I make no apologies to once again drawing member’s attention to the fact that Heston Residents’ Association, first established in 1928, continues to pursue the same ideology that those who established the Association associated themselves with some 86 years ago.
That is to say and despite the fact that the emphasis may have changed, to do everything possible to preserve the local environment and to safeguard the quality of life for local residents.
There have been plenty of examples during the last year or so in which the Association has engaged in a positive way to fulfil those ideals.
The Association was established at a time of significant change in the area. The construction of the Great West Road in the mid 1920’s and its development being a significant generator of job opportunities which in turn created the demand for housing and encouraged the establishment of small businesses to meet the community’s needs. At the same time of course there was the requirement of a local infrastructure to match the changes.
This was followed of course some twenty years later with the development of Heathrow, eventually to establish itself as a major international airport and a significant hub too for surface transport. Overall, Heathrow now provides employment to some 76,000 as well as being responsible for the substantial commercial development and employment in our area, the Thames Valley and M4 corridor. It followed that both Heston and Cranford were to become attractive areas to settle in, with all the knock-on effects. There are of course the perhaps less favourable issues that are associated with such a development.
During the early period HRA associated itself very much with the development of important parts of the local infrastructure in the Heston area, the local school, the library, Heston Park and the swimming pool being examples of these now accepted facilities.
Many long term residents have experienced significant change, increases in traffic, the need for traffic lights even in Heston, local transport and health services expanded to meet an ever-growing demand from the numerous housing estates that appeared and continue to appear.
Again, since the latter part of the 20th century we have experienced further significant changes associated with demographic changes, the need for the infrastructure to be further improved and developed. The provision of more school places involving new schools and improved local health facilities being prime examples.
There will always be change, there is frequently a reluctance to accept it, but nevertheless there is a need for some change to be embraced, certainly the better parts of it.
Since the initial establishment of the support infrastructure we have gone full circle with the need to replace, upgrade and improve on the buildings that provided such good service in the early years.
Some people may not support a new Leisure Centre, or at least support it except for the enabling housing developments. There is always seemingly a price to pay.
However, HRA is playing, I think, an important part in monitoring change and making its voice heard and concerns known wherever and whenever it is appropriate to do so.
The Association always tries to approach matters in a professional way and I think that this is recognised and appreciated by those that we come into contact with.
The Association certainly associates itself with all significant planned changes, such as The Elm Tree, The Old George and The Hope and Anchor, Rectory Farm, Brabazon Road Estate.
We apply keen attention to planning applications associated with residential developments, particularly outbuildings, not only the proposal to build and the intended use but also their future use. We work closely with the Rogue Landlord and Housing Safety Team and the Council’s Planning and Enforcement staff on these issues.
Currently the Association comments on at least 10 planning applications each month including instances where developments have been made without the benefit of planning permission and if they appear to challenge approval limitations.
In the last 2 or 3 years we have become an active member in the informal G15+ group of local residents’ associations. G15’s initial activities, whilst curtailed for “political reasons”, have resulted in a Residents’ Association Forum being established which had its first meeting in February. The first event may not have pleased everybody but it did at least provide an opportunity, a stepping-stone, to move forward. There is a further event on the 12th March to discuss the Local Plan which enters in to public consultation on Friday.
Finally and importantly, we have and will continue to associate our mind thought, with policies and strategies adopted by the Council Administration. In so doing we will strive, together with G15+ support, to impress on the need for openness and transparency, for improved communication and co-operation and to be responsive to not only residents’ groups but also to the community generally.
Above all we will impress whenever possible the need for Community Engagement.
Our monthly publication, RAM, continues to provide members, I believe, with a fair reflection of our activities with a good mix of contributions and reports.
Our membership in 2013 topped 600 for the first time in many years and we continue to benefit from the support of businesses and individuals advertising in RAM.
We are not a political organisation, nor do we associate ourselves with any specific cultural or religious body.
It follows that our membership is open to every local resident, importantly we should not forget the fact that we have a postal membership of over 50, former Heston residents who have left the area but wish to retain some contact and perhaps reflect on change.
My thanks to those who have supported me as Chairman, not just over the last 12 months, but over the last 10 years.
I have tried to capture in my report some recognition of where we came from and the way in which we have moved forward to deal with the not insignificant winds of change.
The office of Chairman whilst time consuming is rewarding and it provides me with the opportunity to meet with people in various walks of life providing a better opportunity to gain a better understanding of many of the day-to-day issues with which we are confronted.
D R Blackett