European Council for the village and small town ECOVAST
Russian Committee for the village and small town-ECOVAST

Minutes of a meeting of the International Committee of ECOVAST, held at the Hotel Suza, Bratislava on Saturday 14 October 2006.

Present : Phil Turner (in the chair). Ralf Bokermann, Eva Kralova, Pam Moore, Lubica Pincikova, Arthur Spiegler, Tihana Stepinac Fabijanic and Andrea Weigert. Valerie Carter was in attendance.

1. Apologies for absence were received from Magdalena Banu, Calin Hoinarescu, Trevor Kearley, Dezso Kovacs, Olaf Linke, Victoria Momeva Altipmakovska, Gabor Rajnai and Olga Sevan.

It was noted with regret that IC Member Josef Usak had died since the last meeting. A tribute would be paid to Prof Dr Usak and other prominent ECOVAST Members at the General Assembly.

2. The Minutes of the International Committee Meeting held on 4 February 2006 in Vienna were agreed to be a true record.

3. Matters Arising

Archives - it was noted that no progress had been made on this item, as Angus Fowler and Michael Dower, who hold most of the archives, had not yet been able to prepare them for removal. Pam would continue to monitor this question (ACTION PM)

Statutes - The English Statutes had now been updated by Michael Dower. The revised German version was still awaited. Pam would send them again to Angus and Andrea for attention. It was agreed that when the Statutes had been revised in German, the documents, in all three languages, would be placed on the website. (ACTION PM)

Membership Lists - Pam reported that she had now acquired lists from all Sections, but still did not have Section Statutes or subscription information. She would ask again, and also request additional details of members, such as their particular interests. Pam undertook to send a list of the German Section to Andrea. (ACTION PM)

Possible Serbian Section - Pam had followed up the contact given by Arthur from Serbia Nostra, but had received no reply.

ASSET Launches - The meeting went through the list as given; most events had taken place according to plan. ASSET would be discussed later in the Agenda. It was, however, noted that if an event did take place in Macedonia, SEEDA had offered some funding towards the cost.

4. Report on arrangements for GA

(a) Reports received

Pam reported that she had received a written report from the Hungarian Section and from Rudiger Maul on behalf of the Rural Architecture Working Group. She anticipated that most reports would be oral.

(b) Elections

Pam reported on nominations received so far. It seemed unlikely there would be a need for contested elections. Olaf Linke had agreed to take on the role of Treasurer.

5. Financial matters

Treasurer's Report/ Subscriptions

Phil took the meeting through the report received from Trevor Kearley, the outgoing Treasurer and the supplementary papers to be presented at the GA regarding subscriptions, and the future banking arrangements in the light of the change of Treasurer.

Thanks were formally recorded to Trevor Kearley for his work as Treasurer.

Subscription income to date in 2006 had reached only 871.48 Euro, compared with a total in 2005 of 3456.33 Euro. There followed considerable discussion about subscriptions, it being noted that to date the only Section to pay to the centre anything in 2006 was that in the UK. Arthur Spiegler gave the Secretary General 300 euros for the Austrian Section's contribution, and the meeting was assured that the German Section's contribution would be in the bank account within days. It was felt to be important that all Sections contribute something. It was pointed out that the central and eastern European states were unable to levy subs at the same rate as those in western Europe (e.g. Slovakia collects 4 euros per person, with a likely rise at their Annual Meeting to 5 euros). The meeting felt it would be fair for their contribution to be correspondingly less than the western states.

The following points were agreed (to be confirmed where necessary by the General Assembly):

(i) Proposal that Barclays account should become the account for the UK Section only, with the balance, less one third of the UK 2006 subs, being transferred to the Strasbourg account at the end of 2006.

(ii) Signatories for the UK Account would be Michael Dower and Pam Moore.

(iii) New signatories would be required for the Strasbourg account. It would be best if these were persons based in Germany for ease of operation.
(iv) The President would propose at the GA that, at the 2007 Assembly, a proposition would be made to raise subs by 20%.

(v) All Sections would be urged to make a contribution to the centre; it was acknowledged that the level of this would depend on the economic circumstances of each country.

6. Update on ASSET Project

Phil and Pam reported on progress in recruitment of partners, fund raising, and research, and on the first meeting of the Organising Group, which had taken place in September in Brussels. Phil also took the meeting through the proposal, finances and budget.

Phil advised that the Small Towns Network's conference in Finland had been very significant, as the network had been delighted that a successor was likely to their INTERREG project, which is nearing its end. ECOVAST's contacts and status had impressed them. Their Plenary had seen ECOVAST and ASSET as the way forward.

Following the outcomes of the Finland event, a major convention of small towns was proposed, possibly in late 2007. Precise timing would depend on securing funding from Foundations and INTERREG, and gaining support from the EU and/or the Council of Europe.

Likely next steps and events were outlined, and information as to possible additional partners. ECOVAST had been invited to give a presentation to the Countryside Group of the NGOs Council of Europe meeting in January/February, and an event with RED was proposed in Sussex for the Spring 2007. Valerie Carter indicated that the East Midlands Development Agency were now interested in joining as a partner, as were Yorkshire Forward. If these joined, they would probably commit to funding at the level of 2000 euros for three years.

The proposed guidance publication was discussed. It would be produced with a web based version as well as on paper. It was noted that translation would be an expense which would have to be included in the budget.

Phil advised that he would be doing a synopsis for the Association of Market Towns (AMT) on the European Spatial Planning perspective. (ACTION PT)

7. Website

Phil explained the genesis of the revamped website, which had been done at no cost to ECOVAST, thanks to the voluntary work of Polly Woolley. It was agreed that she would be offered Honorary Life Membership of ECOVAST.

Pam explained that more work on the non English language parts of the site was needed. Ralf and Andrea offered assistance.

8. ECOVAST Strategy for Rural Europe - Position Statement

It was noted that the Position Statement, updating the ECOVAST Strategy for Rural Europe would be put to the GA. Phil recorded thanks for input to Ralf Bokermann, Michael Dower and Arthur Spiegler. It was suggested that the Strategy (and Position Statement) should be placed on the website once approved. (ACTION PT)

Phil drew the attention of the meeting to his Energy paper draft which would be offered to the Bratislava conference for discussion. He would then take this forward. (ACTION PT)

9. Any other business

(i) Eucaland organisation - Andrea took the meeting through the paper on this topic. It was felt that ECOVAST should get involved as an observer, possibly through the Landscape Group. Arthur undertook to follow this up. The project had connections to ICOMOS and UNESCO, and already ECOVAST members in Germany and Austria are involved. (ACTION : AS)

(ii) The offer of the Croatian section to host the 2007 ECOVAST Assembly was welcomed and would be progressed. Phil and Pam would visit Croatia in Spring 2007 to meet the organisers. (ACTION TSF/PT/PM)