10th April 2016
The Civic Society Movement – Talking Civic Sense
Okay! If you’ve been paying attention at all you’ll know by now that here in Swindon we have an organisation by the name of Swindon Civic Voice. But what you might not know – and I didn’t until relatively recently – is that the civic society movement is a national one and there’s civic voices and civic societies all over the shop.
This here is the umbrella website for the civic voice organisations up and down the land: http://www.civicvoice.org.uk: ‘Civic Voice is the national charity for the civic movement in England. We make places more attractive, enjoyable and distinctive. We promote civic pride.’
The Civic Movement
The civic movement is 167 years old and from the Swindon Civic Voice website – http://www.swindoncivicvoice.org.uk/news/ – you can download and read a ‘Brief History of the Civic Society Movement’ by Lucy E.Hewitt – in which she traces the development of ‘civic virtue’ in England.
The president of Civic Voice (national) is (or was) none other than Griff Rhys-Jones. In the forward to the aforementioned book he says:
‘… I have met Civic Societies, local societies, that are part of Civic Voice, that manage alms houses, that own and control green belt land, that look after parks, that have produced extensive reports on the transport systems of their boroughs, and investigated and reported on living conditions and plans for growth.
There is a lot more than conservation here and, yet, the preservation of heritage is at the forefront of a modern Civic Society’s concerns because it is part of the current democratic pressure for civic responsibility. In other words we are the same citizens. We are continuing the work recorded in this study. We have to do so.
The commentator I quoted at the beginning, a good Conservative, with a capital C, possibly thinks of local amenity societies as “busy bodies”. Well I say let’s get busy. He possibly thinks of them as Nimbys. Well I say let’s look out of the window and get involved in our places. It is thanks to the involvement of Civic Societies that the best of Britain look the way it does and not like a “yard”.
This is timely history that helps us to understand why more than ever we need to stand up and be counted today.’
Join your local Civic Voice
With so much going on in the town at the moment a strong civic society is vital to even have a hope of holding to account and challenging controversial planning proposals and decisions.
Like the ‘Mothership’, Swindon Civic Voice is a charity and needs membership subscriptions to survive. ERGO – New members are always welcome and you can find out about that here: http://www.swindoncivicvoice.org.uk/membership-2/
The group organises some great talks that they hold at the Central Community Centre. The next one is soon – the 28th April 2016 and is all about the proposed Locarno development.
Swindon Civic Voice is now on the Twittersphere: @SwindonV