Additional information on the Estate Improvement Projects

I wanted to provide some background and additional details about the planned estate improvements.

As you may recall, one of the issues we discussed when establishing this Tenants’ & Residents’ Association (TRA) was that it would give us access to Islington Council’s annual Estate Improvements and Estate Security budgets. This year, I chose to create three bids, based on a variety of factors – feedback from residents I have spoken to, concerns raised by Islington Council representatives & concerns raised by residents on the sign-up sheets which were distributed at our first meeting in May of 2015.

I hoped that these bids would be welcomed by residents and would be seen as desirable.   This consultation is to decide if we want to go ahead with these plans and to determine how we want to proceed where there are different options available to us.

You feedback is very important, so if you have feelings about one of more of these schemes, please express them. You may, of course, be neutral about the plans and feel that they do not affect you or are not relevant to you, but we want to be sure that, where residents have opinions, they are heard.

Project 1:

New areas of hardstanding and new stores for waste & recycling bins

The bid for waste & recycle bin stores arose out of the planned withdrawal of the blue bag recycling scheme.  You can read more about Islington Estate recycling here.

I met with Jean Hughes of Islington Council Recycling Team to discuss our requirements for recycling bins after the blue bag scheme ceases.   Jean suggested that we would need 4 bins, emptied at least twice weekly. However, there is not room for 4 recycle bins plus the paladin waste bins and food waste bin without blocking the access road in front of flats 8-13, which is meant to provide access for emergency vehicles e.g. fire & ambulance.

We explored a number of options for housing the bins elsewhere on the estate. These were posted on the lobby notice board and around the estate. You can view them here.

We also considered converting the central rubbish chute into a recycling only chute. There were concerns about this as it meant that residents in the maisonette wing would not have a nearby rubbish chute, as they do not have a chute and the end of their landing as do the East & West wings. This plan was eventually abandoned as being unworkable.

Jean arranged for a survey to be sent to all 118 flats at Bevin Court. She received six replies. As these were confidential, they were not directly shared with me, but as I understand it, all were opposed to the chute recycling scheme.

Therefore, it was determined that we would have to create a new area of hardstanding to house the bins. I suggested that we excavate and pave an area next to the car park stairs, adjacent to the existing manhole cut-out and house the bins there. As these works were beyond the remit and finances of the Recycling Team, I agreed to bid for funding from the Estate Improvements Budget to augment the funding available for the project. The bid was successful and the project is to be co-funded by our successful bid and the Recycling Team.

The plan is for the newly created area to house the 4 recycle bins, the food waste bin and an area for lumber store (disposal of bulk items like furniture until they can be collected). The existing large paladin bins would also be housed in bin stores in their current location opposite the rear entrance.

Given that the state and sight of the bins are a constant source of complaint, as well as the expanded need for recycle bins on withdrawal of the blue bag scheme, I felt this plan would be welcomed by residents.

There is a choice to be made regarding the style of bin stores to be used. Two options have been proposed by the Recycling team.  They are the Metrostor bin stores or the Green Roof bin stores.

The Metrostor bin stores look like this:

black_metrostor_small

and are constructed from recycled plastic.

They can also be made from wood, which look like this:

wood_metrostor

but the wood bin stores are less durable and have a shorter guarantee period.

You can read more about Metrostor bins one their website here.

The Green Roof bin stores are another option. They look like this:

 

and are manufactured from wood and steel with an area on the roof filled with soil which would be planted with attractive plants & flowers. The end panels incorporate a variety of natural materials – wood, stones etc. and can also house panels with information about the natural environment.   We hope that these will provide an attractive sight to look down upon, which is the way most residents of the West & East Wings view the bins.

You can read more about Green Roof Shelters here.

Either of these options can be supplied with or without doors. Our caretaker and the waste collection team have expressed a preference for bin stores without doors as these are easier for them to get the bins in and out of, but it means that some ground floor West wing residents will still be faced with the sight of bins. Bearing this in mind, I would suggest that we opt for bin stores with doors, so that the bins are hidden from the sight of ground floor residents.

We hope that the enlargement and enclosure of the waste & recycling area will address an area of concern & dissatisfaction for many residents.

In relation to the waste & recycling area, we have three options:

Option 1: Create the new area of hardstanding and erect the bin stores described. We would need to choose which type of bin store we prefer.

Option 2: Ask the Council to commission their architects to design another solution, bearing in mind that we risk lose our funding, as the money was granted based on the plan outlined above.

Option 3: Do nothing and return the bid money to the Council for another use.

Project Two

Installation of deterrent paving on the South Wing loggia

This is an area that I have been looking into with the MAGPI since Feb 2013. The MAGPI is a multi-agency group involving Council representatives, police representatives and residents. I was invited to attend MAGPI meetings by our Estate Services Coordinator.

The loggia has been an attractor of anti-social behaviour for some time. We regularly have people “hanging out” here and drinking, especially on warm summer nights. They can be noisy and disruptive. I know that I have personally called the ASB team on many occasions when I have been awoken by drunken people in the loggia being disruptive. Other residents have reported the same to me. There are also sometimes people using and selling drugs in the area as well as prostitutes (and others) having sex here.

Rough sleeping is a separate issue as it is not in and of itself ASB.   Rough sleepers can cause ASB, e.g. the recent spate of human defecation on the loggia, but just sleeping in the area is not ASB. People rough sleeping should be helped to move on to more secure arrangements and police and Streetlink have worked to try to find solutions for the recent wave of rough sleepers in the area.  There is a Streetlink poster displayed on the notice board in the lobby and you can call them to talk about rough sleepers on 0300 500 0914.

You can also report rough sleepers to then online via their website here.

The MAGPI proposed several possible solutions to the problems arising from misuse of the loggia.

  • It was suggested that it be bricked up, but this was rejected on conservation grounds as we are a Grade II* Listed Building.
  • It was also suggested that the loggia be fenced off with chain link fencing, but this was also rejected on the same grounds.
  • Finally, it was suggested that a Tango rail fence be erected across the end of the loggia, from the wall adjacent to the loggia to the Holford Gardens fence.  This was also rejected on conservation grounds.

After this series of rejections, I suggested the installation of deterrent paving. Deterrent paving is not so-called “homeless spikes”, it is uneven paving designed to be uncomfortable to sit or stand on in order to keep people from congregating in or using an area. There are two basic styles; one is formed concrete with an uneven surface (known as Lambeth paving) and the other uses natural rocks embedded in concrete to create the uneven surface. I personally find the natural rock solution more attractive, but it is also more expensive.


The installation of this paving was set to go ahead in Nov 2015 as our Estate Services Coordinator had funding for the works.  However, the project was delayed in seeking planning permission and the funding had to be spent before the end of the fiscal year or it would be lost.  I agreed with our Estate Services Coordinator that I would bid for funding of the project from the Estate Improvements budget, which I successfully did.   As the work is now proposed by the TRA rather than the Council directly, this means that residents are being consulted on what their preferred options are.  Some people feel that deterrent paving in unattractive.  I agree that it can be rather ugly, which is why I prefer the natural cobblestone option to the formed concrete option.  There is another style of deterrent paving in use in Great Percy Street by Browning’s garage which I also think is more attractive that Lambeth style paving.

waves

Wave style deterrent paving

I discussed the deterrent paving option with Islington Conservation Officer Kristian Kaminski and Mike Dunn from Historic England. Kristian Kaminski advised that in installation of deterrent paving would, of course, require Listed Building Consent (LBC) and suggested I consult Historic England. He also suggested installation of “large freestanding stones not cemented to the concrete” as they “wouldn’t even require LBC and would be preferential to the use of any cement”. He also suggested metal or concrete planters, which again would not need LBC as they are freestanding item. Finally, he suggested the use of “concrete spikes”, which I personally would not approve of.
Historic England’s position is that “Historic England would have no objections in principle to your proposals, and we would be content for Islington Council to decide the matter as they see fit.”
As an alternative to deterrent paving, the chair of Bevin Community Gardens, Tim Spoor, proposed filling this area with planters and planters, so that no-one could get onto the loggia. I had concerns about this plan as I was worried that the plants might end of being vandalised. I was also concerned about the viability of the plants as there is no water supply in the area and the containers under cover of the loggia would receive no rain water and so would need regular watering. The lack of light in the rear of the loggia could also threaten the viability of plants in that area, in my opinion.
My vice-chair Tom Cordell, has objected strongly to the idea of deterrent paving as you can read elsewhere on this blog. In response to this, he contacted the architect John Allan who is a renowned expert of Bertholdt Lubetkin, the architect of Bevin Court. John proposed the installation of planters around the edge of the loggia, with or without deterrent paving in the area behind the planters.
I think this is an excellent compromise – if we install concrete planters along the edge, similar to what they have at Spa Green (another local Lubetkin building), this could prevent people from gaining access to the loggia. I think it is important to ensure that there is still deterrent paving behind the planters, out of sight, as otherwise the planters could end up creating an even more secluded and private place for anti-social behaviours and rough sleeping.
This is what the planters as Spa Green looked like:

spa_green

Spa Green Estate planters

So, the choices we have are:
1. Install deterrent paving, an uneven paving surface designed to discourage people from using an area by making it uncomfortable to sit or stand on
2. Install concrete planters around the edge of the area, with or without deterrent paving behind them. Planters might prevent people from using the area, but they might also create an even more secluded area behind the planters, hidden by plants.
Planters with deterrent paving behind would disguise the deterrent paving, but still prevent people from congregating.
3. Do nothing and return the bid money to the Council for another use. Some people do not see the behaviours I have described as problematic. Some people argue that those using this area have a right to be here and we should accept their presence.

Project 3

Estate “no-parking” improvements

I confess that this was my “sacrifice bid”. I made this bid prepared to give it up in favour of the other two schemes if there was not enough money to go around.
If you are home at Bevin Court during working hours, you will have noticed that there frequently are vans from Islington Repair Team and other contractors (Wates, Mitie etc) parked around the estate, especially in the area in front of the ground floor maisonettes (flats 2-6) and around the boiler house at the rear of the estate. On some occasions we have had vans entirely blocking the emergency access road at the rear of the block. We have also had vans left parked in the circle at the front, again blocking access to emergency vehicles.
We have a small amount of double yellow lining in front of the ground floor maisonettes and a confusing and very ignorable array of signs dotted around the front of the estate.
My bid was to create legitimate spaces for contractor parking by the boiler house and to make it clear via double lining and/or signage that the circle and the rear access road were to be kept clear for emergency vehicles.
When I reviewed this scheme with Bjorn Alcantara of Islington’s Special Projects team, we discussed the potentially ugly nature of double lining and I stressed to him that creating legitimate parking for contractors and making it clear that the circle and rear access not be blocked were the goals. The scheme was also to install additional bollards along the top of the rear access road to prevent parking on the grass verge and to provide a foot path around the rear gate for use when the gate is closed.
We also need to ensure that parking on the estate is ENFORCED. Wing Parking, which holds the contract, don’t seem to be doing an effective job and in my experience are frequently unresponsive.
Islington Special Projects team have rejected the two parking spaces in front of the boiler house which was proposed, meaning we need to find another place to provide contractor parking. Two options were discussed:

1. Try to encourage residents parking in the unsecured bays opposite flats 5-6 in the ground floor maisonettes to move into the gated & locked car park instead. Our Estate Services Coordinator was concerned that this might appear as if Islington Council was giving preference to contractor parking over resident parking, but I feel it is still worth exploring if any residents parking in this area would be willing to move to the car park to free up spaces so that we can offer legitimate parking for contractor vehicles.

2. Assign two spaces in the gated & locked car park for contractor parking. This is complicated by the need for keys, which may be difficult to manage.

There is one unnumbered parking space at the front entrance gate of Bevin Court which is intended (as I understand it) to be visitor/contractor parking, but it is not sign posted as such as is frequently occupied by vans and other vehicles which do not display an Estate Parking permit.
There are three basic ways we could go with this bid.
Option 1: We would like to provide at least two authorised parking spaces for vehicles working on the estate and clarify the parking restrictions elsewhere on the estate. This would involve 5 points:
1. A review of all the existing parking signage to make it clear and concise
2. Paint double lining around the front circle and the rear emergency access road
3. Install bollards above the gate at the rear entrance to prevent parking on the grass
4. Installation of a foot path around the rear gate so residents do not have to walk through mud & dirt when the gate is closed
5. Installation of a “No Thru Road” sign at the rear of the estate to deter drivers looking for a short-cut through to Pentonville Road.

Option 2: We would like to provide at least two authorised parking spaces for vehicles working on the estate and clarify the parking restrictions elsewhere on the estate. This would involve 4 points:
1. A review of all the existing parking signage to make it clear and concise
2. Install bollards above the gate at the rear entrance to prevent parking on the grass
3. Installation of a foot path around the rear gate so residents do not have to walk through mud & dirt when the gate is closed
4. Installation of a “No Thru Road” sign at the rear of the estate to deter drivers looking for a short-cut through to Pentonville Road.
This is the same as Option 1, but without the double yellow lining.

Option 3: If we feel there is no problem, we can do nothing and return the bid money to the Council for another use.

The opinions expressed in this blog post are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of the entire TRA.

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Alternative Provision for New Recycling Facilities at Bevin Court

Alternative Provision for New Recycling Facilities at Bevin Court

The greatest concern about the current facilities for rubbish, recycling and bulky waste collection areas at the rear of Bevin Court is that they are very unsightly. 82% of the flats in Bevin Court look out over this unsightly collection of rubbish & waste, yet nothing is done to reduce the ugliness of this area.

Currently, there are 4 paladin bins; two recycle bins, a food waste bin and whatever has been dumped for bulk collection in this area. There is no effort to ameliorate the eye-sore this has created for the residents of the West & East wings, all of whom have a view of this to at least some extent. This is especially true for the residents of Flats 8, 9, 10, 21 and 22 who are largely treated to the unsavoury view of rubbish bins from their kitchen windows.

The photos below are not unusual of the state of the area:

Given that Islington Council intends to withdraw the current “blue bag” scheme for door step collection of dry mixed recycling, we need to find an alternative solution to recycling collection at Bevin Court. It would be a good time to address the issue of the unsightly nature of the facilities at Bevin Court as the current eye-sore is potentially being enlarged even further by the possible addition of two more recycle bins. There was a strong opinion among residents that Bevin Court is continually overlooked for improvements outside of cyclical major works. The perception among residents is that Bevin Court rarely, if ever, benefits from either the Estate Security or Environmental Improvements budgets, for example. The major impetus behind the creation of the new TRA at Bevin Court was to try to increase our representation at Old Street and gain better access to these resources. At a recent Old Street Area Housing Panel meeting, a list of 30 projects totalling over £220,000 was distributed which included an item for £3,000 budgeted and over £10,000 actually spent on decorative screens for the bins at Hawkwell Walk. Surely there should be some funding from the Recycling or Environmental Improvements budgets for some waste management improvements at Bevin Court?

The provision of facilities to replace the withdrawal of the blue bag recycle scheme needs to be carefully & sensitively considered, especially given Bevin Court’s Listed Building status and location within the New River Conservation Area. I would suggest that the Recycle Team should take advice from the Council’s architects and Conservation Officers regarding placement of new bins and the construction of any new hard-standing areas, ramps etc.  This document is a collection of ideas from members of Bevin Court’s TRA and is not expert opinion.

The following have been suggested as alternative locations for the new recycle bins planned:

1. Place two additional bins in front of the boiler house

This is the current proposal by Islington Council. Two bins would remain where they currently are and two additional bins would be placed on the driveway in front of the boiler house, to the left of the boiler house doors but not obscuring them. This has the advantage of requiring no work or expenditure on the part of the Council. However, residents have raised a number of objections to this proposed location. Objections/concerns raised were:

1.1. Placing bins here would increase the problem we already have with people gaining unauthorised access to the building by climbing over the railings in front of flats 15-16 by giving the offenders a new object to climb on
1.2. Placing bins here would increase the blight at the rear of the building
1.3. Placing bins here would be an unfair noise, odour and visual nuisance to the residents immediately above them (flats 14-16)
1.4. Having recycle bins in two different locations at the rear of the building would be confusing for residents

Concern 1.1 could be reduced or removed by installing additional clear polycarbonate screens above the railings in front of flats 14-16, but this removes the cost-free attraction for the Council. It is more difficult to see how concerns 1.2 or 1.3 could be addressed. A decorative screen would not resolve the issue with appearance as residents of the first floor East Wing look down on the bins, not out on them, so the bin chamber would need an attractive roof. One resident suggested covering the chamber with a climbing plant, for example.

2. Review the case for a recycling chute at Bevin Court

Rather than place additional bins on the estate, residents suggested reviewing the possibility of a dedicated recycling chute at Bevin Court. Bevin Court has three rubbish chutes. One is located in the central staircase between the lifts. The other two are located at the distal ends of the East & West Wings. In 2012, Bevin Court was reviewed by Anna Burns for the conversion of the blue bag scheme to a dedicated recycling chute scheme. The proposal was to convert either the central chute or the distal chutes to dedicated recycling chutes. This was dismissed, as I recall, because the South Wing has no chute at its distal end, unlike the East & West Wings, and it was felt that the central chute would require too much re-education to get residents on-board. We would ask that this proposal – convert the central chute at Bevin Court – be included in a list of options for the upcoming planned consultations with residents. If there is sufficient support for the idea, this would be the ideal solution to trial. The two existing recycle bins could remain where they are for collection of larger items e.g. flattened boxes etc., with the bulk of recycling collected via the central chute.

3. By the pump-house off the entrance to the car park

This will require an area of hard standing to be laid and should preferably be enclosed/covered with a decorative screen and be lit. There are some hopes/plans afoot for additional lighting at the rear of Bevin Court anyway. We were gifted £1,500 by Islington Film Fixer towards the cost of additional lighting at the rear of the estate, specifically around the two stairwells that lead to the car park and at the gate to the car park, as this
area is in total darkness. Lighting the recycle station in this area cpumphouseould be accomplished as part of this scheme.
There is some concern that the proximity of this site to Bevin Way could encourage fly-tipping, as we already have a problem with people not from the estate dumping bulky waste to the rear of the building. There was also some concern that this was “too far” from the building and that people would not use it. If all 4 bins were situated together, rather than 2 in their current spot by the paladin bins and 2 here, this would alleviate this concern. This area has the advantage of not contributing to the ugly views at the rear of the building for residents of the second floor and above, as it is undercover of trees. This could be further reduced by the use of decorative screening to hide the bins from view.

4. At the end of the emergency access road at the rear of the building

This will also require an area of hard standing to be laid and should also be end_west_wingenclosed/covered with a decorative screen and be lit. Lighting the area should be relatively inexpensive as it is close to the building. The kerb stones which were here were removed and not re-instated by Breyer to allow the installation of a metal storage cube in this area during the contract they performed on the estate, so it is  essentially level access already.
This may share the same concerns of being “too far” for people to use. It may also be disruptive to the residents at the end of the West Wing, especially Flat 13 and 25 on the ground at first floor who would be in close proximity, and may be seen to extend the blight at the rear of the building by including areas at both ends of the West Wing.

5. In the portico behind Flat 13 at the end of the West Wing

This would require the installation of ramps to allow the bins to be wheeled from the portico to the adjacent pathway and also from the pathway to the driveway at the rear of the building as there are currently 2 small steps there.Flat13_portico
Again, this may share concerns of being “too far” for people to use. It may also be potentially disruptive to nearby residents, especially Flat 13. This portico already attracts some ASB; for example, stolen motorbikes taken for “joy-rides” by local youths have been dumped here, there have been instances of drug user and prostitution in this area as well as urination. There was mixed opinion as to whether the installation of a recycling centre here would contribute to or reduce the incidence of ASB. It has the advantage of not being overlooked by any of the flats and being discrete/not contributing further to the current eyesore of rubbish at the rear of the building. It is also under cover and already lit.

6. Extend the area where the bins are currently housed

The difficulty with placing more bins adjacent to the current two bins is that they would potentially reduce the width of the access road at the rear of the block, making it too narrow for fire appliances.New_hardstanding
There is an existing cut-out in the sloped area adjacent to the current bin location which
houses a manhole cover. The area to the right of this cut-out could be excavated,
walled at the back and tarmacked to make a new, level area which could easily house 4
bins without restricting access for emergency vehicles. The area should be disguised with a
decorative screen to hide the bins from sight. This has the advantage of being close to the
other waste receptacles (paladin bins, lumber store and food waste bin).

7. At the front of the building by the pram sheds

This would require the installation of a ramp leading from the pram shed path to the pram_shedsdriveway area adjacent to Flat 6 so that the bins could be wheeled from the area opposite the pram sheds to the driveway/parking area bays 1-6, but should be a minimal expense. The rest of the area in already paved and level. There is sufficient space for 4 bins to be placed in the area, facing the pram sheds. This is another area which may be “too far” for residents are use, but it has the perceived advantage among some residents of removing a source of blight from the rear of the building and redistributing it more evenly among the three wings as the South/Maisonette currently does not overlook any of the waste facilities at Bevin Court.
It may be difficult for the recycling vehicles to access the area due to the circular driveway at the front of Bevin Court.

This document was originally produced 11 Feb 2016, when it was displayed in the lobby and on the notice board at Bevin Court.  It was added to the blog 21 July 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plans for estate improvements: What are the options?

At the General Meeting on the 5th July, it became clear that most residents knew nothing of the planned changes to the estate. Bjorn Alcantara from LB Islington has kindly sent over details of the plans – I’ve put them together below with a few explanatory notes about other options.

Your TRA will be consulting all residents about what you’d like to do over the next few weeks. So please look through these plans and decide on your view and share it with us. We will arrive at a democratic decision and let the council know what we as a community want. 

Scheme 1: Installation of deterrent paving to loggia area 

This material is colloquially called “anti-tramp paving”.  Is intended to make it too uncomfortable to sit in this area, to stop young people and the homeless sitting there. I’ve previously posted my views on what I think about this here,  so here’s the nuts and bolts of what’s proposed.

Funding Allocation: £4500

Option A. LBI’s Proposal: To lay deterrent paving blocks on top of the loggia area located on the external ground floor behind the caretaker lodge. The type of paving block is yet to be decided but the two styles preferred are “Lambeth” and “Cobbles” (picture below)

 

Scheme 1- Bevin Court Loggia

But there are alternatives.

Option B: Conservation architect and Lubetkin Biographer John Allan proposes that we install planters there. Tim of the estate gardening group supports this plan and is happy to plant and maintain the plants. The gardening group also has some funds it could contribute to this scheme. Here’s a picture of how this would look:Spa Green Ground Floor planter detail

And finally option C :At the meeting on the 5th July, only a quarter of the people there felt there was a problem with this area of the estate that needed solving, so we could choose to do nothing.

 

Scheme 2: Installation of hardstanding and green roof bin shelters to accommodate recycling and refuse bins. LBI say this is required because they have to end our doorstep recycling scheme (meaning we will have to bring our recycling down to the bin area) and therefore we need extra space for recycling bins.

Scheme 2 – Green Roof Shelter DrawingScheme 2 - Green Roof Shelter Drawing

 

 

The bins would be place at the rear of the building facing flats 9-11.

Funding Allocation: £5000 (Environmental & Security Budget only)

Description/brief: This scheme will be delivered and funded in two parts:

 

  1. Part one is the concrete base installation which will be delivered/funded under the environmental and security budget. The work will involve a 7m excavation of the grass slope opposite and to the left of the bin chamber, laying of a steel reinforced concrete base, and construction of a 1m high retaining wall.
  2. Part two will be delivered via the Recycling team and will involve the installation of two prefabricated green roof bin shelters on top of the concrete base. These will house the recycling bins that are currently sitting on the access road. An additional green roof shelter was also planned for the area where the refuse bins sit directly  opposite the bin chamber. A decision was made for the shelters to be installed without doors as they would be an issue for recycling/refuse collections.

 

Other options? At the meeting on 5th July, residents in the flats close by were strongly opposed to having the bins moved opposite them – particularly as there won’t be doors on the binstores so they’ll get a full frontal view of the rubbish. Would it be possible to redesign this scheme so they don’t have to stare out at the bins from their kitchens?

 

Scheme 3: Unauthorised Parking Prevention Measures

Funding Allocation:  £2000

Description/brief: There are three elements to this scheme:

 

  1. Renewal and installation of double yellow lines including around the centre circle, rear access road, and ‘No parking at any time’ lettering outside the ground floor flats next to number 4.
  2. Installation of five concrete bollards to grass verge of access road leading off of Bevin Way.
  3. Installation of post mounted sign reading ‘No through road’ on the corner of the same verge.

Other options: Several residents have said that they think the yellow lines would be very ugly. Perhaps this could be dropped from this scheme. The view of the group at the meeting was that parking wasn’t really a problem at Bevin Court, so perhaps the best option is to do nothing?

 

TRA Committee meeting 12 July 2016

There’s clearly a lot of work to do to get the TRA running in a new direction after the General Meeting on 5th July. We’re going to have a committee meeting to get this process going at 1900 – location The Amwell Arms. Any residents interested in joining the committee, or who’d like to come along and be there are more than welcome. New voices and faces are just what we need at the moment!

General Meeting 5th July 2016

Wow that was some meeting. I think sitting together under the staircase we were all energised by the building – even though the echo sometimes made hearing everything hard!

Before we get the official minutes published with all the detail (which will follow soon),  I’d like to talk about a few key things that stood out from tonight’s meeting. First of all, it was clear that the residents here haven’t been properly informed about the various proposals labelled as “estate improvements” (in particular the eerily-named deterrent paving, the parking control, and the bin store plans). This is a failure which is the responsibility of both council and of the TRA. Though no one could claim that the lack of engagement that led to this meeting was a good thing in itself, what is extraordinary is how tonight galavanised so many people from the estate to come, listen, and speak their minds. I think from this challenge, we’ve established the most amazing engaged group who want to shape the future of our community. There may have been mistakes in the past but I don’t think it’s possible that with our new energy that these errors can ever be repeated.

It’s particularly clear that residents want a TRA that is participatory and creates a space for everyone to have their voice. We want to discuss and use our collective wisdom to shape what happens in our community, and we won’t allow future decisions to be made by a small self appointed clique who refuse to consult.

Tonight we arrived at some concrete agreements – decided by us all voting together:

That all the live proposals for estate improvements at Bevin Court will now be paused and presented for further consultation with the residents.

That the council will explain to us, and circulate information by fliers and online, which officer does what job, so we can get them to deal with the things that matter to us. This will allow all residents to access estate services, unmediated by the TRA officers or chair. If anyone here is not happy with the service they get, the council is going to tell us who their managers are, so we can escalate issues when we need to. This will enable all residents to have an equal benefit from the council services that are ours by right.

It’s also clear that residents are committed to making sure in future that our TRA will never act with prejudice – whether its around race, religion, gender, sexuality, or age group. The TRA isn’t there to pass on gossip to the council or police about residents, or to collect information about residents when requested by council officers.

We’re committed to revising our TRA constitution to make sure our values as expressed so strongly tonight are set in stone. The committee is going to work with the officers at Islington, as well as with our elected representatives on the council, to make sure the energy of tonight brings about real change in how things happen from now on.

We agreed on a date for our AGM: September 14 2016, at 7pm – location to be confirmed. Please think about standing for the roles of Secretary, Treasurer, Chair, and Vice-Chair. You might be just the right person for one of these jobs. We also need committee members, and there is a new role of an engagement officer to make sure the TRA meshes properly with all residents here. No prior experience needed: the only qualifications that are essential are an open mind and a commitment to our community.

I’d like to express my particular thanks to Jo Roberts, Bjorn Alcantra, and Val Barnes from Islington Council for coming down to listen and talk to us. I’m sure it is sometimes hard to deal with a room full of passionate residents, and for that reason I hugely respect their engagement with us, and their commitment to respecting the democratically expressed views of the resident group.

Massive love and thanks to you all for coming tonight!

Tom, Flat 13, Vice Chair Bevin Court TRA.