A constitution for West Hampstead’s newest residents’ association has just been finalised, and residents are now waiting for a meeting to formally adopt the constitution and elect its committee.
The MILAM Residents’ Association will represent the interests of people living in Maygrove, Iverson, Loveridge, Ariel and Medley Roads.
As with many residents’ associations, the catalyst for setting up MILAM was to fight a particular cause, in this case the disruption caused by construction work on the Regal Homes development on Maygrove Road.
Monica Regli, who lives on Maygrove Road, said that she and many of her neighbours became frustrated with the lack of communication both from the developer and Camden Council when the works started. A short stretch of the road was closed for three months, causing significant problems with traffic which affected not only Maygrove but also the surrounding streets.
A few people complained, but Monica felt that residents’ concerns were not being addressed satisfactorily. “Individual complaints were just being batted away – we needed to unite,” she said. She set up a Facebook group and Twitter account where Maygrove residents could air their views, and immediately noticed that as a group, they started to be taken more seriously. Among the group’s first followers on Twitter was Regal Homes, closely followed by many local councillors.
Fortune Green councillor Lorna Russell suggested that residents formalise the group by setting up a Residents’ Association, and also open it up to residents of the surrounding streets facing many of the same issues. The area now covers about 1,000 households. Monica said she was nervous about taking on this task, not having had experience of setting up such an association before, but received overwhelming support from Lorna and other councillors including Flick Rea and Philip Rosenberg, James Earl, chair of the West Hampstead NDF, and Sue Measures of Sidings Community Centre, where meetings were held.
James Earl, who is also chair of the Fordwych Residents’ Association, said that the FRA welcomed the establishment of MILAM. Maygrove Road used to be covered by this neighbouring group, although the other four roads were not. “We think an RA for this area is badly needed and will be able to do a very useful job in representing the views of residents in this (often overlooked) area.” he said, adding “I hope the FRA and the MILAM RA will be able to work closely and productively in the years ahead.”
Cllr. Flick Rea, too, said she hoped that MILAM would “flourish,” and explained why she is a keen advocate of such groups: “Working together achieves so much more, and gives residents a stronger voice when making representations to the Council. They can also help bring people together and create a sense of community, which can be difficult when there is no obvious focal point.”
Monica’s background in law helped when it came to drafting the constitution and ensuring that all residents’ feedback was captured. She is keen to emphasise, however, that she does not intend to take charge of proceedings and that MILAM is for all residents, whether they simply want to sign up or get more heavily involved.
What’s next on the agenda for MILAM after the Regal Homes development? Liddell Road – and its planned tower block – inevitably looms large. Even for West Hampstead, these five streets are surrounded by an unusually high concentration of planned development, and residents understandably want to be aware of, and have a say in, how these proposals will unfold in the months and years to come.
But Monica insists it’s not all about the negative. “This is also a positive way of bringing people together” she points out, saying that since the group came together on social media, her road has felt like more of a community. Social events and street parties are some of the plans on the horizon. “It’s great to feel that we’re keeping an eye out for each other and making the area feel more secure.”
You can contact the group through its Twitter or Facebook pages, or by emailing moc.l1503039643iamg@15030396436wnev1503039643orgya1503039643m1503039643.