of the year.

An aspect of the Association’s administration which has changed for the better during the year has been the adoption of online banking, using Barclays “Two To Sign” process for approving payments. This means that instead of having to get two signatures on cheques and the whole paper chase to reimburse our volunteers’ expenses and to pay our suppliers, the Treasurer can initiate a payment, and one of the other appointed signatories can approve it online the same day.

The last major revision of the Constitution of the Association was in 2003, and since then the actual running of the Association has moved forward, and is not now a good match to the Constitution. Rather than attempt to revise the existing one, we have adopted a new constitution at this meeting.We have also been considering what records of the Association we have  and which may be worth keeping in some sort of secure long-term manner.

We were a sponsor for the Soap Box Derby, and we also sponsored “Punch & Judy” at both the Summerfest and the Christmas Market, and we attended the Great Burstead Féte.
Like everyone in the town who heard about it, we were appalled by the theft of the “Child in the Park” statue, Billericay’s one and only statue, much loved by all little visitors to Lake Meadows. The Association had contributed £500 in 2000 towards the original cost of the statue. We are now delighted it has been found.
It is good to report on an aspect of the Association’s operation which is going from strength to strength. Yvonne Cave and Kathleen Fox, our coach trip organisers, have organised and run 14 trips in the last year, all of which were greatly enjoyed. 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.
The Association would be very much poorer if we didn’t have Chris Wade in charge of the monthly magazine “The Resident”, ably assisted by Maralyn Buchanan. During the year 10 editions were produced and we decided to change the masthead to create a more modern look. At least one person has said to us that if you really want to know what’s happening in Billericay you should read “The Resident”. Quite an accolade. Thank you and well done Chris and Maralyn.

The web site has been online now for 20 years, and it is showing its age, although it is updated every month. We are reviewing of our online presence, including the web site and whether we should use social media.

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 a West Area Committee.
Numbers have dropped in both these committees with long serving members standing down. Both committees would welcome new members

If you would like to become more involved in any way, please let me know.

John Buchanan, Chairman