MUSWELL HILL AND FORTIS GREEN ASSOCIATION
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Monday 14th May 2018
This is our 70th Annual General Meeting and my 18th as your chairman.
Yet another amazing year, full of challenges and successes. A year when yet again each member of your committee has worked very hard to represent you, and continued to protect and improve the quality of life in Muswell Hill, Fortis Green and Alexandra wards. A special welcome to our new members.
This year I wish to start with two outstanding events:
Firstly, the “Odd one out” competition last summer, was organised by committee member Zoe Norfolk. 30 of our corporate shop keeper members, agreed to hide an unusual item in their shop window for the duration of the school holidays and local children tried to identify these items. A large number of children participated and there were 40 winners, who each received a free ticket to the Everyman Cinema. The event resulted in a lot of positive publicity for the Association. Thank you Zoe for undertaking this huge task and carrying it out so well.
The second event was the Very Merry Muswell festival in December at St James’s Square. We participated as usual with a stall and decided to run a tombola. We were the busiest stall and raised over £450 for the Muswell Hill Soup Kitchen.
I wish to thank Zoe Norfolk again for coming up with the idea, collecting prizes from many shops and individuals and running the stall with members of the committee.
We will of course be there again this winter.
Let us turn to our Newsletter.
As you might have noticed, we have simplified and modernised the header, which now gives more prominence to our website. Our editor Christine Morris continues to produce edition after edition of extremely high standard Newsletters. Christine regularly has to talk to contributors, either chasing them or asking them to change or shorten what they have written. She is very keen to include photos whenever possible.
We feature profiles of individual members as well as corporate members and list events and meetings of local groups. I just want to read you one comment: “Excellent publication, well written, great photos, a credit to all concerned.”
Most of the Newsletters are sent out by e-mail, but many are delivered to your door. I wish to thank all 22 deliverers for going house to house every two months.
We send out 340 copies by e-mail, 178 by hand and 19 by post. In addition we distribute the Newsletter to the two Libraries, to Cafes and pubs.
If a piece of important news reaches us after the Newsletter has gone to print, we send out an e-mail Update with the information.
Next meetings. Last June we joined the Friends of Parkland Walk for a conducted walk from Highgate.
Last October we have been given special permission for two groups of our members to visit the Theatre at Alexandra Palace to see what progress has been made in rebuilding the Theatre.
In November we were invited to an evening of wine tasting at Majestic Wine. Surprisingly, this event was not very popular, which is strange as members of the staff went out of their way offering us several wines to taste, educating us on the quality of the wine and giving us tasting notes.
The March meeting was one of our best. Muswell Health held taster sessions with eight of their therapists and gave us three short talks on what they do. The event was well attended and some of the several non-members present have already joined the Association. Thank you George for arranging this.
In April we had one of our most successful meetings, with 60 people (most of them non-members) attending, to hear representatives of our local police teams. I arranged this meeting to discuss increasing level of crime, especially in Muswell Hill. The Q. and A. session was lively and the questions focused mainly on the need to cut down on violent muggings by and on teenagers and to safe-guard children when going to and from school.
Next month we have arranged a visit to the Highgate Cemetery and details are published in our Newsletter. Priority will be given to members as we have an allocation of only 22 places.
We are always looking for ideas for meetings or outings so please let us have your suggestions.
Finally I would like to thank the John Baird pub for hosting us tonight. We will have a Thai buffet at the end of this meeting as well as a special cake to celebrate our 70th birthday.
Alexandra Palace and Park.
Duncan Neill is our representative on the Alexandra Palace Statutory Advisory Committee, which meets four times a year. He was recently appointed to the Palace and Park Charitable Trust Board, where he will use his commercial experience to help shape the future of this landmark. He reports that the main development at the Palace is the ongoing work in the East wing.
There has been great progress with the work in restoring the Theatre, the Foyer,
the North East Tower and the East Court. There is no further news regarding the funding of the restoration of the BBC studios.
The theatre is due to open in November, after 80 years, and the programme will include a family Christmas show, classical music and jazz, comedy and much more.
The Association made a donation towards the restoration fund.
Our membership secretary, Alex Vincenti cannot be with us this evening.
We have a total of 775 members which includes 74 corporate members. This compares with 691 members and 16 corporate members just four years ago. Many of the corporate members have joined thanks to Zoe Norfolk’s campaign, asking them to take part in the Odd one out competition, and the efforts of George Danker our publicity and events officer.
Members might not realise that apart from holding up to date membership records, Alex also writes to new members, and responds to membership queries, prepares the Newsletter distribution every two months, negotiates our insurance, sends out regular e-mail Updates to inform members of upcoming events, and works with the treasurer. Since the beginning of this month he also has to work within the new data protection law and has to consider how it will affect us and what changes will have to be made.
Our planning officer, Nick Barr reviewed 480 applications and made 22 objections. This represents a decrease of 140 from last year and a reduction of 50% in the number of objections. This is consistent with the downturn in the housing market, political uncertainty and the increase in Stamp Duty thresholds, among other things.
Since last year, Nick, with the Crossover Group, has tried to arrange a second meeting with the Council’s highways department, to discuss the consequences of granting consent to dropped curbs, and front garden parking, but despite a number of e-mails and reminders there has not been a substantive response so far.
We have become aware recently of interested parties attempting to use the Association for potentially political purposes. Nick reminds members that we are an a-political organisation and will not be drawn into anything that may be construed as supporting any political agenda.
The following are a few matters of special interest:
Land at the rear of Yew Tree Close. After two applications were refused on Appeal, a third application to build 4 houses was granted consent. There are threats of legal action by interested parties.
103, Alexandra Road. This is a long running matter, where consent was granted for a crossover and front garden parking. The development took place ignoring the request by the Council to install a turntable. Haringey is yet to issue enforcement proceedings.
76 Woodland Gardens. A proposal to demolish an Edwardian villa and replace it with a brutalistic new dwelling, attracted 78 objections and has been referred to the Planning Committee. The property is located in an area which was due to be made a conservation area. The Woodside Conservation Area Action Group wishes to resurrect the process. In the meantime there have been a number of inappropriate applications which unfortunately received consent, and 76 Woodland Gardens is a case in point. We support the aims of the Action Group.
Conservation Area Advisory Committee.
John Crompton continues to be our representative on CAAC.
An application was submitted to redevelop the single storey shops opposite
Sainsbury’s to provide 6 flats with shops below. The application, which has generated a lot of interest, is due to be considered by the Council’s planning sub-committee in June. It has to be said that it has been a textbook example of how NOT to go about such an application. The design is a particular concern. There was no attempt by the developer to engage with the local community and so far they have not responded to the points of concern raised by several hundreds of residents.
We had some new shops and restaurants opening last year, but unfortunately also some closures. Traders face increasing rent and business rates on the one hand and greater use of the internet on the other. Happily for the time being we remain one of the very few town centres without a Tesco Express, KFC or McDonald’s.
The post office has now reopened after a major refit. We are lucky that the same purpose built Post Office building has been retained.
We have been disappointed to see the gradual erosion of the Ernest Dene care home in Donovan Avenue. It was ideally situated enabling residents to continue to live in Muswell Hill and maintain social and support networks, and visit local GP-s. The Council has now granted permission for change of use to flats.
The past year has seen several large housing developments coming to fruition, and we welcome new members from the Pinnacle and Woodside Square.
As reported last year, the United Reform Church had put Tetherdown Hall up for sale.
It will become a six-day a week nursery, open for 12 hours a day and will open in the Autumn. Unfortunately, no planning application was needed as the use is within that contained in the existing use class.
The Council’s local plan came into force this year and the Mayor has launched his draft London Plan. Haringey will be required to provide an additional 2000 housing units within 10 years. The government is also looking to allow taller buildings and higher densities, which will be quite a challenge to town centres like Muswell Hill.
We can report some good news as a result of our lobbying the Council for many months. A new pedestrian phase now enables people to cross safely on Fortis Green at its junction with Tetherdown. At the same time double yellow lines have at long last been painted nearby, following the removal of the redundant disabled bay, enabling traffic and especially buses to move freely and not having to hold up traffic every few minutes. We have also successfully lobbied for a pedestrian crossing on Priory Road near its junction with Redston Road.
We were concerned about people finding they could not use electric car charging points, the Council is now rolling out new machines to solve this problem.
We are in touch with the Council about the difficulties drivers face when paying for parking if they cannot use a mobile phone and the lack of availability of shops where people can pay. Finally, we noticed that the bus lane on Muswell Hill was retimed to operate 24 hours a day, rather than at only certain times of the day, but without publicity or warning. We asked the Council to put up notices and this has now been done. We publicised this in our Newsletter to warn residents.
Environmental issues, green sites, flower beds, pocket parks, graffiti.
Unfortunately Brian Livingston cannot be with us this evening. This is his report.
We continue to plant and look after the flower boxes around the roundabout. We are grateful to Sunshine Gardens for the discount on the flowers, to Avid Gardener for helping with the planting and to members of the Association who have made donations towards the cost of flowers, especially as unfortunately many plants are often stolen.
Our member Pauline Hudson continues to maintain and plant flowers in the water trough opposite the Library. Thanks are owed to NatWest, Barclays, KFH and Hamptons who keep an eye on the boxes and water them regularly, and Mossy Well who maintain the flower beds and boxes along their border, and for the use of their water tap.
The Colney Hatch Lane beds are now well established and Lucy, Brian John Crompton and I continue to maintain, weed, prune and dig the beds every few months. Please let me know if you are able and willing to help us.
The Council regularly cuts the grass and the timber edging will be replaced in the next few weeks by a local organisation, at a special low price.
We continue to work with the Parks Department and Veolia to improve the green spaces and pocket parks. We regularly report items such as potholes, graffiti, blocked gullies, damaged street furniture, faulty street lights, broken paving, by phone or via the Council website, as the Neighbourhood Action Team has been disbanded.
Bill Jago and Jack Whitehead continue their weekly inspection, cleaning and reporting graffiti and flyposting around the Broadway, for which we are grateful.
We have been meeting Council officials to try to stop rubbish dumping and overflowing bins which are the properties of Homes for Haringey in Queens Avenue, which is one of the dirtiest streets in Muswell Hill. After the meeting the Council put up anti-dumping signs and promised to provide better storage facilities for the bins.
There has been some improvement, but the problem has not yet been solved.
We report issues arising at the car park behind the Everyman, to the managing agent, such as faulty lights, loose paving slabs and blocked gullies.
Public Relations and Events.
George Danker joined our committee last year as our publicity and events officer.
He has made great strides in publicizing our activities to the press, keeping them up to date. He is in regular touch with the Muswell Flyer and the Ham & High, feeding them with stories, such as the Odd one out competition, cashless parking, our meetings, and many others.
He has taken on the coordination of our participation at the Midsummer Muswell summer and the Very Merry Muswell winter stalls, working closely with committee member Zoe Norfolk.
He worked with Brian Livingstone on trying to solve the problem of rubbish and waste in Queens Avenue and contacted the Council, raising this issue several times.
George is also involved with the publicity relating to the development of No 1 Fortis Green next to the cinema, and is our spokesman with local residents. He has also been in touch with the managing agents of the Everyman car park about various operational matters, such as broken ticket machines, and is awaiting their report. George is an asset to the committee and considerably reduces the average age of its members!
Tony Wells manages our website. The Google statistics show steady activity over the year with a slight increase on the previous year. Two thirds of the users are from Britain and the rest from over fifty different Countries.
A selection of new images is added periodically, for example photographs of green spaces and flower boxes.
We list our corporate members with their Logos and give contact details of local organisations. You can also read the history of the Association.
A redesign to modernise the site is being considered by George at the moment. Please look at our website and let us have your comments.
Zoe Norfolk is always full of fantastic ideas, like the tombola at the Christmas Fair.
Following the successful Odd one out competition last year, we decided to repeat it this summer and Zoe is already going round the shops canvassing for support.
She is also planning to run a photo competition, and we are at the moment discussing details and what the prizes for the winners will be.
She is working with George on our stall at the Midsummer Muswell event in June.
Due to Zoe Norfolk’s hard work, our social media presence has grown significantly and we will capitalise on this in the future. People are starting to understand that they can interact with us on line and our page is now well established with local accounts, both residents and businesses, tagging us and engaging with our page.
We currently have 787 followers. A good example is a recent post about moped theft which reached 1720 people and many sharing the article.
On a weekly basis Zoe shares photographs she has posted on the Instagram account which has 740 followers and growing. It is a great way to engage with the local community.
The twitter account is manged by Duncan Neill, who coordinates with other channels. We currently have 650 followers.
Pat Lott is looking after our Board. She is our contact for information being displayed. Unfortunately the board has been vandalised at least twice.
Shop front Survey Archive.
Tony Wells with the help of Jacqueline Servat takes photos of new shops which are added to our archives and are also available on the website.
I say this every year, but it is true!! I really do not know what we would do without Sandra Howell. Her minutes are accurate and comprehensive and despite two hours of sometimes heated deliberations, she never gets anything wrong. As always, thank you Sandra for your invaluable contribution to the working of the committee.
In case you were not aware, John Crompton also acts as our Hon.Sec. He is a point of contact with bodies which do not fall under the remit of other committee members and advises committee members on governance issues.
Hugh Garnsworthy kindly agreed to continue as our Independent Examiner.
Thank you Hugh for making sure that our accounts are in order.
Finally, as you have heard, we cover a huge number of subjects and give up a lot of our free time for the community. If you can spare some time and are willing to help with, for example membership matters, finding speakers for meetings, or the occasional maintenance of the Colney Hatch Lane beds, please talk to me or George later.