A motion passed at the AGM of The Bishopston Society on Tuesday 1st October could lead to closure of the organisation. The Society is now considered to be no longer viable, following decisions made by several of its leaders to step down from their roles. A critical review of options for moving forwards, or not, was therefore agreed.
A "think piece" including text of the AGM motion has been published with all the details, including how you can respond to this crisis: click here to download or view it (PDF format).
The Society, originally focused on Bishopston’s amenities and built environment, and popular for representing community interests over planning matters (for example), has successfully broadened its appeal over the last few years by working additionally on economic and social aspects of Bishopston, including collaboration with traders to celebrate and boost our great British High Street.
We also initiated the Clean Air Bishopston project in partnership with our friends Sustainable Bishopston and others, and have demonstrated a commitment to integrating cultural and environmental perspectives on Bishopston’s development with the traditional and economic focus.
But like so many small community groups, we've struggled to find adequate resources, primarily in the form of people-power, to run the organisation, and have now been forced to consider winding up, following the decision of three more committee members, including Planning Advisor, Membership Secretary and Chair, to stand down.
The AGM was therefore asked to launch a review of options for our future, by convening a meeting of "critical friends” named a VIABILITY group, standing for Voluntary Independent Advisory Board Investigating Longterm Interests for TBS this Year.
Outgoing Chair Nick Plant explained “We’re gutted to have to do this but want to be realistic and open about the next steps. We also think it’s important to engage our community in this big decision by providing an opportunity for reflection and evaluation, and to consult over a range of possibilities."
"We wouldn’t rule out some form of rescue plan, if there's a strong feeling that the work must continue, and enough help emerges to carry out a relaunch supported by the two or three of us prepared to continue serving. Equally, we’re going to ask whether the Society could merge with another organisation to exploit economies of scale to sustain some of our activities, or ask another body to take on some of our functions. Or the outcome might be to simply recognise that our time has come, and shut up shop.”
The wider role of community activism is a further consideration that some members are hoping the VIABILITY group will address. Nick added “There’s so much craziness going on in the echelons of power in today’s world that have led to the climate emergency, the threat of extinction, the rise of the hate agenda and the loss of decency and grace within our political systems, that it’s all the more vital for us to work together more closely and with new mutual respect at community level."
"So I for one hope passionately that in Bishopston we can continue to use community power to campaign for better use of our planning system, effective responses to the climate emergency, a vibrant cohesive culture and a human- and eco-friendly local economy."
More details including a "think-piece" on future options, is now available here (PDF download), particularly for scrutiny in time for the proposed follow-up VIABILITY meeting, and for our critical friends.
Meanwhile, if you would like an invitation to the VIABILITY meeting, or have comments, questions or feedback on our options for the future, please get in touch via our Contact form.
Please see our separate article on Sustainable Transport in Bishopston, which was the focus of the meeting whose business was 95% dedicated to this public meeting debate, following the short AGM.