England's Favourite Conservation Area

By now, many of our members will be aware that our national umbrella body, Civic Voice, recently promoted a national competition to find England's favourite Conservation Area. This initiative on their part was prompted by the threats to our Conservation Areas arising from government austerity policies and a rising tide of inappropriate development proposals. According to Civic Voices' research, over 500 Conservation Areas can now be defined as at risk. The number Conservatiom Officers employed by local authorities has fallen by a third over the last ten years as economy measures bite. (We must be thankful that we have two in Lichfield, albeit both part-time). Civic Voice, whilst also lobbying central government, has sought to heighten the profile of this problem. That it has certainly done. Over 249 entries, mostly from local Civic Societies were submitted to Civic Voice. Over 15,000 votes were cast for the shortlisted eighteen Conservation Areas.

You will know that Lichfield City Centre Conservation Area went through to the final eighteen, the only West Midlands representative, after which your Committee stepped up its publicity efforts to bring the votes in. They were ably supported by many Lichfield amenity groups as well as the local authorities. All publicised the competition and urged voting for our Conservation Area. We also used the Society's Twitter and Facebook accounts regularly, scoring over 5,000 hits on one Facebook posting alone. We distributed leaflets in the City Centre and the Town Crier came in support.

The result was that we were awarded third place in the competition with a little over 2,000 votes. Port Sunlight was in second place and the overall winner with more than 3,000 votes was Swindon Railway Village Conservation Area. We have been awarded an engraved glass plaque which will be displayed at our next speaker meeing. The Committee wish to thank everyone who either voted or persuaded friends to vote. The fact that over 2,000 bothered to vote confirms the Committee's view that, although there may well be some problems afflicting the City Centre, many Lichfieldians really do appreciate the quality of the buildings and overall environment here as well as the range of shopping and leisure facilities. It is a precious thing and, like all precious things, we should not relax our drive to retain what is good and improve what is not.

Roger Hockney
November 2018

Civic Voice Award 2018
This is the trophy that was awarded to Lichfield Civic Society for coming third in the competition run by Civic Voice in 2018 to find England's favourite Conservation Area. In a hard fought competition, as described above, we came third behind Swindon Railway Village and Port Sunlight conservation areas.