Haringey Residents’ Federation Annual Report 2014-5

From  Haringey Federation of Residents Associations    www.haringeyresidents.org
Contact HFRA <info@haringeyresidents.org>

Haringey’s Residents Federation held a successful Annual General Meeting on Tuesday 16 June. The meeting adopted an Annual Report from 2014-5 – enclosed below for your information.

Please note that we are aiming to organise a conference on planning and development, probably in the autumn – an important issue affecting all neighbourhoods throughout Haringey.

Haringey Federation of Residents Associations
Annual Report 2014-15
[April 2014- March 2015]

During the last 12 months the Federation has continued to inform and support local RAs, speak out and take action around a range of residents’ issues, and support other residents’ networks and alliances around specific concerns.

Supporting local RAs and promoting their concerns
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. At our regular general meetings we’ve continued to exchange a wide range of local reports, 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, usually in partnership with other networks and alliances.

Key concerns
These include:

a. Planning and Development

Local planning controversies continue as always around the borough. We informed local RAs on these issues and supported lobbying, protests and networking over planning issues and policies (including over this year’s controversial draft Haringey Local Plan): eg supporting heritage and conservation, opposing the growing threat of demolitions of viable homes or businesses, opposing over-development, high-density housing and loss of facilities, supporting efforts to protect green spaces, and to develop ‘Community Plans’ for contested sites. In particular, throughout the year we supported the Our Tottenham network of over 55 local groups promoting ‘regeneration by and for the community’ in contrast to many of the plans from the Council and property developers.

b. Green Open Spaces
We’ve continued to support the Haringey Friends of Parks Forum to protect promote and improve green spaces, and to defend the service from cuts or privatisation. We supported the Forum’s continued promotion of Haringey’s river, The Moselle, reprinting the special walk Guide.

c. Street Scene and Living Streets
As always, we support RAs seeking traffic calming, safer streets and ‘living streets’ – the Council finally agreed to implement our long-held goal of a borough-wide 20mph ‘default’ speed limit for all residential streets. We liaised with the Council over keyholders and issues relating to community noticeboards throughout the borough.

d. Housing
We encourage local RAs to respond to their members’ housing issues, and we have supported a number of lobbies and protests over housing rights throughout the year, including those called by the Haringey Defend Council Housing campaign (HDCH). Throughout the year HDCH conducted a major campaign and public meetings to defend residents of many Council estates throughout the borough facing shocking proposals for demolitions and profit-led, top-down ‘redevelopment’. We are also concerned about the growing local housing crisis with less and less affordable housing available for social or private rent, especially in the light of recent serious cuts to housing benefits.

e. Defending local public services and opposing cuts 
The Government’s continued underfunding for vital local front-line public services, including Council services, led to the Council threatening £70m further cuts. We supported the many user-led protest campaigns to defend facilities, and the lobbying and mass demonstration organised by the Haringey Alliance for Public Services

f. Heritage & Conservation

Our Heritage and Conservation officer has continued to raise the profile of heritage issues, including organising another series of very successful public walks and talks for the Tottenham Civic Society. We designed and published a new Ally Pally to Bruce Castle Walk Guide.

g. Long-term Sustainability
We continued our support for the Sustainable Haringey network which has been promoting a range of practical measures and policies which are needed to make our society sustainable and prevent dangerous climate change. This includes promoting recycling/re-use, and also the Council’s ’40:20’ initiative.

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

–  supporting community events (eg street parties)
–  encouraging participation in relevant consultation and promoting effective consultation, engagement and empowerment of residents generally (including a recent meeting with the Council’s new Consultation Co-ordinator).
–  actively promoting partnership-working among Haringey’s community organisations. HFRA is affiliated to the Defend Haringey’s Health Services coalition, the Sustainable Haringey network, the Haringey Alliance for Public Services, and the Our Tottenham network – and supports the Friends of Parks Forum and the Haringey Defend Council Housing campaign, and has links with the Haringey Trades Union Council.

We have built up a reasonably healthy bank balance of £2,932 (see treasurer’s report).

Participation and support
There are now 185 [183 last year] local Residents Associations on our contacts list, and 152 [151 last year] RAs have now either attended Federation meetings or sent in apologies since 2001 – around 19 [24] over the last year. Attendance has remained fairly good, averaging around 7 [7] RAs attending and 6 [7] RAs sending in apologies. However we held only 3 meeting, and 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 135 [133 last year] RAs on our internal e-mail info-list. Note: We regret the loss of one of the most influential RAs – West Green RA – now sadly dissolved after 30 years of activity.

We’ve not felt the need to promote the Federation itself as much as in some previous years mainly due to a positive commitment to partnership-working, affiliation to other ‘single issue’ organisations and campaigns, and more localised networking in areas around Haringey.  We 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.

We note that some RAs are embracing social media networking to great effect (eg harringayonline, noelparknet, bowesandbounds..). We could do more with our own social media. The HFRA website’s ‘What’s New’ page of occasional news and the site as a whole needs to be updated, upgraded and publicised much more. We issue regular email updates/info hoping that RAs will forward the relevant info to their own members. We still have hundreds of copies of our full-colour ‘Community Action’ leaflet to encourage and inspire residents throughout the borough to take action in their neighbourhoods and estates.

Potential in coming year
To make the kind of long-lasting improvements we’d all like to see, to build up community spirit and activities throughout the borough, or to defend vital public services and facilities under threat, RAs need to share information and experiences, combine forces and build up our influence – as well as partnering with other community groups. The Federation continues to provide an effective and empowering borough-wide framework to do this, and to generally support and encourage residents. However, the Federation could achieve much more with greater active involvement & consistent focus on taking up the key issues of concern.

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