Photograph by the late Christine Bunce (former Chair of WERA).
AGM 2021 (Cancelled)
Our 75th Annual General Meeting, scheduled for March 2021, was cancelled after further restrictions imposed by the UK Government on social and public life in recognition of the continuing threat from the Corona Virus (CoVid19) Pandemic. Our 2020 Annual Report and Accounts are therefore published here on our website with Committe Approvals only. Re-election of Committee Officers has been postponed and the existing Constitution is maintained until further notice.
NB: If your neighbours have no access to the internet and you are unable to assist them by printing copies then please contact us.
Annual Report for 2020
Delivered at a Closed Committee Meeting (via internet) on 12th March 2021.
2020 was an extraordinary year for reasons well understood. Regular activities of WERA were curtailed and profound changes loomed over the Association since normal society would be irreversibly altered. All this was brought about by the Covid19 Pandemic, which resulted in severe restrictions on Public life.
Committee: Mercifully, the wellbeing of our six serving Officers was unimpaired. Dave Cockle continued his good work on the wider issues of infrastructure, transport and security. Your Chairman (Stephen Elston) persevered as Webmaster, Newsletter Editor and Auditor. Our Membership Secretary (Jackie Smith) maintained communication with Ward Envoys on implications of the Pandemic for our Resident membership. Our Treasurer (John Allan) garnered the financial transactions and kept a watchful eye on our currency and reserves. Tony Burton and Dudley Willan were a significant presence on issues of neighbourhood planning, unregulated local activities and direction of future operations of the Association.
Meetings: Our AGM, scheduled for Monday March 23rd 2020 at the Jolly Farmers, was cancelled. Our Autumn Open Meeting suffered the same fate. (We hope to give commissioned speakers an audience during our planned Autumn Open Meeting in 2021.) The Annual Report of business and Statements of Account for 2019 were published on our Website. Since there were no Proceedings our Officers neither sought re-election nor stood-down during this time.
Meanwhile, an alternative action plan was established for socially-distanced Committee Meetings and a mid-term discussion was accomplished online in October. This affirmed our plan for continuity at a measured and responsive pace, in view of the prevailing uncertainty. Further online meetings are to take place early in 2021.
Membership: Membership in 2020 was renewed automatically for all registered householders. Membership cards were not reissued while existing cards remained valid. The moratorium on subscriptions was backed by reserves. No resident actively requested termination of membership while a handful of new applicants were joined with the Association. The working assumption is that total membership remained at 1200.
Normally, at the end of June, our Ward Envoys would have been thanked for their efforts at a reception in the Jolly Farmers but, in the circumstances, this was neither appropriate nor possible. Under the pre-pandemic operating model Envoys were an essential part of WERA, securing income, helping communication with residents and providing local knowledge. As existing Envoys become less able to cover their rounds the Committee sought to recruit replacements with only partial success. Since this way of working would become more difficult the Committee gave thought to redirecting resources in 2021.
During 2020 the Boundaries Commission announced final recommendations for the revised Ward geography in the Borough of Enfield. This included a seismic shift for WERA from focus on a single Highlands epicentre (established in 2000) to retaining existing members in a newly defined Oakwood Ward and potential members residing in a western fringe beyond the London Underground station – while, eastward, retaining existing communities on the flanks of a newly created Ridgeway Ward embracing the Salmons Brook valley. There are also implications for serving Councillors and Members of Parliament, Constituencies of whom would encompass all or part of these new Wards.
Network: Dave Cockle continued to chair 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 for Highlands Ward (SNT). Your Chairman represented WERA on the Federation of Enfield Residents and Allied Associations (FERAA) and the Laing Estate Neighbourhood Watch at CAPE meetings. During the year a successful ‘WhatsApp’ network was established, with supervision by the SNT, and valuable intelligence about unlawful or threatening activities in Highlands and adjacent Wards was shared over mobile and desktop computers. Though all social gatherings and Local Councillor Surgeries were prohibited it was possible to maintain a dialogue through Green Belt, Ward Assemblies and other communications.
Your Chairman continued to serve as a Director of the Drill Hall Sports Club in Enfield (a locally listed Community Asset) which, despite closure for most of the year, underwent substantial renovation in preparation for re-opening to the public. (Two of the Committee of 8 loyal volunteers live in Highlands Ward.) Your Chairman was admitted as an Honorary Member of the Enfield Town Residents’ Association and receives regular updates, working with them and exchanging information on matters affecting our town centre.
Publicity: In 2020 the Committee published its first quarterly newsletter on the 13th January. As pandemic restrictions took hold, issues for the next two quarters were cancelled. Easing in November enabled us to issue a year-end newsletter on 9th December, with distribution completed before the second ‘lockdown’ over Christmas. Printed on double-sided sheets of weighted paper, these were delivered direct to homes. The gesture was welcomed by residents as a tangible sign of care and inclusion during those difficult days. Printing of both newsletters was funded by reserves.
Recent editions continued to draw attention through publication on the website and WERA renewed tenure for a further year with our Host (2-minute-website.com) who responded promptly to any enquiries. Content emphasis shifted to presenting a permanent record of WERA – its history, what it does and the outstanding features of Western Enfield. We continued to seek more effective ways to display material on its pages.
Current events, appeals and items of passing interest were increasingly posted on our Facebook page. This social media outlet enabled us to promote our organisation to a wider audience and there has been a steady increase in the number of followers.
WERA paper records remain entrusted to Borough Archives conveniently situated in the Dugdale Centre. Though relocation is being considered by the Council such a move is opposed by the Enfield Society.
Campaigns: Social distancing curbed most trading but outdoor building works in the Ward continued. Planning applications, decisions and appeals were examined at various times by our Committee who responded to requests for support from concerned residents. Though the Fairview Homes threat appeared to recede, the fate of our local Glebe Fields was under close scrutiny by Enfield Road Watch throughout the year. Despite unregulated activities at South Lodge Farm the Council Enforcement Team was slow to act, citing the lockdown as a reason. The passing months were made less tolerable with widespread and prolonged road excavations by utility companies. Most of our residents, nonetheless, coped with deprivation and isolation while complying with emergency orders.
Volunteering: With schools shut down for long periods there was a marked decrease in litter deposited by children (particularly wrappers and plastic bottles) along routes home. Plastic bags were less frequently encountered. However, this was countered by an increase in discarded face-masks and fly-tipping. Exceptional bouts of inclement weather scattered items and debris across walkways and along verges. Nevertheless, there were productive expeditions by our local pickers. On one occasion, sharp eyes detected a stolen track bike thrust deep into undergrowth around Lakeside. The Specialized hybrid, virtually new and worth at least £600, was subsequently reunited with its happy owner in Cockfosters. Repeated efforts on a group and individual scale helped to keep Western Enfield reasonably clean and tidy.
WERA Officers participated in the Thames 21 initiative of planting at least 100,000 young mixed shrubs and tall trees on fallow land north of the Borough. Boxer’s Lake and connected waterways continued to be monitored and were looking generally healthier. Fauna and flora thrived. Advice about appropriate food for waterfowl seemed to reach more visitors and there were fewer signs of ‘angel’ wing deformity.
Donations: With our Treasurer’s approval, we donated £100 to NHS Charities last April in recognition of their heroic efforts during the acute care crisis. In December we donated a further sum of £50 to the Metropolitan Police Christmas Appeal on behalf of deprived Children who would otherwise have received no gifts in the festive season.
And finally, the Committee of WERA would like to express admiration for the steadfast way in which residents have endured a difficult year. We will contribute to the development of a happier, healthier and more optimistic Western Enfield in 2021.