ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Thursday, 16th May
This is our 71st Annual General Meeting and my 19th as your Chairman.
We have had another action packed and exciting year and as usual there is a lot to report.
First of all I wish to welcome our new members and at the same time to extend a special thank you to six of our members who came forward to help. More later.
Six times a year, Christine manages to produce an outstanding Newsletter of a very high standard. By the time you read your copy, Christine has been working on it for weeks, chasing contributors, meeting me to discuss which articles should be included, how to lay out the pages, filling in gaps, and searching for the best photos.
On the back page, we have now started a new series, looking back at our past history and quoting from early Newsletters.
Also, I wonder how many of you have noticed the flower at the top right of the front page, which varies from season to season.
We are very fortunate to have Christine as our editor.
In June we arranged a conducted tour of Highgate Cemetery. 21 members were shown round parts of the lesser known West side by a knowledgeable and engaging guide. Afterwards, we were allowed to visit the East side as well. The Cemetery opened in 1839 and 170,000 people are buried there. It was a fascinating insight into a part of Highgate which was not familiar to most of us.
In October Michael Burman talked to us about the history and development of the Northern Line, with amazing slides of the stations, and contemporary maps. The talk included reference to sections of the line which had closed, and plans to extend the line that never materialised. We had over 70 people attending, one of our largest ever audiences.
In November cinema historian Jeremy Buck told us about the history of the cinemas in Muswell Hill and in particular the Odeon, which opened in 1936 and is a grade II* listed art deco building. The talk was illustrated with a selection of images and the Pathe Newsreel of the opening night. Our Association led a campaign in the 1980s for the building to be given listed status when it was under threat of closure.
In March we visited Lauderdale House in Highgate and were given an outstanding conducted tour of the building and the surrounding gardens by one of the Trustees.
In April Denis Lynch of Sunshine Gardens gave us a talk with excellent slides. He told us about jobs to do in the garden and about ponds and grass, with Spring in mind. He also brought some lovely plants with him.
We also had a short presentation by the Muswell Hill Sustainability Group, which started life at one of our meetings eleven years ago.
This evening we have decided to do the catering ourselves and I want to thank Sandra, George and other members of the committee, who found, booked and set up this room, directed you here, purchased and prepared the food and drinks.
On Sunday the 9th of June we will have a conducted tour of Alexandra Park.
We are always looking for suggestions for our talks and walks, so if you have any ideas, come and talk to me, or George.
Alex Vincenti has been our membership secretary for 5 years, but resigned for personal reasons in December last year. Alex has completely changed the nature of this job, introducing a new membership system, a new way of reporting membership statistics and starting a membership column in the Newsletter. He also redesigned our application form. He looked after our insurance, which is now done by our treasurer, ran our stalls, which is now done by George Danker, and helped with the Notice Board, repairing it periodically.
Having reorganised the duties of the membership secretary, I am delighted that Loretta Mitchell agreed to take on the task and she has already contacted 180 members who have still not adjusted their Standing Orders from £8 to £10, most promising to make the necessary adjustment with their banks. Unfortunately, many have not yet done so, and will have to be contacted again.
Loretta also sends out welcome letters to all new members and answers membership queries. Due to the new data protection laws, she also has to check if new members are willing to be mentioned in our Newsletter.
Our planning officer, Nick Barr, has reviewed 326 planning applications and made 17 objections. This represents a decrease since last year and continues a downward trend on the previous two years. The decrease is consistent with the downturn of the housing market and economic uncertainties.
Nick will continue to object to the creation of car parking at the expense of front gardens.
The following are a couple of matters of interest:
76, Woodland Gardens. This was mentioned in Nick’s report last year. Since August 2017 there have been several separate applications, concerning the demolition of the existing Edwardian house and the erection of a modern house, not in keeping with the surrounding area. The first was withdrawn, the second was refused and the third was recently submitted and yet again we objected, as the application does little to address the impact and design concerns.
Risborough Close, Muswell Hill Place. This block of flats is in a prominent position and has been the subject of applications to create accommodation on the current roof space, which is a concern. One of the least sympathetic of the two applications was withdrawn. We have objected on several grounds, in particular against the creation of six car parking spaces on what is currently a grassed amenity area, and the reduction in both pedestrian and highway safety, and loss of parking spaces for others.
Conservation Area Advisory Board.
John Crompton continues to be our representative on the Board. This important group is chaired by John and they are always looking for volunteers, so if you are interested, speak to him.
During the past year we have seen a number of shop and restaurant opening and closing. Rents and business rates are the main concern, but some restaurants close due to decisions taken in head office, without considering the local situation.
We are aware that there is a national debate about the future of town centres. Fortunately, we are not dominated by large department stores. In many ways we are ahead of the game: for example, we have an active residents’ association keeping an eye on things in our area, we already have a residential population living above shops, which is only talked about elsewhere, we have lovely flower beds and pocket parks.
We have seen several large developments completed (Raglan House, the old police station and the largest being where we are meeting this evening). The 80 new homes on the Coppetts Wood site will be the next major project.
In addition, an application was approved to extend upwards the John Baird pub, to provide 7 flats. Another unsatisfactory scheme, to which we strongly objected was, to extend the former Woolworth building to provide 9 flats. However, the most controversial application is the proposed redevelopment of the single storey shops in Fortis Green Road, to build 6 flats above. Despite repeated requests by our Association the applicant has not provided enough information and after further repeated request by us, the applicant held a public meeting, which was well attended.
The new application was finally revealed a few weeks ago and is open to comments on the Council website. The closing date is the 24th May.
You might be interested to hear that the Mayor has launched the new draft London Plan. In due course Haringey will be publishing its own local plan, in which it will have to show how it will ensure the provision of an additional 2000 housing units a year for ten years.
Environmental issues, green sites, flower beds, graffiti.
We were delighted when our bid for funding was successful and we were awarded £500 for plants for our flower boxes and beds. We have continued to maintain the flower boxes around the roundabout and are grateful to members who have made donations towards the cost of flowers.
Our environmental officer Brian Livingston would like to thank Sunshine Gardens for the discount on the cost of flowers, member Tessa Kulik for helping with the planting and watering, and others who removed rubbish when passing by, as well as the local shops who help with watering and keeping an eye on the boxes outside their premises. Unfortunately, the box outside Mossy Well has disappeared.
Thanks are also due to Pauline Hudson who has continued to manage the planting and maintenance of the trough opposite the Library. The display of daffodils was particularly impressive this year.
The Colney Hatch Lane beds are now well established and we often receive nice comments from passers by. We have a regular team of members, including Lucy Haynes, Roz Abrams, Georgia Pairtrie, Brian and me, who continue to give an hour or two of our time every few months to carry out weeding, pruning and other jobs. We are also helped by Mark of the Avid Gardener and Haringey Parks Department who cut the grass regularly.
Brian and Georgia met members of the Parks Department who agreed to undertake pruning and fund new shrubs in the pocket park opposite the John Baird pub. At the same time, Veoila agreed to provide new bins and improve cleaning. In March, in the pouring rain, Brian, Georgia and two Haringey gardeners planted 20 shrubs.
Generally, we have a good relationship with both Veolia and the Parks Department and we report issues to them. The aim is to continue to improve all the green spaces in our area.
Our graffiti team of Jack Whitehead and Bill Jago continue to undertake weekly inspection and cleaning up graffiti and reporting to the Council anything they cannot clean. For example, our Notice Board was sprayed with blue paint only a couple of weeks ago.
Brian also reports to the Council blocked gullies, damaged street furniture or paving.
Please note that anybody can report these problems by phone, on the Council website, or the mobile phone App.
The Queens Avenue refuse situation continues to be a problem mainly because of the properties of Homes for Haringey, which has large numbers of transient residents and insufficient storage for the large bins, causing overflow of rubbish onto the pavement. Since we started this project, the tipping opposite the Library has greatly reduced. In fact, a meeting with the Council took place only last week.
Brian also reports to the managing agents rubbish dumping, graffiti, faulty lights and other matters at St James Square and the car park behind the cinema. In addition, we get involved in such items as fly posting in phone boxes, maintenance of footpaths and tree replacement.
Considering that Brian has a full time job, I really do not know how he manages to deal with all this.
Alexandra Palace and Park.
Duncan Neill represents us on the Consultative and Advisory committees, which meet four times a year. He was also appointed to the Alexandra Palace and Park Charitable Trust Board.
2018 was a momentous year for the Palace and the Park. The theatre reopened after 80 years and the opening programme of concerts and shows was well received by both local residents and visitors from further afield. We are very lucky to have such a well-equipped theatre and are looking forward to a varied and exciting range of productions over the coming years.
Apart from the theatre we have seen the opening of the East Court, but unfortunately the restoration of the historic BBC studios has been put on hold and we are keeping a close eye on developments there.
The number of events has continued to grow, including the Kaleidoscope Festival last summer, and the number of complaints about noise was relatively low, 30 in 12 months.
No doubt, many of you will be concerned about a recent proposal to introduce car parking charges at the Palace and Park grounds. The thinking behind this is that it would create new revenue and would help improve the safety standards of the parking areas; but we need to keep in mind the potential impact on local street parking. We will keep you informed as and when this proposal develops further.
We encourage you, our members, to get in touch with Duncan, who is here tonight, either to raise questions or to provide feedback.
Our publicity officer, George Danker, has worked very hard to keep our Association in the public eye and to communicate with our members.
We now have a regular page in the Muswell Flyer, which is well read in our area and is very useful in spreading our latest news and events.
George sends out regular messages to members, which have included information on important planning applications, a January membership offer to non-members, and encouraging members to fill in the Council’s Survey on where money should be spent. We suggested that accessibility upgrades to our Library would be an excellent candidate.
We have started publicising details of meetings with the police, as many members were not aware of these. George helped to organise the event held by the police at Hornsey Town Hall where people could discuss the latest crime wave in our area.
George is involved in planning all our meetings and the stalls at Midsummer Muswell and A Very Merry Muswell events.
He keeps up the pressure on the Council’s waste management team about rubbish and fly-tipping, particularly in Queens Avenue. He informed members on how to report fly-tipping, supported our MP and Councillors in their efforts to campaign against the planned closure of the Muswell Hill Delivery Office, informed members about the latest developments on Pinkham Way, and asked members to vote for us at Waitrose, as we were chosen as one of the three Community Matters beneficiaries last month. The money we expect to receive will help with the funding of this AGM. Finally, George has spent a lot of time working on the Mailchimp membership mailing list, which now gives us an accurate database of members’ details.
We extend our warmest thanks to him for all his hard and conscientious work.
Chris Barker, our transport officer, raised the issue of parking on Sundays in Muswell Hill Broadway, which was causing congestion, especially for buses. The Council agreed and painted double yellow lines in parts of the Colney Hatch Lane end of the Broadway. We also informed members that bus route 603 only operates on school days.
We have been involved in a campaign for a small hopper bus route hopefully to establish a link between Muswell Hill, Highgate and Hampstead.
We notified members about the ultra-low emission zone in Central London, which has now come into force, and about proposed charges for drivers when parking in Alexandra Palace. We campaigned against curtailing the 134 bus route, but unfortunately this will now go ahead. We have asked for better lighting at local zebra crossings and supported a petition for a new crossing near the Clissold Arms.
Our website is well established and includes the latest news on our Events and Projects page. Tony Wells continues to update, on a regular basis, our image gallery of today and yesteryear, the history of the Association, and links to our corporate members and local groups.
The Google statistics show a 20% increase of activity over the year. Over half of the users are from Britain and the rest are from almost eighty different countries.
Shop Front Photo archive.
Tony Wells continues to take photos of all new shops in our shopping centre and he keeps it up to date in digital format. A selection of new images is added periodically to the Website Gallery. Printed photos are kept in binders for viewing at our stalls and the latest one is here today. This is of historical importance, as shops come and go on a regular basis. In addition, photos taken by Tony, Jacqueline and Zoe of the various green sites and flower boxes are shown on the Website.
We also display some Newsletters as examples of the activities of the Association.
Odd One Out competition.
This was the second year that Zoe Norfolk organised this competition. 28 shops participated, displaying an item in their window; 71 children took part with 36 of them getting the answers correct. Each winner was given a free ticket to the Everyman cinema.
Due to the success of the competition, we are repeating it this summer.
Thank you Zoe for running this event again.
As usual we had a stand at this event. Our location was ideal and our stall looked attractive with branded freebies on offer. We talked to many local residents who had not heard about us before and were able to pick up a number of new members.
Unfortunately, this event is not taking place this year.
Very Merry Muswell.
Zoe ran a tombola at the stall and we raised £210 for local charity, Wave. George arranged for the cast of the Jacksons Lane Christmas Show to switch on the Christmas lights and also helped the Friends of St James Square with ideas and planning. We will take part again this winter.
In celebration of our 70th birthday we held a photo competition, again organised by Zoe, via Facebook, entitled “Views of Muswell Hill”. After shortlisting six entries, which were all of a very high standard, the winner with 315 votes received a print of his winning entry.
After four years, Pat Lott decided that she could not continue looking after the board, due to arthritis in her hands. She has done a very good job in collecting and displaying posters on a regular basis: thank you, Pat. We have also experienced technical problems with the Board, which have now been resolved. I am very pleased to tell you that committee member Zoe [who else?!] has agreed to take on this job. We have decided that in future the Board should mainly be used to promote the Association, leaving limited space for charities and a few other organisations.
Anybody approaching us in future wanting to display their events, will be told by Zoe that we are happy to promote them on social media instead.
Facebook and Instagram.
Zoe continues to grow our profile on both these platforms. We have well over 1,000 followers on each with high engagement levels. Instagram is mainly picture led, while Facebook is more article led. A video of Muswell Hill Broadway had 3,500 views.
Duncan manages our Twitter account: we now have 700 followers and growing.
Patricia Pearl has taken over as our Independent Examiner.
Patricia is a long-standing member of the Association. She has already given some valuable advice to Jacqueline when examining our accounts.
Sandra Howell has been our minute secretary for many years. I have no idea how she manages to provide accurate minutes out of two hours of heated discussions at our committee meetings. Unfortunately, Sandra has indicated that she wishes to retire soon, due to various family and health reasons. If there is anybody here who would be interested in joining the committee to take minutes at our six annual committee meetings, please speak to me later.
Before I hand over to our treasurer, Jacqueline, I would like to take this opportunity to thank her for the competent and professional way in which she looks after our accounts. This was a particularly difficult year for her, mainly because of the change in membership fees. Well done, Jacqueline.