Haringey Federation of Residents Associations - Secretary’s Report 2004-5

Over the last 12 months the Federation has consolidated and positively developed our activities – for example the range and depth of issues taken up; the number of associations on our mailing list, sending donations, and attending the monthly meetings; the increasing communication and co-operation between associations; and the increasing general publicity and influence we are having in the borough.

Promoting the concerns of local RAs At our monthly meetings we’ve continued to hear a wide range of reports from local associations, to discuss and identify some of the key concerns, and to develop ways in which the Federation and the borough’s residents’ movement can take these forward effectively. For example:

Planning and development Following the ever-increasing number of planning controversies all around the borough we’ve worked hard to get to grips with many of the issues involved. At the end of 2004 we organised a ‘Communities First! – planning & development issues’ residents conference, attended by 80 people from 49 local community groups. The conference agreed a set of guide-lines which the Federation subsequently adopted. Throughout the year we’ve organised and supported protests and lobbying over planning issues - including over green spaces, conservation, over-development and the (un)sustainability of the massive increase in house-building. We’ve participated heavily in the Council UDP consultation process, including regular attendance at the UDP Public Inquiry – and all the while trying to keep local RAs well-informed.
Green Open Spaces Mirroring the overlap and liaison between RAs and local Friends groups, we have worked closely with the Haringey Friends of Parks Forum to defend green spaces under threat, to call for improvements and also expansion of the number of sites. We organised a joint march and rally last October, and over the winter participated in the series of formal consultation meetings over the Council’s green open spaces strategy. As a result, most of our proposals have since been adopted as Council policy.
Traffic calming/safer streets Following our highly successful conference on this issue at the end of 2003 we have continued to support local RAs seeking traffic calming, safer streets and indeed living streets. We have fed the views (especially the call for 20mph max speed limits) from that conference into the Council’s transport strategy, which we are pleased to say has now adopted a policy of moving towards a 20mph speed limit for all residential areas.
Local services Last spring and summer we’d co-ordinated a protest campaign to support local communities facing 7 post office branch closures around the borough. 2 out of the 7 were saved. This led to a great deal of discussion about the need to support local communities’ efforts to stand up for facilities that serve them (eg health facilities, libraries, playgroups, schools, sports, community centres, parks etc). We decided our annual special conference in 2005 would be: ‘Keep It Local! – local facilities and services for local communities.’
Council housing We continued to support tenants & leaseholders issues when asked to. Throughout the year we supported the demand for a ballot over the controversial proposed major changes in management and ownership of council homes. We also supported the Haringey Defend Council Housing campaign in their call for investment in council housing without strings.

Most importantly, we’ve done our best to support the work of local associations, and to support the principle that people in every street, block or neighbourhood can organise themselves, speak out and take action for themselves and their communities. To that end we promoted an excellent Tottenham RAs Networking Day in March 2005 attended by 40 members of 19 local associations.

Participation and support There are now 130 local residents associations on our monthly mailing list, of which 87 have now either attended Federation meetings or sent in apologies, an increase of 16 over last year [see enclosed details]. Monthly attendance has consolidated, with a gradual increase over the last 4 years. In addition there are now 72 RAs on our internal e-mail info-list (an increase of 32 groups this year), to enable communication between meetings. Our website also continues to help make info easily accessible.

Potential in coming year RAs want to achieve real and long-lasting improvements in the quality of life for residents. To that end we need to continue to grow as movement - to share information and experiences, to combine forces and to build up our influence across the borough. The existence of the Federation has created the framework which has started to unlock some of the enormous potential – over the last year this potential has become apparent. We recognise that people active in their own neighbourhoods are usually already pretty stretched - however, there is much that members of local associations can do to help strengthen Federation activities. Let’s raise our voices together ever more loudly and clearly in the coming year!

Some things your association or your members can do to help:
1. Choose members to attend the monthly meetings. Go on our email list.
2. Pay the annual HFRA subscription, and donations, so we have financial independence
3. Send in reports/copies of your leaflets or Newsletters for our mailings (250 copies if possible)
4. Help set up Working Groups on key issues (waste, traffic, council housing, planning, local services etc)
5. Establish communication among RAs in your area of Haringey. Encourage new ones to form.
6. Distribute HFRA leaflets widely (to your members, libraries, events etc). Invite a HFRA rep to speak at local meetings.

As ratified at the AGM