Kettering Civic Society
Newsletter 3 (August 2001)

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Quaker Meeting House Receives Annual Rose Bowl Award

After careful consideration, this year's award was made to the Quaker Meeting House extension in  Street, Kettering. The Rose Bowl was presented to Mr Alf Bond, a partner at Stimpson Walton Bond of Northampton. The practice had also designed the new front for Toller Church.

Above: Paul Ansell presenting the Rose Bowl to Alf Bond.
(Photograph reproduced courtesy of Kettering Evening Telegraph)

The award was made to recognise the civic value of small works and the contribution carefully designed and detailed alterations can have. Many small extensions take place each year and by making the award, it was hoped the inspiration to others may be of value both to them and anyone else seeing their extension. We are all familiar with the flat roofed dining room extension with leaking felt roof and the shed on the roof addition, which makes a fourth bedroom/playroom.

The choice of unsympathetic materials either visually or environmentally also plays a part. The Peabody Housing Trust and the Green Peace research unit at Exeter University have both made public the fact that to make a ton of plastic windows and doors requires some eight tons of crude oil. The plastic is difficult to successfully recycle and what happens to seven tons of waste oil?

So well-done the Quakers, their Architects and GAME Construction, may the Rose Bowl be a valuable lesson in simple elegance and good construction.

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Local Planning

Local authorities are undergoing a Government initiated "Best Value" scrutiny. This is being carried out Service by Service. Planning is now part of an ongoing Review and it is the start of implementations, which is of interest particularly within development control. The old system of North/South teams has been abandoned in an attempt to improve efficiency. The number of Planning Applications has substantially increased over the past eighteen months with the result that less than 60% of applications were dealt with within the permitted eight weeks. Anyone who has made an application will be aware of the frustration of not being able to speak to a Planner. (It must be said that individual staff are always pleasant and helpful when time permits).
The new system is similar to Court Proceedings where a duty Solicitor is usually available. There is now a duty planner always available to answer enquiries. This means other staff are more able to focus on applications. The whole planning staff is now handling applications Borough wide and not by North/South teams. Also a Planner is specifically looking after Mawsley Village.
Congratulations on the new system and we watch for the results.

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Open Meetings

It would seem that over the history of the Society, most affairs are handled and debated by the Committee without the full membership being invited to join in. It may be suggested that `too many cooks... " or "a camel was a horse designed by a committee", but we think two or three open evenings to which all members are invited, maybe helpful and enjoyable.
We know members have opinions, and you might care to come to an evening meeting where the agenda is chosen such that civic topics can be debated every six months. Such items may include town centre traffic, shopping etc. watch out for announcements.

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"Our Town, Our Future"

Kettering Town Forum, through Kettering Borough Council has included into its meetings' agenda "Kettering, Our Town, Our Future", with the object of obtaining community views on the priorities for the future of Kettering. It is hoped the outcome of these meetings will be a source of information and guidance for the inclusion into the next Local Plan, which is now being prepared. It will also provide agenda topics for future Forum meetings. As many organisations as possible were invited to send representatives to the meeting, but in the event, few turned up.
The Civic Society hope to keep attending these meetings and will feed back to our members topics of interest. We are concerned that lowest common denomination opinions do not damage the town.

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Plaques around the Town

Sometime ago, the Cartoonist Frank Bellamy, was recognised and commemorated by the erection of a plaque on his old house in Bath Road. This was followed by a similar commemoration through the Civic Society's efforts by Morrison's Supermarket to commemorate the life of Sir Alfred East. A plaque has been incorporated into the new Horsemarket pavement as a reminder of the parish Church School.
We now hope to erect a plaque in honour of William Knibb later this year.
Eventually, it is our plan to have plaques around the town (possibly 20-30) which when put into a plan, could be historic way-markers for a walk around Kettering. Plans/guides could be at the library and Tourist Information Office. Visitors to Kettering, or possibly School children, could find out about the town and its notable people in this way.

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Past Events

An Audience with Arthur
Arthur Heath MBE, former Chairman of the society, in what was the first event of the year in the society's calendar, entertained members of Kettering Civic Society and visitors. `An Audience with Arthur', held at the Com Market Hall, was a huge success as Arthur gave his account of how he came to write his novel St Gyp-in Mowsden.
Dido Whitehead, (daughter of Edward Goldsmith, author of the Ecologist) committee member and keen environmentalist, suggested to Arthur that it would be a good idea to `put something on paper' relating to the thousand and one incidents that he had experienced during 30 years as chairman of the society.
Arthur said, "I think Dido had in mind, a clear, factual account of those years. Unfortunately I have never been able to achieve the skill to write factually. If I start with good intentions then I inevitably drift away to sheer fantasy. I began to see my imaginary town reeling under years of protest. I imagined ruthless developers and overall a town council ruled by a dictatorial town clerk over weak councilors. At this time I was enjoying Dido's published book of drawings 'The Zen book of the Mouse' and suddenly realised that her drawings of mice illustrated exactly the sort of characters who would have lived and worked in my small fictional town. There would have been kind mice, bold mice, indifferent mice, caring mice, ambitious mice, and politically-biased mice... and also lurking there: Rats!
There it was then, an imaginary town lots of imaginary people, a beautiful heroine, a mystery saint, a developer, listed buildings, the town's council complete with officers and councilors. Above all an urge to weave this mixture into a story that warns real towns of what could happen to them unless they supported their local preservation society and, kept a wary eye on planning applications!"
The book by Arthur Heath and illustrated by Dido, can be purchased from W H Smith and Waterstone's in Kettering. Further information is on publications section this web site.

Strawberry Dreams By Paul Ansell
Sometimes it's hard to know who to thank first!
The second of the Society's organised events was the Strawberries and Cream Garden Party held at our Vice President's Home. Monica prepared a wonderful selection of cakes to complement the strawberries and the sunny afternoon plus delightful garden made an idyllic setting. A "thank you", to Ted for the use of his garden with unusual architectural savage, and to Mary Lock Page for being a valued help.
We were collectively sorry not to have seen many more society members. (It is possible to arrange lifts etc) Hopefully the social side of 'Society' life can grow and other events can be more than strawberry 'dreams'.

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Future Events 

Details can be found on the programme page

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