The Hartford Banner

The Hartford Banner

Achievements Report

During 2014, Hartford Civic Society celebrated its eleventh anniversary.

The following is a report of our achievements during those eleven years.

Summary:

Some of our projects result in a solid and permanent item (e.g. street furniture, such as planters and
fingerposts); some transiently visible, such as annual flower displays; some provide information (such
as the website and data sheets for interesting walks). Some of our work has catalysed ideas, which
have then been taken up, implemented and paid for by others. Hopefully all our projects have
promoted a sense of civic pride within our village. We have tried to reach our younger residents and
have organised two competitions especially for them. Some of our work is quantified by an
expenditure item in our accounts, some by hours of work by one or more of our members, less easily
quantified. We have also been active in trying to preserve the character of our village by commenting
on inappropriate planning applications and proposals, consistent with our values. We have joined
forces with Hartford Parish Council (HPC) both in the work of the Joint Action Group and the
Neighbourhood Plan Working Group (HNPWG). We always try to work with the Parish Council, but it
is also important that we retain our independence and listen to and represent our members’ views.

Street Furniture:

These projects have included, (in order of descending cost), the procurement and installation of three
planters on Chester Road and the hanging baskets on the triangle of land by The Green; the black
and white finger post at the Bradburns Lane/Chester Road cross roads; four cycle racks, (two by the
Post Office and two by the Co-op); the bench on Chester Road near the Booth Road junction;
and a plaque in St. John’s church to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. In total, in our first
eleven years we have spent £7,570 on these projects. The latest additions to this list have been a
contribution to the refurbishment of the fire bell and the specification and installation of further blue
plaques identifying sites of historical interest in the village, (both to be included in year twelve's expenditure).

Flora:

One of our first projects was to enhance the entrances to the village by planting daffodils, the first
batch kindly supplied by the then Vale Royal Borough Council. Since 2007 our committee members
have been planting up and watering six planters and two hanging baskets. The three planters below
the hanging baskets were obtained by the Society free of charge on application to Vale Royal
Borough Council. Over seven years we have spent £862 on plants, compost and watering
equipment.

Information:

We have engaged with our members by means of hand delivered biannual newsletters. We have
obtained interesting speakers to encourage members to attend our AGMs. (In our early years we
tried to organise additional talks, but demand for these was low). Our then Chair created a website in
2004, and he gave it a make-over in 2008 and 2011. It is now being updated yet again. Nevertheless
some of its pages provide a very informative resource for those interested in Hartford history. Two
sided information sheets for five local walks starting and finishing in Hartford or neighbouring
Whitegate were developed. These are available on the website, or for a small fee in laminated form
from the Post Office.

To facilitate the talks that we organise, we bought a 185 watt hanging projector, digital amplifier and
wall mounted loudspeakers for the Village Hall. These are available for any group in the village to
use. We have also bought a display stand and an A-frame display board which have been used at
meetings and village events.

In our first eleven years we have spent some £1,870 on these audio visual and display assets, and a
further £1,565 on hosting for our website and speakers’ fees.

Projects aimed at our younger residents:

In order to promote civic pride among our younger residents, in 2008 we made “Community
Awards” to 48 school children aged between six and eleven years old. They had all sent in entries of
a piece of written work, supported by illustration(s) on the theme ‘Hartford – My Village’. One
thousand pounds was split between the two schools that supported the project and the ten pupils who
produced the best work each received a ten pound book token. In 2014 we organised a further
competition for children between the ages of 10 and 16, this time promoted directly and not via the
schools. Unfortunately we failed to attract entries, but we did get a large amount of good publicity in

the Northwich Guardian and Hartford News for our blue plaques project.

Projects paid for by others:

In 2006 we had the idea of providing Christmas lights in the village, a project subsequently taken
forward by the PC, allowing HCS to spend money on the planters instead. In 2008 we were involved
with a project to create a 3 metre diameter mosaic entitled “Hartford Village through the Ages”,
designed by the pupils of three local schools, and installed under and around our hanging baskets. In
the event the cost (> £7,000) was beyond our means and the location was thought impractical. The
project was taken over by the Parish Council resulting in the attractive mosaic by the School
Lane/Chester Road traffic lights adjacent to the Church Hall. This type of close working with the PC is
facilitated by a member of the PC attending most of our meetings and also a member of the HCS
attending most of the monthly PC meetings and then reporting back.

We have worked closely with the Senior Archaeologist, (Heritage Assets and Community
Archaeology), at CW&C and in 2013 the first three blue plaques were installed in the village – all due
to the hard work of one of our committee, but in the event paid for with funds donated by our local
councillors. Another of our projects, not appearing in our financial accounts was the refurbishment of
the stone work of the drinking fountain. We specified and ordered this work, but in the event the
stonemason was paid directly by CW&C out of the councillor’s budget.

Support for our National Umbrella Bodies:

In 2005 we joined the national body for Civic Societies, the Civic Trust. This was replaced in 2010 by
a more member focused smaller umbrella body called Civic Voice. The benefits of membership have
been debated by the Committee. They include arranging insurance for the society, national
campaigning on issues important to us, (often ably presented by Civic Voice’s President, TV Presenter
Griff Rhys Jones), automatic membership for HCS of the NCVO – the National Council for Voluntary
Organisations - (with associated benefits), and certain benefits for our members (see below). We
have also donated to the publication of a short history of the Civic Movement. In total, we spent
£2,664 supporting the work of our umbrella bodies up to April 2014.

Administration:

We have always tried to keep administration costs low, thanks to the hard work of our committee and
members. We avoid postage costs whenever possible, by hand delivering our newsletters and lottery
renewal letters. In recent years we have laser printed our newsletters, previously outsourced to a
local printer. We registered with CTX exchange, now called TT Exchange, in order to avail ourselves of
low cost software licences used for our website, desk top publishing and database. We source
stationary under a supply contract negotiated by the NCVO. We have spent about £3,845 on
administration. This includes room charges for our meetings and £2,160 on insurance for the Society
using a policy negotiated for Civic Societies by our umbrella body.


Campaigns:

Hartford Civic Society (HCS) evolved from the Hartford Village Trust (HVT), which successfully fought
a proposed development on Grange Farm in 1996. Working closely, and in parallel with, the Hartford 
Parish Council, Hartford Civic Society produced the Village Design Statement (VDS), linked to the
Village Plan. The VDS was adopted as statutory Supplementary Planning Guidance in January 2005.
In 2009 HCS opposed the use of land in the centre of the village to provide a slip road for traffic on
Bradburns Lane. In 2011 it joined forces with the Parish Council as the “Joint Action Group” to fight
the Grange Farm and Hollies Farm development proposals. Initially it was successful in persuading
CW&C strategic planning committee to reject the applications on 31st May 2012. JAG fought a good
campaign fighting the appeal, but needed professional help. The cost of the JAG campaign was split
50/50 with the Parish Council, the HCS share being £6,500.

In parallel with the JAG campaign, 4 members of HCS have worked with 4 members of HPC over two
years to produce the Hartford Neighbourhood Plan, which is currently waiting for CW&C’s approval
and a referendum.

The membership secretary compiled a list of all postal addresses in Hartford, which has been
successfully used for recruitment campaigns. It also enabled JAG to canvas every single household
and get a petition signed by 65.3% of the electorate.

Volunteer Hours:

All the above has not been achieved without an incredible amount of time and effort by our Committee
and members. We have improved our environment by picking up many bags of litter by organising
litter picks, typically four or five times a year. We keep the hanging baskets and planters watered in
the summer. We instigate and manage our projects, sometimes attracting the funding from others
(e.g. the first three blue plaques for the village). We have hand delivered thousands of items to our
members, avoiding postage costs wherever possible. The 214 hours spent at our 107
committee meetings is small in comparison with the work done outside these meetings. We have
recently adopted the practice of trying to estimate and report our volunteer hours in our annual
accounts. In the year ending March 2014 we estimated 800 hours, worth £5,000 if valued at the
minimum wage rate.

Membership Fees:

Successive recruitment campaigns, typically targeting 230 households each year have resulted in
new members exceeding those that we lose by families moving away, or sadly members no longer
being with us. We have not asked for any increase in our fee per member. In year 12 we already
have membership income 6% ahead of year 11. We currently have members in about 10% of
Hartford households.

The Village Lottery:

Hilary Clegg, with the help of some Committee members, launched the Village Lottery for 49 players
in October 2005. We were able to double it to 98 players in January 2007. The two series were
aligned to an October renewal date in 2008. 49% of the income is paid out in prizes, about 4% is
needed for administration costs, including the local authority registration fee, leaving 47% as income
for HCS. Up until April 2014 this amounted to £4,630.

Gift Aid:

In order to claim Gift Aid on membership fees and donations HCS registered as a charity on 11
September 2003. Its Charity Number is 1099390. Currently we have valid gift aid declarations for
86% of our members and in 11 years have claimed £4,773 from HMRC for the benefit of Hartford.

Donations, Legacies and Grants:

We received a legacy for £250 in 2007, and a donation of £250 from a member in 2013, plus a
number of smaller donations from members over the years. We have also received donations
totalling £3,150 from VRBC and CW&C, most recently thanks to our local Councillors, Musgrave and
Manley nominating us to receive some of their annual members’ budget grants. This financial year
(not shown on the graph) we were successful in applying for a £550 grant from the Co-op Community
fund and were given £100 by the Hartford Film Club. We are very grateful for these donations and
hope that we will be successful in applying for grants from other bodies in the future as the
opportunities arise.