Kentish Town Neighbourhood Forum – A draft constitution

Progress on this issue:

A number of local associations met at Kentish Town Community Centre on 20 October to make progress in the setting up the Forum.

Obviously one of the first tasks is to agree a constitution.

We prepared a briefing paper on what other Forums have done and alternatives.

That was discussed and some decisons were made so we have progressed to a draft constitution.

Draft 3 of the Constitution of the Kentish Town Neighbourhood Forum.

This is drafted Saturday, 29 October 2011. The final provisions of the Localism Act are still unclear and it is subject to discussion now and, once adopted, to amendment by the process described below.

The area for the Forum is subject to change by the process outlined below but at the outset effectively encompasses the area of Kentish Town as traditionally understood – it runs from Ospringe Road in the north. Then, to the east of the High Street, it runs across to Torriano Avenue to the east, down to Camden Road station at the South. On the west of the High Street it runs from Castle Road up along the railway lines at the east to join Highgate Road.

A map of the area is attached to this Constitution.

This is the area that local people traditionally consider Kentish Town. Kentish Town is an identifiable area with a sense of community which we would like to foster.

The area has also been identified because representative Residents Associations or amenity groups, such as Conservation Area Consultative Committees, covering the area have joined together to create this Neighbourhood Forum and accordingly have some sort of mandate.  They are described as Representative Local Associations in this constitution.

They are:

Kentish Town Road Action – KTRA.

Kentish Town Business Association – KTBA

Highgate Road Residents Association.

Kennistoun House Tenants Association

Leighton Road Neighbourhood Association.

Peckwater Tenants Association

Bartholomew Area Residents Association – BARA .

Bartholomew and Kentish Town CAAC (Conservation Area Consultative Committee)-

Inkerman Area Residents Association – IARA.

Prince of Wales Residents Association.

Kelly Street Residents Association.

Castle Road Residents Association.

South Kentish Town CAAC.

Clarence Way Tenants Association

Hadley Street Association.

Other Representative Local Associations may ask to join the Forum so long as their  members live or work in the area. We hope that any other Tenants and Residents Associations in the area will join and we will be actively inviting them.

The Purpose of the Neighbourhood Forum:

The Forum is set up under the provisions of the Localism Act. The main purpose in that Act is to produce a Neighbourhood Plan to further the social, economic and environmental well-being of individuals and organisations in the area.  We may wish to be more ambitious and act in many other creative ways to support and improve our area.

Our tasks and objects will be outlined in our General Policies and Objectives which will be developed in the months following our first Annual General Meeting.

Essentially we will support and coordinate the views and action of our constituent groups – Local Representative Local Associations and Other Local Groups.  We will work with Camden Council and other statutory bodies such as Transport for London.

Our General Policies and Objectives will be developed and will evolve so this is an area for open expansion.

We will include planning: for example preserving the existing buildings and having an influence over new developments and we will go into considerable detail about what we want and do not want.

Environmentally we will press for the council and others to improve the local street environment, to respect green issues, sustainability, the preservation and improvement of green open spaces and playgrounds.

Economically we wish the area and especially the High Street to flourish and maintain a good range of shops with the emphasis on smaller enterprises rather than branches of national or multinational firms.

We will support the efforts of the Kentish Town Road Action in opposing change of planning use that will spoil the High St and we will press for continuing environmental improvements to the High St. we will support local groups in dealing with licensing applications.

We wish to maintain and generate greater employment in the area and will work with appropriate organisations to that end.

We wish to emphasise social benefit, community links, services for young people, reducing crime, generating neighbourliness and companionship especially for older people or housebound people.

The Forum will be run respecting all differences including gender, age, race and ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability and class.

Membership and management:

All people living in the area outlined are automatically members and entitled to come to and vote at Annual General Meetings plus local councillors who will be honorary members.

Registered members: If people wish to be consulted, receive notices of meetings and minutes they can register with the secretary by e-mail.  We will reserve the right to require a small payment for administrative costs if the Forum has no or inadequate income.

Local Organisations (as distinct from Representative Local Associations) such as individual local businesses, schools, churches, GP surgeries, Police, Fire Services, etc. can ask to be recognised. They will be entitled to send one person from each organisation to vote at General Meetings and at Committee Meetings subject to the provision below.

The General Meetings will agree and lay down basic principles and policies.

The Forum will be run by a Forum Committee made up of two representatives from each of the properly constituted Representative Local Associations  – local resident and amenity groups – and one from each of the Local Organisations. However in any disputed vote in the committee Representative Local Associations will be able to outvote Local Organisations.  For the rationale for this – see footnote. The quorum for the committee meetings will be 9 representatives of Representative Local Associations with the chair holding a casting vote if necessary.

The Forum Committee will meet at least quarterly to run the Forum subject to basic principles and policies decided by an Annual General Meeting or general meetings held more frequently.

Forum Committee meetings will (subject to practical space issues) be open to all members who can contribute their views but will not vote.

In order to have and demonstrate authority to speak for the area we will encourage the groups to ensure that they are representative and have a mandate for the views of their representatives. Groups and local organisations will present to the General Meetings an explanation of what their membership is and in what way they have such a mandate or legitimacy to speak for their areas, whether by consulting their members or, for example KTRA or the KT Business Association, being demonstrably a voice for other organisations.

Officers. The Forum Committee will elect a Chair, Vice chair, Secretary and Treasurer who will serve for one year and be subject to re-election at the end of the year.

General Meetings will be held annually and Special General Meetings can be called by a majority of the committee or by 30 members requesting one by e-mail or letter to the Secretary.   We hope that these can be held at the Library.  Camden Council have a statutory obligation to assist the Forum and local councillors have indicted they will do so.

Notices about General Meetings will be circulated and published 14 days before the meeting by a posting on the Kentish Town Library Board as well as by e-mail to all registered members. If we can afford it, or it can be run as editorial content, we will announce meetings in the local press.

If local people or organisations wish to change the constitution, basic policies or principles they should give due notice of this to the secretary 21 days before the Meeting so this proposal can be circulated.

Minutes will be taken by the secretary and circulated by e-mail to registered members.

Website. We aim to establish a website on which constitution, notices of meetings and minutes will be posted and discussions can take place.

Finance. The Forum will open a bank account with the Britannia / Coop Bank in the High Street.  Chair, Vice chair, Secretary and Treasurer will all be signatories for cheques which will require two signatures.

If it is possible that any liability could attach to members or officers of the Forum we will investigate and arrange insurance or some sort of limited liability status.

Amendment of the Constitution including of the area of the Neighbourhood will be by a majority of the Forum Committee ratified by a majority at a General Meeting.  This also applied to any winding up of the Forum. Any balance left in any account held by the Forum will, subject to statutory regulations, be distributed equally to the constituent local organisations.

The law as drafted says that the Forum will be valid for five years. We will take whatever steps are needed to renew our existence

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Footnote:  Rationale for the constitution of the Forum Committee.

The constitution has been drafted to ensure that control of the Forum cannot be taken over by unrepresentative groups: eg one particular geographical area of Kentish Town or some particular interest group – eg a group of businesses getting together and using votes as Local Organisations to institute policies which favour their businesses at the expense of residents.

If local people or organisations wish to change basic policies and principles they can give due notice of this for a General Meeting where it can be discussed and agreed.