Coventry Local Plan 2016 Two important plans for our city were published by the City Council in January. The Coventry Local Plan has been many years in preparation and makes many significant changes, especially in relation to the Green Belt around the city. The second plan is the City Centre Area Action Plan, which sets out in more detail what is planned for the city centre. Both plans are open for consultation until the 29th February 2016 and our committee are currently studying the documents carefully before coming to any conclusion. We encourage all members to look at the plans and make their own comments. You can find out more information, and download all the documents, on the City Council's website at http:// www.coventry.gov.uk/info/111/ planning_policy/2310/local_plan
Subscriptions Please note that subscriptions become due on the 1st February and are £12 for membership and £18 for a joint double membership. Please pay early to make the treasurer’s life slightly easier and help to keep the society’s finances healthy. You can pay by:Cash or cheque by post to the address bottom right. PayPal on the website. Cash or cheque at the general meeting.
February 2016 Parish Councils For our first meeting in 2016 we had an interesting presentation from Justin Griggs, the Head of Policy and Development for the National Association for Local Councils. Justin brought us up to date with modern thinking about parish councils. For most of us the image of the Parish Council comes from The Vicar of Dibley, but things have moved a long way from that image. Whilst there are still come parish councils covering only 150 people, some of the newer ones cover much bigger areas, the largest covering a population of over 100,000. Some of the larger ones might have names like Town Council or even City Council, but they are all parish councils and are covered by the same legislation. Shrewsbury Town Council, Salisbury City Council and Lichfield City Council are examples of this. In fact 250 new Parish Councils have been established since 2000 and in total there are now over 9000 parish councils across the country, covering a population of 16 million. Our neighbours in Sutton Coldfield voted last summer to establish a new Parish Council to recreate the old Sutton Coldfield Town Council, which hasn’t existed since local government reorganisation in 1974.
Nearer to home, the people of Finham Ward will have a new Parish Council from April 2016 and we have two ancient Parish Councils in the city covering parts of Allesley and Keresley. Parish councils have a wide range of discretionary powers and can levy a precept on top of the normal Council Tax. In Sutton Coldfield the annual precept will be between £28 and £100 depending on the council tax band the household sits in. But in fact, parish councils can set their own levy according to the needs of their parish and the willingness of tax payers to cover the cost. In some parishes they have raised a levy to cover the cost of services, such as toilets and libraries, that the district council had decided to close. Some councils employ staff and ones with a long history often have the ability to elect a mayor and hold civic regalia. Like other levels of democracy, parish councils have elections every four years. Parish councils play an important part in the localism agenda and one might ask why aren’t there more parish councils in our city? You can find out more about parish councils on the NALC website. http://www.nalc.gov.uk/
Direct bank transfer to 30-92-33 02693076 and use your last name as a reference
Update on Conservation work in Coventry Christopher Patrick, Conservation Officer, Coventry City Council
Monday, February 8 at 7.30pm Shop Front Theatre, City Arcade Admission visitors £2
Contacts Postal address: 77 Craven Street, Coventry CV5 8DT Chairman’s tel: 024 7640 2030 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org If Twitter is your thing, you can follow us at https://twitter.com/#!/CovSoc We also have our own page on Facebook. You can also follow us there at http://www.facebook.com/ CoventrySociety
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Book Review David McGrory has been a historian specialising on Coventry for many years. He has gathered together many interesting facts which he has not been able to use in previous books. It is an interesting book of revelations about Coventry's forgotten and untold tales, and its heroes and villains. Topics are many and varied, ranging from Hippos to Roman Coventry and from Tunnels, Crypts & Hidden Chambers to Green Men and Hidden Art. The book describes the Cult of King Henry VI, Coventry's status as the centre of culture in the Elizabethan period and Shakespeare and Players in Coventry. You may think you know Coventry, but take another look around and you will find more than you could possibly imagine. Secret Coventry can be purchased from all good bookshops and Amazon. RRP £14.99 (paperback).
Coundon Small Arms Factory The Coventry Society has been asked to find the Coundon Small Arms Factory by archeologyuk.org which is writing a fascinating history of arms production in Britain during World War I. There were a lot of factories in Coventry during that war and evidence of many of them still exists but we cannot find the Coundon Small Arms Factory. It was built in 1917 especially to make bullets to shoot down Zeppelins. Member David Fry has found James Buckingham who invented an anti-zeppelin bullet at 159 Spon Street and produced 26,000,000 of them, but still no factory site. The most likely site was the Coundon Library as all arms factories were made of small, isolated, flimsy wooden huts but the library was built around 1927 as a Baptist Chapel. The small factory would have looked something like the library building above. My second best guess is the site now known as Carbodies or LTI which became part of Birmingham Small Arms Ltd. So if anyone knows of an old isolated factory in Coundon in 1917 we would love to hear. Optimism is my middle name.
Another of Coventry’s historic landmarks will be built over if developers get their way. The former Courtaulds Cricket ground on the corner of Kingfield Road and Lockhurst Lane held two official Warwickshire cricket matches every season between 1949 and 1982. Now, the only remaining part of the pavilion still standing is a brick wall. The rest of the ground is covered in either long grass or dumped gravel and it is only opened up for the occasional car boot sale. Developers have now made two planning applications to develop the site for housing. The Society has objected to both of these applications because we felt that they had not done enough to ameliorate flooding, which is a frequent occurrence in that area, and that there should be some compensation for the loss of green space and leisure facilities in the most densely developed district in the city. However the writing is already on the wall, as the site is included as a housing site in the new Coventry Local Plan. The fountain in front of St. John’s Church shown on a post-card around 1900. The fancy lamp-post is not attached to the fountain.
Earlsdon Fountain We featured the drinking fountain in Earlsdon Avenue South last month but have since received the whole story. The cast iron fountain in Earlsdon was made by George Smith’s Sun Foundry in Glasgow in the 1860s, one of a new generation of public drinking fountains designed to supply clean water as part of the war against infectious diseases like cholera. It is thought to have been purchased by Coventry Corporation and sited on the pavement in front of the Church of St John the Baptist in Spon Street around 1870, and was relocated to its present location on Earlsdon Avenue South in 1921, shortly after the opening of the nearby War Memorial Park. It was in use until the 1970s. The restoration project has been co-ordinated by two community associations, the Earlsdon Research
Group and the South Earlsdon Neighbours Association, in partnership with Coventry City Council and Severn Trent Water, and with active support from the pupils of Hearsall School in Earlsdon. The restoration was funded by a grant of almost £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, with contributions from the Metropolitan Drinking Fountains Association and from the local community. The restoration was carried out by The Fountains Company of Glossop in Derbyshire, whose managing director Stephen Croft
says there are around half a dozen Sun Foundry fountains of this type still existing around the country. However, he does not know of another one that is still working as a fountain. Peter Walters, who chairs the fountain restoration group, said, “It’s great to be able to bring back to life a small but important part of Coventry’s heritage. The community of Earlsdon have already taken it to their hearts and we’re looking forward to seeing it give many more years of useful service. “After 150 years, the fountain is again playing its part in supporting another important campaign, this time to reduce the production of plastic bottles, which are becoming a major environmental threat to the world.”