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Forest Hill Society - Constitution

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Joined 04-03-2005
Posted on Monday, 08 May, 2006 - 08:43 am:   

The draft constitution is now available at where the webmaster has agreed to host any further documents required. Many thanks for making these pages available.

This thread will allow further discussion of the constitution and structure of the society prior to the adoption of an official constitution. At present the draft constitution is virtually identical to the Sydenham Society constitution, originally written in the 1970s and updated in the 1990s, but there is no reason why we should not make amendments prior to official adoption. Once I have enough feedback I shall update the document to reflect the consensus of views on the thread and I shall bring copies to the setup meeting for further discussion (but it would be best not to spend too long at the first meeting on boring constitutional matters).

Thanks to Pat Trembath for giving me a copy of the Sydenham Constitution to work from.

Other discussion not relating to the constitution should continue on the existing thread.
Joined 20-02-2006
Posted on Monday, 08 May, 2006 - 10:12 am:   

Looks really good. Thanks for your hard work.

Just wondering, would there be any merit to limiting the number of consecutive terms for which an officer could serve?

I am specifically thinking of the Chair, who might just get re-elected year after year, perhaps only because nobody else wishes to take on the reponsibility. If it were necessary to find a new Chair periodically, the Society has the potential to be a more dynamic group.
Joined 18-07-2005
Posted on Monday, 08 May, 2006 - 01:27 pm:   

Great Michael.

Still think we need something in there enshrining a "No-party" political stance. Increases credibility?
Joined 17-03-2005
Posted on Monday, 08 May, 2006 - 01:46 pm:   

Looks good. I agree with Calvin re officer appointments. Perhaps a 3 year cycle, to give people an opportunity to grow in their role? Presumably if they are doing an excellent job and no one else wants to stand, they can still continue if the members so choose?
Joined 20-02-2006
Posted on Monday, 08 May, 2006 - 01:52 pm:   

I agree; in exceptional circumstances, the members could vote to keep them in longer.
Joined 08-05-2006
Posted on Tuesday, 09 May, 2006 - 08:42 pm:   

I think a Forest Hill Society (would prefer this title) is a very good idea and I would be interested in joining.

However, I would like to see something in there about commitment to observing high standards of environmental practice – e.g. use of paper, and also commitment to supporting less polluting initiatives etc.

It also needs a statement of equal opportunities in a community context. Don’t Councils require one if they are going to recognise an organisation?

I would also like to see more emphasis in the constitution on consulting local opinion and doing some genuine research into what people think about the specific issues they pursue. There is some reference in the constitution to ‘enquire’ and ‘make surveys’ but in my view this is not enough to ensure that such a society would genuinely represent the majority opinion of residents. The problem with many such amenity societies is that they are run by articulate people with strong views which may not be those of most people in the area, so it becomes a ‘shout-loudest’ situation where a small number of people have undue influence. I think the constitution should include some requirement to do research and consult a representative sample of the population and that results must be taken into account when the society campaigns on issues. It means work – or funding from the society’s assets – but then if the members really care about what local people think they should be willing to do it.
Joined 17-03-2005
Posted on Tuesday, 09 May, 2006 - 09:13 pm:   

Melissa, the idea of research is very sound but I think largely impractical in a voluntary community organisation, especially at a fledgling stage. We will probably need to spend some time just getting up and running. Personally I see the Society, as all similar Societies as essentially representing the views of their membership. This may not necessarily be a microcosym of the local community, but I cant see what we can do about that other than encourage as many people from a wide section of the community to join and contribute. Key to this will be a membership fee that is affordable and giving them something for their money.

An EO policy is probably very necessary and as you rightly point out a likely requirement of recognition by the Council and good practice in any case. Anyone got one we could use?
Joined 09-04-2005
Posted on Wednesday, 10 May, 2006 - 12:45 am:   

How about some appreciation for all those people willing to give up their spare time to organise this Melissa?
No doubt your concerns are well meant but it also seems a trifle premature to raise so many of them when the first meeting hasn't even taken place yet.
Good luck to all of you and hope it's the start of something very good for FH.
Joined 20-02-2006
Posted on Wednesday, 10 May, 2006 - 09:58 am:   

Agree that equal opps policy must be adopted, and perhaps a green working policy.

Good contributions from Melissa, but I would suggest that the constitution is not the place for them. I could bring a couple of examples to the first meeting; no doubt the Sydenham Society has one as well that we could use verbatim.
Joined 08-05-2006
Posted on Wednesday, 10 May, 2006 - 10:32 am:   

We were asked for suggestions on the constitution, my proposals were not a negative criticism of the work already done. With issues like environment and equal opportunities it's much better to get those agreed at the start of such an organisation. Of course I think those who have already put in a lot of work are doing a great job.

Calvin is right, the constitution may not be the place, but they need to be there.

As for the commitment to consult, I didn't think this would get much support at this stage, mostly for the practical reasons given by Roz. But I still think an organisation that claims to work on behalf of the community should do it. I suppose the question is: would the Society be a pressure group campaigning on issues important to its members, or a community organisation working on behalf of all local people? It appears it is the former that is proposed. Personally I think the latter function is quite well covered by the ways people can lobby and influence their elected representatives, but clearly many members of the forum are not satisfied with those methods.

I certainly do wish the new Society well.
Joined 04-03-2005
Posted on Friday, 19 May, 2006 - 03:19 pm:   

I have made some amendments to the draft constitution based on the feedback above and other feedback I have received. you can see the latest version (with revisions displayed) at

I have not included an equal op. policy or a policy on consultation, although both are important to the running of the Society I agree with the comments above that these are not constitutional matters.

I would welcome any further comments on the revised document.
Joined 08-05-2006
Posted on Sunday, 21 May, 2006 - 01:45 pm:   

It looks really good.

The other thing I mentioned in my previous post - again probably not to be included in constitution, but I think very important - is some kind of statement or policy on the environment - both in the working practices of the Society, and in the projects it will support.

Realise it can't all be done at once, but needs to be on the list.

Look forward to hearing more about the meeting.
Joined 01-01-2003
Posted on Thursday, 25 May, 2006 - 10:03 pm:   

Revised version of the constitution posted today at
Joined 20-02-2006
Posted on Friday, 26 May, 2006 - 08:29 am:   

Well done Michael & steering group. Thanks to everyone for working to get this revised and pushing forward.

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