Skip to content

New chairman, a visit from the chief executive and a catch-up: what an AGM!

David Mairs
By David Mairs
24th November 2023

A special day for all involved

And so it was that the time came for CPRE Kent to look to a new chairman…

With John Wotton’s five-year tenure reaching its end, the scene was set for Ben Moorhead to take on the mantle.

Such events are of course all part of the Annual General Meeting and this year we reconvened at the familiar venue of Lenham Community Centre on Friday, November 10.

The AGM is an occasion for the CPRE Kent family to meet and discuss what has been going on over the previous 12 months –a healthy turnout of almost 40 people signing in – but of course there are the formalities to be dealt with.

John gave an introduction to proceedings, telling us he would be chairman “for another three-quarters of an hour or so” before the previous year’s minutes were agreed and we listened to director Hilary Newport’s annual report.

The Lower Thames Crossing; the London Resort theme-park project at Swanscombe; the continued onslaught of garden-village proposals; a planned housing estate at Turnden in the High Weald AONB; Manston airport; the scheme for a hotel, spa and surf lagoon at Betteshanger Country Park; and National Grid’s plan for a converter station on Minster Marshes… all these and more gave an indication of the issues with which CPRE Kent had been involved.

John then gave his report, noting that much had been achieved but with only a small number of people. We could be proud of all who had contributed, while we were not alone as a charity attempting to attract new volunteers.

There were special thanks to treasurer Michael Moore for his efforts, while sadly we paused to remember former Thanet CPRE chairman David Morrish, who passed away this year.

After the appointment of auditors and elections of board members, John formally stood down and, after presenting his predecessor with an antique silver salver, Ben gave a short speech by way of introduction.

A retired solicitor and committed conservationist, he thanked John and all those who had put their faith in him. Threats to Kent were very many and very large, he said, while laying out his ambitions for a doubling of membership and a grown team to ensure we weren’t overwhelmed by development schemes.

His two buzz statements, he said, were kindness to the countryside and to win for wildlife.

Then it was time to hear from another new face to many: Roger Mortlock, who had been appointed new CPRE chief executive in February.

In his speech The Road to 2026, he said CPRE was essentially about land use and land-use change and had a proud record as defender of the Green Belt. He identified three main strands as we looked ahead: the future countryside; the countryside next door; and the building of our movement.

Several members asked questions from the floor before many of us enjoyed a delightful lunch and headed out into the dank November afternoon.

Until next time…

  • You can read outgoing chairman John Wotton’s speech here
Chief executive Roger Mortlock introduces himself to CPRE Kent
New chairman Ben Moorhead, left, presents the outgoing John Wotton with an antique silver salver (pic Paul Buckley)