What is HCDG?
The Headington Community Development Group:
a surprisingly tasteful mouthful
What is HCDG?
Following an initiative from the Oxford City Planning Department in early 2000, several local people were brought together to establish the Headington Community Development Group (HCDG). It wasn’t called that to start with, and it is not exactly a marketing man’s dream of a name now, but it does describe what it is all about – a group of people from the community getting together to do what they can to make Headington a bit better than it already is.
The hope is that by bringing together representatives from all the
different stakeholders and stakeholder groups in Headington, this group will be able to facilitate and realize various different projects. At first, this may simply be through a process of coordination between these different stakeholders and through exchange of information between them. The group brings together a range of different perspectives and backgrounds on the possible development of projects, facilities and resources in and for Headington, all with the objective of trying to make things better than they would be otherwise. In due course, as we are able to channel energies and efforts, we may be able to attract funding from sources, which hitherto were closed to us, but our starting point is the projects, not the budgets. We have to make sure that we are focusing effort on the right projects for Headington, and those we are working together wherever possible, not against each other.
Who is HCDG?
There is no absolute definition of the membership. There are a lot of people who have been involved at some point, so my apologies to them in advance if I don’t mention them by name, as there will always be some names left out, but you know that your contribution has been part of what has got us this far already.
There is a core of people who have come to all or most of the meetings so far. Andrew Brown; Bob Clarke; Jill Cummings; David Edwards; Tony Joyce; George Kershaw; Sophie Lancaster; Kat Luddecke; Nicholas Newman; Laurie Price; Arthur Trehearne. Between them, these people bring the expertise and perspectives of local businesses and organizations, both big and small, residents’ associations, the council, and the police.
Added to this core, there is a range of others who have made contributions either just at the start, or for just a few meetings along the way. If there are others who are interested, we would be very pleased to hear from you. If people have been overlooked so far, it is only because we haven’t heard from you yet.
And added to this, entire there are already three working parties that are focusing on targeted areas: Economic Restructuring Working Group (GREW), Marketing and Promotions, and Design. These working parties bring in still further expertise, and focus on a range of projects from the transport strategy for Headington to the location and maintenance of an appropriate community notice board.
What can HCDG actually do?
Good question. At one level, not very much. No budget, no remit, no mandate. What’s the point, then?
Well the point is that by getting well intentioned people together to coordinate activities of other bodies, you can actually achieve quite a lot, even if only indirectly. There may be no agenda, but we are probably better off without one, and certainly without hidden agendas. Oxford has been described as a remarkably political place. It is said that in many different areas a lot of people seem to have an axe to grind rather than a hatchet to bury. But – so far, at least – the HCDG has been free of all that. The people involved are passionate about wanting the best for Headington, but they are not out to score points off each other, just to work out what it is best to do.
Recent items for discussion have included what to do about the Headington area traffic survey, the re-development of the Manor Ground, bus shelters, and the group has been one of the consultation points for the city planners using the Headington development budget, checking where it was sensible to put a new bench, making sure that the steps on the paved area outside the shops were sorted out, and so on. The group communicates opinions and offers suggestions to other bodies, and gradually we hope that we will help to improve things. Not much in the arena of international diplomacy, true, but important little things that make life a little be better for all of us, bit by bit.
Over the autumn, we were kept abreast of plans for the Headington Christmas Event, and we were very pleased that the event was such a success, particularly for Gill Cummings, who worked so hard to get it organized. That particular event has highlighted the need for a community space for Headington, and if the opportunity arises to do anything about that, we will do what we can.
In the meantime, we are interested to hear from others, through the Headington Forum Newsletter, or through any of the people who are working with us. Please feel free to contact me directly on Andrew@bielt.org.
We don’t have any illusions of grandeur, and we know that we are starting with nothing much going for us apart from a spirit of cooperation, but we have the interests of Headington firmly in mind. With no other remit than that, we hope to work together, reducing unnecessary duplication of effort, so that we all get more done, and we all benefit.
Personally, I had never really understood before what they were referring to on the news when they referred to “Community Leaders”, but I think I know now. And I am pleased to feel that in some small way, I am helping, too.