So this is the second half of yesterday’s Area Forum alternative minutes.
There was not a single candidate for the St Ann’s Ward present in this part of the meeting. Not one of the tainted Labour candidates bothered to turn up. From Harringay ward there was David Schmitz, Karen Alexander, Asha Kaur, Emine Ibrahim and Gina. If there were any more let me know and I will amend the post.
The Agenda had this section listed as
Green Lanes: Update and What’s Next? An update on the delivery and progress of the current construction works the regeneration programme and plans for the Food Festival. There will be a report back from the Green Lanes Strategy Group as the municipal and financial years draw to a close.
At this point I would note that there were no fewer than 12 of the core GLSG members present. This represents almost every core member of the GLSG, and more than they often have at their own meetings. I was slightly surprised by such a large turnout. There had been a call to arms.
What followed was not as described in the Agenda, but rather a lesson on what has been. I don’t think it was news to any of the 8 or so non-members in the meeting. But it was clear that this is what the GLSG wanted to discuss. The past.
Their successes, their hard work, their indefatigable spirit. Issues that I have not seen anyone question.
Zena started off by saying that they wanted to take this opportunity to dispel some myths and rumours that had been cultivated on Harringay Online (why, thank you, I thought). She went on to give a brief history of the Group and her involvement in it. Nilgun then added to this. Rob Chau filled in more detail of the history, and the discussion soon turned to reminiscences before Geoff Amabilino took the floor.
He had been tasked with explaining the work being done on a Constitution (Nilgun had another name for it, which I don’t recall). The group had made the right choice in selecting Geoff because of all who spoke, he was the only one who showed an inkling of understanding that the GLSG might need a fundamental and structural overhaul.
He let us know that there have been three drafts, each of which has been discarded. They continue to work on developing a suitable document… themselves.
I might be wrong with some of the order here, but I think that’s when things were opened to the floor. As the only person present who had raised any questions about the Group , I was obligated to say something.
From memory I suggested that it is important that people are reminded of the past successes of the group, but that fundamental questions about the purpose, structure and legitimacy of the Group remain. In fact, the Area Forum is also part of the problem and the potential solution. I suggested that both the Area Forum and GLSG had failed to make residents aware of such major consultations as the Site Allocation process a few years back. And that there was a real lack of longterm strategy or planning.
The response from Zena, regarding the Area Forum hinged on its lack of resources. Resources which are likely to be cut further. And it is no coincidence that later in the discussion, Rob voiced the same concerns over a lack of resources for the GLSG.
I explained that the Highgate Neighbourhood Forum (formed under the Localisation Act) had managed to deal with both the short and longer-term issues facing their area. And that this could be a useful model for us to follow. Combine the GLSG and Area Forum to create a powerful and influential Neighbourhood Forum. The Group needed to be broad-based and draw on the resources within the community, not those doled out by the Council.
Booo, hisss…. went the vested interests. That won’t work here. It’s all fine as it is.
Well it ain’t. And rumours abound that Area Forums will cease to exist next term. Leaving us with….?
As Geoff explained, the issue for the GLSG is one of leverage. They no longer have a Cabinet member in charge. Their connection with the Council is extremely tenuous. They are a consultative committee and there is still no real clarity on what the official Council involvement is. One wonders how they can write their own constitution, without Council involvement.
Regarding the purpose of the GLSG, it was intimated that this would be included in the new document. But Rob also indicated that just before the OLF bid, the Group had come to a point whereby they wondered what more they could do for the area. I think that very well illustrates the purview of some of those currently driving the Group.
Back to the Q&A…
Is now not the best time to seek a broader base? Doesn’t it make sense to draw on the community to help shape the Group and write its constitution?
Gina Adamou was against the inclusion of more people in the Group. I think her recent views on the formation of the Friends of the Passage group fairly well illustrate what an obstruction she is to community involvement. I suspect she will not be missed by many after May.
“We don’t want too many people involved!”
“How many is too many, Gina?”
Then came a star turn from Shef the Hairdresser. This was his third meeting today, he cried. I attend 30 meetings a week, he wailed. Who are these people who criticise the GLSG? How dare they question what we do? He came across as a shouty, self-important little man and another impediment to progress.
And that was that. There was no time to ask more questions. And certainly no time to get any answers.
So in summary, they came en masse in a defensive formation. They remain a closed group. There are glimmers of light in some of the members, but I suspect the hot air will extinguish them.
We will have a significantly diminished Area Forum with Zena, David and Nilgun’s departures. We will likely have the status quo in the GLSG. We will, therefore, be poorly served.
In the meantime, let’s focus on the Food Festival and ignore the destruction of the daytime economy on Green Lanes, the proliferation of late liquor licences and the planning breaches.
That’s a ‘Strategy’, right?
I've had that from Shef too. I wish he'd lose that act. One word from him could blow Ali Gul Ozbek's nomination away but he won't do it and given how much the GLSG don't want Ali (you think all this constitution rewriting is because of you and Ant? Ha ha ha) you have to feel sorry for him.
Oi, i'm not a trouble maker, i'm just trying to help, I don't think they notice the agendas and minutes don't get up on the council website so all i do is help out by checking regularly and pointing it out to them, hopefully that wont result in a harassment notice.
From this report about the GLSG and constitution i asked the LCSP to add an agenda item to the next meeting about sharing the GLSG agenda and minutes which they get, and involving LCSP members before agreeing the new GSLG constitution, and Ian has added that! I've never been to an LCSP meeting before, would anyone join me? - Thursday 10 April 2014, Harringay United Church Hall 7.00pm, (Green Lanes, near Allison Road)
Cllr Alan Stanton told us last year that it was unlawful for the GLSG agenda and minutes not to be being made public, though that was before Zena became the chair.
I think there might be a bit more to it than just problems with the council back end systems not getting the doc posted. The Area Forum agenda and minutes get up on the council website with no problems so you'd think with Zena being chair of both she could talk to whoever is doing that to find out how to do the GLSG ones too.
Will be interesting to see what the LCSP GLSG reps say about sharing the doc they get with other LCSP members.