Time to set up a residents’ association?
by Marianne Kavanagh
What’s happening? Traffic and planning proposals are everywhere. There’s the new design of Townley Road junction, the consultation on parking outside local shops, the cycling strategy, the borough-wide 20mph speed limit, new housing on the S. G. Smith site, and the re-development of Dulwich Hospital into a health clinic and school.
You can end up, as a local resident, staring with dismay at yet another consultation document and wondering what it all means. Or, worse, you might not even find out about what’s happening until it’s way too late.
So what can you do? You can stay glued 24/7 to Southwark Council’s website in case they post up something interesting. Or you can get together with your neighbours and form a residents’ association.
Following the storm of protest over the plans for the Townley Road junction, Dovercourt Road and Woodwarde Road have just done this. ‘The residents’ association acts as a sort of postbox,’ says Barbara Richardson, co-chair of the Dovercourt Road (north) RA, ‘so that Southwark Council can tell us about plans that directly affect us.’
‘You still respond to consultations from the Council as individual residents,’ says Sue Badman of the long-established Turney Road Residents’ Association. ‘But you can join together and come up with a group response if you feel strongly about a particular issue.’
So how do you set up a residents’ association?
- Post a note through everyone’s door, asking if they’re interested. Stress that it doesn’t cost anything to join, that you need to meet only once a year, and that the main point is to be able to receive information about planning and traffic issues.
- Set up a meeting. Ask everyone who comes to give you their names and contact details (emails are best, as long as you remember to blind-copy, or bcc, any information you send out so that contact details remain private).
- Ask for everyone’s help to knock on the doors of people who haven’t yet signed up. (To be recognised by the Dulwich Estate (if your road is on the Estate), you need at least 75% of householders on board. Southwark Council doesn’t set a percentage, and the Dulwich Society, as a voluntary local amenity society, just needs to be informed.)
- Once you’ve got all the names and emails/addresses:
- send everyone a copy of the constitution (you can get a template from the Turney Road website at http://goo.gl/D3apWa )
- call your first Annual General Meeting (AGM)
- at the AGM, elect a chair (who runs the meeting), a secretary (who notes down what’s said), and a treasurer (who probably won’t have anything to do, because no money is involved), make a note of who was there, and write down what was discussed
- email Southwark Council email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org (and the Dulwich Estate’s email@example.com and the Dulwich Society firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to) to tell them that you are now a residents’ association, and would like to be informed in future of all issues that might affect your road
- Go out and celebrate!
PS This will not stop planners/the Council trying to sneak decisions past you when you’re not looking. But at least, from now on, you have every right to be very, very cross if they try.
Added: 23/7/2015 Sue Badman