Issue 39— October 1997
Jericho tenants organize
Jericho's council tenants should soon have a Tenants' Association to look after their interests.
Jericho has not had a tenants' organization for some years, but in recent weeks a group of tenants have come together to set up a new association.
Jericho has around 300 Council tenant households. Some of the largest numbers can be found in Grantham House, Whitworth Place, and the flats in Jericho Street, though the Council has also acquired individual houses. According to the 1991 Census, about one-quarter of households in Jericho were in Council housing. While the Association will be for Council tenants only, the community as a whole will benefit since the group is likely to be taking up issues like street lighting, parking and vandalism which are of interest to everyone.
Community organization in Jericho has taken three main forms: the Residents' Association; the Community Association; and the Tenants' Association. Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when there were threats to bulldoze most of Jericho's housing, a very lively Residents' Association sprang up to defend the area. But when most of those battles had been won the interest in the Association subsided and eventually it folded.
Since then, community issues have largely been resolved through the Jericho Community Association. Strictly speaking, this is a group of Jericho people, currently chaired by Jan Needle, who volunteer to help run the Jericho St. Barnabas Community Centre in Canal Street. But the same group also organizes other activities such as the annual street fair and publishes the Jericho Echo. And when there are urgent issues of local concern as happened with the row over residents' parking most of the local protest was voiced through the Community Association. In fact, everyone who lives in Jericho is actually a member of the Association and can come along and join in the meetings which are held on the second Monday of each month.
Until recent years, there was also a Tenants' Association. This emerged in the mid-1980s from Whitworth Place. Residents there were protesting about vagrants coming in and sleeping in door spaces and also about the lack of adequate lighting. Led by Beryl and Eddie James they formed a Tenants' Association. This proved so successful that they were asked to extend the group to residents in other Council properties. They did so, and it ran for a few years, with all sorts of activities and outings, but when different people took over as officers it too faded away. One of the advantages of having an association is that it gives Jericho a stronger voice in the Carfax Tenants' Forum. At present Jericho tenants are represented here by Jenny Barsley of Grantham House, but she has to serve as an individual.
One reason why there has been less pressure for local organization is that many community functions have been served by the Jericho Area Committee' meetings held three or four times a year. Why this is called a committee' is anyone's guess. In fact this is an open meeting organized (and funded) by the City Council that allows you to grill local councillors and Council officers.
The meeting on 6 October proved to be quite a noisy affair, with residents' parking again to the fore. Councillor Susanna Pressel said that the parking item on the agenda was to discuss issues of parking place layout including the possibility of spaces for short-term parking during the day but reserved for residents at night. Some residents, however, were keen to discuss the whole subject, including the explosive issue of potential charges. Since traffic policy is a County matter, however, and there were no County officers present, the discussion was cut short. Parking will come under review in the coming months and we will cover it in the next Echo. If you have views on this, you should contact the Councillors and also come along to the next Area Committee meeting.