Those present: Robert Lewis (Chair), Alan Manchester, Stephen Sinclair, Keith Revoir, Ken Wilkes, Ian McNicol, Graham Goldspring, Ian Wilson, Michelle Stone and Paul Ryan.
Robert started the meeting by opening the discussion on membership. We need to increase our membership of OADRA. We need to establish which roads we want to cover and we need to finalise a list of roads. First and foremost, we need a strategy.
This led onto the idea of a pamphlet. It should be something to explain who we are and what we do. Residential support would endorse our representation of this community. Robert had produced a first draft as a basis for discussion.
The discussion moved onto our objectives as an RA.
Steven Sinclair shared with us his views on the matter, which, he admitted, were strongly held.
Firstly, there were difficulties if OADRA was going to engage with residents on the doorstep to obtain members. Security is an issue and there is no good reason why residents would give money towards such a local, political cause. Why would any of us give money to someone on the doorstep claiming to be a) part of the community and b) willing to engage on our behalf with the council, local politicians and the media?
Secondly, we need to be clear about our objectives and what views are being put forward. The question was raised as to whether we should we have a formal plan.
Thirdly, one of our most vital key objectives would be to obtain RA Council members to be our voice where it mattered in local politics and decisions.
This led onto a general discussion amongst us about membership and representation. Robert said that after we gain members, we want to invite similar representatives from other communities. Alan also mentioned that we need to use our email list and send a neighbourly newsletter about once a month. We have a database of about 150 people already. Paul suggested that we should have a mission statement and Stephen said that timescale, budget and getting a representative for us in the council should be our goals for now. It seems as if we should approach this in a business-like manner. If we aim to have an RA Councillor to represent us at the next set of elections then that would be a major step forward.
The question was raised as to the effectiveness of RAs within the community. What degree of control do we have over a selected member of the Council? We would have the power to select or deselect them from the Council. When there are key votes in the Council, we can intimate the way we want our councillor to vote. Alan suggested a meeting to get RAs together. In the Borough there are some very small RAs based on streets. They start with an issue. Small RAs can come under the umbrella of a larger representative organisation. It has to be considered though whether small views and minor issues are effectively represented by large umbrella organisations. It would give us more clout but not necessarily more democracy.
At present, we are not at all happy with our local councillors who operate on party lines. We need RA members to watch and analyse the situation to feedback to us as a committee. Robert stated that often, it is the council leader who tells the others how to vote. Should we consider an over-arching RA group?
Graham posed the question as to what aims do we have, now. It was agreed that we should get the residents together, get their concerns on paper and then get their support for OADRA. From a previous leaflet drop of 1500 we had a response of 80. Graham also mentioned that the Comet reporter was willing to do an article on OADRA and he was meeting him on Wednesday 21 March.
We had a vote on several matters. First, it was agreed that we should do a leaflet drop. Secondly, that we should find out the top three issues affecting our local residents individually so that we could have a remit to start from as a committee. We need a subscription and the delivery of the leaflets is aimed for April/May. It was agreed that Ken would do a first draft of a revised aims and objectives and circulate to the committee for their comments
On the subject of finances we have £145 of which £68 was paid to Graham for his work on our publicity. We currently have 33 Members. Robert said we should open a bank account and it was suggested that the Unity Trust Bank,
Birmingham, would be the ideal way to do this as they were dedicated to small organisations. We can create a cheque book and provided we do not make more than £100k (!) per year the banking is free. Robert has the form and Alan stated that we need to establish at least three signatories. This was proposed by Alan and seconded by Graham. Either Nat West or Barclays bank would be suitable. There was no clear consensus at the time. Paul suggested that the branch should be open on Saturdays as we need the most flexibility.
The new Star and Garter.
Susan Hartley, Marketing Officer and PR for the home said that she will update us. She already updates Southborough RA and Graham will put Sarah in contact with Keiran, our webmaster.
Robert. A plan has to be put in and the work has to be done by June. A resin bonded gravel surface has to be laid down but nothing has happened so far.
The new hospital
Graham mentioned that the building seems to look bigger than the plan. Architecturally it is going to be out of keeping with the surrounding.
A politician on the radio was heard admitting that numbers for places in schools had been exaggerated. We should pressure the council to re-consider the future of this development.
How are we in OADRA affected by the development of the filter beds? A developer has put in various applications for this site for 64 luxury floating homes. The homes will be below eye-level and a walkway will be created that is open to the public. A big restaurant facility will be created. We know, so far, that Ann Brown is pro this development. Currently, the site provides a habitat for bats (who are a protected species by law - PR) and this may save our campaign if we are agreed on it. There was some discussion about the Thames Landscape Strategy and about Boris Johnson’s support for the Thames Path to be continued. Robert will draft a letter to us to get our agreement on the issue.
Diamond Jubilee Celebration.
Ken is also a member of the St Matthews RA. He mentioned that one of his members, there, is keen on a Diamond Jubilee celebration. It was suggested that we could exploit this as an opportunity for promoting OADRA. However it was agreed that the timescale was too short for OADRA to do anything.
Currently, Surbiton Hill ward has an estimated 10,700 residents (out of 39,800 in Surbiton Neighbourhood, and a total 157,200 in RBK). Based on an estimated 64,900 households in the Borough, that suggests about 4450 households in Surbiton Hill, of which we counted about 1300 households within our Oakhill “borders”.
Mondays or Thursdays for our Committee meetings? We may have to find bigger venues and Alan has sought a few out. Oaklands Baptist church (now,
) will have a few rooms to hire in the future. The New Prince was suggested by Paul a while ago but on investigation recently a Lib Dem meeting was taking place. Alan prefers the Methodist church but we could have the Baptist church as well as a back up. It will cost us £11 p/h for the Methodist church. Surbiton New Life Baptist Church
August – no meeting
Alan will notify us of the venue, and the meetings will start at 8pm.
Michelle asked if we could change the name of OADRA? It sounds like ODOUR! Alan asked if there was a national association of RAs. ROADA? Residents of Oakhill And District Association...
There being no further business the meeting was adjourned at 10pm and we thanked Robert for his hospitality in accommodating the meeting for us in his home.
In summary, we have a lot of work on our hands if we are to get this Residents’ Association off the ground. Committee members should make a note of the following:
We need to increase our membership of OADRA.
We need to increase our membership of OADRA.
We need to establish which roads we want to cover and we need to finalise a list of roads.
We need a strategy.
We need a publicity leaflet.
We need to be clear about our objectives.
We need to aim to have an RA Councillor to represent us at the next set of elections.
We should have a mission statement.
We should get the residents together.
We need a venue to hold meetings.
We should find out the top three issues affecting our local residents individually.
We need more subscriptions.
We should open a bank account.