An interesting meeting tonight, with lots of food for thought.
But who was aware?
It appears around 20 Residents’ Associations (RAs) were invited to attend. There were fewer than 20 in the meeting, and only apologies from one undisclosed RA.
The sheer size of the board proposed was considered unworkable, and the minor representation of resident groups proposed was raised as an issue.
How to properly represent the resident voice in Croydon
The idea posed at our recent Sanderstead meeting of RAs and community groups being represented by networked quadrants, as detailed here, was put forward both before and at the meeting but appeared to be rejected by David Freeman, the Council officer linked to communities.
Representatives from RAs were concerned that individual RAs did not have a mandate to speak for others and were hard pushed to cover their existing work in any case, so found the proposal of just four being represented on this board as unworkable.
CCC are aware that community groups had not received an invitation to be represented. I attended on behalf of CCC, although told I could do so only as an observer as the council were only seeking representatives from RAs.
The questions raised included how would community groups be represented on this board? Whilst it was stated that lack of communication in some RAs may contribute to some not knowing of the invitation it was astounding to think that the Council recognised and invited just 20 or so groups.
The effectiveness of different RAs to engage and communicate with their communities, and their willingness to work together to share ideas and work on issues was raised. There are areas where RAs and community groups work extremely effectively together to tackle issues. The Purley, Coulsdon Kenley network was an example noted, working together to discuss issues around Purley Hospital.
We know, from experience, that groups such as Norbury RAs are well networked and that South Croydon Community Association reaches out to others across Croydon communities.
Some are less well represented, including those served by an RA such as the one local to me, who do not allow members to speak at committee meetings or receive minutes of meetings, and those where no RA exists at all.
CCC have been working with the council to build up a list of RAs and community groups. That only 20 RAs were invited was astonishing to those attending this meeting, and adds weight to the evidence we have that many have not received the notice of meeting. We are volunteers and a small committee but we have already identified at least 50 RAs, and plan to post a link to these on our website shortly, in order to build this to include more.
But, whether a group represents a road, a ward, and area or an interest group – Friends of Park Hill Park, Old Town Croydon, Broad Green Business Forum or Croydon Transition Town comes to mind – does it really matter? ALL these groups have a view and represent the residents’ voice. This voice needs to be heard.
A Forum will be established, with groups helping to build up the list the council hold. CCC have invited all present to offer ideas on the list we plan to put up in the next few days, as a result of research undertaken by our committee member, Janet Stollery.
Four representatives were agreed to go to the first meeting on November 11, as interim reps for this group. This includes me, representing SCCA, as CCC is not eligible as a residents group, but I was told that CCC will be represented by another group attending – although we’ve not heard from anyone, to date, on this!
Concerns were raise regarding the effectiveness of this group to effect change.. Those present did not appear sufficiently convinced that the board would make a real difference. After establishing a Forum and deciding on how this would work, time-bonded targets and results need to be achieved to secure faith in the board..
We’d like to know:
Was your group consulted and therefore represented?
RAs and resident groups give of their time to fulfil a role many wouldn’t. We are interested in learning whether community groups and RAs were contacted.
We’d love to hear what you think of this plan.
And I’d recommend reading Sean Creighton’s detailed post which explores the issues.
Post written in haste but posted to highlight the main points.
We look forward to hearing your views. Please post a comment.