AGM – 2015
Hollywood Rd. Social Club 7.30 p.m. December 8th
There were 24 members in attendance
WELCOME AND CHAIR’S REPORT
The Chair (Keith Worsley) welcomed the members to the AGM and briefly outlined the main events of the year.
These included the creation of a separate Bees Group (Lumswood Beekeepers) and the arrival of hives in the woodland area at the northern edge of the site.
The Chair also reminded members that it is essential that any vandalism or thefts from the plots (whether of tools or produce) are fully reported to the police. Each plot affected must individually report their incident to the Police. A block report by the Society is not accepted by the Police.
The Secretary (Margaret Jackson) began her report by thanking the Committee for their support during her illness and for taking on a range of duties that she normally carried out. She introduced the members of the Committee (Keith Worsley – Chair, David Jackson – Treasurer, Kath Worsley, Veronica Burns, Glyn Platt and Pev Evans. She also thanked Josie Bruos who had served on the committee throughout 2015 but was unable to attend the AGM.
She then outlined the Society’s key responsibilities under the OMA (operational management agreement) with the Council. These are:-
· Granting Permission for the erection of structures (lead committee member Glyn Platt)
· Granting Permission for the keeping of chickens (a committee role)
· Managing the letting of plots using the Council Waiting List, setting probation periods for new tenants, advising the council of the successful completion (or otherwise) of probation (lead committee member Veronica Burns)
· Handling transfers between plots on the site (a committee role)
· Advising the Council of changes of address (a committee role)
· Submitting a Monthly Report to the Council as to the condition of the site (including mal-cultivation on individual plots (a committee role)
The Treasurer (David Jackson) told members that in carrying out these functions the Society acts as the agent of the Council and decisions are made under strict criteria set down by the Allotments Section. Plot-holders remain tenants of Bolton Council with rights of appeal to the Council.
Plot 1 - the change in the Council’s policy about induction for new plot-holders has made the Society’s Training plot (#1) redundant. The plot has been amalgamated with plot 2 and the poly-tunnel on plot 1 has been sold – the monies going into Society Funds. (This sale took place after the close of the 2014-2015 Financial Year and is not included in that year’s accounts).
The Secretary then outlined what (in her view) were the major challenges facing the Society for 2016.
The Site Road – this has now deteriorated to the extent that it is a hazard to vehicles. Grants cannot be obtained to repair it as funders see maintaining the road as a Council responsibility. The case of a member whose car was damaged as a result of the poor state of the road was raised and the Committee felt she might have a case against the Council. The Secretary proposed that plot-holders might take responsibility for the strip of road fronting their plot. The Society might then concentrate on the two curves at each end of the site. The area in front of the Brew Room also needs skimming and the drainage improving to prevent flooding of the Amenities Building.
The Amenities Building – the damage to the Amenities Building caused by the break-in in the early part of 2015 has still not been repaired despite numerous promised from the Allotments Section. The Secretary will pursue the matter with our Ward Councillors and if necessary with the NAS and through the media. (Since the AGM the Secretary has been contacted by the Allotments section. A new contractor has been appointed and it is anticipated that the repair work and the removal of asbestos from the site will now proceed without delay.) On a related matter the Secretary asked for volunteers to sign up for a rota for the cleaning of the Brew Room and toilets.
The Society Store (‘the shop’) – The purpose of the store is to buy items in bulk and then to make them available at reduced prices to members. A small percentage is added to the cost price and this generates a surplus that is used to cover administration and other society activities. The Treasurer said that the surplus raised by the shop / store activities was £140 in 2014/5 – this is down considerably from the figures of £300-£400 earned only a few years ago, but does represent progress after some losses in recent years. Some items have had heavy demand – compost, canes and scaffolding netting, but others e.g. tomato food have remained unsold. The Committee will have to be selective in what is stocked next year, and would welcome suggestions from members as to what should held. The Secretary asked members to support the shop.
Communal Areas – the Secretary reported that the Committee had identified a contractor who would take over the cutting of the grass on the top field – this will be paid for from Society funds. The D-area where we hold the Bonfire etc. will however still need regular strimming and there is a need to create a storage area for wood (for subsequent burning). Members asked what had happened to the regular deliveries of pallets and the Secretary said that we had lost our supplier. Members were asked to suggest a replacement. Members were reminded that the tipping of any materials (including weeds) in the woodland areas around the site (particularly into the valley along Moss Bank Way) is forbidden. The Council’s Allotments Section has issued a notice to the effect that this will be treated as fly-tipping and legal proceedings will be taken. In addition any plot-holder convicted will be issued with a notice to quit.
Site Security – The Committee has decided to continue with the current padlocks at least for the foreseeable future. The Committee has decided to purchase more CCTV cameras to be deployed around the site following a number of thefts of produce and materials this autumn.
Other matters – the Secretary informed members that Brian Caswell had retired from the plots after being a plot-holder for some 30 years. The Committee had decided that (as is customary practice) he will be offered life membership of the Society.
The Society is a member of Abas (the Association of Bolton Allotment Societies). Abas organises the annual Bolton Allotment Awards and this year Tony and Hazel Buckley (Plot 62A) won the Best New Tenant Award, while David Hargraves (Plot 61) was highly commended for his efforts in restoring that plot. They were presented with their awards by the Mayor of Bolton (Cllr Swarbrick) at a ceremony at Astley Bridge Cricket Club in August.
Abas will this year be running the Bolton Vegetable Show which will take place on Saturday August 27th – it is hoped members will enter.
THERE WAS THEN A SHORT BREAK FOR A PASTY AND PEAS SUPPER
The Treasurer presented the accounts for 2014-2015 (01/10/2014 – 30/09/2015)
The accounts had been signed off by the Society’s Auditor Christine Hargraves. The Treasurer thanked her for her work in doing this, it is much appreciated. Copies of the accounts will be separately posted on this site.
The Treasurer pointed out that the major ‘fixed’ expenses of the Society are its membership of NAS and ABAS and the Site Insurance Policy. Membership fees have already been paid for 2016 and we await the renewals estimate on the insurance. However the failure of Bolton Council’s ‘estates’ department to deliver the anticipated lease on the amenities building together with the neglect of that building by the Council in 2015 means that the ‘premises’ element of the insurance will not be renewed and therefore some savings may be possible.
The Treasurer pointed out that the Fundraising Events (Open Day etc.) are vital to the financial health of the Society.
The Committee proposed that subscriptions be raised to £10 for under 60s and £8 for plot-holders aged 60 or over. In answer to a question from the floor the Treasurer said that the decision as to whether to pay the full £10 or to take the ‘pensioner discount’ was (as it has always been) a personal choice for each plot-holder over 60.
ELECTION OF OFFICERS
The Chair reported that Josie Bruos had decided to step down from the Committee. The Secretary thanked her for her support and efforts in 2015.
The remaining Officers and Committee were returned unopposed to serve until the 2016 AGM–
Chair – Keith Worsley
Secretary – Margaret Jackson
Treasurer – David Jackson
Committee – Kath Worsley, Veronica Burns, Pev Evans, Glyn Platt
FORWARD PLAN FOR 2016
It was decided that Open Day will take place on Sunday August 14th 2016.
Following the success of the Car Boot Sale and the Spring Event in 2015 the Committee will organise EITHER a Spring Event OR a short series of monthly Open Sundays on the site. Details will be finalised at meetings after Xmas.
There will be no Theatre Visit in 2016 – although the event was well supported, that support did not come from either Harpers Lane plot-holders or the local community around the site. In view of this and in view of the considerable work involved in creating the venue, the Committee needs time to review the role of Theatre productions in its programme.
PRESENTATION OF SOCIETY AWARDS
The following Awards were presented:-
· Albert Parker Trophy for Plot of the Year – Craig and Janet Wall – plot 26
· Hospital Saturday Trophy for Best Small Plot – Eddie and Christine Bickerstaffe – plot 46A
· Barron Trophy for Best Newcomer – Michael and Anne Lodmore – plot 22A
· Brian Caswell Trophy for Most Improved Plot – David Hargraves – plot 54
· Joan Caswell Trophy for Most Improved Small Plot – Marie and Bob Clenton – Plot 70A
· Walker Challenge Trophy for Best Frontage – Susan and Tony Torkington – Plot 15
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Mal-cultivated Plots – Some members raised the fact that in their opinion there were a number of plots on the site whose condition left much to be desired, and that in some cases the Committee appeared happy to allow this to continue.
The Treasurer repeated his earlier point that plot-holders are tenants of the Council not of the Society. Where a plot is (in the opinion of the Committee) not being properly or adequately cultivated then the Committee will make the Council aware of this through the Monthly Site Report (that report must contain photographic and / or documented evidence of the state of the plot). The Committee then requests the Council to invoke a three stage process which may result (if no improvement is made) in the Council serving a tenant with a notice to quit. In the past, at Harpers Lane at least, the Council has nearly always accepted the Committee’s recommendations.
However, it is always up to the Council whether to accept the Committee’s opinion and evidence and to decide whether it feels there are mitigating circumstances which would lead to it not taking action.
In the case of one of the plots mentioned the Committee had in fact made a report in July of this year, the Council had (as yet) taken no action on that report. In the case of another the Committee felt that there were strong mitigating circumstances. However the Committee took note of the plots mentioned and will re-examine them when inspections resume in the Spring.
Japanese Knotweed – following a discussion it was decided to take up the Council’s refusal to take action on the incursion of Japanese Knotweed onto the site with the Environment Agency.
Rats - following a discussion it was decided to report the rat infestation to the Council’s Environmental Health Department. The Committee will also investigate the purchase if rat traps for use on badly affected plots
There being no further business the meeting closed at approximately 10 p.m.