Photograph by the late Christine Bunce (former Chair of WERA).
AGM 2020 (Cancelled)
Our 74th Annual General Meeting, scheduled to take place on 23rd March 2020 was cancelled after advice from the UK Government that 'social distancing' should extend to meeting places in public houses.
Action was based on evidence that transmission rates of Corona Virus (CoVid19) were beginning to threaten capacity of the National Health Service to provide intensive care for seriously affected patients.
Our 2019 Annual Report and Accounts are therefore published here on our website without the customary public approval.
Re-election of Committee Officers was postponed and the existing panel is maintained until further notice.
Annual Report for 2019
Committee: Our rising star on the Committee (Katy Davies) became a shooting star and after a brief but brilliant trail across Highlands Ward she met a young man and vanished over the Enfield horizon. Nevertheless, we were fortunate as she succeeded in bringing the benefits of social media to WERA and enabled us to promote our organisation to a wider audience on Facebook. Meanwhile, another recent recruit, Tony Burton, proved indispensable to the team with wise advice and helpful interventions. Our Membership Secretary, Jackie Smith, surpassed herself in collecting the highest total of renewal subscriptions yet attempted by any Ward Envoy. Our own Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dave Cockle, was ever vigilant and well informed on the wider Borough issues of infrastructure, transport and security. Your Chairman persevered as Webmaster, Newsletter Editor and Auditor. For two of our members the year has been marked with personal sadness: Our President, John Allan, continued to guard our financial resources despite the loss of his wife Anne in August. Dudley Willan endured the loss of his mother Miriam after her admittance to hospital at the very end of last year.
Network: As mentioned, our Committee Officers were active beyond the Ward. Dave Cockle, with fingers in more pies than he has fingers; continued as Chairman of The Enfield Society, Enfield Transport Users Group (ETUG) and Community Action Partnership Enfield (CAPE), the last mentioned liaising each month with our Metropolitan Police Safer Neighbourhoods Team. Your Chairman supported conventions of the Federation of Enfield Residents and Allied Associations (FERAA) and CAPE meetings. He also joined most Councillor Surgeries and both Officers attended Enfield Borough Green Belt and Ward Forums. Your Chairman served as a Director of the Drill Hall Sports Club in Enfield and, with a Committee of 8 loyal volunteers (two of them residing in Highlands), continued to restore the fabric and fortunes of this locally listed Community Asset. WERA also fostered connections with Bush Hill Park Residents Association and Enfield Town Residents’ Association; working with them and exchanging information.
Membership: Membership in 2019 was maintained at almost 1200 households. The membership fee was unchanged at £1 per household and is unlikely to increase in the near future. At this stage in the review of Ward Boundaries the Association sought to maintain ‘status quo’ regarding the area from which it draws members. It continued to benefit from the centralised, online record of rounds and collections which enabled it to monitor and control each step of the process. Increasingly, collected subscriptions have become cashless deposits ensuring an automatic record as more Envoys bank online (even a single membership subscription of one pound can be transferred). Renewal could not have been accomplished so well without the efforts of Jackie Smith who, once more, brought the annual project to completion. The bank balance remains healthy. On 24th June, in traditional style, at a reception in this room the Chairman thanked many of the 38 Ward Envoys for their effort and commitment to our community. Envoys remain an essential part of WERA, securing income, helping communication with residents and providing local knowledge. WERA must consider succession plans as existing Envoys become less able to cover their ground and could always do with more Envoys. If any resident is able and willing (or knows of another who might be) please get in touch with Jackie – if not today, then perhaps tomorrow.
Publicity: As has been customary over recent years the Committee published quarterly newsletters: a frequency that proved sustainable and cost-effective. Direct delivery of a double-sided page continued to be a practical and friendly way for residents to feel included and valued. Space constraint was a fiendish challenge but the use of imagery was well received. If anyone has a relevant story to tell the Editor will be happy to listen. (There was a fascinating flow of information about long term residents and he awaits the first report of someone reaching the age of 200.) Superseded articles continue to draw life from publication on the website and WERA renewed its tenure for a further year with host ‘2-minute-website.com’ who responded promptly, as ever, to all enquiries. The content emphasis is on presenting a permanent record of who WERA is, what it does and the general features of Highlands Ward has made it more easy to update; while events, appeals and items of passing interest are increasingly promoted through a Facebook portal. WERA paper records remain entrusted to Borough Archives in the Dugdale Centre and are accessible to the public.
Meetings: Two open meetings were held in 2019 (the Annual General in March and a Mid-Term in October). At the AGM both Chairman and Committee were re-elected (the latter en-bloc). Alison Archer of Pymmes Brook Volunteers spoke about local flood relief work. In the Mid-Term Stephen Haywood (Thames 21 Charities) described ambitions for controlling the flows of fresh water from higher ground with damns and scrapes and, who can say, perhaps paving the way for the eventual reintroduction of beavers and other valuable fauna. In both meetings campaigning members who comprise Enfield Road Watch were given the opportunity to brief those present on the seemingly interminable threat of green-belt destruction. Highlands Safer Neighbourhoods Team informed us of their own battle to eradicate criminal activity and ‘houses of ill repute’, notwithstanding grim austerity imposed on Police Services.
Campaigns: planning applications, decisions and appeals for the Ward were scrutinised at various times by our Committee who responded to requests for support, particularly at Councillor Surgeries. There were notable successes in halting or reversing permissions for development. WERA also gave input to the proposals of the Boundary Commission who submitted a revised report during the year with final decision expected in 2020. Though the Fairview Homes volcano appeared to lie dormant the fate of our local Glebe fields was under scrutiny throughout the year. WERA continued to extend support to the Campaign to preserve them and petitioned the Mayor of London about the local plan. It also joined the Enfield Town Residents’ petition to Downing Street for safer features around cycle lanes by removal of certain obstacles which resulted in trips and collisions – particularly for people with mobility or sensory impairments. South Lodge Farm was another venue, where abuse of land continued to attract complaints and the Association maintained a dialogue with the Council Enforcement Team who took action; surely but rather slowly. Your Chairman extended congratulations to newly elected MP for Enfield North (Feryal Clark) with a view to introduction but there has been no direct response so far.
Volunteering: Despite the attentions of Council contractors to pavements and roadsides, litter continuously accumulates on fringes of pathways and is frequently dropped or windblown into shrubs and undergrowth. Committee Members and residents and neighbours turned out in strength to pick up and deposit in bags at collection points near Oakwood. The increasing rarity of other plastic bags was welcomed. And further afield, in Enfield communities such as Bountague and Southgate Highlands volunteers gave their time and efforts in conjunction with the CleanupUK charity. Boxer’s Lake and connected waterways continued to be monitored and were generally healthier though work remains to be done on misconnections and rogue polluters.
Donations: WERA gave £100 to the Stroke Association in recognition of the sudden and acute impairment to intellectual and physical skills with loss of society and increased dependence, which such a frequent event can (and has) caused in our community. Research into reducing the likelihood and mitigating the effects is most encouraging.
And finally, WERA would like to think our efforts to be seen and heard have helped to ensure that Western Enfield continues to be one of the better (if not the best) regions of outer suburbia in which to live and thrive. Your Association looked forward to achieving more for Residents in 2020.