MUSWELL HILL AND FORTIS GREEN ASSOCIATION
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 2022
Thursday 12 May 2022
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This is my 22nd year as your chairman, how time flies! When I was asked to take over the chairmanship, I had no idea that I would still be giving my annual report, especially after another difficult year. The last twelve months have proved to be more challenging not just because of the virus but because of changes on the Committee.
As last year, we conducted all our committee meetings and members’ meetings on ZOOM and I am delighted to be able at last to have an actual audience in a new venue. It is really nice to see you all in person again.
In September our member Peter Webb gave us the second half of his talk following his earlier talk about Michelangelo to Picasso. Another fascinating tour of his unrivalled collection of prints, this time concentrating on Oriental and European prints of a later period and his personal friendship with David Hockney and Henry Moore.
In October Professor Ian Christie, a film historian and also a member of our Association talked about Robert Paul and the birth of his film studio in Sydney Road Muswell Hill. Paul made about 800 films of which around 75 survive.
In February Gill Simpson gave us a fascinating history of the buildings and the people involved in the development of North Bank through the ages.
Also in February we visited the Hornsey Library, where after an introductory talk we were guided round by Professor Ian Christie who curated the exhibition of the lost works of the film maker, Robert Paul, we also viewed 8 archive films.
In March David Staples another member of our Association, introduced us to the architecture of modern theatres and opera houses built after the 1950-s.
Suggestions for talks are always welcome.
On Sunday 12th June at 11.00 we will be going on a conducted walk in the Kenwood estate, led by Peter Barber. Notification will be sent out very soon.
The Newsletter is an important P.R. tool of the Association.
I say this every year, we are very fortunate to have Christine Morris as our editor.
She consistently produces high quality Newsletters every two months, keeping our members informed of what is happening in our area and delivering an interesting and varied publication. We also distribute the Newsletters to libraries, pubs and other outlets, where non-members can pick up a copy.
Christine receives updates from Committee members on their activities and is always looking for contributions, especially from our members, so please do not be shy, everybody has a story, especially those of you who have lived in this area for a long time.
Webmaster Alex Vincenti has worked very hard all year round monitoring who uses our website, adding new pages, digitalising and cataloguing all our Newsletters since 1965, bringing in new ideas and updating existing content, since the website is now nine years old.
A new “catch up” page has been added, with video recordings of meetings. The “Links” page has been completely revised and expanded and a new “search” facility has been introduced on the home page. He has also updated our shopfront photo survey and introduced new pages with videos of our zoom meetings. In one year we had 3200 visitors and 8200 views.
The website is another important P.R. tool for the Association, full of useful and informative contents. If you have not already used it, do have a look.
Our membership secretary Richard Marmalade had to give up his role, due to moving out of our area. We are very fortunate to be able to welcome Lara Massey to take over from Richard. You can read her very impressive profile in the current Newsletter.
This year we welcomed 31 new households and 6 businesses and organisations, bringing the total membership to 780, comprising 83 businesses and 697 households.
Though the Newsletter is primarily distributed by e-mail, a small number are sent by post by the membership secretary to those without access to e-mail. We have continued to support our members on a wide range of subjects.
Our membership database is now firmly established, but there are still some shortfalls which we are in the process of overcoming.
We have continued to promote our Business and Organisation members by listing them, giving them space for special offers, as well as offering to feature them in our Newsletters and on social media, and displaying their logos on our website..
Nick Barr has reviewed 288 planning applications during the year and objected to 8.
This is comparable with the last three years. For example, Nick will make representations to the Council if an application is for the creation of crossovers and or garden parking.
Following are three examples of note:
Cranwood House, Woodside Avenue. You may recall several articles in our Newsletter concerning this proposed major development. The Association submitted a detailed objection, substantially on the grounds that the scheme fails to meet the Council’s criteria, however we support the need for affordable housing. The consultation ended on the 31st of January, after attracting over 240 comments and the proposal is also subject to a police investigation. As far as we know, no decision has yet been made.
Ramsey Court, Park Road. The application is to demolish a row of garages and to replace them with three houses and a three-storey building with six apartments. We objected to this last element on the grounds of loss of mature trees and inappropriate design. No decision has been made so far.
60, Rosebery Road. We objected to the proposal to create a cross-over and front parking on this corner plot. The application was refused.
Conservation Area Advisory Committee.
John Crompton represents us on the Advisory Committee. He is keen to recruit new members, so if anybody here is interested, please talk to him.
He reports that as far as shops are concerned, this has been a mixed year in our area.
We still are attracting new shops and restaurants and there is a rumour that McDonald would also like to open a branch in Muswell Hill. Unfortunately, we lost two of our banks as well as Midhurst butchers, Michael the hairdresser and a Newsagent.
As far as residential developments are concerned, most of the applications have been for extensions of existing properties. However, permission has been granted for ten units in the car wash site in Fortis Green.
During the year permission was granted for the redevelopment of Poundland with nine flats above a commercial space. We understand that the likely use of the ground floor could be a pub and we will carefully examine any proposals. We have already objected to the fact that the proposed building will appear unduly dominant.
We are very pleased to report that the applications to add an extra storey on top of Whitehall Lodge in Pages Lane have been refused.
The proposed demolition of the disused railway bridge in Dukes Avenue, at the entrance to the park is on hold for the time being.
In other matters, we are still waiting for the first draft of Haringey’s new local plan and the government’s revised proposals on national level, after its original intentions were put on hold.
Alexandra Palace and Park.
There have been many more events than last year and the capacity and frequency of these are almost back to normal. This summer sees the return of the Kaleidoscope Festival and the Red Bull Soapbox Race, among others. There have of course been financial challenges following a very tough year and to help generate income, permanent car parking charges are being implemented later this year. A welcome grant was received from the Cultural Recovery Fund.
Discussions are taking place to change the way in which individuals and organisations can engage with the Palace and Park, including a possible public forum, but no decisions have been taken as yet.
We were sad to see that Louise Stewart who did a fantastic job as CEO over the last six years has decided to leave. She is being replaced by Emma Dagnes, previously deputy CEO.
We will host Emma at one of our members’ talks in the autumn.
Brian Livingston has done an enormous amount of work, covering the following green sites and flower beds: pocket parks opposite the Village Green pub and at Blaenavon on Fortis Green, beds outside Rymans and at the end of Fortis Green Road at the traffic lights, the raised bed at Grand Avenue/Muswell Hill Road junction, Grove Lodge Garden path, Midhurst Green and Twyford Green. He has worked with the Council’s Parks Department and Veolia to improve all these green spaces and ensure that they are regularly maintained and kept clean. We have funded new plants for the flower boxes at the roundabout and the cattle trough. We thank members of the Association for their donations and Sunshine Gardens for the discount they continue to give us on the cost of plants. The lack of water supply causes some issues and we have started a discussion with Thames Water about providing a tap in the Broadway.
We have continued to organise maintenance visits to the Colney Hatch Lane beds and would like to thank those members of the Association who regularly help with this task. Thanks are also due to the Avid Gardener company which undertakes regular pruning of the shrubs and other work. We have also installed two sturdy aluminium plaques on metal stakes, replacing the old timber ones. By the way, we are always looking for anybody who is willing to help.
We continue our fight to keep Queens Avenue clear of rubbish and are working with both the Council and Veolia. This is an uphill task, due to the Haringey Homes properties and the multi occupancy houses in the street, the state of the bins and keeping clear the bin areas.
Graffiti and fly posting are an ongoing problem. We are lucky that our team of Bill Jago and Jack Whitehead continue to do a fantastic job in removing or reporting such items. The Council takes this very seriously and removes the offending eyesores very quickly.
Brian is in touch with the Haringey Local Area Coordinator, who we hope will help us in various local issues including the placing of a tap for watering our green sites. He also attended the first ever Haringey Parks summit, where it was announced that the budget for parks staff is being increased, which hopefully mean more staffing on the ground in our area.
I am very sad to report that Tony Wells has had to resign due to ill health. He has been an active and reliable member of the Committee for nine years and we shall miss him. This is his final report.
Tony covers all aspects of transport that are likely to impact on members of the Association in our area or in neighbouring boroughs, including bus routes, bus lanes, cycle lanes, low emission zones, electric charging points and all matters relating to parking.
The most impactful project this year was the cycle lane in Eat Finchley continuing all the way to North Finchley. This was introduced without consultation and as a result many businesses suffered. We, with many others, made representation to our local council and MP. As you have seen, changes have now been made and some of the restrictions have been lifted.
Tony has also maintained contact with the Highgate Society and others in Crouch End on proposed new traffic schemes.
If I am delighted to tell you that just a few minutes ago I was informed that Chris White has volunteered to take over from Tony. Welcome Chris to the Committee and thank you for offering to help.
Last summer we decided to launch a Community Fund with up to £500 available to support local projects for the benefit of the community. We received 13 applications from local groups and organisations. The eventual winners were the Friends of Highgate Roman kiln. Since this new initiative elicited so much positive attention, we hope to repeat it in future years.
George Danker regularly e-mails our members, informing you among other things of events (our own and those organised by others in our area) and local transport and environmental issues. He helps our corporate members by publicising their latest news.
He writes articles in the Muswell Flyer and other local publications. Most importantly he keeps our mailing list up to date. He sets up and administers ticketing for our meetings electronically via Eventbrite.
He was actively involved with our new project, the Community Fund, setting up the structure, publicising it, encouraging applications, setting up criteria for judging and serving on the panel which assessed the applications and put forward the suggested winners to the full committee. He also made contact with the new Haringey Council local area co-ordinator.
Facebook, Instagram and the Notice Board.
Zoe Norfolk has worked very hard to publicize our activities on Facebook and Instagram.
We have over 2000 followers on Facebook and growing. Zoe posts interesting local stories, such as shop openings and closings, also our events, and Committee vacancies, as well as some beautiful photos, like the bluebells in Highgate Wood and the blossoms in Cranley Gardens .
On Instagram we have nearly 900 followers and growing. Zoe posts a local picture once a week and other images in stories. For example, the vacancy for the job of the membership secretary and the transport officer were shared widely.
She keeps our Notice Board up to date and puts up new posters and copies of our Newsletter on a regular basis.
I would like to thank Laura Bugden for her contribution and the professional and accurate minutes she produces of our Committee meetings.
This is a new appointment. Jonathan Popper has taken on the task and is in constant touch with the Council, regarding all tree work in our area, whether it be tree planting, tree replacement or tree preservation orders. His work falls in to three categories: saving trees, promoting tree-planting and looking at local woods. His full report and contact details are on our website.
Before I hand over to Jacqueline for her report on our finances, I wish to thank her for her continued hard work. She has kept our accounts in an exemplary state, fighting with the banks and coping with the different ways members are paying their subs. We are greatly indebted to her continued vigilance and attention to detail.
This concludes my report.
John Hajdu, MHFGA Chairman