Annual Report: Bloomsbury Association

Backdated from previous BA website

We publish our annual report below (click title) Our AGM was held on Dec 9th and all 8 seats on our committee were filled.

The Bloomsbury Association
Annual Report
November 2004

Paul Clerkin – We sadly report the sudden death of Paul on died on Thursday November 25th.  Paul was Secretary of the Bloomsbury Association for the past 3 years and cared passionately about Bloomsbury and the improvement of our quality of life.  We convey our deepest sympathy and condolences to Sigi, his Partner and his 2 children, Billy and Caitin.  Paul’s Funeral service was held at a packed St Giles in the Fields and the service was conducted by the Rev Perry Butler.  The Bloomsbury Association hosted the reception after the funeral as a mark of respect for Paul.  Well over 300 people attended the service.

Main Activity – We are pleased with the progress of our revival programme that was started 3 years ago.  During this time we have concentrated on networking and the re-establishment of the BA as a genuine voice for the community and we feel we have now achieved this.  Our main concern during this time has been and will remain Drugs and the adverse effect this has had and still has on our community.  We will remain very forceful in our objections to any drug policy that is considered adverse to our quality of life and will continue to work closely with our neighbouring community associations, the West End Drugs Partnership and other partners.  The subject of drugs is very complicated and time consuming and takes up most of our available time to such a degree that we have not been able to give as much time to other matters as we would have wished.

We have been working very closely with Camden police and we are encouraged by the very positive response we are receiving.  Over the next 3 years Camden Police will be establishing the Safer Neighbourhoods policing policy and the 18 wards will have a ring-fenced team of officers dedicated to each ward.

We have lobbied for and encouraged improved CCTV street coverage and the cameras that have been set up to date have produced excellent results we are told.  We work closely with Camden’s CCTV Network office so that local knowledge is available to the CCTV operators and this working relationship will be intensified over the next year.

With Camden Police, we helped encourage and set up the Bloomsbury Joint Security Group to consider more long term joined-up working on security within the area.  This group is made up of most of the large institutions, land-owners and businesses including the university campus and they meet monthly to report activity in the area and to consider improvements to working practices. The students on the Bloomsbury Campus are represented on this forum by ULU.

A serious concern is the proliferation and management of the many drug hostels south of Euston Road.  Over 90% of the approximate 500 residents in these hostels are drug addicts and we consider that much of the drug related street problem and associated crime in the area is caused by these people.  It would seem that the ‘move on’ from these supposedly temporary hostels is not what it should be and that is one of the reasons why we have entrenched addicts throughout the area.  We have made contact with St Mungos and will continue to explore ways of improving the situation.  We hope to make contact with the new management of Camden’s Parker Street hostel in the near future.

The saga of the Health Impact Assessment (HIA) into the proposal by the DAT’s to open a dedicated fixed site needle exchange is over and both Camden and Westminster DAT’s have now agreed NOT to pursue this policy.  However, so sooner that was agreed we read in the press that Camden’s Executive made a statement suggesting that they would like to operate so called ‘clean injecting rooms’ and that they will ask the government for permission to do this.


Needless to say we will be seeking clarity from Camden on this!  Our understanding is that this would need a change in the Drugs Act and if we are to believe the PM’s recent statement on drugs this it seems unlikely he will agree to such a proposal.  The full HIA report can be downloaded on the WEDP web site

CommunityAlert – This is the Bloomsbury Wards trial online reporting method of communicating intelligence on drugs and anti social behaviour to the police and borough Council.  We are running a trail of the system between now and February 2005 and if this proves worthwhile it may be rolled out throughout Camden.  If your block or association wish to participate in this worthwhile trial as a focus group please get in touch with us. The system uses unique Flash mapping technology developed by CASA at UCL . Joint working with Centre for Advanced Special Analysis (CASA) at UCL,  LB Camden / Camden /Met Police, Bloomsbury Improvement Group, Resident and student groups to roll out the system.

This pilot project commenced on Dec 7th and we will be working closely with local focus groups to test and evaluate the system over the next 3 months when it will be made public.  An overview of the system is available on the BA web site.  If you are interested in becoming one of the focus groups please contact us.

Environment – We have been working closely with LB Camden to get environmental improvements and have been voicing opinion on the proliferation of street clutter and trying to get improvements to the consultation process concerning everything that happens south of Euston Road.  We consider the small works carried out in Malet Steret, Museum Street and Coptic Street in connection with the Bloomsbury Clear Zone to have been worthwhile and hope that funding can be found to complete the other proposed works in and around Gordon Square and Byng Place. We are currently working on consultations concerning the refurbishment of Bedford Square, Gordon Square and Woburn Square with English Heritage, Bedford Estates and University of London.  We are also interested in the future of Torrington Square.

BA Web Site – We are thankful to CamdenNet for the excellent free software and hosting for our web site.  Judging by our search engine rankings we are achieving good visibility on the web.  We are always looking for improvements and hope members will become more active in providing feedback and content.  The site is updated about 4 times per week and there is always something new to read.  We encourage members to make more of a contribution to our web site content and articles or comment are welcome.

Finance – Our financial situation stable and we have a reasonable surplus to carry us forward.  Many thanks to Pat Glynn, our treasurer.

Planning – The Association continue to monitor all planning applications in the area and to comment as appropriate. This process has been frustrated over recent months by problems with Camden’s on-line planning web site.  Stephen Heath, our long standing committee member who has done such an expert job of managing this aspect of our activities over a long period needs to step back a little due to other commitments and we are looking for volunteers who have expertise in this field to join our team.  Many thanks to Stephen for his superb work.

Bloomsbury Car Sharing Club – After many disappointments and cancelled start-up dates we are assured by Camden Council and Smart Moves that the Bloomsbury Car Club will be operational in early January 2005.  See http://www.citycarclub.co.uk or email: enquiries@citycarclub.co.uk for an application form and more detailed information. There is a special discount on offer at present for a limited period.  Cars can be rented by the hour and cost from #2.80 per hour and 17p per mile.  Fuel, servicing, insurance and parking are all included plus the benefit of no congestion charge.  If you are interested in serious financial savings on running a vehicle and a no-hassle service then this is for you. The dedicated free parking bay for our first vehicle is in Malet Street opposite Birkbeck.



Bloomsbury Joint Security Forum  – We helped and encouraged the set up of this informal group during 2004 which is looking at ways to integrate existing and future CCTV/Security for the area.  Participants are; Bloomsbury Association, Holborn/Bloomsbury Police Sector, West End Drugs Partnership, University of London, UCL, ULU, SOAS, Birkbeck, UCL Student Union, Imperial Hotels, RADA, British Museum, Florida State University in London, New York University in London, Bloomsbury Improvement Group.
Bloomsbury Festival – Unfortunately we have not been able to get sufficient numbers of volunteers to help run our traditional annual street festival over the past few years and because of outside forces this burden has become unacceptable.  This has caused us serious concerns over Health and Safety and Security implications and we have had to look for alternative solutions in order to carry on with this event.

In June 2004 we ran the Bloomsbury Blues Festival in Malet Street with substantial sponsorship from the Provost of UCL, supported by the Russell Hotel.  The event was a tremendous success and we hope to build on this for the future.

We also participated in the Malet Street Festival with ULU and others in October which unfortunately got hit by an all day downpour, but the event proved feasible and we have agreed to work with ULU for the next 2 years to develop this event as an annual occurrence.  We hope this event in Malet Street will become a Bloomsbury Showcase.  We intend to continue exploring better ways to improve the social climate in Bloomsbury and are pleased with the warm response we have received from our institutions who are also keen to improve this aspect of city life.
West End Community Groups Social Event – The BA invited the committee members from all the West End Community and Tenant Associations to a social event in November. The event was very successful and we convey our thanks to the management and staff of Jury’s Hotel in Great Russell Street who made the evening such an excellent quality event. We hope this will also become an annual event.

Jury’s Hotel – We wish to convey our sincere thanks to Jury’s Hotel and Michael Neve, their General Manager, for their continued support over the past year.  Jury’s have supplied us with meeting rooms on many occasions that give us a comfortable venue for our committee meetings.

University of London Students – There are about 4000 students living in the Bloomsbury Ward in halls of residence and private accommodation.  We have been working on a number of projects recently with University of London Union in Malet Street (ULU) and it made sense to us to invite ULU onto the Bloomsbury Association with one vote on our executive committee. This offer has been accepted and we welcome ULU to the BA.

West End Drugs Partnership (WEDP) – http://www.wedp.org  We continue to work with the WEDP and will continue to do so for as long as necessary.  After 2 years on this forum we are now seeing positive progress.  We are satisfied with the outcome of the Health Impact Assessment and subsequent decision by the West End Drugs Partnership NOT to open a dedicated fixed site needle exchange near Charing X Road.  We hope this will be the end of that proposal for good.
Bloomsbury Ward Police Consultative Group (BWPCG) – The new BWPCG was formed recently at meets at the Brunswick Community Centre on a regular basis.  We play an active role on this group and are satisfied that it has finally been set up democratically.  It is chaired by Ralph Cutting who is a resident of Russell Court.


Bloomsbury Neighbourhood Forum – This new group has been formed by one of our Councillors, Penny Abraham and had a well attended inaugural meeting at the Drill Hall in December.  This forum is the link between all the residents groups and LB Camden and meetings will be held quarterly.

Drugs – Health Impact Assessment (HIA) –
We are particularly concerned about the HIA evidence which shows that the vast number of addicts that live in the hostels located between Kings Cross/Bloomsbury/Covent Garden/Soho (the Bloomsbury triangle) and who are on prescription Methadone as part of a ‘treatment’ programme also take a cocktail of Heroin and Crack!  It’s methadone for breakfast, heroin for lunch and dinner and crack for snacking it seems from what we see happening on our streets. . We, and our fellow community reps on the West End Drugs Partnership (WEDP) are seriously concerned that so called ‘treatment’ programmes are not working as they should  and we consider that the government should look for alternative ways to tackle this problem.  We will be calling for better management of the local hostels. Notwithstanding that,  we will continue to work closely with the WEDP and police to ensure that enforcement is carried out to reduce the impact of drug dealers and addicts using our streets.

Other work and consultations we are involved with include;  Long term use of Malet Street and Byng Place;  St Giles Renaissance Forum;  Bloomsbury Improvement group;    Continued networking to establish better relations between all resident groups, institutions, borough council and police will be our primary aim during 2005 including more social events.  We welcome the opening of Dragon Hall in Stukeley Street and we will be working closely with the Dragon Hall Trust to encourage facilities for the youth of Bloomsbury and Covent Garden.

Many thanks to all our committee members for their time and support in the past year and a special thanks to Sean Glynn for his guidance and support.  I would also like to thank Prof John Adams, chair of the Bloomsbury Improvement group for helping us achieve such good working relations with the various university institutions and further afield;  Penny Abraham and Sue Vincent for their sterling support particularly with the WEDP;  Amanda Rigby of CGCA, Rita Jones of FNA, Andrew Murray of Soho Society, David Beida of 7 Dials for their dedicated work on the WEDP.

I particularly wish to acknowledge the great work done by Chief Insp. Des Rock of Camden Police and WEDP coordinator for the past year who is moving on shortly.  The contribution made by Des in improving communication and good relations between the police and the community in this part of London cannot be underestimated.  Many thanks Des and good luck in your future post!

I also wish to acknowledge the work by Prof John Foreman of UCL who is the independent chair of the West End Drugs Partnership and does an excellent job of keeping that forum on the straight and narrow.

Lastly,  We need YOU and we need to hear your voice.  If you do not speak out others will make decisions on your behalf that you may not like.  If you are able to spare a couple of hours per week please volunteer your help.  With your help we can make the Bloomsbury Association a voice to be reckoned with and a vibrant and exciting neighbourhood association.

We look forward to further improvements in Bloomsbury during 2005.

On behalf of the Bloomsbury Association 2004 committee may I wish all members and friends a very happy and prosperous New Year.

Jim Murray.
Chairman 2003-2004  http://www.thebloomsburyassociation.org

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