Write up from latest Yorkshire regional meeting in Hornsea

The fascinating history of Hornsea Mere was just one of the topics on the agenda when YHACS members gathered in the seaside town for their summer meeting on 29th July. The Mere, which is the largest freshwater lake in Yorkshire and now a nature reserve and leisure attraction, had been the location of a Royal Naval Air Station during World War I and a base for sea planes. All this and more was revealed by guest speaker John Miller, a committee member of Hornsea Civic Society, our hosts for the day. John had also led a guided walk of the town earlier in the day.

Also on the agenda was an introduction to Hornsea and the work of the civic society from Keith Whittle, deputy chair of the society, and all the news from the YHACS committee. YHACS Chair Kevin Trickett asked members to consider some of the challenges that lie ahead for the movement. Reporting back on the recent YHACS Futures Workshop which had been held in Wakefield in June, Kevin said that it was clear all societies faced similar challenges around attracting new members, recruiting committee members and filling officer posts while organising an annual programme of activity and just keeping the show on the road. However, because no two societies were the same, finding suitable responses to these challenges required novel approaches based on local context and playing to the strengths of the local committee members.

One advantage of belonging to a regional association such as YHACS was that members could come together to share ideas, information and inspiration. A recent survey of YHACS members had revealed that the ability to network with others and sharing ideas (at meetings, by making new contacts and via an excellent newsletter) were among the most valued benefits of YHACS membership, alongside the opportunity to visit other societies and to explore different parts of the region as part of an enjoyable day out (– or even a short break as YHACS events often include having dinner at a local restaurant on the evening before the meeting for those able to travel on the Friday and stay over, as happened in Hornsea when YHACS members enjoyed a very pleasant evening in the company of Hornsea Civic Society members at a restaurant in the town centre!).

Kevin also highlighted the new Governance Code being promoted by the Charity Commission which introduces the concept that trustees should serve for no longer than nine years only guidance at this stage but which could have major impacts on civic societies if it became a mandatory requirement, and the new General Data Protection Regulation which takes effect from May 2018 and will affect the way in which civic societies use personal information to contact their members. He urged members to start thinking about these changes now as it may be necessary to redesign membership forms to provide members with the ability to opt in to receive communications from the Society.

The final session of the afternoon was an update from Paul Bedwell of Sheffield Civic Trust but speaking in his capacity as trustee of Civic Voice. Paul outlined the latest news from Civic Voice and looked forward to both the next YHACS meeting, which will be in Bradford on 30th September, and the Civic Voice Convention to be held in Wakefield over 20th and 21st October.