Stronger Communities Partnerships – first forum meeting set

Groups in Croydon should have received an invitation to a meeting to discuss how residents’ groups could be represented on the Stronger Communities Partnership Board of the Local Strategic Partnership.

The first meeting took place on 3 November 2014.Some present knew of others that had not even been notified of the meeting.

Those present did not feel that any community group or Residents’ Association had a mandate to speak for all its members let along to represent the views of the area or borough. The proposal was put forward that resident groups and  should network within quadrants to better represent the views of areas of Croydon. This plan would have had the added advantage of increasing the likelihood of giving a voice to hard to reach groups, improved sharing of information, best practice and expertise between groups, and offering support to new or struggling groups and associations. This model was rejected by the Council.

Those present were undeterred and pushed for a forum for residents’ groups to be set up to feed into the Stronger Communities Partnership, so those representing were informed of others views.  This forum will select the four representatives to the Stronger Communities Partnership Board.

The first meeting of the forum will be held on the evening of Tuesday, 3 February 2015 in the Braithwaite Hall, Croydon Clocktower, Katharine Street, Croydon CR9 1ET in the evening.

Although CCC have worked to build up a list of current groups and have asked to be included in the forum we have received no reply. We are also aware that not all groups have received notification of the latest meeting.

For the forum to be as effective as possible all groups need to be represented.

If you are involved in a Residents’ Association or residents’ group you should have received an invitation.

 Please pass the message on to anyone who may not have heard.

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Stronger Community Partnerships – initial meeting with RAs

An interesting meeting tonight, with lots of food for thought.

Representation

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.

Building networks

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.

The outcome

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..

Going forward

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.

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Finally

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.

http://historyandsocialaction.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/challenges-facing-croydons-stronger.html

Post written in haste but posted to highlight the main points.

We look forward to hearing your views.  Please post a comment.

Elizabeth Ash

Chair, CCC

Representing Croydon’s view – Quadrants proposed as the way forward

Proposals for a Stronger Communities Partnership board have been put forward, but not all community groups and organisations have been advised of this.

This was raised by a member attending our recent meeting in Sanderstead, with a proposal as to how the Croydon Community groups and Residents’ Association could be best represented.

We’d like to hear your thoughts on the proposal.

The background

The following correspondence from David Freeman, Croydon Council’s Voluntary Sector manager,  was received by some but not all the community groups and  Residents’ Associations.

Mr Freeman wrote,

Croydon’s Local Strategic Partnership (LSP) brings together the public, voluntary and business sectors to consider issues which affect Croydon.  Its work is set out in the Community Strategy 2013-18 which can be found on the Council’s website at http://www.croydon.gov.uk/community/advice/cstrategy/cs1318.

The LSP is supported by a number of theme partnerships which look into particular aspects of its work in detail.  The LSP is now setting up a new theme partnership to take an overview of the borough’s communities agenda.  The Stronger Communities Partnership will aim to ensure the people of Croydon have a sense of ambition, pride and belonging by promoting fairness, social cohesion and integration, supporting Croydon’s cultural offer, tackling inequality and providing an environment for a thriving voluntary, community and faith sector.

The SCP will draw its membership from a range of community organisations and the Chair, Councillor Mark Watson, is keen to include representation from residents of the borough who may not see themselves as part of the formal voluntary sector but who are, non the less, very active in their communities.

At the moment there is no umbrella group which covers all residents’ groups and associations.  We have therefore decided to invite residents’ groups and associations which might be interested in participating in the new partnership to meet early in November to discuss how they can be represented on the SCP Board.  The draft Terms of Reference of the SCP Board suggests four representatives for residents’ groups.  While this number is not cast in tablets of stone, the aim of the meeting will be to select/elect four interim representatives to attend the first SCP Board meeting on 11 November and make arrangements for them to report back to the wider group.

Attached is a copy of a letter from Councillor Mark Watson inviting you to participate in the Partnership and a copy of the draft Terms of Reference for the SCP.

The meeting for residents’ groups will be on Monday 3 November at 6.00pm at Bernard Weatherill House, Mint Walk, Croydon.  If you or a colleague from your group would like to attend, please let me know who the representative will be and their contact details so that I can send them full details of the meeting.  There are quite a number of residents’ groups in the borough so I would ask that only one person attends to represent your group or association.

I hope that your group or association would like to contribute to the new partnership and I look forward to hearing from you in due course.

 

The relevant links can be accessed here:

LSP Communities Partnership Board Terms of Reference cover letter 2014-10-01

LSP Draft Communities Partnership Board Terms of Reference

The way forward:

This was discussed at our meeting in Sanderstead and, in view of the fact that just four residents’ groups are proposed to be represented on this board, it was suggested by attendees at our meeting that the borough be divided into quadrants, each of which could then represent the views of that quadrant.  This would ensure greater coverage of everyone’s views in each quadrant and encourage networking of community groups within a quadrant and across the borough. Surely this is a win win for Croydon.

What do you think?

Did you receive notification, or were you left off the circulation list as some found on the night of our meeting?

Would you support the idea of a network of community and residents groups in quadrants, representing the views of people with an interest in that area?

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The meeting to discuss plans is on Monday 3 November.