Hixon Allotments Association

Wellington Fields Allotments Association
Minutes of the AGM held on Friday 27th July 2018 in the Memorial Hall

1. Welcome and apologies.
Simon Ellin opened the meeting and welcomed the plot-holders, John Martin and Mick Kelly.
Apologies were received from Chris Hilton, Julie Hilton, Joan Powell and Mark Trickett.

2. Minutes of previous AGM and matters arising.
The minutes of the A.G.M. held on 14th July 2017 were accepted as a true record 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 are now in their eighth season and are a great asset to the community. There are 63 plots, 37 plotholders at present and one person on a waiting list.
Simon again thanked the Martin family for their original donation of the land which is now leased to Hixon Parish Council and to John Martin for all his assistance with the compost and maintenance of the site. He also thanked Alan Hartley for his work with the compost and procuring the woodchip, and Chris Hilton for his input on social media and with the Improvement Plan.
Simon then introduced the committee who he said represent a cross-section of plot-holders with complementary skills. There are two vacancies on the committee at present and he asked anyone would might be interested to contact Jane. 
The Parish Council holds some ring-fenced money which is used for maintenance and repairs and some of this will need to be used to make repairs to the perimeter fence.
Earlier in the year, in consultation with the Parish Council, a few changes were made to the tenancy agreements to remove some anomalies. These have now been issued to all plot-holders. 
Financially Wellington Fields Allotments are doing well and another quiz and a Gardeners' Question Time are being planned for the Autumn. It is also hoped to have a late Summer barbecue at the site on 8th September.
An E.G.M. was held in May to set the rents for 2017/18 retrospectively. The rents were formally agreed at this meeting, but the tenant who had queried the legality of the situation did not pay the full amount within 30 days and so an eviction notice was issued. An appeal has now been agreed and this will take place in September.

4. Secretary’s Report. (Jane Garner)
Jane reported that it had been another good year and that most of the plots were well-looked after and productive. There is now only one vacant plot but it needs a considerable amount of work before anyone might be prepared to take it on and one person on the waiting list. This is much better than at this time last year and it has been good to welcome some new plotholders from Weston.
In January a memorial garden for the victims of the Hixon rail crash was opened by the church field. Joe Craen led the project together with members of the allotments committee and Tim Moss. Money was raised from individuals and local businesses for a memorial stone and plaque and a selection of plants to establish the garden. The allotments committee have undertaken to maintain the garden and work is now underway to site another memorial near the site of the accident.
There have been some problems with rats, mainly in and around the compost bays. We have a contract with SBC and Ian Hughes visits the site regularly and has dealt with the main problem, though he suggests that vegetables are not put into the compost.
Members of the committee helped Nigel Baxter and Hixon Parish Council with the village clean up at the end of April and several plotholders joined the committee at a working party in May when untidy areas were cleared and a wildflower area was established. Thanks to Nigel for looking after this area.
Jane then mentioned that a great deal of plastic is littering the site and this will also have an impact on John's fields, so people must be careful to remove rubbish. Several birds have become trapped in fruit netting, so fruit cages should be checked regularly and some trees are now becoming too tall and should be cut back after fruiting.
Jane then thanked plot-holders for making Wellington Fields the success it currently is.

5. Treasurer’s Report. (Karen Appleton)
Karen presented the accounts for 2017/18. She explained that they have been separated into two sections, income and expenditure from rents and income and expenditure from fundraising.
The expenditure from the rents included rent and water charges to the Parish Council, pest control and NSALG subscriptions. There were also costs relating to the repair of the strimmer and the purchase of weed suppressing fabric as well as stationery and hire of the Hall.
The income from donations for the Memorial Garden is included in the fundraising section and there is at present a ring-fenced surplus of £650.75, most of which will be used to fund the second memorial by the bridge.
Other income is from advertising and the sale of seeds and this year we have a surplus of £282.00.
The committee has agreed to keep the rents the same for 2019/20 and any outgoings over and above last year's of £368.00 will be met from WFA funds.
At present there is £48.00 from income from new tenants joining midway through the year. This has been ring-fenced and will be used to prevent fluctuations in rents in future years.
The Parish Council now holds £863.00 of ring-fenced money after paying for boarding for one side of the access path, new padlocks and insurance.

6. Setting rents for 2019/20.
The rents will remain the same for 2019/20. 
The ring-fenced money from extra income through the year will be capped at £350.00 and any amount above that will be used for other things. This was voted on and agreed unanimously.

7. Improvement Plan.
In Chris's absence Simon outlined some of the items from the Improvement Plan which had been achieved. These included the entrance and driveway (thanks to the Parish Council and John Martin), the composting facility, improved taps, regular deliveries of bark chippings and manure, a social media profile, new tenancy agreements, the Memorial Garden, gardening tips on the website and the wildflower area. 
Areas for future development include an induction pack for new tenants, the maintenance and advertising of empty plots, moving the old bath to the bottom of the site for a water area to encourage diversity of wildlife, exploration of the use of a cattle trough instead of a tap and maintaining awareness of the dangers of waste plastic on the environment.

8. Vacant plots.
There is at present only one vacant plot, but it is in a very bad state. There were suggestions that it might be used as a communal plot on which to store compost and bark chippings and a polytunnel could also be installed. There were reservations about this however and after discussions it was felt that the site of the old building might make a better communal area. The empty plot could then be cleared and made marketable again. The committee will work on this.

9. Site maintenance.
Plotholders will be reminded of the dangers of plastics and that trees must not be allowed to grow higher than 2m to prevent over-shadowing of neighbouring plots and taking too much out of the soil. 
The asbestos bin at the bottom of the site should only be used for wrapped asbestos.
Taps are starting to wear and beginning to leak and these will be sorted at the end of the season.
Simon will cut back the hedges when he gets back from holiday.

10. Election of officers.
Chairman: Simon Ellin (proposed by Karen Appleton, seconded by Kathleen Newbould) was unanimously re-elected.
Secretary: Jane Garner (proposed by Simon Ellin, seconded by Karen Appleton) was unanimously re-elected.
Treasurer: Karen Appleton (proposed by Simon Ellin, seconded by Jane Garner) was unanimously re-elected
The committee was unanimously re-elected en bloc – Chris Hilton, Mark Connell, Alan Hartley, Rose Jones, Barry Williams

11 A.O.B.
There was a reminder to help with watering while people are away.
The sprinkler from the church, with which Tim was watering the memorial garden, has disappeared.

Simon Ellin thanked everyone for their attendance and closed the meeting.