Thursday 13 December 2012

Notes on the Breakfast Meetup this morning - By Paul Evans of Finchlinks

By Paul Evans,
(This article was originally posted on the Finchlinks website- )

Thanks to everyone who stepped out in sub-zero temperatures this morning for the Finchlinks Business Breakfast at Cafe Buzz in North Finchley. There was a good crowd there to hear Hugh Flouch of Harringay Online outline the success of the Hyperlocal website that he runs covering the streets around Green Lanes in the London Borough of Haringey (note the difference in spelling!)
Harringay Online was the subject of a 2010 study by London Councils into the hyperlocal online communities. It concluded that sites such as this (and there are a few comparable sites elsewhere in London) help to improve the sense of collective efficacy within the area that they cover. In plain English, it means that – where such a site exists  – the people living in the area have more of a sense that they can achieve something by working together.
Other benefits range from there being …
  • a more vibrant network of local community groups,
  • a place where people can get genuinely useful recommendations for local tradespeople,
  • a greater sense of trust between local people and the local authority / police,
  • a more effective local  business community with some business relying significantly upon custom that is generated by the site
Rog T of The Barnet Eye was there this morning talking about the kind of issues that he covers, and he made a very good point about the relative disengagement of the local press from the area. Rog covers politics and news throughout the borough – often filling the gaps left by the commercial press. But –for me – even those gaps are often of mixed relevance. Rog covers stories in Burnt Oak. He lives and works in Mill Hill, and both of these places are within the borough of Barnet, and are relevant to the task he has set himself as a blogger covering this borough.
There’s no question that its a good thing that they are being covered now that the press have lost interest, but we really need a network of people doing what Rog is doing – providing a volume of stories that are relevant to individuals about their own locality.

On a personal note, I’ve lived in the borough for over 20 years and I’ve visited Mill Hill and Burnt Oak precisely once each.

Everybody’s notion of locality is different. Critical mass is important to a local community site and I think that defining locality along local government lines is to cast the net too widely. I remain convinced that Hyperlocal communities would benefit both North Finchley and Finchley Central / Finchley Village and I’m happy to work with anyone who wants to get one going in the area. But I do think that it’s important that we keep focussed on the hyper part of the term hyperlocal.

We have at least two more similar breakfasts planned and we’ll be announcing the guest speaker for the next one shortly. The next breakfast is on the 17th January. Please pass details on to any local businesses that you think may be interested.
Finchlinks is a Hyperlocal site covering North Finchley. More info here -

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