Covent Garden Community Association

What is the CGCA?

The Covent Garden Community Association represents residents, those who work in the area and businesses in Covent Garden.

It was formed in 1971 in response to the GLC's plan to demolish and redevelop the area. After a long struggle, the plan was defeated; then began the uphill task of formulating a plan to meet the needs of the residential community; needs that other communities take for granted: useful, affordable shops, health care, safe streets, decent housing, recreational facilities.

Many people think no-one lives in Covent Garden! To them it is the Opera House, the Market, night life and a tourist shopping centre; in fact it is a village in the heart of London, with 6,000 residents, including many second and third generation families and the figure is steadily rising.

21 Macklin Street

How does the CGCA work?

The CGCA is a registered charity managed by an executive committee elected by the members. Full voting membership is open to anyone who lives or works in Covent Garden.

The Association maintains an "open door" office at 21 Macklin Street, Monday to Friday between 10am and 5pm, where the co-ordinator provides a willing ear for members' problems. The ten person Executive Committee is elected annually by the members.

The CGCA plays a strategic role in maintaining the quality of the Covent Garden neighbourhood. The CGCA's work includes: Streets & Environment (rubbish, parking, holes in roads, etc), Housing, Business Group, Town Planning and Health Care. The CGCA has an overriding concern that the area is not destroyed by speculative and financial interests.

With the shortage of housing, many queries concern the problem of finding accommodation. The CGCA provides advice and information on housing issues and has regular contact with the Housing Associations which operate in the area.

Increasingly, businesses are looking to the CGCA for advice and assistance. The Association therefore formed a Business Group, specifically to assist established and new businesses, large and small, with the problems of surviving in Covent Garden.

The Association is the recognised amenity society in Covent Garden and regularly deals with Westminster and Camden Councils and Central Government departments. The CGCA tries to identify areas of social need and brings them to the attention of the relevant authorities. The CGCA aims to be a neighbour - a neighbour with twenty-four years of experience and skill in dealing with local authorities with specialised knowledge in various technical areas. Above all, the CGCA is a representative, receptive and energetic Association, promoting the interests of the residential and working community.

What has the CGCA achieved?

The Covent Garden as it now is, would not exist without the work of the CGCA. All the lovely buildings, many of which are now "listed", would have been demolished and replaced by modern concrete and glass offices and motorways. No one planned the rehousing of the residents!

The CGCA instigated and campaigned for a number of projects which are now self-governing:

* The Covent Garden Community Centre and Seven Dials Club
* Covent Garden Independent News, a bi-monthly news sheet
* various Tenants' Associations
* Covent Garden Area Trust
* Seven Dials Housing Co-op
* Seven Dials Housing Action Area
* Odhams Walk Housing scheme
* several Community Gardens, with the Phoenix Garden secured as a permanent open space
* Pensioners' Day Centre
* Dudley Court Health Clinic
* Covent Garden Annual Neighbourhood Festival
* Central London Community Law Centre
* The Jubilee Hall Development, providing housing, a market and a sports & recreation centre

The CGCA has helped many people through the bureaucratic jungle. We have shifted furniture, fixed locks, advised students, taken legal action on behalf of individuals, sponsored murals, made a film, published books, held public meetings, talked to the media, held community parties, listened, argued, reasoned, talked, and marched; when necessary we will continue to do so.

How does the CGCA concern me?

If you live in Covent Garden, it has everything to do with you. The quality of life for you, your family and your neighbours. It concerns those who work in Covent Garden because of the time spent here. Can you shop and eat at reasonable prices? Are the roads and pavements safe? Is your company being squeezed by ever increasing property values?

Taking a wider view, it is to do with the accountability of local authorities to the communities they serve. It is local Councillors' duty and responsibility to listen to the wishes and concerns of the community, and to act in the interest of those members of the community who do not have the financial strength to do this alone.

How can I help?

The members are vital to the Association in achieving its objectives. The level of membership strengthens our standing and ensures we are truly representative of the community. We also welcome groups who wish to become affiliated to the CGCA. So, support us by completing the membership form and bringing it, or sending it, with the correct monies, to the CGCA office.

In a more practical way, voluntary help is always welcome especially delivering news sheets and leaflets, helping in the production of the Covent Garden Independent News (published bi-monthly; articles always welcome), and offering time during the Neighbourhood Festival, fund raising events and campaigns. Why don't you drop into the office and find out what is going on and become involved?

How does the CGCA pay its way?

We receive an annual grant from Camden Council which helps to cover part of our overheads. A number of charitable trusts and businesses have helped to fund some of our projects. We organise fund raising events locally. Many people generously give their professional services free or at reduced rates.

Our other source of income is the membership subscription of £5 per annum, free to senior citizens.

It will be of great benefit to the CGCA if members complete a Banker's Order form to avoid the need to remember to renew their subscriptions every year. This is essential if the Deed of Covenant is also completed. Please complete the end page and return it to us.

What next?

Still more and more. Many battles have been fought, some won and some lost, but the underlying theme remains the same - we live and work here, we matter and we want to make sure that the promises of the Action Area Plan are carried out and that Covent Garden remains the lively community it has been for so long.

If you care about Covent Garden join the CGCA

21 Macklin Street, off Drury Lane, London WC2B 5NH telephone 0171-836 3355 fax 0171-404 2820.
Subscriptions are payable annually from April 1st. Cheques and Postal Orders should be made payable to Covent Garden Community Association and sent to the Association at the above address.

The CGCA is committed to equality and opposes any form of discrimination.. For more information also see the CGCA Constitution
Or contact:
Covent Garden Community Association
21 Macklin Street
London WC2B 5NH
tel: 0171-836 3355
fax: 0171-404 2820
(Draft of leaflet text - printed 06/04/98)