Here is a summary of OARA group activities since the last General Meeting. If you would like to come along and help with the work of any of these groups, even a bit of occasional weeding or litter picking, you would be most welcome.

Greening

The gardening group has been continuing to maintain the planters in Avenue Road and junction of Gordon Ave and Alma Rd. We try out different plants and bulbs to find those most successful for us. The half barrels have some petunias as well as geraniums this year which varies the colours a little.

The verge of the cut through to Westwood road is filling up and the Triteleia we planted have really done well.

The dry weather has meant that plants have been wilting. Watering is not easy without handy taps so don’t be surprised to see us walking and trundling water containers up and down the roads.

We held two events which helped share more plants with the local community. The St George’s Day initiative, funded by a council grant and supported by two local nurseries which support people with mental health difficulties, saw red and white plants and good advice being shared. More plants found their way to new home at the Plant Swap and Giveaway on 15th June.

The Table Top Sale on 19 April raised just over £100 to help fund future greening work.

We are continuing our scheme to plant flowering cherry trees and will be opening a list after the summer.

Our next big challenge is to plant the verge at the pavement edge of Clifford Dibben Mews having been granted permission by the owners, who are not the Council. We plan to have a ‘Community dig’ the last two weekends in July, that will be the 18/19th and 25/26th. Our group is not large enough to achieve this ourselves so please come along for 1/2hr or so to help get it going. After digging over we will be putting in Spring bulbs, small shrubs and lots of lavender.

Smart Streets

Regular first and third Sunday litter picks have continued, usually with 8-10 people turning out to help.

Any issues, e.g. flytipping or mess left on rented properties, have been listed and reported to Jason Evans, Waste and Recycling Enforcement Officer & HMO Warden Barry Olson, who have been excellent in following up and acting on problems. This has included contacting landlords of problematic properties.

Overall there has been a lot less rubbish left out on the streets this year during student household clearout time.

OARA has supported the SUSU “Shift Your Stuff” Campaign, which has seen hundreds of red bags distributed to student households, collected by the Council and sorted by volunteers, including OARA members, for redistribution to local charities. This has made a difference to the amount of stuff on the streets, helped students at a stressful time for them and was brilliantly organised by the student officers and staff.

It was also noticeable that refuse teams went beyond their usual remit and cleared overflowing and contaminated bins and sidewaste at changeoever time. We thanked Jason and his teams for this.

Community Liaison

Social Events

Our Big Lunch Street Party was held on the 7th of June, Organised by OARA linking with the students’ union. It was well attended by local residents and members of the student community. There were plenty of activities for everyone and an afternoon of musical entertainment. Residents provided copious amounts and a great variety of food. Avenue St. Andrews provided tables and chairs and supported the event. An OARA table was set up to sign up new members and generally answer questions about the association. Two members of our neighbourhood policing team came along to support.

Preparation for the event included an assembly held in Bevois Town School to encourage children and their parents to take part, and we did get some families attending as a result. Overall, a great success!

Planned for the future. A ‘Meet Your Neighbours’ street party in October to welcome the new intake and give an opportunity for any new or established residents to meet one another. A Halloween party around the planters in Alma Road including a pumpkin display, and a pop-up choir. A Christmas party (venue to be decided.)

Students

OARA members supported the new initiative by SUSU to help with the big change-over and clear out by collecting and recycling unwanted materials from student houses. See also Smart Streets above. There will be a meeting soon to establish links with our new student rep who is taking over from Ellie and to prepare for a programme of joint activities with OARA and students for the new academic year.

Council

Our local councillors continue to be very supportive. We asked them about having a notice board at the planters in Alma Road. With their support, the idea has been approved, and we are waiting for the board to be erected.
Jason and Barry from the clean streets and HMO warden team have been very responsive and supportive, both with advice, and in a practical way. For example, an awful rubbish black spot had developed at the bottom of Spear Road which needed heavy equipment to remove a dumped grab-bag. This was removed very quickly once we’d notified the team. This area is now considerably cleaner than it was.

Good Neighbours

We have expanded our links with local care homes by including Holmhurst in our list of contacts.
There have been several occasions where people looking to buy houses in the area have said that they had been attracted by the fact that there is a strong and welcoming residents’ association. The aim is to produce a welcome leaflet for new neighbours.

Landlords

The ‘Bin Buddy’ scheme continues in Gordon Avenue and there are plans to expand this in the coming months.

Wider Community Links

We continue to build links with Bevois Town School. They have been very supportive in providing a venue for our meetings and opportunities to promote OARA activities.

Phine attended the North Stoneham Community Forum on our behalf

OARA has joined NORA, the National Organisation of Residents’ Associations, giving us access to information and advice for an annual fee of £25

Businesses

Waitrose adopted OARA as one of their charities for June, giving us useful publicity and raising a useful sum ( yet to be announced ) for future projects.

History and Heritage

The Bevois Mount History Group continue to develop and update the web site and Facebook Page. Put ‘Bevois Mount History’ into Google to quickly access both sites.

Following on from last year’s success, preparations are being made for the production of a new calendar for 2016.

Recently a session was held to help local residents research the history of their houses.

Communications

As you will have seen the Facebook page is now up and running. Thanks to new member Ruth Kibble for taking this on.

We are in the process of reviewing and updating the website, including considering how it and Facebook can complement rather than repeat each other. Thanks to Matt Conrad for his behind the scenes work as our webmaster.