DRARA 2018 AGM Chair’s report by Nick Welch
The past 12 months has seen some amazing events and activities, but also some challenging issues. I want to celebrate the great things that we have been able to do together, but also look at our challenges and think about what we can do to deal with them.
The events have been very successful. Open gardens, meal in the street, the shark, and an exhilarating Cowley Road Carnival parade, and DRARA in the Park afternoons. We started the Lazy Sunday at the Restore Café – thank you Restore. The work of the events team has been immense.
We have continued with our work with Brookes and this is resulting in better liaison and communication. We have reviewed planning applications and responded to the consultations; one of the things that we will be keeping a close involvement with is the proposed development on the old nursery school site in Bartlemas Hamlet. We have been effective on pushing back on licensing applications for extended opening hours for the pubs on Cowley Road. We are campaigning for a post office to be re-opened on Cowley Road with our City and County Councillors. The DRARA newsletter is produced three times a year, we are developing our Facebook presence and will be working on the website. All this has taken a lot of work from colleagues on the committee.
The Environmental Action Group continues to produce the excellent Green Flashes about key environmental issues and supports our local contribution to the City-wide Spring Clean as well as working on the tree gardens in our roads.
While we’re celebrating our successes, it is important to recognise all those who make it all possible: colleagues on the committee, those who organise everything that has been mentioned, arrange the licenses for road closures, do the emails, look after the money, collect the subs – big thanks to all the collectors – and manage the membership and email lists, do the posters, and many, many more things. We need to recognise and appreciate all that is done behind the scenes that keep DRARA going and make the successes possible.
The challenges that we face are in many ways, the familiar ones. The speed and the volume of traffic through our roads is a constant worry. This comes up at every AGM it seems, but also seems to be intractable. If we are to achieve anything on the traffic front we need to make a step change in what we do and this means that we have to have people who are willing to step up to take this on.
We are also very familiar with the number of HMOs in our area. We have felt for a long time that the balance between HMOs, other rented accommodation and owner occupiers is wrong and that the density of HMOs in parts of our area is unacceptable – and this is a problem for all of DRARA. The emerging challenge is that some landlords are now significantly enlarging their HMO properties: the number of HMOs may stay the same but the number of people living in them is significantly increased.
Many of the students living in the area work hard and live alongside their neighbours without issue, but, as we all know there are times and some individuals and houses that continue to give rise to concern and problems. Liaison and communication with Brookes is clearly important and in some instances produces positive results, but the number of complaints to Brookes about the behaviour of some their students are rising worryingly.
We also have experienced a sharp rise in anti-social behaviour linked to the cuts to the level of support that vulnerable people receive when living in the community. Some families have experienced severe, distressing and sometimes longstanding problems. We met with Homeless Oxfordshire to try to help resolve these problems; it does seem that a more strategic approach to ensuring that vulnerable people receive the support that they need is required alongside a different approach to how specific problems are dealt with.
Finally, the developing night time economy on Cowley Road is exerting pressure on our neighbourhood: it is changing the nature of a significant part of our broader locality and increases the pressures through noise, and anti-social behaviour, mainly students commuting between Brookes and Cowley Road at all hours.
The Committee has been considering how we should respond to these challenges. As has been said before, we can only do what people can offer. I should be more direct: we need people to take on specific issues. This does not mean having to join the Committee (although this would of course be very welcome) but it does mean taking the lead on a specific area.
The first is traffic. We all know the problems. To respond effectively we need a determined person with the drive to lead on traffic.
The second is local planning, and specifically if having a local or neighbourhood plan will give us more leverage and influence in dealing with the problems that have outlined here – and others that may emerge in the future. This is the focus this AGM; will a local or neighbourhood plan help us? If so, what are the key things that we need to consider and how do we go about it?
On a final and more positive note, my thanks again go to all those people who have contributed to DRARA’s work and activities over the past year. I hope that we have not missed anyone off, but my apologies if I have.
|The DRARA Committee
• Nick Welch, Chair
• Clare Ridley, Secretary
• Alison Williams, Treasurer
• Tamasin & Clare Ridley, Events
• Tom Knollys, Planning
• Deborah Tricker, Promotion and Events
• Paul Vanags, Membership
• Karen Metcalfe, University Liaison
• Jane Bingham, Newsletter
• Dom Parkinson, Website
• Maggie Hartford, Environment
• Sophie Mason, Student representative
• Rob Waterston, Friends of South Park
With additional support from
• Tom Hayes, Traffic
• Margaret Wolf, Newsletter
|The Events Team
• Tamasin Lilwall
• Clare Ridley
• Rebecca Phillipson
• Reynold Greenlaw
• Ron and Lucy Gibbons
• Andy Roscoe
• The Lilwall family
• Catriona Davidson & James Ferguson
• Maggie Hartford & George Wormald
• Ann Tutt
• Victoria Sinclair
• Emma Boor
• Paul Vanags and Mitch Oliver
• Linda Forrest
• Trisha Andrews & Tom Hayes from Restore
• Tim Coulson and fellow friends of
• Rumi Mohideen and colleagues from Warneford Trust
|The Newsletter Distribution Team
• Glen & Alison Williams
• Anna Eden
• Catherine Barnes
• Laura Elliott • Susan Lisk
• Martin Stott
• Amanda Green
• Ivon Asquith
• Catherine Weston
• Pauline Edwards
• Henrietta Gill
• Richard Josephy
|The Subscriptions Team
• Karen Metcalfe
• Pauline Edwards
• Ann Edmunds
• Susan Amoeten
• Jon Bliss
• Sarah Lacey
• Maggie Budden
• Rob Waterson
• Anne Hall
• NEW member – Massimo Balestri
• Jo Gilmour
• Geraldine Coggins
• Judy Casserley
|• Linda Forrest
• Stephen Heneghan
• Hilary Frisbee
• Steve Nicholson
• Dom Parkinson
• Clare Ridley
|• Catherine Barnes
• Christopher Franks
|The Environment Action Team
• Anna Eden
• George Wormald
• Maggie Hartford
• Joanna Gilmour
• Maggie Lloyd
• Heather Stoddard
• Mena Remedios
• Nick Welch
And thanks to all the tree pit adopters.
|The Dementia Friendly Team
• Anna Eden
• Jo Gilmour
• Nick Welch
• Liz Greenlaw
In addition, I would like to thank Margaret and Martin Coombs for continuing to gather our press clippings. The continued commitment of Emma Trundley and her team to work with us to build positive and constructive relations with our student members in the community has been very much appreciated. A particular thank you goes to Sophie Mason, our Brookes student representative, who attended every DRARA committee meeting for two years. Thank you also to our city councillors, Jamila Azad and Tom Hayes for their sustained support to raise and address our issues through this year and for provide precious funds to support us. The support of Father Phil and Rosy Handcock at the church has been great, especially to house our huge shark in the belfry! Finally, thank you to the Co-operative team who have so generously offered time and provision donations to support Lazy Sunday at Restore afternoons.
TREASURER’S REPORT – YEAR ENDED 30 SEPTEMBER 2018 by Alison Williams
Full report can be read here.
a) Subscriptions: Income from subscriptions during this financial year was £1,135.50. This was 9% less than last year, but there is inevitable fluctuation in when exactly people pay their subs.
b) Events: Income from events was substantially up this year, due to Open Gardens and the Quiz Night.
Minimal expenses for Apple Day (£8) were made in the previous year, leaving all income as profit. Open Gardens this year raised £420 for The Porch, rather than Cowley Road Carnival as in previous years.
- c) Grant from Oxford City Council: a grant of £1,400 was made to DRARA to be used as follows:
£500 towards two benches
£300 for more street planting
£200 towards Community Speedwatch
£400 for traffic calming infrastructure, education and materials.
d) Other donations: Includes £160 from Scott Fraser towards production of the DRARA newsletter.
a) Printing/design etc: Most of this (£593) was the cost of producing the DRARA newsletter.
b) Events: In the Events box above, Cowley Road Carnival is listed separately as it is not a DRARA event. DRARA remained committed to its annual £250 donation to the organisers (Cowley Road Works), and also spent £50 on materials to make the DRARA carnival shark. Lazy Sunday expenditure of £22.80 was for refreshments and newspapers.
c) Charitable donations: These are as listed above in the Events box.
d) Other expenditure: This included £100 to the Environmental Action Group for street planting. The rest was for AGM and other administrative expenses.
3. SURPLUS and BALANCE
The surplus for the year was almost entirely due to the £1,400 grant from Oxford City Council, without which we only just broke even. However, with historical surpluses brought forward, we have a healthy balance of £3,641 at the end of the year
Membership Report by Paul Vanags
Did you know? The DRARA is funded solely by Membership subscriptions. These annual contributions make possible all the amazing work of the DRARA bringing our community together. The memberships are collected by a team of brilliant volunteers who turn out in all weathers, calling on all the DRARA residents and asking for a small contribution of £5 for a year membership (£2 for concessions). So many thanks to the people highlighted at the start of the report for their efforts.
We really need 3 new collectors to cover the following areas for our membership:
- 65-97 Southfield
- 137 – 170 Divinity
- 1-30 Bartlemas
You don’t have to live in those areas to collect in them – if you would like to be part of the team please contact Paul Vanags, Membership Secretary (firstname.lastname@example.org or pop in and say hello at 32 Minster Road). It’s only a few hours work and you get to meet your fellow local residents for a chat, it’s very easy and relaxed – we can train you up in less than 30 minutes!
And of course, if you’re not a DRARA member it’s easy to set up a standing order to cover your annual subscription – just email mailto::email@example.com for a form.
Newsletter by Jane Bingham
The newsletter has continued to be issued three times a year – in autumn, winter and spring (usually October, January and May, but this Autumn it will be distributed in early November). It is distributed by a wonderful team of volunteers to every household in the DRARA area.
The newsletter aims:
- to inform everyone in the neighbourhood about DRARA activities and other local events
- to draw attention to local initiatives, such as the campaign to bring back the Cowley Road Post Office
- to report on community concerns and issues, such as anti-social behaviour
- to provide local interest stories, such as our ‘meet the neighbour’ profiles
The wider aim of the newsletter is
- to foster pride in our neighbourhood
- to connect different elements of our community and make us more aware of each other
Thanks to the efforts of Nick Welch, we have had a very positive relationship with local estate agents, Scott Fraser, who have kindly acted as sponsors and supported our printing costs. Nick is encouraging Scott Fraser to continue this relationship.
We welcome all suggestions for articles as well as volunteers to write for the newsletter. In our most recent issue, to be distributed in November, a young reporter (Albie Vanags) is interviewing a local for our ‘Meet the neighbour’ feature. We hope that this will lead to more participation from younger members of our community.