What role should a Residents’ Association (RA) play?
That is just one of the questions that ERA’s Exco grappled with at a strategy session on 15 February.
We don’t want to ‘be sleepy and unrecognisable’, nor ‘wishy-washy and reactive’ as current ERA chair, Ayanda Mjekula said in ERA’s newsletter last year. ‘It’s got to be visible’.
The other key question Exco members asked themselves was: What do residents need from ERA? These are the ideas we came up with.
Residents want to:
· feel secure;
· be kept informed of what is going on in the suburb;
· see the value of your property maintained;
· ensure that planning and building regulations are followed;
· feel you are part of a community; and
· feel ERA is doing all in its power to make local government account, particularly around infrastructure/services. (ERA is to meet with the councillor and Felicity Gratz-Lawlor to see how we can assist with the power outages and follow up)
Councillor David Hensman believes that knowing your neighbour and through that creating social cohesion is a good deterrent against crime and is something that RAs should focus on.
RAs, he says, ‘should be communicating realism’ to residents on what the City can do with its constrained budget.
Our ward has a low unemployment rate (4% in 2016) but neighbouring wards with suburbs like Bosmont, Westbury and Riverlea, have unemployment rates of more than 40%.
RAs should get residents involved in ‘adopting a park, joining the Emmarentia/Greenside community patrollers, volunteering for the Parkview victim support group or joining street whatsapp groups’.
Felicity Gratz-Lawlor, the Let’s Work team initiator and coordinator, is also on the Ward committee and is visibly active on whatsapp groups helping resolve residents’ electricity, water and streetlight problems. With Felicity there, is there still a role for RAs?
‘Yes’ she says. RAs must assist by ‘putting pressure on the City to get things done’. The City, she believes ‘is more interested in residents than ward councillors’. It can ignore the ward councillor but it can’t ignore a residents’ association that has the backing of residents.
But there’s the difficulty. As ERA we try to represent residents the best we can. But only a few residents attend ERA public meetings and only about 10% of residents have signed up as members. It is difficult for us to know what you want.
Come to the ERA AGM, March 11 at 18h30 for 19h00, at Marks Park. All are welcome—you don’t have to be a home owner, you just have to live in the suburb and you can join at the door. Listen to what we’ve done over the past year, listen to our ideas for 2020 and together let’s develop a plan. Volunteer for one of the portfolios (see the list on page 3 or suggest new ones)
And if you can’t make it, e-mail us with your ideas on email@example.com