How to set up an Action Group

If you don’t want to get your goose cooked
28th January 2022
Taking action with Action Groups
11th February 2022
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How to set up an Action Group

This week’s question. How many bars are there in the House of Lords and House of Commons? Answer at the foot of the column.

In over 30 years in the property communications business (I started when I was 11), I have come across action groups, protesters and Nimbys of all shades and colours.

Whereas many in the industry see these as a damn nuisance, I see them as a sign of a healthy democracy. There is no need to by cynical and say they also provided me with a reasonable living. Try setting up one of these in North Korea or about half the countries in the world and you’ll appreciate democracy.

So what are five ingredients of an effective action group.

  1. Dynamic committed individuals. It may only be one, two or three, but the AG needs a driver. Often this person will be well educated with time on their hands, be comfortably off and have an understanding of how the ‘system’ works. I refer to these as the Aga Louts.
  2. Good branding. A pithy name which can be used as an acronym. For example (these are not real): CRAMP – Croydon Residents Against More Pressure; SNOT – Say No to Tramway. But be careful, for example South Hams Against Growth doesn’t work well.
  3. Politically savvy. Many council politicians live on very slender margins. Last Year Cllr Nicola Sumner in Barnsley gained 1,084 votes as did her Tory rival. After four recounts she won on the toss of a coin. Politicians will listen to you.
  4. Media awareness. The media love a good scrap and a mixture of angry residents, greedy developers and concerned environmentalists is too good to miss. If there are to be photographs or TV, posters and little children are essential.
  5. Technical expertise. It is important your case is plausibleand if you can dig out a retired engineer, planner or surveyor, it’ll make you case look valid even if the ‘expert’ talks total gibberish.

Of course there’s lots more, but I want to keep my job. So next week, I’ll look at the best way to deal with Action Groups and definitely lose my job for giving away trade secrets.

Answer: There are about 30 places where you can get a drink. No wonder Sue Gray who is investigating Partygate referred to a ‘excessive alcohol culture’ at Westminster. And she should know, she ran a pub herself for a number of years.

The winner of last week’s competition for a bottle of champers was Iain Berry with the slogan: “Party on Dudes” for Boris.

Have good week,

Tom