Hixon Allotments Association

Hixon Allotments A.G.M. - 15th June 2015

Wellington Fields Allotments Association
Minutes of the AGM held on Monday 15th June 2015 in the Memorial Hall 

1. Welcome and apologies.
Simon Ellin (Acting Chairman) opened the meeting and welcomed the plot-holders.
Apologies were received from Barry Williams, Alan Hartley, Mark Connell, Tracy Jenkinson and Kathleen Newbould.

2. Minutes of previous AGM.
The minutes of the AGM held on 7th June 2014 were read, approved and signed by the acting Chairman.

3. Matters arising.

4. Acting Chairman’s Report (Simon Ellin)
The Acting Chairman began his report by saying how much the allotments were an asset to the community. He again thanked Jane and John Martin for their generosity in donating the land and to Hixon Parish Council for raising the necessary funds. 
He gave details of the site and the present plot allocation and explained the small rent increase. Thanks were given to Alan Hartley for his work on maintaining the communal composting bins.
The Chairman then introduced the committee and thanked Karen Appleton for her work in the day-to-day running of the allotments. He spoke briefly about the Improvement Plan on which the committee have recently been working and also expressed on-going concerns about the state of the entrance to the allotments but hoped that the Improvement Plan would help to address this.

5. Secretary’s Report (Karen Appleton)
The Secretary began her report by explaining that Dave Jones had resigned as Chairman in February to be replaced by Nigel Baxter as Acting Chairman. As Nigel is now a Parish Councillor he can no longer be on the committee and so Simon Ellin agreed to act as Chairman until the AGM.
There has been a high turnover of plot-holders with 9 new tenants over the past year. At present there is no-one on the waiting list.
The gate is still being left open on occasions. Nigel Baxter said that he was looking into the possibility of putting signs on the gate to remind people to close it after them.
We have benefited from a considerable amount of free horse and chicken manure and the compost bins continue to be well used, again thanks to Alan Hartley.
The Secretary reminded plot-holders that trees over 2m were not allowed and that any trees should be removed when a plot was vacated.
The building is still a cause for concern 
So far the ring-fenced money held by the Parish Council has been spent on planning application fees, safety netting and the sign on the entrance to the allotments.
In April 2015 the Parish Council had written to all plot-holders informing them that they intended to take control of the finances of WFAA, however this would need to be voted on by plot-holders before this could take effect. A meeting had subsequently been held between representatives of the Parish Council and WFAA, and discussions are on-going.

6. Treasurer’s Report (Karen Appleton)
Karen Appleton gave a breakdown of the income and expenditure for the past year. 
Paul Hopcroft asked for clarification of how the NSALG subscription is calculated and Karen explained that it is based on the number of plot-holders, which this year is 42 and that now the Society have asked for the names of plot-holders.
The rents had been increased for the first time this year by £4 per quarter plot, partly due to the cost of dealing with the rat problem. The initial treatment cost £230.00 plus the fee for an annual contract until January 2016 of £180.00. Money had also been spent on a new tap, locks for the gates and a gift for the accountant.
Susan McKeown expressed her concerns over the £12.00 ‘admin fee’ as she felt that the charge should be linked to the size of the plots and she distributed details of a more equitable way of charging.
Karen Appleton responded by explaining her suggested new pricing structure for the plots, which included a pro rata administration/contingency charge:
The rent for a full plot would increase from £108.00 to £128.00
The rent for a half plot would increase from £60.00 to £64.00
The rent for a quarter plot would decrease from £36.00 to £32.00
There was a vote to adopt Susan McKeown’s changes which are incorporated into the new pricing structure. 16 plot-holders voted for and the motion was carried.

7. Improvement Plan (Chris Hilton)
Chris Hilton introduced the Improvement Plan and explained that the Committee is very keen to work with all plot-holders on this. He asked if plot-holders would write suggestions for any other items for inclusion on the Plan on the charts at the back of the hall at the end of the meeting. He will then up-date the Plan and come up with costings. George Collyer asked where the money for these improvements would come from and Chris explained that items would be prioritised by urgency and affordability.
George then asked about clearing weeds from the main access paths. Chris explained that the use of a weed-burner was being explored, but that there were health and safety issues to be resolved.
Adrian Smallwood suggested that the empty plots should be covered to help prevent the spread of weeds. Karen explained that if a plot was untended a letter was sent to the plot-holder. If there was no response, the plot was covered with a tarpaulin.

8. Current HPC situation (Simon Ellin)
Simon Ellin explained the on-going situation with the Parish Council which wants to take over control of the rents, even though contractually plot-holders are required to pay their rents to WFAA and the continued dispute over the entrance.
Simon stressed that if he were to be elected as Chair he would do his utmost to engage with the Parish Council and to work in partnership to develop the allotments.

9. Notice of Motion proposed by Jim Carmichael, to add a new clause to the Constitution and Rules
Jim Carmichael introduced the suggested new clause that ‘Members of the public may attend any society meeting (committee/AGM/EGM etc.) to witness proceedings and to take part in any relevant discussion at the current time.' The clause to include that at a specific time, the meeting is opened up to the public to speak on any subject relating to the Allotments. He explained that he felt that plot-holders needed to be aware and involved in the business of the Committee and that anyone from the parish of Hixon should be able to ask questions and contribute. 
Jim was questioned as to why members of the public would be interested in the dealings of the Committee and he suggested that the motion be changed from ‘members of the public’ to ‘plot-holders’. However, as there had been proxy votes received on the original wording of the motion it remained and a vote was held. There were 15 votes (+ 4 proxy votes against) and 4 votes for. The motion was defeated, but it will be addressed on the Improvement Plan.

10. Election of officers.
Simon Ellin asked if the plot-holders were happy to re-elect the committee with a block vote. Susan McKeown pointed out that according to the constitution there should only be 6 committee members. Jim Carmichael said that there could be 10 members but only six would have a vote at meetings. 
There was a vote on the current Committee of 10 which was carried with 14 votes for and 3 against.
Karen Appleton is standing down as secretary and Simon thanked her for all her hard work over the past 3 years.
Election of Treasurer – Karen Appleton 14 votes
Election of Secretary – Jane Garner 14 votes
Election of Chairman – Simon Ellin (Nominated Karen Appleton, Seconded Jane Garner) 14 votes
Committee members: Mark Pearce, Mark Connell, Joe Craen, Rose Jones, Barry Williams, Alan Hartley, Chris Hilton

Entrance to the allotments. 
Simon Ellin gave a brief resume of the current situation and the state of disrepair, which had caused injuries, and stones falling onto Egg Lane. According to the contract with HPC, the Parish Council and John Martin are jointly responsible for maintaining the entrance. 
Brendan McKeown explained that quotes had been received for the work to be completed in concrete or tarmac, but that these quotes were now probably out of date. He suggested that WFAA write to HPC formally asking for the process of making good the entrance to be started.
First aid box.
There is now a first aid box in Karen Appleton’s shed, with a first aid sign on the door. Karen will email plot-holders to let them know. Brendan informed the meeting that HPC were putting on free first aid training later in the year.
Karen showed the meeting a copy of the quarterly magazine from the NSALG. She asked plot-holders to sign up if they would like a copy and she will order the requisite number. 
Paul Hopcroft has been working with the Police to combat vandalism and he asked plot-holders to let him know of any problems on the allotments. There has been none so far.
Late hours.
Jim Carmichael asked if the 8pm limit on cars at the allotments could be changed. This will be looked into.

Simon Ellin thanked everyone for their attendance and closed the meeting