Bournemouth Civic Society – Notes of the Special General Meeting

Held at The Church Hall, St Ambrose Church, West Cliff Road, Bournemouth

at 7.05pm on Friday 22nd September 2023

Present: 16 Members

Chairman’s Welcome: Ken Mantock welcomed members to the Special General Meeting. He said that this was a sad occasion as it followed the Annual General Meeting held earlier this month when the members present had unanimously backed the winding up motion coming from the Society’s Executive Committee that had met in June. Since both the June Committee Meeting and the AGM on 1st September no new committee members or officers had come forward and therefore the sole item for discussion/voting was that winding up motion.

Apologies for absence: Hilda Brownlow reported that these had been received from: Paul Newsome, Peter Jackson, Bill and Wendy Cooper, Ian Dickens, Averill Holcroft, Chris and Edwina Ballard, Arthur and Carole Sweet, Alwyn Ladell, Alex McKinstry, David and Gail Crawford, Jean-Daniel Kursner, Elaine and Rodney Cooper, Leigh Hatts, Douglas and Nina Eyre, Jo Amey, Rick Farrell, Chris and Rachel Carter, Barry Rossell, John and Susan Fairbairn.

Minutes of the 2023 Annual General Meeting: The Minutes of the meeting held on 1st September, copies of which were circulated earlier this month along with the Special Meeting calling notice, were accepted as a true record of what took place.

Winding Up Resolution: The Chairman noted that since the Annual General Meeting held on 1st September 2023 he had contacted the Russell Cotes Museum and communicated the resolution agreed at that meeting. He informed the Museum that should the Society be wound up then its funds would be transferred to the Museum on the proviso that they be ring fenced and used on one or more local and specific projects rather than applied to general funds. The idea of a local history room was also suggested plus a request for an event to be held at the museum in the future to acknowledge the support of the Society. Thus the wishes of the members at the last meeting were made clear to the Russell Cotes Museum.

The Museum had subsequently confirmed that should the Society be wound up and its funds transferred to them then they would be placed in purposeful restricted funds and not be lost within general funds. They said that a local history room would not be possible as the ethos of the museum is based on the eclectic collection of art and objets d’art collected by Merton and Annie Russell-Cotes. However they provided details of three possible projects – the restoration of the stonework and mosaics of the main hall fountain at £18K; the recreation of the children’s pavilion in the Russell-Cotes garden at £30K and the refurbishment of the Henry Irving room at £105K.

There had also been a suggestion from a member, following the circulation of the calling notice for this meeting, that the restoration of the great composers plaques on the sea-facing elevation of the Russell-Cotes be investigated as another possible project for funding by the Society so that has been forwarded to the museum.

At the time of the meeting no further discussions had taken place with the Museum and the Chairman explained they would take place should the resolution be agreed and once the formal winding up process with the Charity Commission had begun. He noted that he and the Treasurer, together with other members of the Committee would meet to wind up the Society, including dealing with all relevant matters, notifying the Charity Commission and having discussions with the Russell Cotes Museum as chosen charity to receive the Society’s remaining funds on the terms agreed, once all dues are settled.

Members commented on the projects suggested by the Russell Cotes and accepted that as the Museum was dedicated to the art collection and objects d’art acquired by the Russell Cotes and that there was also no space for a Bournemouth heritage room there this situation be noted. Discussion took place on the need for a Bournemouth Museum but it was agreed that with the current financial situation of the Council any move to create such a facility was sadly unlikely.

Of the suggestions from the Russell Cotes for receipt of funding from the Society’s monies the general consensus of the meeting, which echoed that of the Committee, was that the funding of the reinstatement of children’s pavilion and restoration of the main hall fountain were most appealing.

Members also said it was such a great shame that the Society was closing as at this time it was needed as much, if not more so, as it always had been, due to the merging of Bournemouth Council into BCP Council and the demands for development and pressures on the town’s character and conservation areas. It was noted however that the search for new and replacement officers and committee members had been on-going since July last year and had yielded five offers but none of these had resulted in any of them following up, attending a committee meeting or joining the Society.

So there being no further questions the resolution, as unanimously agreed on 1st September 2023, was proposed again by Ken Mantock and Seconded by Hilda Brownlow as follows:

  • With great regret it is agreed to recommend to the members that the Bournemouth Civic Society begin the winding up process and make arrangements for same via the AGM and the follow on meeting, both to be arranged for in September.

  • The current committee also agree to recommend to the members at the AGM that the Society’s funds, once all dues are settled, be transferred as a donation to the Russell Cotes Museum on the proviso that the funds are ring fenced and used on one or more local and specific projects. Conversations would take place with the museum to see if they could create a local history room.

  • Consequent on the AGM agreeing the recommendation, the Charity Commission be advised that the BCS is winding up.

  • And the Society’s historic records be passed to Bournemouth Libraries Heritage Section

Having been proposed and seconded the amended resolution was carried with 15 in favour and 1 against.

Any Other Business: The Chairman thanked everyone for their support and paid tribute to members of the committee current and past. He noted that a communication would be sent out to all members once the winding up process had been concluded and with confirmation of the project(s) to be supported at the Russell-Cotes Museum by the Society and details of the event to be held there.

The Committee would keep in contact/meet up to finalise the winding up process, the Chairman would be in contact with the Charity Commission and Russell Cotes and the Treasurer would finalise the closing accounts.

Philip Stanley-Watts gave a brief account of the recent BCP Council Planning Committee which he had attended and commented on the planning applications discussed and determined at that meeting. John Soane noted that he would continue to complete his monthly digest of planning applications and send these to the Planning Department and councillors plus also to residents associations and area forums.

Lindy Elliot proposed and Eileen Rawlings seconded that the Chairman be made President of the Society in recognition of his twenty six year service and dedication to the Society. After kind comments from the members the proposal was unanimously agreed. Eileen Rawlings showed the Presidents badge that Keith had been presented with and it was agreed to purchase a similar one for the new President.

Ken Mantock thanked the members for the unexpected honour and noted that the Society had only had four Presidents in its 51 year history: the first Sir John Betjeman the Poet Laureate and passionate defender of Victorian architecture, the second David W Lloyd who co-edited the Hampshire Pevsner Guide, the third Ald. Keith Rawlings former Chairman, local historian and Mayor of Bournemouth and most recently John Barker former Chairman and local historian.

He said he was particularly humbled to have this honour with both Eileen Rawlings and Eileen Barker present and they both making such a contribution to the Society over the years. He also paid tribute to Jean and David Bird, John Soane and the committee members present at this meeting together with all the Chairmen and committee members who had given their time to the Society over the years. He also thanked the members past and present for their support.

There being no further business the meeting was closed at 7.40pm