They work with the Council and the police to represent the views of local people, and try to make our streets better places to live. Some are officially constituted bodies that have formal recognition and even get funding from the Council. Most are small, informal associations, run by a few local people grouping together to try to get their voices heard.
The Macfarlane Road Residents' Association is the group that gathers quarterly in my corner of Shepherd's Bush to try and make our neighbourhood a little bit better. Does it make a difference? Surprisingly - sometimes it does.
Improvements to Hopgood Street and Uxbridge Road (raising the street level to slow down traffic) came about thanks to co-operation with the Council, as did extra residents-only parking spaces, changes to pay-and-display in Hopgood St, making the local parking regulations clearer and more transparent, and even planting some new flowering cherry trees.
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We've also worked with the police to try to minimise anti-social behaviour on the corner of Hopgood St and Macfarlane Road, such as fly-tipping, bicycle theft and public urination.
We also work with the Council on licensing issues, making sure that local licensed premises, such as Bar FM, are good neighbours.
The Macfarlane Road Residents' Association meets approximately every three months, usually in the evenings, generally for no more than a half an hour - we recognise that people are busy, and no-one likes long meetings.
Our next meeting is in a week's time. If you live locally and would like to get involved, email secretary Alex Williams (that's me) at firstname.lastname@example.org. All residents are encouraged to attend meetings and share their concerns. You genuinely can make a difference.
The Bush Telegraph offers a personal view on life in Shepherd's Bush. If you would like to contribute a story about our neighbourhood, email us at email@example.com.