Open Forum Report - 19th January 1989

The Open Forum held on Thursday 19th January attracted an attendance that filled the Cruck House and stimulated a lively exchange on matters of current interest.

The proposed banning of car parking in the market Square exposed a division of opinion represented by those who are concerned for the safety and welfare of visitors to St Mary's Centre, especially for evening functions, and those who support the exclusion of vehicles, except for ambulances and emergency vehicles, during the day. It was suggested that the exclusion of through traffic was not incompatible with evening access.The Chairman, Alan Thompson, suggested that individuals holding strong views should consider making personal representations on this issue.

Everyone present had an interest in the consequences of the Lichfield Local Plan. Representatives of the Borrocop Residents Association and the South Lichfield Occupiers Group (SLOG), with whom it was thought the Civic Society might make common cause, had been invited to attend. While it was readily acknowledged that common interests might justify closer links, local pressure groups were committed to concentrating their energies in opposition to that part of the local Plan affecting their supporters. It cannot be known which strategy would be most effective but since neither total separation nor total integration were the sole alternatives it was agreed that the chairmen of the local groups and the Chairman of the Civic Society should cooperate in the organisation of a public meeting.

However, since the Open Forum, it has been found to be impossible to secure the booking of an appropriate venue prior to our AGM. It has therefore been decided that members of those local organisations will be invited to attend the Civic Society's AGM.

"Lichfield is already big enough!". A common cry, heard again at the Open Forum. An alternative to the building of yet more houses in the City, especially the huge development between Walsall Road and Fosseway, including the Cricket Ground, might be found. One suggestion receiving the meeting's support advocated the creation of a new rural community on land away from the City and in an area where other villages would be unaffected. A discussion paper from the Department of the Environment (July 1988) relating to new villages was referred to and even the Countryside Commission was quoted in support: "The Commission believes that there is some scope for the creation of entirely new settlements as an alternative to the expansion of existing towns and villages". This surely must be a better idea than changing the character of Lichfield and further reducing the space between the City and its satellite villages.

Concern was also expressed for the future of the present Library building.

Ivor Mitchell
January 1989