Annual General Meeting 2023 – Minutes

Held at the CFBL – The French School – 26 October 2023

1. Attendance:

Ryland: Trisha, Christine, Martin, Sophie, Susan. Brinsmead: Jeff

Willes: Gary, Don, David T, Arabella, Mike S, David P, Rosemary, Michael, Stephen, Dee, John T, Greta, Belinda, Suzanne, Vivienne. Sarah M

Grafton: Chris.

Holmes: Andrew, Judith, Sue

Cathcart: Terry, Kate, Ishay

Inkerman: Dougal, Rafe, Courtenay,

Raglan: Robert, Paul, John, Harriet, Mary, Jan

Alma: Charles, Jeremy, Hilary, Liz, Jane, Alison, Patricia, Lesley, Sarah, Debby, David, Jan W

There may have been people who came a little late and did not sign in [if they would like to let us know who they are, we can add them to the final version of this minute. Thanks]

Apologies: Regis, Sarah, Graeme, Xavier, Jonathan B, Jonathan F, Wendy, Vince, Gill, John E

2. Minutes of the previous AGM: approval was proposed by Robert and seconded by Jane and approved unanimously.

3. No matters arising.

4. Election of officers: John acted as returning officer. There were no alternative nominations and the current officers (Debby, David, Paul) were prepared to continue. Approval of them proposed by Robert and seconded by Jane and passed unanimously.

5. Chair’s report: Debby went through her report which was tabled (along with the agenda and Treasurer’s Report) and had been circulated by email and with a WhatsApp message containing a link to the posting of it on the IARA website.

She commented particularly on the growth and liveliness of the WhatsApp group which is now almost 200 people. Although it is sometimes experienced as somewhat overactive it is much more democratic than the top-down emails that we have relied on in the past although they complement each other as ways of communicating.

She referred to the Safer Streets and the traffic issue and reminded members that the date had passed for the consultation responses. She repeated the position that, in the face of very differing views by members, IARA cannot come up with an agreed policy.

On planning matters Debby also referred to the established protocol that, in the cases of private planning applications, we notify neighbours but do not take sides in any disputes between neighbours.

The two main recent major planning matters have been Murphy’s Yard and the current plans for the redevelopment of the Regis Road site where we have met the developers that Camden have signed up and who have ambitious plans for turning the area into a “Film Quarter”, with both employment and housing on site.

We are also involved somewhat in the discussions regarding the West Kentish Town Estate plans.

On licensing applications we stick with the agreed policy that we oppose any extensions beyond core hours.

As regards the Alma St Fair, Debby drew attention to the display boards at the back of the hall with photos of previous fairs and the fact that we need volunteers to be involved with planning for the 2024 fair.

She referred to the very small event that took place during the year in Inkerman Road largely to support MAP.

She went through the list in the report of the groups that exist as WhatsApp subgroups, and David spoke briefly about the SustainIARA group and invited people to look at the website where there is more information about those activities. He said that Rafe, who leads on this issue, would be very happy to give more information.

The acceptance of the Chair’s Report was proposed by Dee and seconded by Rafe and passed unanimously.

6. Treasurer’s Report Paul introduced the report, which had been tabled, and took people through our income and expenditure. He highlighted the fact that we have a little over £9000 reserves and acknowledged that some people are surprised at that. He pointed out that the Alma Street Fair requires upfront, nonrefundable payments of £ 5-6000 and if it rained heavily on the day, that would be a total loss – so the reserves make provision for about two such eventualities.

There were no queries on the accounts and acceptance of them was proposed by Dee and seconded by Rafe and approved unanimously

7. Safer Neighbourhood Police Liaison committee John attends this on behalf of IARA and explained again that their priorities for the two Kentish Town wards represented on the panel are antisocial behaviour – such as drug dealing and cycling on pavements. He acknowledged that burglary is a traumatic experience for the victim but that in fact we have the lowest rate of burglary of any part of Camden, including the other side of the High Street.

There has been a spike in cycle theft which is a London wide phenomenon.  These are occasionally individual crimes but also there are gangs operating. Even the bicycle hangers are not safe as one was broken into very recently and a bike stolen.

He urged people to register their bikes because the police do sometimes manage to recover stolen bicycles but cannot return them to owners unless they are marked with registration numbers.

He displayed a banner with details of the registration link and some recommendations for bicycle locks. [That is attached to these minutes.]

Comments on the floor were that drug dealing is very widespread and it may not show up in the statistics. John agreed and urged people always to report drug dealing. It is a 999 crime and, in order to build up the pattern, the police need to have times and descriptions. If people are reluctant to contact the police direct they can do so through him or through IARA.

He emphasised that the police are very low on resources but to their credit they did respond to the bike hanger bike hanger theft within three minutes.

A question was raised from the floor about burglar alarms going off on buildings and it was agreed that this is not actually a crime and need to be raised with Camden’s noise patrol people through their main number.  0207 974 4444   

8. Alma St Fair. David elaborated briefly on the comments that Debby had already made and explained that Jonathan Bradley has organised the last three Fairs but he’s not able to attend this meeting. Jonathan has prepared a note which was on the noticeboard at the back of the hall in A3 format and there were a number of A4 versions available for people to collect.

He emphasised that it is not simply a question of volunteers on the day, although that is in fact very welcome and enjoyable. There is also a series of probably five meetings starting with the first one 7.00pm Monday 13 November and then occurring at roughly monthly intervals when the main issues and plans have to be formulated. Anyone who is interested should contact IARA to be given details of the venue for that meeting.

Jonathan has set the date of the next fair as: Sunday 23 June 2024.

The fair will start at 12.00 noon and end promptly at 7.00 pm  Setting up actually starts at about 6.30am and the clearing up ends at about 9.00 pm but people don’t have to be involved all the way through.

9. The Safer Streets issue and the plans for traffic management.

Gary from Willes Road said that he really encouraged the discussion to be couched in language which was friendly and gentle and we should acknowledge that people were entitled to have very different opinions.

Debby said that this is a very hot topic in the area and for the first time, exchanges have been unfortunately quite hostile on the WhatsApp group.

The consultation has now closed but any issues upon which there is genuine, general agreement IARA can speak for and individuals can continue to interact with Camden councillors and officers.

She drew attention to the correspondence that IARA has had with Camden which is posted on the website and contains names and email addresses of the relevant people – councillors and officers.

She made a point which was later echoed by John from Willes Road that there are two parts to the proposal:  The first is the current scheme of the Safer Schools project, which is generally very popular and which has a large number of approvals on the website – but all of those date back more than two months.

The second part is the far more radical scheme proposed much more recently which has raised complex issues which needed full consultation.

Camden insisted that the original three-week consultation period was sufficient for both aspects of the plans and refused to extend the consultation period or to attend a meeting with IARA or members.

Christine from Ryland said that Camden’s response was very inadequate and she was disappointed that the consultation period was not extended and there was no meeting as requested. She proposed that the meeting pass a resolution expressing criticism of Camden in these terms. A vote was taken and all supported her motion except for two votes against and four abstentions.

Andrew from Holmes Rd raised the fact that they suffer far more than other streets in the area with big trucks and thousands of individual movements. There are also ongoing problems with antisocial and criminal behaviour.  Holmes Rd does not feel represented by IARA and suggested that it was weak for IARA not to say anything as a group because it has some power for influence with Camden. He suggested a working group from people from every street to try and work out an agreement.

John from Willes Road said that it’s difficult to deal with antisocial behaviour including drug dealing because the criminal justice system is broken, there are insufficient police, no effective sanctions and echoed Debby’s point about the two stages of the traffic consultation which has radical proposals which were slid in by Camden who ignored our requests for a delay. John’s opinion is that it’s perfectly clear that future representations are a waste of time.

Rafe complimented IARA on doing a good job at a difficult time but it is clear that IARA is not demographically representative or democratic of the area. Whereas Camden Council is – and their consultation was directed to everyone in the area. So he encouraged us to wait and see the results of the consultation and then have further discussions after that.

Judith raised the issue of Holmes Rd again saying that IARA was not representing their interests and there’s not been one word of support. She asked for a meeting to decide how it could be made better.

Martin made the point that demographically we are not representative because there are a large number of students living here who are transient but still a part of the society. He also pointed that that drug dealing supplies a local demand.

Annabel from Willes Road said she’d moved here two years ago and, in the previous area where she lived, councillors were invited to meetings and usually came.

Debby explained who our local councillors are and that they had been invited to this meeting and that Meric Apak normally does come but he’s away currently. Of the other two local councillors Georgia Gould is currently on maternity leave.

[ later insert: Meric was also very involved in the (failed) negotiations with Camden officers. See website posting ]

10. AOB

  1. Liz from Alma St said that IARA does a great job keeping us all informed but drew attention to the new consultation about parking charges which will have an impact on everybody, not just car owners – because visitors including trades people like plumbers will have to pay twice the current cost to park.  Debby mentioned the fact that this was in a recent general email and a WhatsApp message where the link is available to respond to that consultation.
  2. Ralph from Inkerman spoke a little bit more fully about SustainIARA and mentioned that there is a new group called Retrofit Kentish Town who are focusing on the issue of installing solar energy and heat pumps to local homes. There is a meeting on 27th November, 7.0 0 pm at the Greenwood Centre where there will be experts attending and representatives from Camden.

The meeting closed at 8.30 for drinks and nibbles and general socialising.