The Association for Island Homeowners
The St. Mary’s Island Residents Association Ltd. (SMIRA) is run by unpaid volunteers who work, on behalf of the residents, with various agencies and entities which have an influence on life on the Island.
These include Chatham Maritime Trust, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) who took over from SEEDA and who own the undeveloped land, Countryside Maritime Limited (CML) (the developers), Medway Council, Barratt Homes, Redrow and Moat Housing. Effective 11th January 2018 the HCA is now known as Homes England.
SMIRA have a website, www.smira.info, where information and news is posted including the minutes of SMIRA meetings. Recently, it has been used to consult with residents on the Traffic Regulation Orders that will be imposed following the ring road adoption (see below). SMIRA produce a yearly newsletter which is distributed to all households on the island, whether they are members or not.
SMIRA’s membership covers over 700 homes and this strengthens their effectiveness when dealing with outside agencies in order to get our views across.
Note: effective 25th March 2018 SMIRA’s twitter account @SMIResAssn is no longer operable.
SMIRA have been active in a number of areas:
- Driven the adoption of the Island roads with Medway Council. It is anticipated that all sector roads will be adopted by the end of 2018 and those in the ‘build-out’, one year after each sector is completed.
- Pressed for the provision of two zebra crossings to provide a safe access to the Community Centre, Doctor’s Surgery and Pharmacy and one to serve the elderly assisted living dwellings which should be completed in 2018. The crossings will be funded by Countryside and constructed during the school summer holidays.
- SMIRA worked with Chatham Maritime Trust and Medway Council to get the walkway between Basin 1 and Basin 2 re-opened; this was officially opened in August 2016.
- SMIRA seek to resolve any issues that arise from Chatham Docks, e.g. mitigate noise and dust pollution. Represented residents and challenged Peel Ports on the ‘wood chip’ nuisance issue; facility eventually shut down.
- Liaising with Medway Council Warden re dogs off leads, pressed for enlargement of dog run and improved secure enclosure
- Ongoing dialogue with Arriva to improve the bus services that serve the Island. Also pressed for bus shelters and later telemetry screens, negotiated an additional bus stop at Tappan Drive and pressed for better timetable to serve commuters
- Maintains a good relationship and ongoing dialogue with the Environment Agency to ensure that no commercial operation in Chatham Docks adversely affects the lives of residents.
- Working with the marina and other agencies to get the marina cleared up. Chatham Maritime Trust has fixed new mesh panels to the lower section of the perimeter railings alongside the marina to prevent rubbish being blown in.
- SMIRA representatives attend regular meetings with other stakeholders in an effort to improve the quality of life for Island residents. Residents are kept informed about what is going on across the Estate via their website, the SMIRA meetings, the annual newsletter and Facebook Page.
- Supporting Chatham Maritime Trust with enforcement of covenants.
- Supporting SaintARA – St. Mary’s Island Active Retirement Association
- Founded and sustained St. Mary’s Island Youth Club – ‘Castaways’. Youth Leader funded by Chatham Maritime Trust.
- Facilitated a number of resident drop-in sessions at the Community Centre
- Established an official SMIRA Facebook (‘St. Mary’s Island Residents Association Official Group’) page to act as a conduit for factual information to registered residents. It is also a channel for residents to ask questions and seek advice on matters related to living on St. Mary’s Island.
- Responded, where appropriate, to major planning applications where the quality of residents’ lives could be affected
- On invitation from the developer, Countryside, had input into the Master Plan Consultation for the Island ‘build-out’
- Campaigned for the provision of St. Mary’s Island Pharmacy
- Campaigned to make St. Mary’s Island public areas and pathways more disability-friendly
- Lobbied for the soft landscaping on the primary and secondary roads to be transferred to Chatham Maritime Trust rather than the Council, to ensure better quality and ongoing maintenance
- Negotiated with the School for the rear pedestrian access path. This was paid for, resurfaced and continues to be maintained by Chatham Maritime Trust.
- Provided funding, along with others, for St. Mary’s Island History Group
- Facilitated the purchase and installation of two defibrillators for the community hub with part funding received from Ward Councillors
- Pressed Medway Council for the car parking consultation due to the car parking issues in certain areas on St. Mary’s Island which will only increase with the build-out of the Island, the opening of the assisted living accommodation and the expansion of the school.
- Represented residents’ interests at preliminary meetings with DMC Health at the Doctor’s Surgery and provided feedback prior to the formation of a patients Participation Group (PPG).
- Planting on the Bunds, Central Walk and the community hub
- Lobbied for and succeeded in the provision of emergency winter gritting from Medway Council even though SMI didn’t meet their criteria
- Respond to residents’ enquiries via
Walkway open again
After a period of three years the access under the HMS Chatham Bridge over the caisson between Basins 1 and 2 is now open again. Those residents that used the access to the Co-Op and Dockside Outlet Centre previously will know that it provides a much safer route away from the main road, particularly for children and older residents.
This is yet another example of SMIRA, who has been working alongside Chatham Maritime Trust on this over a long period, looking after the best interests of residents to ensure that our lovely Island is sustainable and a pleasant place to reside.
The then Chair of SMIRA, David Taylor, expressed particular thanks to Chatham Maritime Trust who headed up the protracted negotiations with Peel Ports to secure a licence that made this possible and went on to finance the construction of the new walkway and it’s ongoing maintenance.
An official opening ceremony took place on Wednesday 10th August at 10.30 am at the walkway. The event was well attended by residents and representatives of the HCA, Marina Developments Ltd and Countryside Properties. SMIRA’s Director, Leslie James, cut the ribbon to mark the official opening of the new walkway which acts as a much quicker and safer route to the rest of the Chatham Maritime. The Trust’s Chief Executive, Jonathan Sadler, said “I am delighted that the Trust has been able to facilitate the opening of this walkway which provides a vital link from St. Mary’s Island to the rest of Chatham Maritime. The Trust has paid for the construction of the walkway and railings allowing residents to once again use this much quicker and safer route.”
Every six weeks SMIRA holds a meeting at the Community Centre which is open to all. At these meetings issues concerning the residents of the Island are discussed with other interested parties who include representatives from Chatham Maritime Trust and local councillors. It gives residents the opportunity to raise issues and ask questions of those people who influence life on the island. Membership of SMIRA does not mean you have to attend these meetings (we wouldnt have the room to accommodate everyone) but anyone is welcome to attend.
Any resident is welcome to attend these meetings without prior notice. The minutes of the SMIRA meetings are published on the SMIRA website.
The 2017 AGM was held on 1st December 2017 at 7.30 pm in the Community Centre at which there were a number of guest speakers.
SMIRA Meeting Dates
Following the SMIRA meeting on the 27th June 2017 SMIRA launched it’s official Facebook Group; 27 applicants and counting… Residents can apply to join via their own facebook page.
* Update from SMIRA. Following the Residents’ Open Meeting held on the 26th February regarding the introduction of a proposed controlled parking scheme, Allan Sneller and David Taylor from SMIRA have had a follow-up meeting with Medway Council. They had by then had the opportunity to take on board the points raised by residents at the open meeting and also, as requested, had a meeting with St. Mary’s Island School.
Allan Sneller and David Taylor have been in regular contact with those dealing with the parking permit and Surgery issues to provide residents with a statement which will be read out at the meeting on Tuesday 20th March. As these issues are understandably of great interest and important to residents, SMIRA are concerned that the attendance will vastly exceed the capacity of the Community Centre Meeting Room and for that reason have decided to place the updates on social media as and when they are received. At the meeting on the 20th March the updates will be read out for the benefit of those who do not access social media. Debate will be limited as no more detailed information is available at this stage.
SMIRA have received an update on the consultation process for the parking permit issue as follows:
- when the ‘formal’ public consultation commences drawings will be uploaded to the Council website so all can view. The website will also contain a document answering frequently asked questions and giving responses to the questions received to-date.
- the period for the ‘formal’ public consultation will be 21 days.
- all residents will receive a letter stating when the ‘formal’ public consultation period will commence and details of the website. This ‘formal’ consultation will be the period in which residents have an opportunity to comment with support as well as any objections on the proposals put forward.
- following the ‘formal’ public consultation, all results will be analysed.
- once a decision is taken all residents will be informed of the next steps in the process. If a scheme is installed the scheme will be regularly monitored.
The following is a letter from Ruth Du-Lieu, Assistant Director of Frontline Services at Medway Council providing clarification on the parking zone proposals:
To all households on St Marys Island April 2018
Controlled Parking Zone proposals -St Mary’s Island
I wanted to take this opportunity to write to all residents and clarify the ongoing process to consider a controlled parking zone on St Mary’s Island. I have been made aware of a number of mixed messages on social media and unofficial letters circulating which is not helpful.
Firstly I would like to make it very clear that at this stage of the process, no decisions have been made about parking restrictions on St Mary’s Island. Controlled Parking Zones are only ever implemented if the majority of residents demonstrate that they are in support. If, after consultation, the majority who respond show they do not support parking restrictions the scheme will be halted and no further consideration will be given to dealing with parking issues.
Controlled Parking Zones are put in place to aid residents by controlling who is able to park in the area. There is a cost to residents i.e. the permit, but this cost is necessary to fund the enforcement and the administration. A controlled parking zone that isn’t enforced is simply not worth putting in as lines and signs alone will not deter the most determined of motorists. After all of the enforcement and administration costs have been met, any residual funds are invested back into the maintenance of the highway network.
• Annual resident permits cost £30.00 per permit and can be purchased by those residents that own vehicles that are registered with the DVLA at their address on the island.
• Visitor permits cost £2 per day and can be purchased by SMI residents.
Full details can be found here:
Following an initial survey of residents in 2016 and a follow up survey in 2017, it was identified that the majority of those who took part did feel that there was a parking problem and that it may be resolved using parking restrictions such as a Controlled Parking Zone. This was followed up with an exercise to design the scheme i.e. the layout.
The current stage of the process which we are working through, is to investigate options for operating the scheme. For example the hours to restrict parking , the roads if not all roads, the days of the week etc. Until we have looked at all possible options no formal proposal can or will be made to residents. However, once we have decided on what options can be offered, we will then write to each property and invite the household to respond giving their preference and saying if they support a Controlled Parking Zone or not. Results will then be analysed and if there is found to be a majority supporting a particular scheme it will then be implemented. Conversely, if the analysis shows that the majority of those households who respond do not support any options for a Controlled Parking Scheme no scheme will be progressed.
At this stage I am unable to confirm a timetable going forward. I am keen to conclude the process and will undertake to keep all residents informed by letter. If you have any queries please direct them to myself or your councillors who are working with the Council to resolve parking issues on the island for residents who requested a solution to be found.
Assistant Director Frontline Services
An updated statement regarding the Surgery is awaited and this will be put out by SMIRA on social media as soon as it is received.
SMIRA’s Chairman said “Allan and I hope you will understand that we are doing our best, through the conduit of SMIRA, to keep residents informed as best we can and in a timely manner.”
On the 16th April 2018 Ruth Du-Lieu issued further correspondence in the form of a letter of all households on St. Mary’s Island:
Re: Suspension of plans to consult on a controlled parking zone for St. Mary’s Island
Further to my letter dated April 2018 (as above) due to budgetary constraints in 2018/19, the Council has decided to suspend all further work on consultation for a controlled parking zone (CPZ). Consultation and any resultant implementation would require a substantial investment by the Council. Added to this the complexities of implementing a scheme where some roads are unadopted makes the progression of this scheme unviable. It has therefore been removed from the programme until further notice.
I appreciate this will be disappointing news for those residents who highlighted and supported the need for parking restrictions. This decision will not preclude reviewing specific areas that are experiencing difficulties on the Island and which may benefit from restricting parking at certain times, i.e. placement of single or double yellow lines as appropriate.
Please note no further communications will be issued on this subject and no further requests for resident permit parking schemes will be considered in the foreseeable future.
Frontline Services at Medway Council “
The final meeting of the year, the AGM, will be held on Friday 7th December 2018 at 7.30 pm. This is open to all residents but only members will be entitled to vote. Formal Notice and details will be sent to members in advance of the meeting.
With the pending retirement of most of the Board at the forthcoming AGM, any candidates to be Directors should notify the Company Secretary, Bob Muid, no later than 14 days before the AGM. A Director’s Nomination Form must be completed (this can be found on SMIRA’s website) and two members of SMIRA must nominate the candidate on the same form. The signed form can then be submitted by email to or posted to the Company address: St. Mary’s Island Residents Association, The Observatory, Brunel, Dock Road, Chatham Maritime, ME4 4AF to arrive before Friday 23rd November 2018.
In accordance with SMIRA’s Articles of Association, once nominations are closed, thirteen days before the AGM, SMIRA will send out to all their Members the particulars of all the potential Directors. These include full name, address and occupation.
Following the AGM the Company Secretary will inform Companies House of the resignations of the current Board and the appointment of new Directors. Once the new Board is in situ and they have elected a Company Secretary, Companies House will be informed of the change of Secretary.
SMIRA requires two Directors and a named Company Secretary . The responsibilities of the various roles – Chair, Vice Chair, Directors and Hon. Treasurer are detailed on SMIRA’s website.
All Directors , including the Chair and Vice Chair, have a legal responsibility (SMIRA is a limited company) to ensure that the Statement and Annual Accounts are filed at Companies House by the due dates. Failure to do so could result in a fine.
The two new SMIRA Directors elected and nominated to the Chatham Maritime Trust Board are Mandy Samrai and Yvonne Bishop and they will be representing the residents’ interests. Details about the new SMIRA Directors can be found on SMIRA’s website. SMIRA have had a rebrand and their new website went live in October 2019. For the latest news take a look at their Facebook page.
SMIRA formal meeting dates for 2020 are:
10th February (this will be a single issue meeting with the focus om DMC Healthcare)
27th November – AGM 7 pm to 10 pm held in the Large Hall
The 2020 meetings will take place in the Small Hall at St. Mary’s Island Community Centre commencing at 8 pm. All residents are welcome to attend.
Anyone owning a house or flat on the Island is entitled to become a member. A SMIRA Membership Application Form is included with your house purchase documentation. They can also be obtained from the CMT Office.
Application forms can be sent to SMIRAs registered office which is at the Trust Office (Unit 69, Dockside Outlet Centre, Maritime Way, Chatham Maritime ME4 4ED). They will be forwarded to SMIRAs Membership Secretary.
The new SMIRA Board is introducing Associate membership; this is for residents who can’t be considered for full membership. To be an Associate Member you need to be the 2nd named owner of a property or lease/rent for less than 5 years.
SMIRA are also introducing and looking for Sector Representatives; they recruited five residents so four out of the twelve sectors have a representative.
Membership of SMIRA is free to qualifying residents. However, if you would like to support SMIRA, a cheque for £10.00 made out to SMIRA would help cover administrative costs for your application and would be appreciated.
SMIRA has the right to nominate two Trustees to the CMT Board. For details of current nominees, see Members & Trustees.
Since February 2019 the new SMIRA Board has been proactive encouraging resident involvement and want to bring the community together.
To-date they have:
- revamped the format and layout of the formal Residents Meetings with Stakeholder Q&A.
- Rebranded SMIRA with its One Island, One Community, Once Voice strapline and launched a new branding scheme and website
- Delivered an Easter Egg event and a Summer Picnic & Dog Show in August
- Introduced the Sector Representative initiative and recruited 5 residents for 4 sectors in their first advertisement
- Introduced Associate Membership as a mechanism to bridge the gap between current full membership and no membership. This is a precursor to a wider resident consultation to take place in 2020
- Introduced informal Saturday drop-in sessions – as detailed above
- Increased communication with residents with use of social media, i.e. Facebook, Twitter and email and the use of notice boards
- Reviewed governance arrangements for SMIRA Ltd
On the 26th November Medway Council launched a parking consultation on St. Mary’s Island which runs until the 31st December 2019. The responses received will determine if a controlled parking zone (CPZ) will be introduced. SMIRA encourages residents to express their views and the consultation questionnaire can be accessed via SMIRA’s website.
Once all the responses have been received and analysed, if at least half of the responses support a CPZ, proposals will go ahead to the next stage and will take on board any findings from the consultation.
Following SMIRA’s board meeting on the 5th December 2019, the board structure is as follows:
Chair & Director: Chris Reynolds
Treasurer & Director: Yvonne Bishop
Secretary & Director: John Tower
Director: Mandy Samrai