What are Civic Societies?
Civic Societies are Amenity Societies and they exist to provide an accepted public voice on all urban development. Many were set up following the Public Amenities Act 1967 and there are now approximately 750 in the British Isles, with membership numbers per Society varying between 8 and 6,000. The total number of individual members across the country is in excess of 250,000 although only about one tenth of this number can be described as active.
The Objectives of Civic Societies are laid out in their Constitutions and they all follow a similar format; a summary of the Objectives of the Ponteland Civic Society can be found under the heading of our website and is placed at the head of all our Programme Flyers.
Since the passing of the 1967 Act, the Civic Society Movement has been taken up most enthusiastically in the South-East of England, followed by the South-West, the London area, Yorkshire/Humberside and the North-West, with the North-East – unfortunately – trailing behind. Some six years ago, in response to the Government’s setting-up of Regional Development Agencies, a number of regional groups of Civic Societies were formed to help co-ordinate the work of individual Societies in those Regions. The Ponteland Civic Society is a member of the North-Eastern Federation of Civic and Amenity Societies, which numbers 14 separate Societies.
Locally, one of the largest Civic Societies is that at Hexham, and the nearest to us are the Corbridge Village Trust, the Morpeth Civic Society and the Northumberland & Newcastle Society (N&N). The latter is a very well-established and prestigious organisation with more than 500 members and nearly 50 associated groups including local businesses, Amenity Societies (such as ourselves) and Parish & Town Councils. The Ponteland Civic Society was formed in 2007 with help and advice from the N.E. Federation and the N&N Society and has approximately 100 Members.
If Local History Societies may be described as concerned with the history and heritage of their area, Civic Societies can equally well be thought of as concerned with the future of their area. Much of the work by Civic Societies involves looking at planning applications, and we regard it as particularly important that any development which takes place in long-established communities preserves the character and ethos of the area.
Within this overriding vision it is essential to ensure that a sustainable balance is maintained between factors such as: building design, shops, housing, civic amenities, transport, open spaces, care of the elderly, education and employment. There can be few people in Ponteland to whom none of these factors is important, and we would hope that those who are able to do so would join us and add weight to our efforts.