The North St Margarets Residents’ Association’s committee resolved on 23 February that the Association should withdraw from participation in the St Margarets Alliance with immediate effect.
Laurence Mann Secretary
The North St Margarets Residents’ Association’s committee resolved on 23 February that the Association should withdraw from participation in the St Margarets Alliance with immediate effect.
Laurence Mann Secretary
Having been a Lib Dem councillor for a long period, I have always been concerned about your motives for being a founder member of North St Margarets Residents Association (NSMRA). I always wondered if it was just a party political activity for you. I fear your recent comments and activities contacting the Crown Rd Traders and Cllrs. Action, Morgan and Khosa's and their recent intervention would lead one to think you are using a residents association for your own party political purposes. Chris Squire recently publically announced his LibDem activist status, I would suggest you do the same.
You have made a simple survey by the St Margarets Alliance into a epic debate and you have criticized the Richmond United Group (like Serge Lourie el. al), to date the only people that are doing this are the LibDems. I have many friends who live within the NSMRA area and they are frankly very concerned by your approach, they think the only logical reason you are doing this is for party politically ends. NSMRA residents are not happy with this and I understand attendance at events is falling accordingly.
Like all local mature and reputable organisations the St Margarets Alliance has become dormant during the election period, but you seem to be still as politically active as ever. This worries me that you are compromising the integrity of the NSMRA. The Alliance have had a large proportion of NSMRA members who enthusiastically responded to the survey and this leads me to the conclusion that you don't seem to be representing their views. None of the 12 committee members you have mentioned except yourself have even contacted the Alliance, so they have based their opinion on your report alone.
To this end I would like to see:
1 Evidence of you contacting your full membership on this issue. 2) Proof that you will not be making any further political comments in future on behalf of the NSMRA, attacking other organisations. 3) Details of all party political affiliations of NSMRA committee members and that they will follow the new LibDem "Topol's Law" and stand down from NSMRA. 4) Details of any mandate you think you personally have to judge other organisations. 5) Why you think every organisation needs a constitution of your making (this is not a Mann authoritarian state, yet!!) 6) Why you think surveys are not useful when 300 residents across St Margarets do? 7) Evidence of your understanding the Sustainable Communities Act (as the Alliance survey fits the Acts requirements for the understanding of the economic social and environmental needs of the residents.) 8) Details of why you are so personally opposed to this community activity, are you simply just trying to stop residents expressing their views?
Frankly Laurence, I am appalled by your attitude, your use of NSMRA for party political purposes and your lack of respect for fellow residents and their associations. I have seen your LibDem election campaign manual "Effective Opposition" advocating " stir endlessly" "act shamlessly" etc, it is all in the public domain and I have copied in your Chair on my concerns, I hope your actions are examined accordingly. NSMRA are a valued neighbour of other local residents associations, Laurence you are not representative of the local people you are supposed to serve and you are very destructive towards the idea of community.
Laurence, if you miss politics that much be honest and stand. I can't believe it, even when writing to the St Margarets Alliance you are rude and abusive about other organisations.
Laurence, no organisation should have to accept your kind of offensive comments, no further communication from Laurence Mann on behalf of NSMRA will be accepted. Laurence everyone is fed up with this LibDem childishness, you can no longer get away with using rsidents associations for LibDem aims, please do the right thing and resign from NSMRA.
Written by Barry Edwards in reponse to the below
Email is quoted in full from Laurence Mann to St Margarets Alliance
Further to my other email, and writing in an individual capacity I think that I should make it clear that there was no support for continuing the "wait and see" approach I have been promoting.
The meeting felt (and there were 12 members in attendance) that Alliance has failed:
In addition, and this did not come out at the meeting as I did not wish to make things worse, the Alliance's affiliation with RUG is something which in my view would render it an unsuitable body for us to be part of.
RUG may have a reasonable mission statement, but like the Alliance, its composition is obscure.
It appears to have become a single-issue pressure group which has taken a line on an issue which is not of great materiality to people in our area and about which it would be inappropriate to canvass opinion as I imagine that there would be as little consensus about it in our area as there is in the borough as a whole. RUG's conduct is confrontational and has helped the matter to become polarised rather than resolved: this approach is at odds with what we see as the more prudent line of constructive engagement, which is how most successful amenity groups operate.
From the fact that a number of its active participants have surfaced as candidates for one political party in the next election, I am sceptical about whether RUG was at any stage other than a front for that party's views. Whether or not that is the case, the fact that it is easy to reach that conclusion is a dangerous position for a so called amenity group to be in and we do not wish to be tarred by the same brush.
I do regret that well meaning people like you two and Hilary have essentially wasted a great deal of time on this. But I hope you will acknowledge that had the concerns I raised earlier been dealt with when they were raised rather than being ignored and sidelined by your Chair, there would have been scope for the Alliance to flourish. But maybe that would never have happened.
With best wishes,
Laurence MannBarry Edwards on 2010-02-28 15:00:43 +0000
I have not made any offensive comments at all.
Our meeting was well attended and the initiative to leave the Alliance did not come from me. Indeed, I have for some time now been putting forward the idea that we should wait and see what happens with the Alliance as if it could be made to work, then this was something we should all support. At our meeting, not one member of the Committee was in favour of waiting any longer. As Secretary I have reported the outcome of the meeting and have informed the Alliance's Secretary what happened. I have also asked for references to our involvement to be removed from the Alliance website.
You seem entirely obsessed with "party political ends". Although I am still a member of the LibDems, I am not particularly active - I just have not got time for it. Our Residents' Association works with everyone it can. We were as keen to invite our former Conservative councillors to our AGMs as the current ones. We moan just as much about things worth moaning about as we ever did and we acknowledge help given wherever it comes from. If we happen to be members of political parties or other groups, this is of no account whatsoever.
I have no idea what you are talking about when you talk about my "campaign manual". I don't have a campaign, and the only manuals I possess are to do with computers.
I don't think that every organisation needs a constitution drafted by me. But it does need a constitution if it is to be taken seriously. That constitution needs to be coherent. You asked me to draft something for you last summer and then you mangled it up. You then told me via a member of your committee that my draft was too "legalistic" and you would get someone else to do it, which was fine with me. What has now appeared on your website is a cut and paste job with bits of my draft and who knows what else. There is no roadmap for the discussion and adoption even of that. The lack of any formal framework for the Alliance was what troubled me last year and led to your inviting me to a meeting, which I attended. I made a number of enquiries prior to attending that to ascertain whether or not other groups which you claimed were involved with the Alliance actually were involved or even existed.
I am not sure why the Alliance should become "dormant" at any stage. It should not be involved in elections anyway, so the election period is nothing to do with it. If it has a purpose, then it should be getting on with it. We were told initially that the object of the Alliance was to get involved with the Sustainable Communities Act process, and yes, I have read it and the regulations published thereunder. We were also given to understand that the Alliance was broadly based, but it seems that it was not, despite efforts from some of you to engage other groups. Notwithstanding this, you went ahead with a Survey which covered areas from which you had no participation and don't seem much connected to St Margarets. The Survey itself was not well drafted and from the results evening, little of value came of it. If the process of producing a Community Action Plan does continue, and it goes up for consideration, the way it was formulated will come under scrutiny; and so far, that formulation has been shambolic.
We wrote to you in November as follows:
"Sent: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 9:47 PM Subject: ST MARGARET'S ALLIANCE
At a meeting of the NSMRA Committee this evening the progress of the work of the Alliance was discussed. A number of concerns relating to the constitution and viability of the Alliance were raised, and an account of its activities so far was given; and it was resolved that we should write to you to say that the Association is entirely supportive of efforts to create sensible community initiatives, but that our continued involvement with the Alliance was dependent upon:
1. Its prompt adoption of a Constitution and mission statement consistent with our Association's expectations of the Alliance's objectives and its status as a body comprising representatives from local groups; 2. The publication of all past and future minutes and accounts on its website. The meeting also concluded that if these things were done it should be possible to bolster community cohesion and bring back into the Alliance groups that had dropped out.
It was proposed to report back at the January meeting as to how this was progressing.
Accordingly I am writing to you to ask you whether you are able to accommodate these requirements."
Belatedly, the accounts of the Alliance have been posted on the Alliance website, but nothing else has been done.
As far as RUG is concerned, I have not criticised them except to say that their approach is confrontational, which it is. I simply said that they have become very fixated with the Riverside issue, which is not something which materially affects people in North St Margarets. I doubt if there would be any consensus on what do about it and because it is not the business of NSMRA to deal with matters outside of the Association's area which do not affect them, the quite strong affiliation of the Alliance with RUG, which we were not consulted about and which appeared in your latest draft of the constitution is something which is divisive.
As to your confused and bullying list of demands, I have little to say except that maybe the reason why the Alliance has hardly any active participants is because your reaction to any criticism is to have a rant and indulge in hostile personal attacks which have nothing to do with the matter at hand. The bottom line is that if you truly had an interest in building a community group which draws its participants from across St Margarets you needed to deal with such criticisms rather than sidelining them or maligning the people to dare to raise them.Laurence Mann on 2010-03-01 16:32:42 +0000
And another thing....
I would like to make it quite clear that the email which Mr Edwards replicated in his posting was sent not to the St Margarets Alliance, but to two of the Committee of the Alliance, in my personal capacity and not on behalf of NSMRA; as I felt that they, being people with whom I had worked in the past on local issues in a cordial and co-operative way, were owed an explanation as to what circumstances lay behind my formal email informing the Secretary of what NSMRA's Committee had decided.Laurence Mann on 2010-03-01 19:34:31 +0000
You mention mine and my two colleague's names
"Cllrs. Action, Morgan and Khosa's and their recent intervention would lead one to think"
Would you clarify as to what "intervention" you refer and would you also confirm if you are asserting that we have done something inappropriate.
Cllr Ben KhosaBen Khosa on 2010-03-03 08:25:06 +0000
My partner and I are residents of North St Margarets. (However, we do not know Laurence Mann personally so he hasn't worked his political magic on us yet!). We attended the Alliance meeting at the Turks Head and were very unimpressed. The three people representing the Alliance appeared unable to communicate what the purpose of the Alliance was and to set it into any kind of context and the meeting centred largely on the residents' survey. It would have been far more useful if, at the start of the meeting, some background and thinking behind the creation of these Alliances could have been given. Am I right in thinking that they are part of the DCLG community empowerment scheme??? In any event, we were not persuaded by the Alliance representatives although we are entirely supportive of local empowerment. ShameGillian Licari on 2010-03-03 15:17:04 +0000
In answer to Gillian Licari, I must reiterate that despite what Barry Edwards says and may even think, there is no plot.
The idea behind the Alliance, as it was explained to our Residents' Association, was that it was comprised of representatives from various local groups, including Residents' Associations, the St Margarets Traders, local schools, etc. Its function was to formulate a Community Action Plan which could be used to derive some ideas for things which would benefit our community in a sustainable way. There is a (fairly) recent Act of Parliament, the Sustainable Communities Act, which provides for a process whereby such ideas are submitted by the local council to a Selector (which is a panel appointed by the Local Government Association) with the best ones endorsed and adopted.
The essential elements are:
So far so good. We were interested in this.
However, it became apparent over the next few months that:
A. The Alliance was not widely drawn at all. Interest was sporadic from some local bodies and absent from others. The Traders abandoned it, and really the failure of the Alliance and the Traders to work together left a giant hole. Some of the groups which were claimed to be involved were unknown to people living in their areas.
B. The Survey drawn up was not limited to our locality of St Margarets but was instead distributed to all of the North Twickenham and St Margarets Ward. The Alliance had not been able to secure participation from the two Residents' Associations in Cole Park and Heatham,
C. It appeared that the Alliance was claiming to represent local groups rather than being made up from representatives from them - an important distinction.
D. There was some evidence that the Alliance was being used for political purposes - at the time Mr Edwards and two others were considering standing for election in 2010 as independent candidates.
E. The Alliance did not appear to have local authority recognition. To be fair, the local authority did not be acting in any sense promptly to implement the provisions of the Act except for agreeing to adopt the Act in autmn 2008. However, it seemed to me that if the Alliance was properly set up and did have appropriate local widely drawn support it would greatly strengthen its moral case to be recognised. As it stood, there was no chance of that happening.
F. Questions about these matters were not replied to.
As a result of further questions, a meeting was held, which was noted on this website in the July 2009 archive, if you care to look, at which certain assurances were given. I noted at the time:
------------ "Some of the ideas which they [the Alliance Committee] have agreed to take on board are:
In order to help, I offered both to assist in drafting a constitution and also to spend some time trying to get people back on board, as long as the above was done.
Well, the bottom line is that nothing much was done. I did draft a constitution, but the elements therein which allowed for accountability, transparency and even for the members to choose the officers were emasculated or removed. You can see what is left of it, plus some odd additions, on the Alliance website.
At various stages, the utility of the Alliance was questioned by NSMRA members, particularly as the Survey was far too vague, and I suspect that NSMRA would have withdrawn earlier if I had not foolishly sought to assist.
Anyway, in November, our Committee asked for an email to be sent to the Alliance saying that we would stop participating if it could not get itself on an even keel.
Now, as nothing material has happened, our Association has withdrawn and really I am not surprised, as you can see from the email I wrote to two members of the Alliance committee.
This has provoked a very intemperate and unfair reaction from Mr Edwards, who has used the fact that from 16 years ago to 8 years ago I was a local councillor to construct a fiendish plot to subvert the known universe to my wicked desires. Worse still, he imagines I have followed some crazy prescription for annoying him.
Could something like the Alliance actually work? I don't know. St Margarets is a wonderful place and it would be good to think that it could become yet more wonderful. On the other hand grand plans often go nowhere and can be divisive.Laurence Mann on 2010-03-04 02:00:30 +0000
I am very surprised by all the comments Mr Edwards, a perspective councillor, makes on this site. I am not sure that having somebody who writes with such venom would make a good councillor. Clearly St Margarets has an issue with the way in which Mr. Edwards has run this 'Alliance'. Following Mr.Mann's comment above, I understand that there are now no residents associations participating in the Alliance, so how can it be an Alliance? As a floating voter, I think I would float away from Mr Edwards and his party.R. Williams on 2010-03-04 12:12:18 +0000
In reply to Mr Williams, you would have to ask other residents' and other groups why they did not engage with or ceased taking part in the Alliance. I am not sure it would be proper to speculate.
I think that someone's suitability for the office of councillor depends on what they as individuals can do for the community they hope to represent. Mr Edwards is apparently hoping to stand for election in Teddington, so that really is nothing to do with us here in St Margarets.Laurence Mann on 2010-03-04 13:14:11 +0000
That I am an active member of the Lib Dems is tolerably well known to the borough's quite small political class, as I joined up for the 1987 campaign and I edit the borough party website. What this has to do with the price of fish or the St Margarets Alliance I know not: I live in East Twickenham and was not invited to take part.
My view is that there is no need for such a new outfit in a neighbourhood like ours already well served by amenity and environmental groups [we have our very own very active environmental charity for the River Crane www.force.org.uk/ which I would have thought an ideal outlet for Barry's considerable energies and skills] as well as branches of the borough's political parties.
It's true also that Laurence has been a leading Lib Dem but that nowadays his main contribution is to host our convivial branch meetings and to cook for our wonderful fund raising suppers. Politics can be fun! I'm sorry that Barry seems to be missing out. Perhaps some time out on the doorsteps of Teddington will teach him some humility by showing him just how varied are the attitudes of residents; any road, the fresh air and exercise will surely put him into a better frame of mind.Chris Squire on 2010-03-08 18:42:23 +0000
When Barry Edwards finally calms down perhaps he should read again the posting from NSMRA. It says... "The North St Margarets Residents' Association's committee resolved on 23 February that the Association should withdraw from participation in the St Margarets Alliance with immediate effect."
Perhaps he'll notice that word 'committee'. It was a group of locally elected men and women who, after discussion, decided that we should pull out of the St. Margarets Alliance. All Laurence Mann did was to report our decision to the community website. We pulled out for 3 reasons:- 1) We are still unclear as to what the Alliance is supposed to be doing. 2) We cannot see how our neighbourhood might benefit from its work, and 3) We are perpetually confused and irritated by the endless internal wrangling...of which these recent exchanges are a prime example.Compost King on 2010-03-12 16:21:49 +0000
Laurence Mann is always right!Nicholas Storey on 2011-11-02 21:26:11 +0000