Present: committee members: Anne Orange, Rod Brown, Jane Pickard, Helen O'Brien, Dave Maddix, Jeremy Galloway, James Slattery-Kavanagh, Romano Barca, Bernie Bullbrook, Bill Clifford. Other members:.Joe Ward, Richard Moore, Simon Berlyn, Pat Fisher (Royal Circus Neighbourhood Watch), Michael Grimwood, Gabrielle Garton-Grimwood, Andy Brown, John MacDonald.
Non-voting: Isabel Trist, Couns John Whelan, Robert McConnell and Colin Crooks.
Apologies: Linda White, Grahame Wilson, Paul Tobin, councillors Paul Connolly, Janet Grigg, A'Court, Gareth Compton.
Chaired by: Anne Orange.
A) Committee meeting
Town Centre Forum: JP reported that she, Anne Orange, Jeremy Galloway and Rod Brown had met Isabel Trist and Colin Crooks for 20 minutes before the NAG meeting to explain the thinking behind NAG's voting on the forum board constitution at our last meeting.
They had explained that members were anxious to see a sizeable proportion of residents on the board and had not wanted all of them to be representing a voluntary group. They had also explained that NAG had opposed the idea of ward representation, since the forum might want to elect more than one person from one ward while there was no-one standing in another.
Colin Crooks had said he could appreciate this last point, although there were other organisations arguing for ward representation. But he preferred a total of 14, rather than 15, board members overall, since he wanted to ensure every member spoke on every topic. An even number was tolerable since close votes would normally mean the board referring the issue back to the forum.
Bill Clifford asked how and why the meeting with Coun Crooks had been set up. Other committee members explained it had been decided at the last NAG meeting, but, because of Christmas and New Year intervening, the date had been set in a hurry by phone at the weekend.
It was decided to postpone further discussion until the main meeting.
Finance: There was a long discussion. Bill Clifford said he had spoken to a Lambeth Council official who had said NAG had already paid £4-5,000 for the Christmas lights. No-one knew anything about this. We had been told in the autumn that NAG would owe £1,000 for 1998 and Jeremy said this bill had been received recently but had not yet been paid. The money was available. We had not been given a figure for 1999 yet. It was concluded that there had been some misunderstanding during Bill's conversation with the council official.
Jane asked if Bill, Jeremy and Anne could sign the mandate forms from the bank for this year so that the treasurer was able to sign cheques. There would shortly be an invoice from the printer for newsletters. Bill said he was not prepared to sign the mandate forms until last year's accounts had been reconciled. Jane argued that this was difficult until he was acting fully as treasurer and receiving bank statements. There were a number of outstanding bank statements which had gone astray last year when we were temporarily without a treasurer and these needed to be chased up.
Anne left the meeting to fetch the mandate forms, but Bill declined to sign them.
Health check on constitution: JP had not had time to do this, but would before the next meeting.
As the meeting came to a close, Richard Moore suggested we set up a procedure for members to suggest agenda items. The committee agreed to do this.
B) Main Meeting
1. Town centre manager's report: Isabel Elder (formerly Trist) said the short-term parking bays had been in operation since December and proved a success. There was still some tweaking needed. Jeremy said it was making a difference to traders already. Jane raised the issue of the snooker club which needed some longer term spaces for members. Isabel agreed that longer term parking needed examining.
In a discussion about abandoned vehicles, Coun Whelan said the new traffic warden contract would include responsibility for this.
2. Lambeth College site: there was a long discussion after Isabel reported that the planning application from Fairview Homes for housing had been rejected and was now going to a public inquiry. The council wanted a mixed use scheme to provide jobs as well as housing. JP reminded members this was also NAG's policy. Some people spoke up in favour of the housing scheme, but there was no move to change the policy.
Coun McConnell warned there was a danger that the council would lose the inquiry because it had done insufficient research to support its case and might not have instructed lawyers.
The meeting agreed the following resolution from Richard Moore, seconded by Rod Brown, with no votes against and two abstentions: "We urge Lambeth Council and all councillors directly affected to ensure the borough solicitors use their full legal powers and provide legal representation at the planning inquiry and use their best efforts to gain local supporting evidence as a matter of immediate urgency in view of the imminence of the inquiry."
3. Councillors' reports: Coun Whelan said the application for an all-night licence for the Norwood Banqueting Suite had been turned down. Rod Brown queried the reasons and Coun Whelan offered to let him see the file on the case.
Coun Whelan also reported complaints about part of the flower market at the Tulse Hill end of Norwood Road intruding on to council land. Michael Grimwood asked if it would not be better to help the business regularise its position and Coun Whelan agreed that a way forward would be found, but not by allowing "squatting".
4. Minutes and matters arising: (a) Jane said A(ii) was wrong: there almost certainly was a problem about NAG circulating all members' details among the whole membership and she had made this clear at the last meeting. She had raised this with Linda White, the minute-taker, who agreed that the sentence should read: "It appeared there was no problem with the NAG committee sharing their names and details with each other." The minutes were duly amended and it was agreed that any amendment to application forms should await proper information about the Act. Richard Moore offered to provide legal details of the Act and suggested that NAG got a temporary registration number until it had decided what to do about the Act in respect of its membership list.
(b) Simon Berlyn complained about the lack of voting figures on the item about the forum board constitution. It was agreed that voting figures should normally be given, especially when the voting was close.
(c) Romano Barca asked for it to be minuted that at the meeting before last he had said there were police at every table during the public meeting on the forum.
(d) Michael Grimwood suggested that the group adopt a policy to the effect that it recognised that minutes need not take the form of a verbatim record and that they should aim to be a general note of the decisions made and the tenor of discussion. This was agreed.
Gabrielle Grimwood also complained that some people at NAG meetings regularly shouted down others and hogged a disproportionate amount of time. James Slattery-Kavanagh said he intended to work with the secretaries to put minutes on NAG's web site.
5. Town centre forum: Coun Crooks said he and Isabel had decided, after consultation, to have 14 members on the board (see sheet enclosed), of whom nine would have to be resident. This gave four individuals standing on their own account rather than five as NAG had pressed for. He agreed that board members must declare their interests. There was a discussion about the issue of whether individuals and/or business representatives should represent specific wards or areas. It was decided that NAG did not need to change its policy on board membership.
But the council was criticised for the lack of publicity given to the town centre forum scheme. Most people felt that very few knew, or would know in time, about the first forum meeting on 27 January.
6. Election of representative to forum board: It was agreed that NAG would put forward one person as their representative to stand for election to the board at the forum meeting on 27 January. The following were nominated:
Jane Pickard - nominated by Jo Ward, seconded by Jeremy Galloway.
Simon Berlyn - nominated by Richard Moore, seconded by Romano Barca.
Romano Barca - nominated by Simon Berlyn, seconded by Richard Moore.
There was a secret ballot, conducted by Coun Whelan.
Jane Pickard was elected, with 11 votes. Simon Berlyn and Romano Barca each received three votes.