Haringey Federation of Residents Associations:
Annual Report 2009-10

During the last 12 months the Federation has continued to consolidate our activities and issues taken up – and enabled and supported other residents’ networks, whether localised in a part of Haringey, or whether borough-wide networks organised around specific issues and concerns.

Supporting local RAs As always we’ve continued to do our best to support the work of local associations (and encourage new ones to set up). We support the principle that residents in every street, block or neighbourhood can organise ourselves, speak out and take action for ourselves and our communities. We particularly welcome the continued growth in the number of RAs now doing their own newsletters and websites.

Promoting the concerns of local RAs At our bi-monthly general meetings we’ve continued to exchange a wide range of local reports, to discuss and identify some of the key concerns for local communities, and develop ways in which the borough’s residents’ movement can support and take these concerns forward effectively…

a. Planning and Development Local planning controversies continue around the borough. Throughout the year we’ve continued to inform local RAs on these issues, and to support lobbying, protests and networking over planning issues and policies: supporting heritage & conservation, opposing over-development, high-density housing and loss of facilities, supporting efforts to save backlands and green spaces, and to develop ‘Community Plans’ for contested sites. Also lack of effective enforcement. Local RAs continue to help form alliances around major local planning issues, including the continuing community campaign to save and restore the Wards Corner area of Seven Sisters.

We’ve also responded to a range of planning policy consultations including over the ‘London Plan’. We have encouraged and helped co-ordinate local community groups’ consultation responses to the Local Development Framework by organising a seminar in 2009 and a 40-strong conference in April 2010.

b. Green Open Spaces We've continued to work closely with the Haringey Friends of Parks Forum to protect and promote green spaces, and to call for improvements, minimum standards of provision, and increased on-site staffing (including the successful additional seasonal ‘parkforce’ staffing in many parks, evenings and weekends).

c. Street Scene and Living Streets We support RAs seeking traffic calming, safer streets and ‘living streets’. Our Living Streets officer has been instrumental, as convenor of the Sustainable Transport Group, in getting the Council to set up a Transport Forum which is now pushing for borough-wide 20mph ‘default’ speed limit for all residential streets (a long-held aspiration of the HFRA). We supported the development of the fast-growing Streetcar / Zipcar ‘Car Club’.

d. Local services RAs continue to have a range of concerns about public services, seeking improvements rather than cuts, closures, privatisation or poor management. These concerns are likely to grow in the light of central government policies, the continuing economic crisis, and the redirection of public funds into propping up financial institutions. The Council has been making cuts [‘efficiency savings’] across all departments. We are now linking up with other borough-wide organisations to defend local public services, and to support each other’s campaigns.

Throughout the year we backed the Defend Haringey’s Health Services coalition’s efforts, in particular their contribution to the mass campaign and 5,000-strong demonstration against threats to the casualty department of the Whittington Hospital – this forced the Minister for Health to intervene and scrap the current ‘review’ of services. The HFRA Vulnerable Groups officer also worked hard all year to support the users of social services facilities facing cuts, including organising a remarkable 100-strong ‘Carers Speak Out’ meeting at election time.

We and the Haringey Forum for Older People continued to publicise the lack of action to implement the new ‘community toilets’ scheme we’d been lobbying for, following which the Council finally launched a pilot scheme.

e. Housing We continued to support tenants’ & leaseholders’ issues (regarding Council and Housing Associations) when asked to, and to support them in taking up these matters through the various official channels. In particular we have actively supported tenants of four sheltered housing schemes who have been opposing and protesting against the Council’s relocation plans. We’ve worked with other boroughs’ tenants/leaseholders organisations through the London Tenants Federation.

Regarding housing planning policies, we have continued to express concern at new high-density and poor quality schemes, the low % of affordable and social housing, the dearth of family-sized accommodation, and the need for protection and expansion of community facilities of all kinds in local neighbourhoods.

f. Heritage & Conservation The HFRA Heritage and Conservation officer has worked very hard to raise the profile of heritage issues, including organising a series of very successful public walks and talks last summer (and this) for the Tottenham Civic Society. She initiated a meeting of the borough’s Conservation Advisory Committees which has led to a joint borough-wide network.

g. Long-term Sustainability Over the last 12 months the Sustainable Haringey network, which we actively support, has continued to develop as an important and highly-influential residents organisation. The network has promoted a range of practical measures and policies which are needed to make our society sustainable and prevent dangerous climate change. Their activities include ‘Sustainability Month’ events each June, the ‘Growing In Haringey’ network’s promotion of increased food production throughout Haringey, lobbying for mass insulation schemes, setting up neighbourhood-based ‘ecoteams’, and supporting local green networks in Muswell Hill, Finsbury Pk, Crouch End, S. Tottenham and Highgate. HFRA officers help convene the SH Sustainable Transport, Waste and Communications groups.

h. Local and National Elections The Federation encouraged residents to speak out with their views during the 2010 elections. We organised a special meeting for Tottenham RAs, and a powerful ‘speak out’ meeting for Haringey’s carers. We issued a Residents Questionnaire to all candidates and publicised their responses to the 42 questions in order to hold them to their promises and commitments.

i. Other issues Other key concerns and activities which have cropped up during the past year include:

- community events Organising our own events is a positive strength of local RAs. In 2009 we successfully encouraged groups to hold local street parties, ‘Big Lunch’ events and supported park festivals.

- consultation processes We’ve continued to promote effective consultation, engagement and empowerment of residents generally.

- partnership-working We’ve continued to actively promote partnership-working among Haringey’s community organisations. Examples include the Defend Haringey’s Health Services Coalition, the Sustainable Haringey network, the new planning policies network, and an emerging network around defending public services. We maintain our good links with Friends of Parks Forum, Forum for Older People, Trades Union Council, Defend Council Housing, and Wards Corner Community Coalition.

Finances We received a ‘Grassroots’ grant for 2009-11 (total £4,000) for our basic running costs.

Participation and support There are now 175 [169 last year] local residents associations on our mailing list, and 146 [144 last year] RAs have now either attended Federation meetings or sent in apologies since 2001 – around 38 in the last year. Attendance has remained good, averaging around 9 [10] RAs attending and 13 [12] RAs sending in apologies. However we still need to attract more RAs who’ve not attended before, more young people, a more diverse mix of ethnic backgrounds, and more RAs from Council and Housing Association blocks. There are now 126 [115 last year] RAs on our internal e-mail info-list.

Publicity We have not felt the need to promote the Federation itself as much as previously partly due to a sense of having successfully established ourselves, but mainly due to a positive commitment to partnership-working, and affiliation to other ‘single issue’ organisations and campaigns. We also encourage RAs in various parts of the borough to form their own joint networks and campaigns.

We have just re-issued our ‘Community Action’ newspaper, with over 4,000 distributed. The ‘What’s New’ page of rolling news on our website is a valuable public source for updates, but the site needs to be publicised more. We issue regular email bulletins/updates/info hoping that RAs will forward the relevant info to their own members. Stalls at many public events have been useful and enjoyable.

We mustn’t get complacent, and should endeavour to keep up a high public profile in order to encourage RAs to link up – and to encourage everyone in Haringey to support RAs, get actively involved or set up their own.

Potential in coming year To make the kind of long-lasting improvements we’d all like to see, RAs need to share information and experiences, combine forces and build up our influence. An effective and empowering borough-wide framework to do this now exists. However, the Federation could achieve much more with greater active involvement and a consistent focus on taking up the key issues of concern.

Adopted at AGM, May 2010