Saturday, 12 February 2011

Returning to the back benches…..

Millfields Blog is returning to the MUG backbenches having come last in the election at the AGM for this year’s MUG Committee. The Blog will continue unaffected (with perhaps a few more FOI requests winging their way to Hackney’s park department). However, at the risk of being accused of sour grapes, I have to say it was the most bizarre election I’ve ever come across. I’m still not sure quite what took place.
Cllr Rathbone read out a list of 12 names of people who he said had indicated they wanted to stand for the committee. Two additional attendees indicated they also wanted to stand triggering a vote for the 12 available places. Nobody standing was asked to say anything, such as what they thought they might bring to the Committee if elected, so that people could make informed votes.
Cllr Rathbone asked people to write down the names of six people they wanted on the committee. When this resulted in confusion, he asked people to write down all of the names of those standing and to put crosses against those they wanted on the committee - it wasn’t clear if this meant they still had six votes or if they could vote up to 12.  I still don’t know the answer to that one.Votes were counted by someone who was also standing for the committee. Nobody independent oversaw the process (the parks department, once again, couldn’t be arsed to turn up).
Cllr Rathbone  - is this really how elections are run in Hackney???
Most worrying of all Hillstowe Street, a key stakeholder in the future of the park given its ongoing shoddy treatment by National Grid, was left without a voice on the Committee as Wendy Reid also failed to get elected.


  1. My partner went along and was astonished at how shambolic and indeed blatantly irregular(one person commented on this from the floor) the whole voting process was.

    There seemed to be a suspicious foul odour of an agenda to determine a specific outcome.

    We both love Millfieldspark but this particular users group needs to develop a sense of fair play and inclusiveness.

  2. I attended, not to vote in the election (I didn't know any of the candidates) but to share info and to engage in a lively discussion about wildlife and biodiversity on Millfields, as advertised (deceptively!) in agenda for meeting.
    Instead we were subjected to a dull and tedious slide show and delivery.
    Most of the audience appeared passively trapped while they awaited the results of the "election".
    Could MUG perhaps check out how other Hackney park user groups function in a more healthy, honest and effective way.

  3. I was also there for the AGM and, yes, it was a complete and utter shambles. The rules were made up ad hoc and changed after voting was already underway. As you said, firstly it was stated that everyone including nominees could vote for up to six people including themselves. The rules were then changed with people told to vote for up to twelve people (including themselves if they were standing).

    This ridiculous voting system ended with the one representative for Hillstowe Street not being elected. Incidentally, Hillstowe Street is a street that provides access to Millfields Park.
    Could it be that the hidden agenda here is to get rid of any opposition to future plans? These plans in the past would have had a direct bearing on the lives of Hillstowe Street residents, yet none on the lives of the small minority of the MUG Committee who had previously taken it upon themselves to decide what was best for the
    larger community. One of these plans included the placement of an an adventure playground slap bang in the middle of one of the few bio diverse areas thankfully still located in our park. Need I say more!!! Colin

  4. The voting in of a volunteer committee is rarely so popular an election is needed so I think it was all a bit of a surprise and perhaps aspects could have been better handled That said, having just left the first official meeting of this new committee I am happy to report that all but one member attended which is rare and wonderful and it was lovely to see around the table people I see frequently in the park and are therefore genuine users. The discussion was lively and it feels like we could actually get things done this year. There are many park interested groups not represented on the committee - cricket, football, beecholme estate and hillstowe street to name a few but I feel sure that their concerns will be thought about, enquired of and frequently championed by this committee.

  5. True Emma, there are many park interest groups not represented on the committee, it seems to be the preserve of one sector of our diverse community . Why do you think this is so?

    The committee has now been in situ for almost a year and evidence confirms a lack of genuine engagement or real empathy with the issues which affect the vast majority of regular real park users.


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