Wellington Fields Allotments Association
Minutes of the AGM held on Saturday 2nd July 2016 in the Memorial Hall
1. Welcome and apologies.
Simon Ellin opened the meeting and welcomed the plot-holders.
Apologies were received from Alan Hartley, Mark Pearce, Kathleen Newbould, Nigel Baxter, Phil Kent and Suzanne Burt
2. Minutes of previous AGM and matters arising.
The minutes of the AGM held on 15th June 2015 were read, approved and signed by the Chairman.
There were no matters arising.
3. Chairman’s Report (Simon Ellin)
Simon began his report by saying that Wellington Fields Allotments have been going for six years and that they are a real asset to the community.
There are 63 quarter plots, each approximately 5m x 15m. There are 37
plot-holders with 2 vacant plots, but unfortunately no waiting list.
The compost bays have been rebuilt, thanks to John Martin and Alan Hartley and although they are now much bigger there is still plenty of car parking.
Simon introduced the present committee and said that the members represented a cross-section of
plot-holders with a blend of skills and he thanked them for their work over the past year. Committee meetings are held regularly and the minutes are posted on the website.
Simon was very pleased that a compromise had been reached with the Parish Council over the invoicing difficulties and hoped that we will be able to work together to continue to develop the site as an asset to the community.
4. Secretary’s Report (Jane Garner)
Jane listed some very positive developments over the past year. These included the new entrance, paid for jointly by the Parish Council and John Martin, insurance cover for plot holders on their plots, paid for by the Parish Council and the new sign for the gate, provided by Barry Williams.
Jane reported that there is still a high turnover of tenants, with two vacant plots and no waiting list. Some of the plots are quite overgrown and Simon and Chris have been strimming in an attempt to constrain the weeds. We are trying hard to attract new
plot-holders and have delivered leaflets to every house in the village as well as advertising in the Compass.
We held a quiz recently and are planning another in the autumn, together with a produce auction at the Green Man.
There is still a rat problem. We have a contract with Stafford Borough Council and the pest controller comes regularly to check the boxes and put down more bait.
John Martin has been very helpful in re-building the compost bays which are now much bigger and the material can be turned mechanically.
We still have free deliveries of horse and chicken manure and Alan has found a source of free bark chippings.
5. Treasurer’s Report (Karen Appleton)
Karen presented the accounts for 2015/16.
She reported that the new format for the invoices now showed a clear breakdown of the costs which make up the rent.
Karen then presented spreadsheets which show projected expenses compared with this year's. The water charge varies from year to year, but she estimated it at £100. The NSALG subscription has increased by 25p per member and will be £3.00 next year, but no further increases are planned. The pest control by SBC is by far the biggest expense and this was queried by Susan McKeown. Karen said that we would look at possible cheaper options.
At present the committee hold £1307.61 from fundraising activities. This will be used for future developments.
John Martin raised the issue of the danger from rat poison to wildlife, especially as there is a barn owl flying round the fields around the allotments. Jane will talk to SBC to check that the poison being used is safe.
Brendan McKeown explained that the Parish Council holds ring-fenced money from the rent to pay for the upkeep of the infrastructure of the allotments. Should anything be needed (e.g. a new tap or a notice board) we can invoice the Parish Council.
6. Improvement Plan (Chris Hilton)
Chris Hilton gave an update on the Improvement Plan, saying that a great deal had already been achieved and he thanked John Martin and the Parish Council for all that they had done over the past twelve months and again thanked them for the work which has improved the entrance to the allotments site.
Chris gave details of some aspects which are being worked on:
· the building needs work and decisions concerning its future will have to be made;
· the paths are getting very overgrown and some need considerable work;
· we need to encourage bio-diversity;
· we are exploring grants and match-funded bids;
· the quiz was very successful and will be repeated, along with other social events;
· the watering rota hasn't been needed much this year, but last year it worked well;
· the supportive inspections will be repeated this summer;
· weeding and strimming will be continued;
· the new compost bays are being well used and we are working on producing some guidance to make sure that they work efficiently;
· risk assessments are being worked on;
· several members are now first aid trained and there is a first aid box in Karen's shed;
· we now have a Face Book page and regular newsletters, and the website has been re-vamped;
· growing fact sheets are being developed together with an annual planner.
Chris asked for contributions from plot holders for the next phase of the Improvement Plan.
Simon asked Brendan about the building which is now felt to be unsafe. Brendan suggested that the walls be taken down to a height of 1m for safety, but felt that it was important that the footprint of the building remain, if the original planning applications are to be used. John agreed to try to do this. It was suggested that a working party with representatives from WFA and the PC be set up to decide on a way forward.
7. Motion 1 (Nigel Baxter)
We propose that the rule on banning dogs on the allotment should be relaxed so that "authorised users," only are permitted to bring dogs on Wellington Fields Allotments in line with the suggested code of conduct. Anyone not following the suggested code of conduct shall have their permission withdrawn."
After some discussion the motion was carried (13 votes + 5 proxy in favour, and 3 votes + 1 proxy against). It was agreed that dogs would be allowed to accompany their owners to the allotments in line with the code of conduct which would be refined by the committee and displayed on the notice board and website. This would initially be for a 12 month trial period and would be reviewed at next year's AGM.
8. Motion 2 (Susan McKeown)
It is my opinion that the annual ‘running costs’ charges made by WFAA are excessive and without justification. Will the WFAA committee consider reducing the running cost charges by a significant amount?
Susan McKeown said that she felt the running costs were excessive and that the responsibilities of WFA and the PC needed clarifying. For example, the PC could provide a notice board from the ring-fenced money. It was suggested that we compare the costs with other allotment associations, but it was important that we compared like with like as the rents of long-established associations were likely to be much less.
Simon said that the costs are continually reviewed and the figure is not fixed. Pest control has a big impact on the amount needed and the committee would look into ways of reducing this cost.
The motion was defeated (3 votes in favour and 13 votes + 2 proxy against).
9. Motion 3 (Susan McKeown)
Will the WFAA consider allowing allotment plot holders to attend WFAA committee meetings?
Simon said the the committee is elected by the plot holders to carry out the work of the association, and that others do attend when necessary. It was therefore not felt that open meetings were necessary, but it was agreed that the agendas for committee meetings would be sent to all plot holders in advance so that everyone would have the opportunity to contribute to relevant issues.
The motion was defeated (4 votes + 1 proxy in favour and 11 votes + 1 proxy against).
10. Motion 4 (Susan McKeown)
There appears to be a significant amount of allotment and plot holder ‘rules’ that have been introduced ad-hoc over the last five years. Will the committee consider reviewing and re-appraising the current rules to produce a more coordinated set?
It was agreed that the rules are not easy to find and that they could be produced in a much more concise and accessible format. The committee agreed to do this and will review and up-date the site rules.
The motion was passed unanimously.
11. Election of committees and officers
The committee was unanimously re-elected en bloc – Chris Hilton, Mark Pearce, Mark Connell, Alan Hartley, Rose Jones, Joe Craen, Barry Williams, Simon Ellin, Karen Appleton, Jane Garner.
Simon Ellin was unanimously re-elected as Chairman
Karen Appleton was unanimously re-elected as treasurer
Jane Garner was unanimously re-elected as secretary
Tool store - John Martin expressed his concern that a tool store was sited on the main access path. The plot holder will be asked to move it.
Assets - Jim Carmichael asked for a list of assets held by the committee. Karen said that at present there is a strimmer, plus associated safety equipment and a first aid box.
Tenants from outside the Parish Boundary – Pete Appleton enquired as to whether it might be possible to offer a small number of plots to people from outside the Parish (i.e. Stowe or Haywood). Simon said that the committee would discuss this with the PC.
Simon Ellin thanked everyone for their attendance and closed the meeting