Christmas 2011 and New Year have slipped by in a flurry of activity – this year with no snow. The new year beckons. Austerity in the public finances has not changed the generosity of the multitudes who have given to charity as well supported the better retail brands. So the gloomy will not have the final say. The human spirit remains intact; doing with less, resourceful and unbowed by the harsher and more troublesome world around us. Perhaps the harsher economic winter will rid us of many unwelcome sapping societal “bugs” . Taking responsibility for our own lives and those around us and reducing dependency on the state is inevitable as national wealth declines.
It is not surprising then that, where we live, has raised its importance. In simple terms, greater value in “being at home” and becoming more aware of the neighbourhood in which we live and share our lives is also inevitable, if you do not go out as much, or travel as much.
The Society has raised its game in this simple area by encouraging its members and guests to attend meals at local restaurants in the spirit of Community. Other activities to bind the members together continue, not least with our well attended Garden Party, breaking all records.
The Kemp Town Society has always kept a diligent eye on our distinctive surroundings, as it seeks to help those living within its boundaries to value its highly prized architectural merits.
We have been engaged in attending the Royal Sussex Hospital’s development plan and others in the area. Our voice, along with others attending the public meetings has positively contributed to improvements to the proposed plan. Putting such a large regional hospital in such a restricted site in the long term seems counter-productive, but we are in no position to fight on that scale. The influx of more staff will increase the demand for accommodation and other services in the area, so it will have economic benefits undoubtedly. Where the money will come from to build the new tower and “Barry building”, remains to be seen. I personally am sad at the loss of the old Barry facade, disconnecting the modern structure from its surroundings and historical architectural reference. Rampant modernism in architecture – undoubtedly supported by functional necessities – still believes it has no obligation to the “setting” into which the new interacts.
Our overriding task last year has been to prepare for the restoration of the railings. This eventful year is to implement the work.
We will be announcing the amendment from our Charitable identity and number to that defined as a “charitable corporation limited by guarantee”. We will be changing our rather endearing charitable number to another. It means little except to modernise to a more advanced structure, which in particular benefits your Society Trustees losing their personal financial liability from the affairs of the Society. This liability becomes more sensitive when handling contracted payments in excess of £200,000 for the railings project. We await the Charity Commissions consent to the re-registration application.
The selection of materials and the trades to do the work is the current work at hand. Kemp Town Enclosures Ltd has appointed a Surveyor, Frankhams, to commence the tendering process and to manage the project on behalf of themselves and our Society. There will be a follow up report soon with actual financial costs as well as an invitation for the community to participate in the funding of this project before the works are commenced. This is a true example of the community in action, led by the two organisations which are entrusted to preserve and enhance the listed Estate.
The programme of events for the coming year will be posted in due course. We will be hampered by two of our committee members being detained by unanticipated matters to reduce their energies over the immediate months, but we will seek to overcome this added challenge to our operations.
I wish you all a more positive New Year!