1. Matters arising from previous Meeting(s)
ü Siting of Security Cameras –
It was agreed that the remaining cameras would be fixed in position during the next week
ü Application to keep Bees on an individual plot (as opposed to in the agreed area below the bottom road)
An application has been made to keep bees on an individual plot. As both the National Allotment Society Guidelines and Harpers Lane Allotments Society’s understanding with the Council relate to the keeping of bees on areas of allotment sites separate from the main growing areas, the Committee declined this application, but also submitted an Appeal to the Council on behalf of the applicant. It is thus up to the Council now to determine whether this person can keep bees outside the designated area. We would have hoped that the Council would have determined this appeal by now. The failure to do so has been put onto the agenda for Abas’ meeting with the Council on Friday June 5th.
ü Council Repairs to Amenities Building
The Council has not (as promised) carried out the repairs to the Amenities Building which were necessary following the last break-in. Abas has been asked to raise this matter on June 5th.
- Financial Statement
ü Cancelling the Co-operative
The Co-operative (Harpers Lane Allotments Ltd.) was created as part of an initiative under which the Harpers Lane site would go under self-management. All paid-up members of Harpers Lane Allotments Society are equal shareholders in that co-operative. The Council’s prevarications on advancing self-management (coupled with the non-availability of expected grants and loans from the co-operative movement) have meant that the Co-operative has become an expensive, time consuming and irrelevant body.
The Directors of Harpers Lane Allotments have therefore recommended that the Co-operative’s registration with the FCA be cancelled and that the company be dissolved.
As part of this process they need to call an EGM of all shareholders in HLA Ltd. This will take place on Sunday July 5th at the Amenities Building, Harpers Lane Allotments Site (a notice will be posted on the Amenities Building) at 1.15 p.m.
Any remaining assets of HLA Ltd. will (after cancellation and dissolution) be paid over into the Harpers Lane Allotments Society in accordance with the expressed constitution of HLA Ltd.
ü Replacing the Strimmer
Having now received funds from the insurance company (being the cost of the strimmer less a £100 excess) the Committee authorised the Treasurer to purchase a new strimmer. This strimmer will NOT be stored in the Amenities Building.
The Treasurer pointed out that of 76 potential members only 58 have so far paid their membership fees. Of these 36 pay the reduced over-60s fee and 22 the non-concessionary rate meaning that the sum raised is around £450.
He further pointed out that the ‘fixed’ costs of the society (NAS membership, Abas membership, Electricity for the Amenities Block, Site Insurance) amount to £770 p.a. It is only through fundraising such as the Spring Event and Open Day that the Society can continue.
The Committee determined to closely examine the benefits of all elements of that fixed expenditure (including non-renewal of membership of outside bodies). The Committee further determined that the date of renewal of subscriptions should be set as the Sunday of the Easter weekend. The Committee will also examine what recommendations to make for the level of subscriptions in 2016.
- Spring Event
ü The sums raised by the Spring Event (9th / 10th May) were as follows:-
Café (2-days) £ 92.60
Stall Rents on Market £ 50.00
Hot Food Sales £ 50.09
Plot 1 Plant Sales £ 83.50 ***
*** Plot 1 and the poly-tunnel on it are used by the Society for the induction of new tenants and for the growing of plants and produce which can be used to provide additional funds for the Society as detailed above. The poly-tunnel is NOT intended to be a communal green-house.
- Inspections and Monthly Reports
ü Vacant Plots and Re-lets
Plot 64 is available and will be split into two plots 64A and 64B, Plot 69B is available. An updated waiting list was provided by the Council in May and the Secretary will commence re-letting plots this Sunday (June 7th)
ü Tenancy Matters
Plot-holders should remember that under the Operational Management Agreement the Society acts as the Council’s appointed agent with respect to certain aspects of site management and within strict limits and criteria. The Committee try to carry out these responsibilities in the best interests of all plot-holders on the site.
Two plot-holders who have recently received informal notices from the Society about poor cultivation will be placed on the Monthly Council Report Sheet – this means they will receive a formal warning from the Council.
Three plots are on permanent monitoring – one of these has been the subject of recent complaints – what action needs or should be taken relating to that plot will be discussed with Malcolm Russell during his forthcoming site visit.
Another plot has been the subject of a complaint and the Secretary agreed to have informal talks with the plot-holder as to how the matter may be resolved.
- Gate and Padlock Issues
There have been a number of instances where the padlock on the main gate has jammed. Some plot-holders have been trapped on the site and a number have ‘phoned the Secretary and Treasurer who have had to come out and rescue them.
The primary causes of jammed padlocks are:
· Not putting down the feet on the gates, so that the gates swing in the wind. In high winds this strains the padlock leading to jamming.
· Winding the padlock chain so tightly that strain is put on the padlock. (This can also have the effect that if you are on the wrong side of the gate you cannot manoeuvre the padlock so that you may use the key.)
Can plot-holders please try to avoid these practices?
- Open Day
ü Fruit and Veg Show
It was agreed that the Annual Society Show would continue in its current form
ü Top Field Stalls
It was agreed that a similar format to that used for the Spring Event should be followed and that outside stallholders should be encouraged. It was agreed that stall rents should be set at £10 per stall. Concessions for Society members may be offered.
The Appalachian dancers have been invited. The Treasurer has agreed to build the stage.
The Secretary will invite Lorenzo to do his magic act etc.
It was felt that another music group would be appreciated – the Secretary and Treasurer will ask around.
It is hoped that the Café will operate as in past years. It is hoped that the majority of the team which so successfully ran the café at the Spring Event will re-volunteer.
ü Other e.g. Hot Food stall(s)
There is a strong feeling that there should be Hot Food Stalls at the Open Day Event. The availability of people to run them and the variety of food to be made available needs to be clarified over the next month or so.
- Any Other Business
ü The Committee determined that there should be a Bonfire Party (for Society members, their families and their guests) at the Summer Solstice (Sunday 21st June) – starting at 6.00 p.m. Sausages and Cider will be available.
ü Disposing of Weeds
The issue of disposing of weeds etc. was raised. Specifically the Committee were asked “what is the objection to the tipping of weeds down the river bank below the bottom road?” The simple answer is that the Council has ruled against it on a number of occasions and would regard it as a breach of tenancy.
The Committee has set up both a communal compost bin and designated tipping areas in recent years. The first was rendered useless because a plot-holder tipped horse-tail into the bin, the second area had to be closed because plot-holders tipped plastic and glass in the area. The Committee is willing to examine ways in which plot-holders disposal problems might be tackled – we could have more skips but each skip costs approx. £2.50 per plot-holder, we might have a council waste removal service (we will ask about the costs), we could try communal compost bins again. The Secretary has agreed to investigate the options and report back to the next meeting.
The next Committee Meeting will be on Sunday 5th July following the HLA AGM.