TNRA IS BORN
On 22 November 1976 the inaugural meeting for residents of Newington Trust Estate is held in St Matthew’s church hall, New Kent Road, chaired by Cllr Arthur Knight of Trinity Church Square, who hopes that a residents’ association will “bring residents together as a community and not just as an organisation ‘against’ the landlords”. After some discussion, the name “Trinity Newington Residents’ Association” is agreed. At the time, all residents in the area are tenants, except for the vicar of St Matthew’s, who lives in the Rectory in Merrick Square. A committee of 12 is chosen at the meeting and subscriptions agreed at £2.60 per year (60p for pensioners).
In Spring 1977 the committee begins to meet monthly (and continues to do so up to the present day) and plans quarterly meetings for the membership (which diminish as communication by e-mail and website become possible). There is discussion of venues for committee and quarterly meetings, possibilities being: St Matthew’s church hall; the Rectory, Merrick Square; Geoffrey Chaucer school; Henry Wood Hall; The Roebuck; The Ship. On the latter two, TNRA chair Laszlo Kovats remarks: “Having a meeting in a pub may not be everyone’s cup of tea!”
RENTS AND LEASES
Concern about rent levels and the system of “Fair Rent” registration for protected tenancies (almost all the tenancies at the time) is one of the main reasons for forming TNRA. The committee:
• organises a talk by a retired rent officer about Fair Rents;
• compiles (from the public records) a list of Fair Rents registered on the Estate and publishes them, so that tenants can compare with their own rent;
• advises and helps tenants in meetings with the Rent Officer;
• engages and funds a surveyor to represent tenants at appeals to the Rent Assessment Committee – at the first appeal “the Gloucester Court Three” have their rents reduced.
In 1985, in a change of policy by Trinity House, a block of flats is redeveloped and sold on long leases at 4–6 Trinity Church Square.
MANAGEMENT AND PROPERTY MAINTENANCE
Regular meetings take place between Drivers Jonas (DJ) and TNRA about management of the Estate. DJ introduce a scheme of workmen wearing identity passes or carrying a copy of the works order when entering common parts to do repairs.
DJ agree to pay for decorating materials for people with certain types of tenancy. TNRA volunteers redecorate a flat for an elderly tenant. Several residents complain about noise transference between flats because of lack of soundproofing.
GARDENS IN THE SQUARES
The gardens are not open to residents. TNRA membership is divided on the issue, with many (mostly older) residents fearing mayhem if people (let alone children) are allowed into the gardens. 1980 AGM votes against asking to be allowed access.
In 1978 a width restriction is installed in the form of a gate in the middle of the road opposite 34 Trinity Street, which allows cars to pass either side but blocks the way for larger vehicles. Trinity Street traffic remains very heavy, especially in rush hours.
TNRA takes a deputation to Southwark Council’s traffic subcommittee in 1978 to ask for a pedestrian crossing in Trinity Street. A crossing is refused but two pedestrian refuges are agreed and installed in 1980 opposite 47 and 66 Trinity Church Square.
Lorries remain a problem:
• entering Trinity Street and turning round by Merrick Square when they meet the barrier, breaking the pavements; TNRA campaigns for better signage;
• driving on and breaking the pavements in Cole Street; TNRA requests bollards to prevent this, installed in 1985;
• BT lorries from the depot in Falmouth Road (now the site of Chadwick Square) disturb residents in early hours.
TNRA committee has discussions with Southwark Council about encouraging traffic to stay on Great Dover Street, Borough High Street and New Kent Road. Area inside these roads is designated a “traffic-sensitive triangle” in council’s development plan.
Caroline Lamont represents TNRA on Southwark Council’s Community Panel to consider developments and improvements in the local area. This includes plans to redevelop Dickens Square area (where houses were demolished in late 1970s) as a park and adventure playground. We do not support the idea of an urban farm.
There is great excitement in Trinity Church Square in 1978 when the BBC films “Lillie”. Enthusiasm wanes in later years until Southwark Council’s film office is set up to manage negotiations, regulating the hours of filming and ensuring that TNRA, rather than the managing agents, is paid appropriate amounts for the disturbance.
From the start, TNRA seeks to keep residents informed through regular newsletters. See the tables to trace the progression from typewritten, stencilled, duplicated, hand collated and stapled sheets to the present day issues.
First social event is a street party in Trinity Church Square in June 1977 to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. The first of many parties in Henry Wood Hall crypt is held in February 1978. Dancing takes place.
At several of these occasions, 68-year-old Miss Mary Abbott of 34 Trinity Street, entertains us with impromptu renditions of her repertoire of songs. Indeed, she is liable to burst into song anywhere, including the launderette. Miss Abbott wins the LB Southwark Talent Contest for over-60s several years running, in 1981 with “The Sunshine of your Smile”.