Dear friends and neighbours,
I am sending out this impersonal generic message so that you all receive the same information.
My time as Chair of the Residents’ Association is rapidly coming to an end. I stand down in March. It is time for a new person at the helm, to enthusiastically carry the Association forward.
We launched our ‘communications for all residents’ strategy with Twitter and Facebook accounts, and a website. We made our leadership, decisions and actions transparent. The records are held for all to see on these sites. We relaunched our printed newsletter in a more professional format so that it appears credible. Residents are reading it and not just throwing it away. This is the only platform we have to reach all households.
By holding our three meetings per year as open events, open to all residents and not just a small cabal or clique of inner decision-makers, we have jointly defined the Association’s role. It is to improve the residents’ quality of life. We do that by improving our physical amenities and our social amenities.
We have been influential in the improvement of physical amenities such as Plymouth Park, the zig-zag path, the ‘woodland’ path, bench seating, yellow lines, and lighting amongst others. We are still wrestling to achieve others: the lighting of the zig-zag path, relaying of the only path in Plymouth Park, continued public access to Penarth Headland beach. We have not always been successful. We tried to get the VoG Council to understand that last time they cut the trees down the soil was washed away in mud and landslides. This has left many areas of bare cliff ‘rock’. The excess rain water in the escarpment now pours out of the rocks. Eventually this will cause rockfall as it does around Penarth Head beach. As the Council were finishing cutting the trees down this year, the landslides have begun. The Council’s corporate memory has been lost in many departments and it will be worse when we become part of Cardiff Council in about 2017. It is imperative that the residents keep their own neighbourhood memory to refresh that of local and national government in future.
Social amenity initiatives have been the vey successful relaunched annual Carols on the Quay, and Christmas Dinner, the monthly Pub Quiz, the Book Club, the Alternative Book Club, and other one-off activities and events. The challenge is not to think up additional activities but identify individual residents who are prepared to organise and launch them.
In order to achieve the above, especially the physical amenities, we could only hope to influence, persuade, cajole, and threaten to stamp our foot and cry. Our only ‘power’ comes from holding the legitimacy of representing the majority of residents. Unlike politicians, we cannot impose our wishes upon others. We can only succeed by making the arguments time after time and so gain the support of most of the residents. It is the residents’ support that gives us the legitimacy, the power, to ask government authorities and others to consider our point of view. Our communications strategy helps us to achieve that legitimacy of power. This must be the envy of our politicians!
What keeps this Association alive? Continual and persistent communication with all neighbourhood residents. Like most voluntary organisation’s we will suffer a churn of active participants. This is a very desirable location to live and so people are continually moving in and out of the neighbourhood. Many residents get actively involved for one or two years but then other things change in their lives and we lose contact. Most residents find it informative and useful to receive the newsletter, Facebook and Twitter communications. They are very appreciative of the Association and all the efforts of its volunteers and want it to continue but they don’t have the time to get involved. To maintain its legitimacy, the Association must continue and improve its regular communications with all residents.
We are looking for a new Chair. How would you improve communications to all residents, physical amenities and social amenities? Would you like to talk it over with Martin? Would you like to be our next Chair?
I do hope to hear from you,
Dr. Martin Whitehill
Penarth Marina & Haven Residents’ Association