Archived reports of meetings in 2011

7th December

Civic Voice

Ian Harvey gave The March Society an inspiring talk and presentation at their December meeting held in March Library. Ian, a lively and vocal Liverpudlian, is one of the founders of the 'Civic Voice' - a National Charity that supports over 500 Civic Societies in England.

In common with the March Society (founded in 2007), Civic Voice is about promoting civic pride, places where people live, getting the views of people in the community, linking the past with the present and generally caring about the future of individual areas. It is the central organisation that co-ordinates and provides leadership to Civic Societies throughout England.

Most Civic Societies are involved in a wide range of activities such as acting as a Planning watchdog, cleaning up the environment, opening gardens to the public and producing lists of notable buildings. Numerous examples were given where the power of the community has made a big difference to the quality of residents' lives.

Members of local Civic Societies are usually ordinary residents but local Councillors do get involved and representation at the highest level exists because there are over 50 MPs on the newly formed all parliamentary group for Civic Societies. Greg Clark, Minister for Communities and Local Government, has given further support. This means that effective parliamentary lobbying on behalf of local Civic Societies is now possible.

One of the encouraging developments in some parts of England is the formation of 'Youth Civic Societies' where young people can have a real say in where they live.

Ian's talk and his examples of achievements further confirmed the belief of the March Society that the 'power of the community can make a big difference'.

2nd November

News of Friends of March Railway Station, March & District Model Railway Club, and National Express

Alan Neville, Area Manager of National Express East Anglia, described the ongoing work to improve the main operational sections of the Station. 'Street Pride' volunteers do a large amount of this work. The improved appearance, as well as being welcomed by passengers, has resulted in several awards in recognition of better standards. Recent improvements also include a new Coffee Shop, car park upgrade and the re-painting of the Station. Alan remarked that, in February 2012, the National Express East Anglia Franchise would be transferred to a Dutch Rail Operator.

Adrian Sutterby, Chairman of Friends of March Railway Station (FOMRS) explained how, on every second Saturday of the month, volunteers have 'clear up' sessions working on the non-operational sections of the Station. Major work has been done to provide a water supply to this part of the Station - carefully avoiding many live electrical cables buried beneath the platform. Supporters and sponsors have provided most materials and Network Rail have provided some 'Track Panels'. Adrian commented that, to move the Panels, would now need a kind sponsor to lend them a crane capable of lifting 60 tons! Old sinks have been removed from the Station buildings and work has started on re-painting the footbridge. A local solicitor is freely providing assistance to FOMRS to help with the purchase of a lease. Once this is completed then FOMRS hope to progress more rapidly. They have now been awarded finance from the Railway Heritage Trust from April 2013. This will enable the refurbishment of the redundant rooms and they will be restored to their original designs. FOMRS will be having an Open Day on Saturday 10 December to coincide with the 'White Rose' steam train passing through the Station.

Gary Christie is using one of the Station's rooms for the newly created 'March & District Junior Model Railway Club'. Aimed at 7-14 year old enthusiasts, it meets every other Tuesday. The members are building their own layouts and its popularity has resulted in a waiting list to join. The 'East Anglia Narrow Gauge Model Railway Group' is being formed at the Station and it is anticipated that it's first meeting will be on 10 January, 2012.