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'Credit Crunch', 'Downturn', Recession' whatever the preferred term the fact is that a lot of individuals and institutions are deeply hurt by recent events.

Just to remind you the Civic Trust went into receivership earlier this year. The Trust was the national body of the Civic Society movement and with severe cutbacks in central and local government funding the Trust could not survive and went to the wall.

There is a need for a national body to support and to speak for over a 1000 Civic Societies and 250,000 members. National and locality grouping could be influential at different levels of government alongside partners such as National Heritage, The National Trust and Campaign for the Protection of Rural England.

I asked the following question during a Civic Society Initiative Forum: "what is the benefit to a non active member of a civic society to pay increased subs to fund a new national organisation?"

Tony Burton's ( the Civic Society Initiative lead ) reply was as follows: "your local civic society will be stronger; you will have a voice shaping national policies and issues you can't change locally; you will get the offer of a free day access pass to the National Trust; you will be able to take out personal health insurance and home/contents/pet/travel insurance with Bluefin at good rates and this will financially benefit your local society; and you will be part of a wider movement. I know who I would join if I care about birds or climate change or the countryside - who do I join if I care about the public realm, architecture and good design and livable places - not just where I live but wherever I go? This could answer that question in time - combining the local passion for where I live with a wider concern for the quality of places everywhere."

It remains to be seen how this will all work out and you can keep track on our website http://www.buntingfordcivic.org.uk. On balance I support a strong national organisation but that cannot come cheap so its up to BCS membership to determine our future direction.

A heavy piece to appear in the Christmas Journal but decisions will have to be made early in 2010.

Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

Derek K Cooper, Chairman.

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