HMUG was a local group which aimed to organise people to appreciate and when necessary defend Hackney Marshes, a unique common land green space in east London. It closed down in August 2022.
Why we retired HMUG
(written before the meeting)
The group has been in decline for a few years. Currently the only (even nominally) active person is a disabled, chronically unwell pensioner. I've tried various ideas to involve new people who might be interested in working towards reviving the group, but nothing has clicked. So I think the time has come to let the group pass away. Because it's formally constituted, there ought to be a formal meeting to decide on dissolving the group.
If you feel the group should continue, please come to the meeting ready to take a role in organising things. I'll be available as a resource while you're learning the ropes.
Is there still a role for HMUG?
Does it matter if HMUG closes down? In the past 2-3 decades it has achieved things to be proud of -- set up and run the Community Tree Nursery, planted woods, defended the marshes against a number of damaging development proposals, and just last year convened a successful public meeting about the state of the old Lea.
But other groups have come into being, and are more active & successful. The Tree Musketeers (born around 2005/6) now run the nursery and organise plantings and walks. Save Lea Marshes, which began in 2011-12, is active on biodiversity and development. Rubbish in the Lea and on the marsh is being attacked by 'Dobby' Woods's informal group with support from Leaside Trust and the Council, and by the very well organised Plastic Free Hackney. Wildlife Gardeners of Haggerston have extended their inspiring waterway work from the Hertford canal to the old Lea.
Hackney Council recognises all these groups as stakeholders, and has been working with them.
What's a user group for?
These groups don't follow the Park User Group model. HMUG is one of a number of park user groups in Hackney. They are recognised by the council - but get no funding - and supposedly are there to represent park users. Of course representing everyone who uses a park is an impossible job: in practice the user groups comprise a small number of people who care enough to put the time and energy in. Which is how most things happen in voluntary groups everywhere.
Representing everyone who uses a space the size of the marshes has always been way beyond the capacity of HMUG -- or any conceivable organisation, really. But the example set by Save Lea Marshes etc suggests that we should stop worrying about it. Their approach is more realistic: people who care just getting on with it. And the council is happy to recognise them, rightly so.
So the question is whether HMUG or something like it has a place any more in the 'ecology' of groups active on the marsh. There is no point in keeping it running for its own sake. Maybe its time is just naturally over.
Resolution to dissolve the group
The following resolution was adopted unanimously at a General Meeting on 22 August 2022.
This meeting resolves to dissolve Hackney Marshes Users Group.
Any remaining group funds will be offered to East London Waterworks Park as a pledged donation to their crowdfunder for buying the proposed site. If ELWP doesn't take up the pledge, the funds will be offered in equal shares to the following groups whose objectives are similar to HMUG's:
Save Lea Marshes
Hackney Community Tree Nursery
Daubeney Fields group
Local anger over the state of the old River Lea came to a head in early 2021 as high winter water levels draped the riverside trees with rubbish and sewage waste. HMUG convened a public meeting on 23rd March 2021 which brought together local people with all sorts of interests and skills.
For some of the many development/planning issues we've faced in recent years, see our Issues Archive
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