ECCO reply to email from Oscar Dahling sent to the ECCO steering group

On 12 July, Oscar Dahling sent an email to the ECCO steering group. As he later circulated it to many of you, you may be interested to read our reply, which was sent on 21 July.

We have also including ECCO Response to 2015 Croydon Local Plan, which is mentioned in both letters.

Here is Oscar’s original email

I mentioned to Tomas Howard-Jones after last night’s meeting that I would send some information onto him which he appeared to be unaware of. On reflection, I think it would be useful to share this with all members of the steering group that I have emails for. Please forward this email onto other members of the steering group whose emails I am unaware of and also other members.
From last night’s meeting it became clear that the steering group considers there are approximately 230 members – or at least these are the names held on a mailing list, regardless of knowing whether these people are still living/working at these addresses or wish to remain active or participate in the group. These members all receive invitations to meetings and also receive minutes of meetings which they may or may not have attended. This is very helpful, as it provides a record of all discussions and concerns which members may have raised.
When I asked Angela Vanegas at yesterday evening’s meeting if ECCO had made any representations to the recent Croydon Local Plan I was told that ECCO hadn’t; I knew this was not the case. I then found it somewhat unreasonable that it appeared no effort was being made to listen to or understand what are very legitimate concerns about how the ECCO steering group seeks to represent the views of its members.
ECCO did make representations to the Croydon Local Plan, which are recorded in this Croydon Council webpage file:///C:/Users/cat/Downloads/CAB20160711_07_09_7.2_Appendix_4.pdf . The comments are recorded as having been made by steering group member Rod Davies, as representor for East Croydon Community Organisation and can be found at pages 58, 276, 1265 and 3740. The ECCO representations could be summarised as:
1. ECCO has grave misgivings about meaningful consultation between Croydon Council and ECCO
2. ECCO supports in principle the creation of sites for travellers and these sites should actively be managed by Croydon Council
3. ECCO objects to the Rees House/Morland Lodge site being developed as a Secondary school
4. ECCO supports limitation on garden developments
My very obvious concern is that these representations have been made on behalf of ECCO and its members, despite the fact that none of the members have ever been asked their view on any of these matters. Perhaps more importantly, none of the members were informed that these representations were going to be made, nor were members given the opportunity to object or even express a view. Furthermore, members were not even afforded the courtesy of being informed that these representations had been made. Instead of reporting these representations to members at yesterday evening’s meeting, it was denied that any representation had been made. At the end of the meeting, Tomas Howard-Jones seemed quite adamant that none on the steering group had ever officially represented ECCO and I now question whether, perhaps, the steering group may also have been unaware that these representations had been made by Rod Davies, on behalf of ECCO and its members.
I would note that I consider it immaterial whether one agrees or disagrees with any of the representation made by Rod Davies on behalf of ECCO. The simple fact is, none of the ECCO members were either consulted or informed that representations were to be, or had been, made on their behalf. I would add, however, that after an evening in which many of the ECCO members applauded the extension of ARK Oval Academy it may seem strange to these same members were they to discover that they apparently oppose the provision of a much needed Secondary school in the area, with a local catchment. It also seems odd to cite grave misgivings about meaningful consultation from Croydon Council, when ECCO has clearly not kept its own members informed of it actions with regard the Croydon Local Plan representations.
I would like to ask the steering group to explain how it feels justified in providing representation when there has clearly been neither discussion nor consultation with the members. Please also provide assurances that members will be informed in advance of representations which may be made and provide a record of any meetings to which ECCO has been invited or at which it has been represented. I would also ask that members are treated with equal respect when raising legitimate concerns at meetings and that their concerns are listened to and not over-looked or treated dismissively.
Finally, I think it is a reasonable expectation that the ECCO steering group should provide all members on the mailing list with the full representations made by Rod Davies to the recent Croydon Local Plan consultation.

Here is our reply:

My apologies for the delay in replying to you.  I undertook to do so, but my family commitments have been unexpectedly time consuming.
 
When you asked me at the meeting on 11 July if ECCO had made any representations on behalf of its members to Croydon Council, I was under the impression that you were talking about the Lebanon Road one-way system.  The answer to that is we have not.
 
Rod Davies did send in comments to the Council on the revised Croydon Local Plan on 18 December and I have attached these to this email.  However, it is incorrect to say that ECCO members views were not invited on this matter.  Indeed, we encouraged the Council planning department to hold one of their handful of roadshows in Christchurch on Lower Addiscombe Road.  When they confirmed this would be held on 2 December, we then booked the same room to hold a meeting immediately after the road show closed that included the revised Croydon Local Plan on the agenda.  The roadshow and the meeting were publicised both in a post on the ECCO website and the distribution of 2000 flyers on or around 23 November. However, you are correct that we did not post the comments themselves on the website, so we are doing so now.
 
At the meeting on 11 July,  we presented a draft constitution for ECCO and there was a great deal of discussion on how steering group members should represent the views of members and the conduct of general and ordinary meetings.  As a result, a small group of members is reviewing these clauses.  New draft clauses will be distributed for comment as soon as possible.  When they are agreed, we will have a set of rules for steering group members to follow, which we have not had up to now.  
 
We are a relatively new, small voluntary organisation whose major resource is the time given freely by steering group members and a handful of volunteers.  We are all on a steep learning curve and will occasionally make mistakes, but we do aim to learn from them.
 
Best wishes
Angela Vanegas
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