Setting Up a Residents Association

Setting Up a Residents Association

This is some general advice on starting and running a Residents Association. It is extremely important when starting your resident’s association group that you get involvement and “buy-in” from as many people as possible who are living in the estate / street or community area.

Organise a public meeting in a suitable venue, giving as much notice as possible, this meeting should discuss the issues / concerns which affect your residential area and elect a representative committee to co-ordinate a response to the issues / concerns raised. Calling a meeting can simply be organised by means of a “flyer” into each letterbox, an advertisement in the local papers, the Parish News & Views, or indeed calling to neighbouring houses and inviting the residents.

Appoint one individual to facilitate the first meeting, this individual should prepare a basic agenda and minute the first meeting in bullet point format – ask for a volunteer if someone is willing.

The initial meeting should be designed to encourage as many people as possible to become involved in assisting the Association, decide on a name, set out general aims and objectives, elect a steering committee (who could later elect an “Officer Board” i.e. Chairperson, Secretary & Treasurer).

Committee General
At the first committee meeting it is best to elect the “Officer Board”, ask someone to draft a basic constitution (for adoption at a later Annual General Meeting), discuss issues raised at the initial meeting and determine a course of action to resolve these issues. Issues such as opening a bank / credit union account, obtaining suitable insurance cover.

The treasurer should try to generate a draft budget – based on anticipated cost of grass cutting, planting and general maintenance which is deemed to be necessary – as this will determine the amount of the annual subscription which needs to be raised.

A basic constitution can simply consist of the aims, objectives and rules that your Association will use. It needs to be a written understanding of what your Association is going to do and how it plans to do it, a well written straightforward constitution will serve as a reference point for the Association. Many funding agencies will want to see a constitution prior to agreeing to provide funding, as they will want to see that your Association is democratic and accountable (most important where money is at stake).

Arrange to register with the Local Authority (Kildare Public Participation Network), notify your local Councillors, TD’s, the local press, and Email Newbridge Tidy Towns Association  to make everyone aware of your existence.

The Kildare Public Participation Network  is for community, voluntary, social inclusion and environmental organisation. To Register with the PPN, Organisations must be part of one of three sectors / pillars:-

  • Voluntary / Community – objectives and activities should focus on community responses to local issues/concerns and promote improvement of quality of life and community well-being;
  • Social Inclusion – primary objectives must be social inclusion, social justice and equality;
  • Environment – primary objectives must be environmental protection/sustainability – acceptance onto the Environment Pillar is determined by the National Environment Pillar;

Within the first few meetings of a Residents Association, it is advisable that the committee develops a clear but achievable work plan to address the issues raised at meetings by members / residents. When developing the work plan, clearly detail the necessary actions to take to ensure that each task is achieved. We would always advise Residents Associations to assign each action to an individual (or group of individuals), this will help to share the work equally among all members of the group. Ensure that the work plan is recorded in the committee’s minutes and reviewed at all meetings.

Safety First:
Make sure that you take precautions to avoid accidents and have safety procedures sorted out before you start. People should be aware of the correct way to lift weights, handle power tools and even simple hand tools, such as sledgehammers and pickaxes. Hi-Viz vests are recommended, you might even need hard hats and safety boots / shoes. Can anyone provide first aid?

Insurance is a must, both to protect the individual and the Committee in the event of an accident. However observance of basic health and safety is an essential element when planning any job in the estate, ensure that safe methods are used when tackling any task, and where the expertise is not available from within the Residents of the estate, you must get outside professional help.

Residents Committee Meeting
Being on the Committee is about much more than simply attending meetings, each committee member must be willing to be actively involved in planning events, general discussion and decision making – this is probably the most important function of the committee. Each member should be aware of what decisions the committee is entitled to make, and what decisions are more properly made at an Annual General Meeting.

If at all possible ensure that you work with the other committee members to enable decisions to be made by consensus rather than having (possibly) divisive votes.

Meetings should start and finish on time, and should be held in a suitable venue. A Quorum needs to be established, normally this would be 1/3 of the members plus 1, to enable a decision made to be binding. It is a simple matter of courtesy that any items to be discussed at a fort-coming meeting be sent to the Chairperson / Secretary prior to the meeting.

It is not necessary to hold many meetings, however there needs to be one a month initially, it is recommended that meetings should be held at a regular time and place as this makes it easier for people to remember to turn up. However regardless of the number of meetings it is essential that you remember the committee represents the local community and arrangements for reporting back to your community needs to be agreed and implemented how about a newsletter or feedback email.

Communication is Essential – Keep your fellow residents and the community fully informed of planned actions, community events, green area maintenance, tree planting and clean-up events etc.

Typical Committee
A typical committee would consist of the following:

  • Chairperson
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • Committee Member(s)

The Chairperson’s primary role is to lead the committee and facilitate its meetings:

  • The Chairperson must take responsibility for facilitating the group to work well together in achieving the committee’s aims and objectives, taking time to plan the meeting and give help and support where needed;
  • Ensure all members are encouraged to express their views, and get a fair hearing;
  • Planning and running of meetings in an orderly and fair manner;
  • Ensuring that the discussion remains focused on achieving the Associations aims;
  • Ensuring that decisions adopted are followed up and implemented;
  • Making emergency decisions between meetings, in consultation with the Secretary & Treasurer;
  • The Chairperson may act as spokesperson, representing the committee to outside bodies, such as the local press etc.
  • Planning / organising and ensuring that there are sufficient volunteers to under planned work / projects;

The Secretary’s primary role is to support the committee:

  • Organisation of meeting venue & times, and communicating same to committee members;
  • Drafting the agenda with the Chairperson;
  • Ensuring that all necessary information is made available to committee members;
  • Ensuring that adequate records (minutes) of meetings are kept, and circulated;
  • Dealing with (and sharing / reporting on) any correspondence to and from the committee;
  • Planning / organising and ensuring that there are sufficient volunteers to under planned work / projects;

The Treasurer’s primary role is to monitor finances:

  • Establishing transparent procedures on finance policy;
  • Prepare a budget, and keep the Association within budget;
  • Monitor income and expenditure of the group;
  • Maintain any bank / credit union accounts in order, keeping accurate records of all transactions;
  • Keeping the committee informed of the financial situation of the Association;
  • Prepare / submit funding applications on behalf of the Association;
  • Presenting (and providing explanations if necessary) the accounts at the organisation’s AGM;
  • Should be a joint signatory on bank account with chairperson and / or secretary;
  • Planning / organising and ensuring that there are sufficient volunteers to under planned work / projects;

The Committee Member’s primary role is to participate in the work of the committee:

  • Be an effective representative of all residents of your estate / community area;
  • Participate positively in the discussions, be active rather than passive;
  • Be prepared to address any issues which may arise;
  • Bring concerns of fellow residents to the committee meeting;
  • Participate in the organisation of events planned by the Association;
  • Planning / organising and ensuring that there are sufficient volunteers to under planned work / projects;

Meeting Hints

  • Stick to the pre-arranged commencement time and date of the meeting;
  • Agree a short list of standing orders to regulate the meeting;
  • Always show respect the opinion of others, each opinion is equally valid;
  • What happens at the meeting stays with the meeting, however a summary of the main issues discussed should be agreed and published in a newsletter or communique;
  • Stick to the time that you have allocated for the meeting, suggest one hour maximum;
  • Ensure everybody switches all mobile phones to silent mode (better still turn them off);
  • Always direct your questions through the Chairperson;
  • If you undertake to lead or complete a project – DO IT;

A Typical Agenda

  • Minutes of previous meeting and matters arising;
  • Correspondence to / from the Committee;
  • Finances / Budget / Bank Accounts;
  • Reports on actions taken regarding previous issues;
  • New issues, proposals for projects;
  • Any Other Business;
  • Confirm date and venue for next meeting:

Kildare County Council have published a very useful guide to establishing a Residents Association which you can access here: Kildare County Council Residents Association Guidelines

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About Us

 

Newbridge Tidy Towns Association is continuously working on projects designed to enhance the appearance of the town for the residents, visitors and business community.

Please explore our website - how could you become involved?

Contact us with ideas and suggestions, let us have your feedback.

Perhaps we can all work together to enhance the appearance of Newbridge

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How To Help

 

Work parties meet as follows:

October - March at the Watering Gates each SATURDAY morning at 9.30 am.

April - September - Meet at the Watering Gates each TUESDAY evening at 7.30 pm.

Please check our Twitter Feed for updates.

Monthly planning meeting:

Parish Centre, Station Road at 8.30 pm. on the first Wednesday of each month.

Meetings or work parties generally last one hour all are welcome.

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