As identified on the Attendance List):


Alma Road

  • Peter Wirgman
  • Chris Jackson
  • Heather Soper
  • Barbara Matcham

Avenue Road

  • Helen Muscat
  • Liz Haslam
  • Carol Massey
  • Fiona Barnes

Highcliff Avenue

  • Margaret Chiari

Gordon Avenue

  • Dorothy Haslehurst
  • Barbara Deacon
  • Chris Hawthorn
  • Hilary Jackson
  • Peter Syvret

Earls Road

  • Richard Long
  • Greg Hewitt

Cambridge Road

  • Mary Hockey

Ed Parsons

  • Mary Hockey

OARA Committee

  • Gordon Gillies (Chair)
  • T Jacobs (Membership Secretary)
  • Andy Haslehurst (Treasurer)
  • Rosy Maguire (Committee Member)
  • Phine Dahle (Committee Member)
  • Barbro Fitzjohn (Committee Member)

Other attendees

  • Stephen Connolly, Highfield
  • Jerry Gillen, Highfield RA


  • Lynn Murphy, Sue Swallow

1. Welcome

Gordon opened the meeting by welcoming all of the attendees. The apologies were given.

2. Planning Matters

2.1 HMO Supplementary Planning Document

Gordon set the scene by briefly outlining the purpose of the HMO SPD, and thanked everyone who had submitted comments to the council. He invited Jerry Gillen, Chairman of Highfield RA, and Peter Wirgman to inform the meeting of the outcome of the council meeting about the SPD. Jerry announced that the SPD has been adopted by the Council Cabinet on 12th March, which means that it is now official council policy. This means that planning permission will have to be applied for if a landlord wishes to convert a family home into an HMO. Given the present number of HMOs in the OARA area, it is likely that permission will be refused from now on.

Gordon asked whether the SPD would apply to two properties that were currently being converted into HMOs. Jerry responded that it would. There followed some debate about whether a landlord had to have tenants in residence on 23rd March 12 in order not to have to apply for planning permission.
Action: Sue Swallow to contact Chris Lyons to find out what the position is on this point.

Gordon thanked Jerry and Peter for updating the meeting, and reminded everyone that we have to remain vigilant. He was asked what we should do if we became aware of changes. Gordon responded that people should email and the RA would take it from there.

2.2 Change of housing facades

Liz Haslam commented that the facades of many of the houses in the area were being changed and were not in keeping with surrounding buildings. It was noted that some are protected by the conservation rules, but most are not. Gordon commented that we should make the Planning Department aware of any changes.

Margaret Chiari volunteered to form a group to prevent the facades of our Victorian houses being ruined by builders. Fiona Barnes, who has an interest in the history of the area, volunteered to join her. Gordon welcomed this and asked them to take this forward with Sue Swallow, as part of the Planning Group activities.

Action: Margaret Chiari and Fiona Barnes + Gordon to contact Sue with contact details of Margaret and Fiona

Jerry advised that he could send a template for a planning report which is used in Highfield.

Action: Jerry to send to the template to Gordon who will pass it on to Margaret, Fiona and Sue

3. Projects for 2012

3.1 Greening Group

Phine Dahle updated the meeting on the Greening Group’s proposals to raise money for their plan to plant 60 trees in front gardens. Because there is no public space in the OARA area, we are not eligible for any grants and will have to fund the trees ourselves.

Phine reported that the Greening Group had selected a flowering cherry tree as a signature tree for the area. It is planned to have them all planted by December 12. The trees will cost about £45 each.

Their ideas for funding are:

  1. A table top sale will be held on Sunday 1st April in the car park of Alma Road surgery.  People can pay £5 for a table to sell their own items, and there will be other tables where all of the monies raised will be used for the tree fund.
  2. Having a residents’ open gardens day.  People could charge for entrance or they could ask for donations.
  3. People could donate £20 to host a tree, and the Greening Group would find the rest; this money would be needed by June 12.
  4. A plant swap will be held at the Alma Gordon planters on Tuesday 15th May.

Greg Hewitt informed the meeting that the group also wishes to develop the planters area as an amenity and they are currently finding out what can be done. Greg has drafted a funding application to the Plant Co-operative for £300. Gordon thanked Greg and asked him to send a copy of the application to him so that he could in turn forward it on to the Treasurer.

Action: Greg to send Gordon the application; Gordon to forward it on to Andy Haslehurst

Gordon asked Phine to send him an e-copy of the greening Group’s report.
Action: Phine

Heather Soper added that if anyone can think of other ways of raising funds, they would be most welcome. Gordon asked Andy to lead on a bid to the Community Chest for materials.

Action: Andy

3.2 The Big Lunch

Greg Hewitt is leading on this, and outlined what was involved. The proposed date is Sunday 10th June 12. It will cost about £100 to close the road, which would be free if we held the event on Sunday 3rd June. Greg is trying to build a team of people to help organise the event – food, activities, bunting etc.

Gordon agreed to send Greg’s email address to the membership, seeking contributions and offers of help.

Action: Gordon

3.3 Street cleaning

Barbara announced that the next street clean would be held on Saturday 24th March at 11:00. Meet at the planters.

Action: Gordon to email the membership; T and Rosy to update and reproduce the “we’ve cleaned your street” leaflet

It was commented that it would be useful if the council cleaned the streets when the students aren’t here.

Action: Barbara Matcham to follow up with Street Cleaning

Peter Syvret reported that he had been in touch with Cllr Burke about the non-collection of bins. He had conducted his own audit and found that non-collection was random as not all bins broke the collection rules. Cllr Burke has been very helpful in cutting through council red tape. Peter asked residents to contact him (via Gordon, if necessary) to provide input on areas where bins were not being emptied.

Action: All

3.4 Working with landlords

Gordon reported that there was an outstanding action on him and T to move this forward.

4 Financial Update

Andy reported that we have £400 left from last year, £100 from the table top sale, and about £65 remaining from the Community Chest grant. This will need to be spent by June, and could possibly be used for the Membership cards.

5 Membership Cards

At the last meeting, we had agreed that we would have a Membership Card that would cost £3 per person per year. As well as raising much needed funds for OARA, it would entitle the holder to discounts in restaurants and other establishments in Portswood. In return for the discount, we would put their details in our newsletter and on our website.

T reported that the card had been designed, and it was now just a matter of reproducing it, and deciding on a method of distribution. She said that the card would either be authorised by her as Membership Secretary or Andy Haslehurst as Treasurer.

Action: Rosy to contact Matt Conrad to explore opportunities for printing

Action: T to develop a method of distributing the cards and collecting the money

6 Skills Register

Greg Hewitt asked whether the Skills Register mentioned in the last Newsletter was still going ahead. Gordon responded that it could but we don’t know who they are. Greg felt that it’s important to support the small businesses that are in the area. Gordon agreed and asked Greg to think about how this could be moved forward.

Action: Greg

7 Conclusion

Gordon concluded the meeting by thanking everyone for attending.

7.1 Dates of next meetings

OARA General Meetings

Wednesday 23rd May 12
Tuesday 10th July 12
Monday 17th September 12
Tuesday 27th November 12
Tuesday 22nd January 13 AGM

OARA Committee Meetings

Wednesday 25th April 12
Tuesday 19th June 12
Monday 3rd September 12
Tuesday 6th November 12
Thursday 13th December 12

Action: all to note