27 June 2006

Forest Hill Society Minutes of Inaugral Meeting

Held at the Dartmouth Arms, Dartmouth Road, Forest Hill on 23rd May 2006.

Michael Abrahams
Pat Trembath (Syd Soc)

(Initials used to protect identities on the web)

The attendees included many long term residents of Forest Hill.
Everyone introduced themselves and outlined why they thought a FH Society was needed; i.e.
  • Inclusivity
  • Economic regeneration.
  • Public transport concerns.
  • Public awareness and involvement
  • ‘lets get beyond a talking shop’
  • ‘Where does everyone go – so many commuters who seem to disappear in the evenings’?

Everyone welcomed Pat Trembath to the meeting.
Pat outlined the origins of their Society and what they were working on at present, i.e. Bell Green Public Inquiry, Sydenham Town Centre regeneration, and Forest Hill regeneration. Syd Soc has over 1000 members, and represents the part of Forest Hill which is in SE26 plus the Pool and Library area, hence takes an active interest in the Forest Hill town centre.
Pat made some suggestions as to what should be our main concerns i.e. Forest Hill Pools, Library, Louise House, also the station area.

In respect of setting up a new Society Pat also advised the following;

  • Len Duvall (London Assembly Member) very interested in Forest Hill regeneration and supportive.
  • SE23 needed resident rep on Town Centre Management Group.
  • We will need sub committees i.e. planning, roads and transport, (bus routes, trains, potholes) etc.
    Important to build good working relationships with other Societies in the area. Pat advised that the Syd Soc would work actively with FH Society on issues of mutual concern.
  • There is a large conservation area in Forest Hill of which we need to be aware.
  • Important to build up good relationships with officers and councillors. Likely that most local Councillors will want to be seen taking an interest in the Society’s activities.
  • Need to promote diversity of membership, equality of opportunity and demonstrate encouragement of increased participation, in order to have credibility with the Council, i.e. to be seen as representative of the local population rather than just a minority pressure group.
  • Importance of leafleting - aim to get as many contacts as possible.
  • The purpose of the AGM is to conclude business as concisely as possible and then to socialise. Secret ballot for elections of officers perhaps not necessary.
  • New magazine, ‘se23 living’ coming out, circulation area Forest Hill and Honor Oak. 4500 Mag drops, 40% editorial, community news and information – a great place to start.
  • Dulwich Picture Gallery event on 31st May at 6.30pm for officers of local civic societies- Pat has received an invitation and has invited two officers of the FH Society to join her.
  • 6th June- Transport Liaison Group of the council- all operators coming along to take written questions. AR attending.
  • Pat advised of the benefits of having a wide constitution in order to avoid need for constant amendments.
  • For elections, avoid immediate and surprise officer appointments by asking for nominations in advance.
  • Syd Soc was unincorporated to avoid filing accounts and need for auditors. Had Civic Trust membership but first year free- £175.
  • The meeting thanked Pat for her attendance and excellent advice.

There was considerable discussion about the draft constitution which had been prepared and circulated by Michael Abrahams.

  • Remove ‘need for secret ballot’.
  • Remove ‘3 year criteria for people in office’.
  • Add ‘officers to resign if standing for Council election’.
  • AGM in March. - need to define year end.
  • AGM can be any time. Constitution won’t exist until formal adoption.
  • To add ‘sustainability considerations.’ as an objective of the Society.
  • A revised draft to be produced and will be used as a working document until ratification or amendment at the AGM.
  • Post meeting note; AGM to be on a weekday evening in September. A suitable venue to be located in Forest Hill. RM to arrange but suggestions appreciated.
  • It was agreed that elections would need to take place at an Annual General Meeting to formally elect the Executive Committee. Until this is held a Steering committee will be in place to move the Society forward. This will involve publicising the Society, recruiting members, organising the General Meeting, and starting to
work on some of the priority identified at the meeting.

Election of Acting Officers of the Society
The following were duly elected by the meeting;

Acting Executive Committee.
Chair Michael Abrahams
Vice Chair MAF
Honorary Secretary. RM
Treasurer and Membership Secretary RG
Communications Officer LR

Acting Planning Sub- Committee

Acting Transport Sub- Committee.

Official representative of Tewkesbury Lodge.


  • Some discussion on geographical boundaries - primarily SE23 and surrounding areas
  • To consider separate group/sub committee on FH Pools. Await outcome of intrusive survey.
  • Forest Hill Day- consider getting a stall. Exec to meet to plan this.
  • Bank account - HSBC to be considered. RG to look into this.
  • Adoption of constitution.
    1. To be adopted at AGM- currently in draft form until formal adoption.
    2. Public meeting- first AGM - Sept 06.
    3. Discussion of membership fees- £5 pp- concessions - £2pp- some further consideration needed.
  • £115.00 in voluntary contributions was collected at the meeting for petty cash.
  • Distributors will be required for circulation of notices, etc to members. Preference is for communications to be ‘online’ as far as possible.

The Chair formally thanked the following;

  • Michael Richards of the Dartmouth Arms for hosting this first meeting.
  • Pat Trembath of the Sydenham Society for her support of the new Society and excellent advice on setting it up.


  • Next meeting of Exec Friday 3rd June at LR home.
  • All to communicate by email in the interim.

Post meeting note.
It proved not possible to get a stall at Forest Hill Day due to restrictive criteria on new stalls imposed by FHTA and the Horniman.
Further Steering Group meetings will be held in the summer to progress the Society in advance of the AGM.

17 June 2006

Forest Hill Station meeting with Southern Railway

On Thursday members of the FH and Sydenham Society met with representatives from Network Rail and Southern Railway at Forest Hill station. We were discussing the current state of the railway station and some issues that we have with the current station. The main areas we explored were:

1. The footbridge. There are plans to refurbish this. Particularly to remove the graffiti.

2. The new timetable - SR agreed to find out details of whether direct trains to London Bridge were to be cut once the East London line extension is built. If trains are to be cut would the Victoria "loop" (from London Bridge to Victoria) survive?

3. Entrance and steps from Platform - SR would look at whether they could widen the entrance from the platform, provide better lighting and resurface the area particularly at the base of the steps and onto Perry Rise.

4. The underpass. SR would discover who owned this area - themselves, Lewisham Council or Network Rail. In the meantime, we agreed that it would be a good idea to organise an on-site meeting between the FH Society and the Forest Hill / Perry Vale Councilors to specifically discuss the underpass and its refurbishment.

I am confident that meetings like this are a great way for FH Society to make a difference to the local area.

05 June 2006

Article in Local Press

Catford and Lewisham News Shopper have an article about the start of the Forest Hill Society: Residents want to improve town

VOCAL residents are moving from an internet chatroom to the council chamber to try to make their town a "better place".

People from Forest Hill have not been shy in expressing opinions on their neighbourhood via the SE23 website in recent months.

Now they have decided to set up their own residents' group called the Forest Hill Society in a bid to turn their words into actions.

Founder Michael Abrahams says his group will work with the council and other groups to improve facilities in Forest Hill.