Revitalising civic societies

Doing Civics in the 21st Century
February 18th, 8pm
Golden Lion Pub, 116 Sydenham Road, London SE26 5JX

We recently met with Tim Lund, the Chair of the Sydenham Society, who has just announced that he is stepping down after two years in the role. Listening to him talk about his experiences in the organisation, there were clear parallels with Brockley’s various civic societies.

Members are too few, the demand on time is high and the Society doesn’t always have access to the skill sets and experience that it needs to properly campaign on what can often be complex issues of planning and transport. Engagement with the wider public and local authorities is not all that it could be.

At least part of the solution has to be better and closer co-operation between different civic societies, who can share knowledge, skills and best-practice on issues that they often have in common.

In Lewisham, a perfect example is the Council’s Local Development Framework consultation. The LDF plays a major role in shaping the Borough’s future. It’s an area in which many local civic societies would find common ground and by providing a high-quality collective response they could expect their views to carry greater weight.

Tim is helping to organise a meeting designed to encourage closer co-operation between civic societies, not only in Lewisham but across the country. He writes:

A revitalised civic society movement can champion the millions of local people who care about where they live and want to make a difference.

Just over 50 years ago a grass roots movement was born, and hundreds of local groups across the country sprang up to help improve the general quality of urban life. Today, many Civic Societies have ageing and declining memberships, and their former umbrella body has been wound up.

Now established organisations such as the National Trust, Royal Institute of British Architects and CPRE want to help redevelop a national voice for such community activists, and Tony Burton, former Director of Strategy and External Affairs at the National Trust is leading this initiative. Will his ideas work? What do you think should be done?

Tony will be presenting his case at the Golden Lion pub, Sydenham High Street. All are welcome, admission is free.