Saturday, 13 October 2018

Annual Report and re-election of Committee Members

We held our annual meeting for MCC as part of our monthly meeting on Thursday 4th October. Borough Co-ordinator Kathryn provided the annual report on our achievements over the last year, which you can read below, or download here if you prefer a PDF. 

Kathryn, Hugh, David and Philip were returned to their positions of Co-ordinator, Engineering Matters, Treasurer and Secretary. However, Philip announced his intention to hang up his pen and pencil next year, so we will be on the hunt for a new Secretary!

We’re always keen to welcome cyclists of all frequencies, types and speeds to get involved so if you want to be part of making Merton a better borough for cycling and active transport, please get in touch or come along to one of our monthly meetings - you don't need to be a member of  LCC to join us.

Executive Summary 

Merton Cycling Campaign have had a busy year, welcoming new members and seeing some of our ‘newer’ initiatives beginning to turn into ‘what we do’. As a group I am grateful for and proud of the support that the whole membership has shown me in my co-ordinator role, stepping up to share responsibility for chairing meetings, respond to queries, represent the group in different forums, and promote activity on social media.  

A large part of the year has been dominated by the Local Authority elections in May, and our regular Borough Liaison Meetings have continued to hold Merton to account, whilst we’ve also began to explore other ways that we can push for improvements. In policy terms we have strong foundations on which to build.

At our January meeting this year we took stock of what we wanted to achieve in relation to our three objectives to: 
  • Raising awareness of cycling issues in the borough
  • Campaigning to improve conditions for cycling in the borough 
  • Providing a range of services for members
We’ve made good starts on all of these, but there is room to do more.

Raising awareness of cycling issues in the borough

We set out to raise the profile of cycling in the borough by running a number of events and campaigns. 

At the request of Merton History Society, Hugh Morgan successfully delivered an event focussed on the Year of Women’s Suffrage in July, with a well-received talk on ‘Our Cycling Suffragette’ Rose Lamartine Yates. We have since submitted a Blue Plaque application to mark her work. 
Our ambition to hold a pollution reduction activity during the summer holidays and creating a leisure circuit that links the green spaces in the borough remain outstanding, but are good ideas that we can hopefully turn our attention to next year.  

Despite the trials and tribulations of implementing the new GDPR regulations, we’ve increased our public communications activity. In 2016-2017 we posted to facebook only 8 times; this year we have posted over 50 times, with a mix of MCC and LCC messages, with each post reaching up to 100 people. Engagement with each post is still in single figures, but is slowly increasing. Over the course of the year we’ve grown our page followers from 40 to 55. We’ve also increased our tweeting and promoted our events via LCC channels including the events listings, e-newsletter and Magazine insert. 

Campaigning to improve conditions for cycling in the borough 

We sought to work with London Borough of Merton to achieve: 
  • MCC considered as a key stakeholder by Merton in developing active travel strategies and plans and asked pro-actively for advice and ideas 
  • Better Quietways, in particular the Quietway between Sutton and Kingston 
  • Removal of the railings on Durnsford Rail Bridge
We are making some progress in this regard, building on the strong foundations that our regular liaison meetings with the Borough Cycling Officer provide us with. We were recently invited to participate in the establishment of an Active Travel group in Merton by the Healthy Places Officer working in the Public Health team at Merton Council.

Huge thanks must go to Hugh Morgan, Jim Wagner, Philip Box, Charles Barrabell and all others who take part in these regular meetings.

We took part in the Borough’s early consultation on developing the Local Plan and are ready to participate in the next round of development. 

We carried out a survey in April to inform our campaigning, with good results. We have an opportunity to make more these results and internalise the findings and incorporate them more into our own campaigning efforts. 

A large chunk of the first part of the year was given over to the Local Authority elections; we worked with Living Streets to jointly campaign for Merton to submit a high quality Liveable Neighbourhoods bid ahead of the next elections in 4 years. Disappointingly, the Administration has not engaged with us on this objective, but the campaign opened up relationships with both Living Streets, and Merton Park Residents Association, that are seeing us build relationships and be more aware of what is happening at a policy level. 

We supported Kingston CC in clarifying and supporting the proposals for the Quietways between Sutton and Kingston, providing some links with other outer London boroughs that we can begin to build on. 

Our campaigning to remove the recently installed railings on Durnsford Rail Bridge have reached a disappointing stalemate, with no explanation of why they have been installed and no willingness on the part of Merton officers to consider the reasons for their removal. 

As an outer borough we often feel cut off from the wider campaigning of LCC, focussed on inner London boroughs. We set out to strengthen our ties with LCC, and have managed sporadic attendance at the Local Groups Forum, and have submitted the only two group motions for the LCC AGM in October 2018. Raising our profile with LCC is one way to gain support and visibility for outer London boroughs, and we will need to build on this in the next year to create a constructive dialogue about how we can be better supported. 

Alongside that there is more for us to do to strengthen our relationships with the neighbouring borough groups. 

Providing a range of services for members 

To achieve this objective, we planned to host events and rides throughout the year to encourage people who live work and play in Merton to ride and build relationships to support our campaigning activity, and it turns out we’re quite a sociable bunch! 

We hosted our second Vernal Equinox Drinks in March, welcoming new faces and reconnecting with older ones. We once again hosted a successful summer bbq and participated in the Summer Solstice Ride to Richmond Park. We also increased the number of marshals supporting the Freecycle Feeder ride, and plans are afoot for our third winter warmer ride. 

Challenges ahead 

Like any small community group, we face the challenges of a small membership which is stretched for time. We will need to widen our membership, and attract new members if we are to build on our successes this year and begin to achieve our ambitions and vision for a borough that has safe and pleasant places that benefit individuals, local communities and the wider environment. 

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