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TOPIC: Ten years of PGC!

Ten years of PGC!
10 Jan 2023 00:58 #6736

Basil Clarke Basil Clarke's Avatar Topic Author

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screenshot of pgc home page august 2014The earliest PGC home page preserved by the British Library dates from August 2014. Click on the image to go to the complete page on the UK Web Archive.

It's ten years this month since the Palmers Green Community website was revealed to the world (actually, to a handful of people in PG). How did it come about? What did it look like and report? What was in the first newsletter? What events were happening locally back then?

How did Palmers Green Community start?

In late 2012 I was asked by Colin Younger, chair of the Broomfield House Trust, to look at reviving a website that he had set up in collaboration with Phillip Chard, the originator of the Palmers Green Festival. The aim of the website, called Palmers Green Community, was to "promote inclusive, locally rooted and accountable community organisations made up of people who care about the quality of life in Palmers Green and surrounding areas". Unfortunately, the main feature of the website, its discussion forum, was quickly overrun by spam and Colin had been forced to take it offline.

Since retiring in early 2011 I had worked on a couple of websites: first for an amdram group in Leytonstone, then for the Friends of Broomfield Park, and was interested in expanding my skills in this field, both as regards web technology and website content. I knew about the Bowes & Bounds Connected website that served the community south of the North Circular and Harringay Online website, both of which used a commercial platform called Ning. I was interested in replicating their main features - local news, discussions, an events diary and a directory of local groups - but I wanted to have more freedom to build the website the way I wanted and at a much lower cost. I knew about an open source web platform called Joomla and was intrigued to discover what could be done with it, and I was also keen to build online databases.

The revamped Palmers Green Community went live at the start of January 2013, incorporating two databases that I had designed: an events calendar and a directory of community organisations, plus an open source forum package called Kunena. Rather than waiting for people to submit events to the database, I went out looking for them, so that the website could hit the road running with a decent number of events listed. And I went looking for local news from various sources, which I rewrote adding context where useful. In May 2013 I started sending out a weekly newsletter (I "borrowed" the list of contacts from the Friends of Broomfield Park - this was before GDPR made doing that illegal), and that started the ball rolling, bringing in new readers slowly but surely.

To write this article I've delved into the archives. Sources are

  • the British Library's UK Web Archive. The BL has sampled PGC occasionally from August 2014 right up to the present day. You can directly access issues where the url starts www.palmersgreencommunity.org.uk, but if you want to revisit the website since the url changed to www.pgweb.uk you'll have to visit the British Library in person.
  • The Wayback Machine has some earlier dates, but missing stylesheet information, so looking rather odd.
  • Email archives. I have a personal email archive dating back to 2001 (I use the excellent free Mailstore Windows application) that contains most of the email newsletters, including the first ever, dating from May 2013.
  • The website itself. Almost all news items and forum posts are still on the website, though presented using the current format. You can use the search page or you can browse for articles by category or by subject tag. However, events listings are deleted after about a year, to stop the database getting too large.

The first ever PGC weekly newsletter

pgc_original_masthead.jpg

PGC Newsletter No 1 26 May 2013

Welcome to the first of our regular newsletters, which we will be sending out to keep you informed about what’s on in Palmers Green and surrounding areas and about the latest news and discussions on the website.

Events

Our What’s On page provides a comprehensive listing of community events in and around Palmers Green and there’s a smaller version on the Home Page that will help you see what’s coming up in the next ten days.

Regular events include the opening of the Conservatory and Orchard in Broomfield Park, the Community Market on Sunday mornings and St Harmonica’s Blues Club on Friday evenings.

Special events coming up soon:

A plant swap in Broomfield Conservatory on Sunday from 2.30 to 4.30.  Come and see this beautiful plant-filled conservatory and take something home for your own garden - if you don’t have anything to swap, just make a small donation towards the upkeep of the Conservatory

Guided walks around Palmers Green and Southgate on Sunday and Monday afternoon

News

  • Enfield Council has unveiled its plans for a 20mph zone covering all streets  between Hoppers Road and Green Lanes (including Hoppers Road,  but excluding Green Lanes).  From North to South the zone would extend all the way from Winchmore Hill Green to the junction with Bourne Hill in Palmers Green.
  • The campaign for additional primary school places is continuing and its organisers are calling for parents to volunteer to form a representative group to work with the Council.
  • Seven boroughs, including Enfield, have been ordered to restart work on the North London Waste Plan.  Members of the public are able to make submissions, and the Pinkham Way Alliance has suggestions for what you might say.
  • The Friends of Broomfield Park have expressed their disappointment at the failure to fill flowerbeds in the Park with the usual bedding plants.

Discussions

  • The future of Palmers Green Triangle:  When will the tree be planted?  What about the clock and what would it look like?  Should the Triangle be removed and the pavement made wider?
  • Yet another betting shop application, this time facing the Triangle.  Are we happy about this?  If not, what can we, or for that matter the Council, do about it?

 open studios ad june 2013

COMING UP SOON
Saturday 25 May until Monday 27 May
Enfield Pageant of Motoring
Sunday 26 May

10.00am - 2.00pm

Palmers Green Community Market open

2.00pm - 5.00pm

Broomfield Community Orchard open

2.30pm - 4.30pm

Plant swap in Broomfield Conservatory

2.30pm

Guided walk: Palmers Green

3.00pm

Concert by pianist Jill Crossland
Monday 27 May

2.30pm

Guided walk: Southgate
Tuesday 28 May

11.00am - 12.00pm

Free Tai Chi in Broomfield Park

8.00pm

Buskers' Night at the Step
Wednesday 29 May

2.30pm - 4.30pm

Broomfield Conservatory open
Thursday 30 May until Saturday 1 June
Acorn Theatre Company present Grease
Tales from the Shed - an interactive theatre show for young children
Friday 31 May

8.00pm

St Harmonica's Blues Club: The Odyssey Blues Band

8.00pm - 10.00pm

Bowes Park Folk Club
Saturday 1 June

10.00am - 4.00pm

"Dr Bike": Free bike checkups

10.00am - 12.00pm

Broomfield Community Orchard open

2.00pm - 3.00pm

Guided tour of Forty Hall

7.00pm - 9.00pm

Space Gallery: Opening night Ann Lunden Jacoby

7.50pm

Cracked Pot Comedy Club
Sunday 2 June

10.00am - 2.00pm

Palmers Green Community Market open

10.00am

New River Walk: Hertford to Enfield

2.00pm - 5.00pm

Broomfield Community Orchard open

2.00pm - 4.30pm

The Enfield Debaters: Is gambling good for the economy?

2.30pm - 4.30pm

Live music in Broomfield Conservatory

2.30pm - 4.30pm

Broomfield Conservatory open
Wednesday 5 June

2.30pm - 4.30pm

Broomfield Conservatory open

7.30pm

Talk: Oranges and Lemons - Churches of Nursery Rhymes
Thursday 6 June

10.00am - 4.00pm

Women's Jobs Fair

7.30pm

Talkies Community Cinema presents The Wave (Die Welle)

What was PGC reporting back in 2013?

News reports came to PGC in January 2013. At first not very often, but the frequency of reporting soon gathered pace. The list below shows the first 25 stories that were reported on - the themes will be familiar today! Click on the titles to read the full reports.

Almost all the news items reported on PGC over the last decade (more than 2700) are still on the website. To see them all, go to www.pgweb.uk/news. They're in reverse date order, so it you want to see the earliest, scroll to the bottom of the page and use the navigation bar to go to the last page.

Concern over fall in number of shops in Palmers Green Town Centre

Published: 10 June 2013   Category: Palmers Green Town Centre

Council seeking views on ways to tackle homelessness

Written by Basil Clarke  Published: 08 June 2013   Category: News

Urgent call for community input to new waste plan

Published: 04 June 2013   Category: North London Waste Plan

Appeal to help block Pinkham Way tree clearance plan

Published: 28 May 2013   Category: Pinkham Way

Public consulted over North London Waste Plan relaunch

Published: 24 May 2013   Category: North London Waste Plan

Primary school places campaign enters new phase

Published: 24 May 2013   Category: Schools

Council consulting on 20mph zone proposal

Published: 21 May 2013   Category: Pedestrians

Area Forum minutes published

Published: 19 May 2013   Category: Planning & Development

Park Friends disappointed by flower bed cutbacks

Published: 12 May 2013   Category: Parks & Open Space

Southgate May Fair to raise funds for Teenage Cancer Trust

Published: 02 May 2013   Category: News

Planning Committee go-ahead for controversial housing scheme

Published: 26 April 2013   Category: Planning & Developmentg

Demo planned to protest against betting shop application

Published: 17 April 2013   Category: Planning & Development

New betting shop proposed for Palmers Green Triangle

Published: 14 April 2013   Category: Planning & Development

Temporary home planned for Palmers Green Library

Published: 12 April 2013   Category: Planning & Development

Council consults over pedestrian crossing arrangements

Published: 12 April 2013   Category: Pedestrians

Council launches Cleaner Streets campaign

Published: 11 April 2013   Category: Council Services

Concern about primary school provision to be voiced at public meeting with Enfield Council

Published: 02 April 2013   Category: Schools

Enfield Council reducing street lighting to cut costs

Published: 22 March 2013   Category: Traffic, Roads & Parking

Broomfield House campaigners considering next move

Published: 18 March 2013   Category: Broomfield House Restoration

Council publishes minutes of controversial Planning Panel meeting

Published: 17 March 2013   Category: Planning & Development

Residents asked to help spot diseased ash trees

Published: 05 March 2013   Category: Environment & Sustainability

Petition launched to oppose North Circ housing plans

Published: 02 March 2013   Category: Planning & Development

New islands will make it safer to cross Green Lanes

Published: 25 February 2013   Category: Pedestrians

Residents consulted over crime fighting priorities

Published: 23 February 2013   Category: Crime and Policing

Grovelands Centenary organisers call for volunteer helpers

Published: 10 February 2013   Category: News

Concern over North Circ housing plans

Published: 11 January 2013   Category: Planning & Development

What was on?

While nearly all news reports and forum discussions are still on the website, that isn't the case with historic What's On pages as the database entries will have been deleted. However, the British Library has preserved hundreds of events pages in the UK Web Archive. Finding them isn't terribly straightforward though. I recommend going to https://www.webarchive.org.uk/en/ukwa/ then typing into the search box. Among the results, find a page that's around the date of the event you're interested in, then use the menu at the top of the page, click on What's On and you should find the events that were current at the time. Some links will work, other won't, but it's an interesting way of looking back in time. Best to use a computer rather than a phone.

pgc events page november 2014A What's On page from 2014 preserved by the British Library - click on the image to go to the record in the National Web Archive

 

The future?

I don't suppose the website and newsletter will still be around in another ten years, but who knows? It's been a pleasure and a privilege so far, so perhaps I'll still be typing away, or perhaps someone else will have taken over, in which case it will probably look very different.

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Ten years of PGC!
12 Jan 2023 11:10 #6737

Adrian Day Adrian Day's Avatar

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Thanks for all you hard work!

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Ten years of PGC!
12 Jan 2023 12:10 #6738

Colin Younger Colin Younger's Avatar

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It's amazing how quickly time seems to have passed. Given the problems we originally had in finding someone to set the site up and continue to support it, the development in the last 10 years is a tribute to Basil.

The site's origin was in the opposition to the way that the council handled the sale of the old Southgate town hall. Perhaps apocryphally, a Councillor was reported to have said that there was no need to bother about opposition because those little people in Palmers Green would never get their act together. In order to prove them wrong, we originally tried the traditional route of setting up a "Palmers Green" committee, but there were so many existing groups with well defined roles, adding an overarching Palmers Green one wasn't the answer. Instead, as a minimum, setting up a website to inform and mobilise residents and businesses seemed an alternative. Little did we know how hard it would be to find someone to carry this out, until Basil took this on. The rest, as they say, is 10 years' history.

Keep well Basil!

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Ten years of PGC!
12 Jan 2023 15:12 #6739

Karl Brown Karl Brown's Avatar

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“Amazing how quickly time seems to have passed” highlights Colin yet looking at the decade old headlines: the waste plan ordered to be restarted, problems with the clock on the Triangle, controversy over a planned betting shop, 20mph, and worries about shops closing, it could almost be 10 days ago! But a lot has changed.
I would add a shout out to Winkworth for inputting £500 to the startup, sponsoring the site for years until Basil started to fund it all himself.
Nor should Philip pass as “merely” the originator of the PG festival. A local hero who opened what is now The Yard, at the time the first station café on the complete rail line; our (then) brilliant farmers market; and an art gallery in the train station waiting room.
Great things have continued in our area up to the present through for instance park improvements and related breakthroughs being worked on now by the FOBP leadership team, the Greenery stretching into new areas and the Action Team upping the high street, station and more. PGC highlights many other great works, both here and also spreading out from here. Some new neighbours from Crouch End way said they were staggered by the weight of volunteering activity in PG.
What of the next ten years as Basil asks? The last decade and more was arguably guided by the attached manifesto.

This browser does not support PDFs. Please download the PDF to view it: Download PDF



It’s a different community now with eg less public money and new minority populations of scale, some ongoing challenges such as retail and traffic plus new (?) ones such as climate, a wider aging population and how to bank those Brexit opportunities.
I understand the intent for the first new PG ward Forum at the end of this month (see PGC site for detail) will be to look at any bigger themes we can all work towards in the medium term (say 3+ years) rather than debate a plethora of micro, more personal issues, plus of course, LTN’s. Let’s see what happens on the day.
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