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Minutes of Design & Marketing Meeting

Tuesday 19th April 2011

Present: Sheila Friend-Smith (chairman), Daniel Block, Will Burton, Ian Burton-Palmer (arrived 7.30pm), Nigel Clarke, Ted Coney, Kevin Evans (left 7.15pm), Heber Martin, Angela Moody, Terry Overall, Simon Pittock, Liz Sayers, Ray Tinker, John Yates (arrived 7.30pm)

1. Apologies

Apologies were received from John Baker, Philip Eden, Peter Hillman, Suzanna Lindsay, Alan Mittins, Shirley Overall.

2. Minutes of 15 March meeting

These were approved and signed as a correct record.

3. Matters arising

Other than those items on the agenda there were no matters arising from the minutes.

4. Steeple Row

Application with ECDC awaiting consideration by the planning committee. Philip Eden and Sheila Friend-Smith had collaborated on a pre-application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant of 310,000 towards the project. Early indications were encouraging but clarification would be needed to progress to the next stage. ECDC had confirmed in writing that 20,000 towards the project had been included in the conservation budget. ECDC had turned down a request to allow the Perspective a parish council discount in order to reduce the 1,190 fee for lodging the planning application.

5. Commemorative plaques

Terry Overall was making progress with the extensive paperwork involved. He had sought guidance from ECDC heritage officer.

6. Maltings Cottage

The meeting considered a discussion document drawn up by Ted Coney as an alternative to ECDC's favoured plan to turn the building into a holiday let. He proposed the top floor be let long-term to increase revenue for ECDC by reducing management costs associated with holiday lettings and avoiding letting 'voids' during low season. Options for the ground floor:

1. Two or three spaces plus kitchen to be available for community use at nominal cost

2. Garden/plant shop utilising the cottage's garden; ice cream parlour/sweets/snacks; commercial art gallery/souvenir shop

3. Creation of studio space for two or three working artists whose rental agreement would include a commitment to open to the public at weekends, thus providing an added attraction to the riverside area.

He had included revenue projections/costings which had been provided by Elaine Griffith-Singh. He had previously made the presentation to the Perspective's Riverside Group where, he said, although it had been well received by those present, on the advice of the Riverside Group chairman, John Yates, the group did not endorse his proposal to submit the document to ECDC.

The Maltings buildings were intended to be used for the benefit of the people of Ely and the Design and Marketing Group felt that setting out alternative uses for the cottage might assist district councillors in coming to a decision on its future. It was hoped that the long-term benefit to the vitality of the riverside area would be considered. After a lengthy discussion it was agreed that the discussion document should be emailed to councillors and in addition a paper copy sent to the chairman of the planning committee.

7. Future of Ely Magistrates' Court

Sheila Friend-Smith reported that a properly constituted group, whose membership would be made up of individuals with appropriate expertise, was being set up to consider how best to safeguard the future of the building and to find appropriate uses which would probably be for local history display/office space. Residential use was inappropriate because of the cost of conversion.

8. German Christmas market

No issues had been raised over the possibility of positioning a ferris wheel or ice rink on Cross Green providing there was no clash with the cathedral's Christmas events and Simon Pittock and Daniel Block felt they had received a positive response from the cathedral authorities. Once research into costings and sponsorship opportunities had been investigated they would prepare a business plan. Will Burton suggested they should speak to Ely Traders' Association who would have to be persuaded that such a market would attract new shoppers to Ely rather than draining spend from existing businesses.

9. Executive meeting report

Philip Eden had given notice that he would be standing down as chairman prior to taking over the chairmanship of AMT. Chairman-elect Ian Burton-Palmer was welcomed to the meeting by Sheila Friend-Smith. She too intends to resign the chairmanship of the Design and Marketing Group and John Yates said he planned to stand down as chairman of the Riverside Group. They both intended to remain as directors of the company but felt it would give the Perspective a more independent role if the chairs of both groups were not elected councillors.

10. Action Plan 2011-12

The Design and Marketing Group would continue with:

1. Steeple Row project

2. Continued involvement with Ely transport strategies

3. Retail occupancy

4. Street scene/signage

5. Railway station enhancement

6. Historic buildings

7. Website enhancement

The Perspective's AGM and the Minding the Gaps public meeting had been postponed until Thursday 29 September.

11. Retail occupancy

Cafe Nero was to open in Ely at an unidentified site. No site had yet been identified for The Works (cut-price stationery). A planning application had been made to set up a fitness gym in Broad Street in premises vacated by Morlands. A tattoo parlour has opened in Fore Hill.

Simon Pittock and Daniel Block via their web design company, Apex Web Works, have software that can project moving and changing images onto the windows of empty retail premises. They would be happy to discuss with anyone interested.

12. Any other business

Riverside area: John Yates reported that responsibility for managing the riverside/slipway area was being ceded to the City Council with involvement of the Perspective's Riverside Group. Setting up a trust to manage improvements and maintenance of the area had proved problematic and the co-operation between the City Council and the Perspective would be a positive move.

Ely app: Simon Pittock and Daniel Block were pursuing the possibility of replicating the iphone app (a free to use app) that is in operation in Thame and which had been highlighted on the ATM website. They felt that with modifications, an Ely app would benefit Ely businesses and tourists visiting the city. They planned to investigate set-up and development costs. Ray Tinker and Will Burton expressed interest in any planned visit to Thame.

Website: SP and DB were grateful to Perspective members who had supplied additional material for the website. They had found it difficult to add content and proposed a redesign. The Perspective's contract with the Internet Marketing Company, which hosted the site, would need to be checked.

New homes plan: Ray Tinker was one of the members who had viewed the information exhibition set out to give residents the opportunity to comment on a proposal to build 3,000 new homes in Ely. He was concerned that the retail area would be insufficient. John Yates said the Church Commissioners (land owners) were addressing this issue and the intention was that the infrastructure, which includes a road through the Princess of Wales site, should be constructed first.

Flagpole: Terry Overall reported that a flagpole had been erected on the corner of Ely's Market Square in time for the Royal wedding celebrations.

Royal wedding and Eel Day: Ely will enjoy four days of festivities including the annual Eel Day the day after the wedding.

1. Friday 29 April: From 2pm Palace Green en fete with games, stalls, refreshments. The cathedral will open from around 10am for viewing of the wedding on a big screen. The award-winning film, The King's Speech, part of which was filmed in the cathedral, would be screened in the evening. Tickets have almost sold out.

2. Saturday 30 April: Eel Day, procession starting at 10.30am from Cross Green led by Ellie the Eel with samba band and town criers following the heritage walk down Waterside to Jubilee Gardens followed by a town crier competition and entertainment and activities which will appeal to children and adults.

3. Sunday 1 May: Scout parade.

4. Monday 2 May: A food and craft speciality market from 10am-4pm and a music and dance event in Jubilee Gardens from 11am.

The Ely Standard had sponsored a best dressed window competition and the Ely Weekly News was sponsoring a best dressed king and queen competition.

Compost awareness: At EARTH on Thursday 5 April Terry Overall said there was to be a compost awareness day open to the public.

Pop-up art gallery: Ted Coney was opening Ely's 'first pop-up art gallery' at his Waterside home/studio with tours available starting on Eel Day until December.

Bridge problem: Angela Moody reported the timber on the Prickwillow Road bridge was disintegrating.

Volunteers directory: Nigel Clarke mentioned the need for a directory of contacts for all volunteer groups in Ely to be collated. The Mayor had indicated that none existed. This was something that the Perspective might wish to pursue. The lack of a directory had been mentioned by the Mayor, Brian Ashton, who had highlighted the work of volunteers during his year in office. The directory should also include sports clubs.

Stagecoach changes to service on 9, X9 and 12 buses: Andy Campbell, managing director Stagecoach East had written in response to a letter from the Perspective suggesting alternatives to the changes which are causing difficulties for so many people reliant on buses:

"The cuts are made for two reasons; firstly, evenings and Sundays are because the County Council has withdrawn all funding for these services. The second part is for the daytime services, you are correct that these are as a result of the reduction in funding support for concessionary passes. While I accept that the more marginal sections of the route have seen a 50% reduction overall we have only reduced the operating mileage and therefore our costs by 13%.

"We thought it better to try and provide a reduced service rather than leave an area without a service. However, even this may not be possible in the future when the County Council withdraws all its bus subsidies overt the next four years."

Solar lighting: Sheila Friend-Smith, John Yates and members of the city's Youth Council were meeting representatives of a company which manufactured solar lights which could be used along the path through Cherry Hill and on the riverside at a fraction of the cost of conventional lighting.

13. Date of next meeting

Tuesday 17th May 2011

The chairman to invite Tracey Harding, team leader for tourism and town centre services to the meeting on Wednesday 22 June