The MHFGA - What have they ever done for us?
By MHFGA on 20 March 2012
The Muswell Hill and Fortis Green Association was formed by nine residents in May 1948 following an outcry over parking of commercial vehicles. Its aim was to "foster an interest in local government and other local matters". The Association was to be strictly non sectarian and non political and the slogan "strength through unity" was adopted. By 1957 there were 148 members. Our first official Newsletter was published in 1965. By 1977 the annual subscription was 75p. In 1974 many young families had moved into the area and joined the Association. This resulted in the formation of a young and active committee with a more green, conservationist and pro-public transport stance. This was also the beginning of a more proactive, strong and lively Association, fighting for the interests of the residents.
Today we are busier than ever and have a membership of over 700 people However, we do realise that we have to attract more new members, especially those younger residents, just moving in to Muswell Hill. We publish a Newsletter six times a year which is either hand delivered or sent out by e-mail. We have a website which has thousands of hits every month and a Notice Board located in the centre of Muswell Hill. We have regular meetings with a guest speaker, mainly on local issues. We represent our members on many committees and panels; and through regular exchanges and consultations with Haringey Council and other organisations we can and do influence decisions on community safety, policing, environment, conservation, traffic control, trees and flowerbeds, litter and graffiti, planning applications and shop fronts, among others. Drawing on decades of experience, our committee can and does act as a first port of call for advice when problems arise, and we are regularly quoted in the local press.
Through the decades the Association has had many successes. These included the following:
In 1974 the Council proposed to cut down all 3600 mature street trees in the west of the borough, known for its beautiful planes, chestnuts and limes. The committee fought vigorously against such a barbaric act and, with the help of many residents, forced the Council to abandon this project.
In 1973-6 there was a plan to widen the Archway Road to motorway standard through Highgate up to Muswell Hill: a well-fought campaign stopped the widening of the road.
We created and organised the first Muswell Hill Festival in 1976 and ran it successfully for many years until recently.
In 1981 we were involved in a massive campaign to retain the famous art deco Odeon when the owners threatened to demolish it.
In 2005 we discovered a long-abandoned path along Muswell Hill at Grove Lodge, which we have now restored with help from the Parks Department of the Council. It was originally created in 1945.
A well-known and much-loved feature of the Muswell Hill shopping centre since 1899, the Langton Clock was saved from being scrapped, was repaired and is now working again.
Having become Chairman in 2000, I inherited boxes of archive material and I had a dream of researching and publishing the Association's history. After nine years, in May 2010, the History Book was published at last and all 125 copies sold in just one year. The book gives the history of the Association since its formation in 1948.
Our most recent success relates to the two flower beds on Colney Hatch Lane, at the entrance to Muswell Hill. I decided that these two beds, which had been overgrown and uncared for, for many years, should be looked after by our Association. We bid for and won a sum of money from the Council last year and at the same time a local garden centre agreed to support us. As a result, we will start work soon on the two beds and hope to brighten up this once-forgotten area.
We continue our fight to ensure a cleaner, greener and safer environment for residents in Muswell Hill, Fortis Green and Alexandra Wards.