BSAG Update

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Our Group is a community group whose aims are to raise awareness of the plight of Birchington’s 9 sea-shelters and to raise funds for their restoration.

Initially we anticipated our role would involve repairs to the existing shelters but surveys have shown that because of the nature of the timber rot it is going to be necessary to completely rebuild them, if we are to make a long term restoration. And as a consequence of this it is going to be an expensive project.

You may already know that there are 7 shelters of similar timber & tile construction and 2 that are significantly different in that 1 is iron & concrete and the other a basic almost shed like timber construction.

For ease of identification we have numbered the shelters 1-9,

1 being the iron & concrete shelter on the green by the beacon near the Minnis Bar, and 9 being the basic shedlike shelter opposite the golf course at Epple bay, the others logically being 2 -8 in between.

We have successfully completed a full rebuild of shelter 2, between Hengist Road and Queens Avenue, with the the structural element being undertaken by Turners Carpentry who donated their labour, additionally BSAG members completed the non structural timber work and painting, and professional companies fitted the roof and glazing. The cost of materials for this shelter were just over £9700.

Our group is formally organised with a committee ( 7 including a BPC liaison member) and we hold regular committee meetings. Membership of the group is open to anyone and costs £2.50 per annum and this covers admin costs such as public liability insurance, stationery etc.

All monies donated for restoration are accounted for separately and are used solely for restoration costs.

Committee meetings are not generally public meetings but we de hold an AGM to which subscribing members are invited.

BSAG is an independent community group not affiliated with any other group, political party or council body, however we do work with Birchington Parish Council where we feel it is beneficial to the group and we have received funding from them as well as Thanet District Council and Kent County Council.

As far as the next restoration is concerned we have invited the public ( not restricted to members) to vote for the shelter they would like to see restored next. This poll is active on the Birchington on Sea Facebook page and voting slips are also available from the Parish Clerk in the library. As voting stands at present , shelter no 5 is receiving most votes. Shelter 5 is situated on the green above the crabbing pool and opposite Seaview Heights. I should point out that shelters 1 & 4 have not been included in the poll, because shelter 1 requires a significantly different method of restoration and shelter has been declared dangerous by TDC and we are presently unable to include it in our list of shelters, this however may change in the future.

We try to avoid leaflet and email updates as this is costly and time consuming and detracts from the fundraising efforts. We do however post on Facebook, Birchington Parish website and in the BPC magazine.

Since forming the group we have raised £21000 from a variety of sources including KCC, TDC, BPC, Aviva, Shepherd Neame, Thanet Lotto, Birchington & Westgate Inner Wheel Club, Grenham Bay Court, as well as public donations, fund raising quizzes and various other local businesses and community Groups.

As part of our constitution we have stated that we will only initiate a restoration when we are certain we have sufficient funds available to complete it. We are therefore basing our funding requirement for the next shelter on the understanding that we may have to pay for all labour and not rely on volunteer work or professionals donating their services. On this basis we estimate the cost to rebuild could be as much as £20000 per shelter ( Shelters 2-8), so as you can see we still have a way to go before we are likely to embark on the next shelter.

However, we have already applied for some substantial funding from a number of sources and are awaiting the outcome of our applications , in the meantime things have quietened down somewhat but fundraising activities are continuing.

Our next events are our AGM and Quiz night on Saturday 10 November 2018.

Mike Kite