Hixon Allotments Association

Wellington Fields Allotments Association
DRAFT Minutes of the AGM held on Monday 11th October 2021 in the Memorial Hall.

1. Welcome and apologies.
Simon Ellin opened the meeting and welcomed the plot-holders and John Martin.
Apologies were received from Nigel Baxter, Nick Brookes, Mark Connell, Joe Craen, Kathleen Newbould, Suzanne O'Farrell, Claire Pullinger and Sean Watkins.

2. Minutes of previous AGM and matters arising.
The minutes of the AGM held on 2nd August 2019 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 saying that Wellington Fields Allotments Association, now in it's 10th season, continues to be a great asset to the community and one in which he feels proud to be involved.
He has been pleased that over the past two years the allotments have served a useful function during COVID and have given a release to many in difficult times. The Government allowed allotments to remain open and so, with certain risk-assessed measures put in place the site has been busy and productive.
Simon again thanked the Martin family and the Parish Council for the provision of the facility and the committee for their work in ensuring that the site is in a good and safe condition.
The day to day running of the site is delegated to the WFA committee, whom he introduced and who he said, brought together a variety of skills to ensure that the site was operated in 'a diligent, accountable, respectful and dynamic manner'. Simon asked if anyone else would like to join the committee as there are a couple of vacancies at present.
The site is divided into 63 plots and there are currently 36 plot holders. There are no vacant plots and 4 people are on the waiting list.
The main improvement project this year has been the construction of a storage area for compost, woodchip and manure, which allows much easier access and ensures that the car park is tidier and safer. The site-produced compost is a great asset and Simon urged people to use it to improve their plots and also to read Alan Hartley's informative article on compost and its usefulness. He thanked Pete Appleton for project-managing the construction.
The installation of the water troughs to replace the taps has also been a great improvement and has made a huge difference when watering. Simon thanked Barry Williams for all his work on the installation and maintenance of the troughs.
The site is strimmed on a regular basis by Simon, keeping the perimeters tidy, but at the same time encouraging bio-diversity wherever possible. Plot holders were reminded of their individual responsibility to keep their own paths in a good and safe condition.
Finally Simon thanked Chris Hilton for his work on reviewing and updating the risk assessments, which will ensure the safe operation of the site.

4. Secretary’s Report. (Jane Garner)
Jane reported that it had been a rather strange couple of years, but that the fact that the allotments had been able to remain open had been helpful to a lot of people. Jane thanked Chris Hilton who kept everyone up to date with the changing Government rules and guidelines and ensured that the site operated safely.
Jane reiterated Simon's comments on the new storage area and the repairs to the car park which have tidied up the site considerably. Other improvements included the water troughs, the ramp to the compost bay, the boarding (provided by the Parish Council) along the plots bordering the left hand side of the access path and the repairs to the perimeter fence, thanks to John Martin.
Chris Hilton has produced a comprehensive handbook for new plot holders which has proved very useful, as has Alan Hartley's article on composting.
There have been a few social events, in spite of the restrictions. These have included a quiz in the Bank House and two very successful plant sales, which have now become an annual event. The association has provided prizes for the village scarecrow competitions and it is hoped that the composting talk which was planned before the lockdowns can be rearranged.
The Allotments committee are still involved in the upkeep of the Memorial Garden, and have now been joined by volunteers from some of the rail companies who have cleared a large area at the back of the garden, re-set the edging stones and created a proper base for the bench. The rail companies have raised a considerable amount of money towards the naming of a train to commemorate those who died or were injured in the accident and have provided a replica name plate for the Memorial Hall. In addition a commemorative stained glass window has been commissioned for the church.
As many plot holder have had more time recently, the site is looking tidy, well cared for and productive and it is to be hoped that the association will continue to go from strength to strength.

5. Treasurer’s Report. (Karen Appleton)
Karen explained the audited accounts, which are divided into two sections to differentiate between income and expenditure from the rents and income and expenditure from fundraising.
The income from the rents has been used to pay the rent and water charges, the pest control contract with SBC and NSALG subscriptions and the storage area. Repairs to the strimmer, new stationary, the first aid box, signs for the storage area and a thank you present for the accountant have all been taken from this income.
The fund-raised income from the plant sales, the sale of seeds, ground cover, slug pellets etc. has been used to pay for the water troughs and their installation.
We now hold £227.00 ring-fenced money from extra rents, as a buffer against any future empty plots. The Parish Council hold £588.98 ring-fenced money, having spent £688.00 on replacing the gatepost.

6. Setting rents for 2022/23.
Karen explained the figures and showed that the rent to the PC has increased by the RPI and the water charges have increased by £90.00. The committee aims to keep rents as low as possible, but have had to increase the running costs slightly for the first time in 4 years. The NSALG subscriptions remain the same. The rents will therefore be increased by a very small amount.
Karen proposed that the new figures be accepted and this was unanimously agreed.

7. Election of officers.
Chair: Simon Ellin (proposed by Karen Appleton, seconded by Jane Garner) was unanimously re-elected.
Vice Chair (New position): Chris Hilton (proposed by Simon Ellin, seconded by Wayne Foster) was unanimously elected.
Secretary: Jane Garner (proposed by Chris Hilton, seconded by Hilary Aldridge) was unanimously re-elected.
Treasurer: Karen Appleton (proposed by Jane Garner, seconded by Chris Hilton) was unanimously re-elected.
The committee was then unanimously re-elected en bloc – Mark Connell, Alan Hartley, Nick Brookes and Suzanne O'Farrell.

8. Future improvements. (Chris Hilton)
Chris explained that the committee needed plot holders' ideas for future improvements to the site. One idea would be to provide some sort of secure storage facility so that items such as weed suppressant or enviromesh could be bought in bulk and sold to plot holders. This could be a metal or plastic shed and there are a few spaces at the bottom of the site where this could be sited. However Chris stressed that suggestions from plot holders were important and an email would be sent out asking for ideas for the best use of the money.

9. A.O.B.

Paul Hopcroft and Wayne Foster thanked the committee for all their work. Simon then thanked everyone for attending and closed the meeting.