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Transition Town Letchworth is holding it’s first AGM on the evening of Tuesday January 27th and all are welcome.  We’ll be spending a little time reviewing 2014’s activities, then once the formalities are over we’ll be enjoying some apple produce and talking about our ideas for the future.  This is a great opportunity to meet trustees, members and other supporters if you’d like to get more involved.

Here’s an except from our annual report to give you a flavour of the kind of things we do.

Transition Town Letchworth: Annual Report 2014

Transition Town Letchworth (TTL) was registered as Charity Number 1156209 on 17th March 2014 and became a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. This opened up new opportunities to apply for grants for projects which meet TTL’s aims.

TTL Activities During 2014

TTL hosted nine “Transition Tuesdays” during 2014. These events helped to share learning with residents and provided a point of access for anyone interested in getting more involved with TTL initiatives. The topics covered included low carbon holidays, low carbon celebrations, Smart Meters, Ted Talks, the local economy and low carbon transport focusing on developments in electric cars. The chairman of the Letchworth Sustainability Forum presented on the work of this group and attendees shared their thoughts on projects that could be initiated to make the town more sustainable. A successful joint event with the Chartered Institute of Building Service Engineers allowed members to ‘Ask an Expert’ how to improve the energy efficiency of their home. A topical meeting on Housing, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of previous Letchworth developments, gave attendees the chance to consider what attributes they wanted to see incorporated into planned new garden city housing developments.

Transition Town Letchworth participates in town events where there is an opportunity to promote our aims and objectives. In May TTL Grower’s Market was part of the Food Festival. TTL also promoted a garage sale as its contribution to the Letchworth Festival in June 2014. In July TTL took part in the local schools ‘Veg Fest’ raising awareness of our autumn apple pressings.

The food group continued to be busy in 2014. The Growers Market, where surplus home grown food can be exchanged by residents in the town centre, took place each month from May to October and is being used by an increasing number of residents. The Grow It Yourself (GIY) group met each month at a different garden or allotment with the aim of helping each other get the best from their plots. Two residents have received advice from TTL Grower’s guides to help them start a vegetable garden. Members of the GIY group have been active in a joint initiative between the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation and the RHS to build a community garden in the centre of Letchworth.

The fruit harvest was early and not so abundant this year, this affected the attendance at TTL’s two public apple pressings in October. Following up on contacts made at the ‘Veg Fest’, apple pressings took place at Lordship Farm School, Early Bird Preschool and Briar Patch education facility this year. Lordship Farm School also had the spare apples collected for their pressing professionally pressed, pasteurised and bottled by a local firm, which has been sold to raise funds for the school.

The energy group’s main focus this year was to…


provide a series of talks on Home Energy Improvement. Ten themed meetings took place during the year with varied attendance levels. The topics which covered low cost behaviour changes were generally better attended than the technology and renovation themed evenings. Knowledge levels have been increased through the research and knowledge sharing at these evenings.

Energy monitors which record minute by minute electricity use, which are suitable for monitoring commercial and community buildings which can have three phase or chunky electricity cables have been purchased and are currently installed at St Thomas’ Church and the Wilbury Hall. Data from these have been used to review energy use in these buildings. A report including this review and other investigations has been sent to the Buildings sub-committee of the Parochial Church Council, with a view to amending both plant and behaviour to reduce energy use.

In February 2014 TTL were awarded a Letchworth Heritage Foundation grant for a Thermal Imaging Camera which can be used for investigating how to reduce draughts and improve insulation in the Letchworth housing stock. In the period from September to end of December 2015, five training courses have occurred which have been attended by 29 individuals. Temperatures remained warm until the end of October but once the weather started to cool people have started to use the camera to survey their homes.

Two cycle maintenance courses took place in 2014. These six week courses, which are run in a local church hall, teach attendees how to maintain and get the best from their bicycles.

The Personal Resilience group met in 2014, exploring how to nurture yourself whilst making a difference so there is enjoyment and not just burn out from getting involved. TTL provides opportunities for like-minded people to get together and this year successful Summer and Christmas gatherings were organised so that members of different working groups could get to know each other better.

A new TTL sub-group started as result of the Transition Tuesday on housing. This group is working towards building a checklist of attributes for sustainable housing developments in Letchworth.

During 2014 TTL have shared information via our regular email bulletin and our website on our activities and other events in and around town that align with our objectives. The TTL website has been redesigned and regular blogs are now posted on our activities. TTL monitor national and international events relating to transition and climate change and share our learning.

Building Partnerships

TTL recognise the need to work with existing social and government organisations within Letchworth to promote an orderly change towards a more sustainable future.

TTL has continued to work with the Heritage Foundation and quarterly meetings take place where updates on energy and housing projects are shared.

TTL Trustees have been participating in the Sustainability Forum which was set up in 2013. This group is supported and facilitated by Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, but is intended to include as many local stakeholders as possible. Its aim is to identify and pursue measures to make Letchworth sustainable in a future where energy is limited and expensive. TTL presented on its activities, focusing on the thermal imaging camera project, at the Sustainability Forum launch in October 2014.

TTL have maintained contacts with other Transition minded groups in our locality. TTL members have attended Transition Cambridge events and have welcomed Transition Cambridge members to our events. TTL also borrowed Cambridge Carbon Footprints thermal imager in January for a trial.

TTL have become regular members and contributors at the CDA Herts Community Network Meeting. These quarterly meetings bring together anyone interested in reducing their carbon footprint in Hertfordshire. Considerable learning is shared in the themed discussions that take place.

TTL give presentations to local organisations. The energy group provided an introduction to the Thermal Imaging camera to Knights Templar School Energy and Sustainability Team (EST) and to a local scouts group. New contacts with Letchworth schools have been made in 2014 and TTL hope to provide more children with an opportunity to use the Thermal Imaging camera in the new year.

TTL has worked with members of the Wilbury Hall Management Committee and with St Thomas’ PCC to explore ways to reduce energy use in those buildings.

Finance

Many of TTL’s activities have no financial implications, and can be delivered through volunteer time. Small amounts of money are required to fund some of our activities, in particular, where a hall needs to be hired or event promotion is required. Attendees at events are asked to make a donation, the suggested donation is set to ensure that an event will pay its direct costs and make a contribution to TTL’s annual insurance costs. This financial strategy has allowed TTL to meet its costs this year.

Summary

In summary, TTL have maintained our influence and presence in the town with our activities this year. TTL have attracted some new participants in our activities by hosting Transition themed events which covered a wide variety of subjects and activities. TTL have also built up our links to neighbouring organisations and groups to improve knowledge sharing.

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