This is the full text of the address made to the November AGM by the Chairman of the outgoing Steering Committee, who took it upon themselves – following general endorsement by residents at the 3rd October Coffee Morning – to revive the Westgate Residents’ Association.

First welcome, and thank you all for turning out to support the new Westgate Residents’ Association.

The object of this meeting is to get the Westgate Residents’ Association back on its feet. As a steering group we have been well aware that we are self-appointed and do not have any right to offer any opinions, so we are not really going to have any public discussion today. That will have to wait until we have a proper elected committee, who have met and established a position.

However, we are very pleased to have a number of expert guests at our meeting and at the end we are going to have coffee and I hope you will take the opportunity to put your questions to them informally. I should like to introduce them to you.

We welcome:

Louise Goldsmith, who is leader of the West Sussex County council and one of our local councillors, and other local councillors from the three authorities: namely Pam Lignum, Clare Apel, Sarah Sharp, Anne Scicluna, Margaret Evans, Trevor Tupper and Richard Plowman. Of the other councillors, Nigel Galloway is unable to attend and we received no response from Roger Keyworth, Martyn Bell, Philippa Budge, Julian Joy and Len Macey.

Also present is a rep from two other Residents’ Associations in the surrounding streets: Tim Rooth, chair of Orchard St and Old Somerstown RA and Paula Chatfield, committee member for Parklands RA. Apologies have been received from East Broyle RA.

Paul Wreyford is also present, the highways consultant who has been advising the Parklands RA and who has been very helpful to us in sharing his considerable expertise and information.

We also welcome two officers from our local PCSOs: Karen Hopewell and Hannah Taylor.

The following residents offer their apologies:

  • Fred Barber
  • Bernard Shapiro
  • Cecilia Cole
  • Tommy and Hannah Lynch
  • Peter Shoubridge
  • Eric and Sylvia Wood
  • Tim and Sue Bunker
  • Mrs Baker
  • Rachel and Michael Moriarty
  • Sally Wraith
  • Mr and Mrs Lumley
  • Noel Damon
  • Area Negus
  • Richard and Lynda King
  • David Setchell
  • Alby and Linda Healey
  • Steve Tennant and Liz Carter
  • Ann Nixon
  • Sandy Young
  • Vince Waldron
  • Martine Schenk

This is an important list in that these are residents who would have been here, in addition to all those who have turned out today, making over 100 persons in all. This is a very impressive turnout and we thank you and our guests warmly for your support.

Some history for starters

Westgate residents have been organised on and off for a very long time and were in fact well represented at the formative meetings of the Chichester Society as far back as 1974.

Exactly 30 years ago (1985) there was a meeting of ‘Westside’ Residents of Chichester at which the chairman explained that the reason for the meeting was developments on the West side of Chichester and in particular, the traffic congestion relating to Westgate. He emphasised:

  1. The speed of traffic through Westgate
  2. Damage to old drains and pipes under the road from heavy lorries and buses.

He explained that previously there had been a strong Westgate Residents’ Association (records do not survive) and that it was intended to initiate this again. He mentioned that the previous Association had had success winning an appeal against the use of the old brewery site for industrial development.

This 1985 group were very successful in getting major traffic calming alterations installed on Westgate during the Tesco development and persuading Chichester College to build new student accommodation blocks on the far side of their site rather than at the old tannery. A small success for public health and social behaviour came when the employees at the offices at number 52 were dissuaded from smoking in the road, given that they had a large garden in which to do this.

By 2002 there seemed little else that the association could do and the committee ceased to meet, although the association was never officially closed down. Even the bank account is still available as you will hear later from the Treasurer.

The need to revive the Association

Sadly the increased number of vehicles on the road, probably exacerbated by the use of the dreaded satnav, has once again made Westgate attractive as a rat run and Daniel Kirtley recently conducted a survey and found that 5,000 vehicles passed his house in the narrow conservation area part of the street in 12 hours. Added to this, we have the major threat of a massive new estate of 1600 houses at Whitehouse Farm. You will find details of all these on our website.

A number of local residents, supported by the last two chairmen and two past secretaries, decided that the Association should be revived to monitor the situation, inform residents and encourage them to be involved in the planning process. A Residents’ Association provides a forum for discussion, but the planning authorities are not impressed if objections and comments are seen to be orchestrated by them, although they will take notice of individual residents.

A steering committee was formed and has met on two occasions. Our main tasks have been to develop a new constitution for the association – which we shall ask you to vote on in a minute – and to arrange this meeting so that elections could take place, as we are aware that we have no right to speak for the community unless the Committee has been properly elected. So we are not really in any position to offer any views until the new committee has met. There are plenty of experts in the room however who are able, and we will be inviting them to contribute later.

It is important to note also that the steering committee has decided that the reincarnation of the Westgate RA should embrace in addition an agenda which is wider than the political aims, being proactive in improving the life of local residents with a social programme designed to encourage residents to meet and so reduce exclusion and isolation.

A modern constitution

When our new Constitution is in place it will give the committee the framework for their operations. The old constitution dates from 1985 and has fallen seriously behind the requirements of modern legislation.

Designing anything by committee is a bit of a nightmare and I still think this constitution is over-complicated, although it does have the advantage of covering all eventualities. The proposal has been on the website for three weeks and has been sent to all the people on the mailing list, and I hope you have all seen it, if not downloaded and printed it. There are a few copies about in the hall if anyone wants to look at them.

There are two groups of people here, those who have signed up for the e-mail list and those who have not, so if you are concerned that you have not seen all the paperwork, please do sign up for the mailing list now. There is a clipboard circulating in the room for those who wish to do so, or you can visit the excellent website at www.westgateRA.org.uk which has a registration from on the front page for you to fill in and join the list.

The new committee

We have received nominations for the new committee who will serve for the next year. The officers proposed are:

  • Richard Brownfield, Chairman.
  • Colin Hicks, Secretary and responsible for communications including our website, which may be visited at westgatera.org.uk.
  • Tony Schofield, Treasurer. Tony is also our link with the previous committee where he was Treasurer and Chair.

As ordinary members of the committee, we are fortunate to have experienced members from the old committee, some of the steering committee and some new blood. I should like to introduce them to you:

  • Anthony Quail who is the secretary of the Chichester Society and was a member of the steering group.
  • Brian Bird who lives in the middle of the road [much laughter!] and has volunteered as new blood.
  • Brian Raincock, who is unfortunately in Malta today, He has volunteered. He lives in Mount Lane and we are pleased to have someone from one of the side roads off Westgate. He was also very active in setting up for the last street party.
  • Paula Street who was secretary to the old association some years ago. We welcome her experience and female influence.
  • Sandy Young, another lady (and we have had some difficulty in getting ladies to volunteer which is something the new committee will hopefully address for next year). Unfortunately she has been called away to Cornwall on a family emergency. Sandy has been the prime mover in the street parties and we are pleased that she has agreed to share her enthusiasm and experience of the social side with us. Colin Hicks will be talking about the social programme later.
  • Vince Waldron is another volunteer who unfortunately cannot be here today either. He lives at the west end of the road and is a retired accountant, who will I am sure help us with any financial matters, as well as representing with Paula the west end of the road.

A social residents’ association

After the agenda is completed, we will have coffee.

As you know today is one of our Crate & Apple coffee mornings – from 10am on the first Saturday of every month. I have some of the flyers that Lois Cope kindly printed if anyone wants one as an aide-memoir, but please take advantage of this event today to talk to your neighbours, councillors, police, other RAs, traffic experts and your new committee.

We are not going to have a membership charge at this time, as not only does it cause a lot of work – and the effort keeping up membership lists will better be spent on more important matters – but we want the new Westgate Residents’ Association to be inclusive. If you qualify by residence in the Westgate or one of the single entry roads leading off, we want you to be able to join in and not be told “you are not a member because you have not paid your subscription”.

We do however need some funds, and we are going to see whether we can survive on donations and fundraising events. So here is the sting in the tail: the coffee will cost you £1 each. And if anyone is feeling extra generous please just put your donation in the box. If you don’t have a £1 with you, please ask your neighbour to buy one for you, or better still for them to put a fiver in the box and get two cups.

Thank you.

 


Colin Hicks

Webmaster, Westgate Residents' Association Chichester

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