Hixon Allotments Association

Wellington Fields Allotments Association
DRAFT Minutes of the AGM (2022)
Tuesday 12th July 2022, in the Memorial Hall.

1. Welcome and apologies.
Simon Ellin opened the meeting and welcomed the plot-holders, together with Dan Wheatley, who was introduced by Brendan McKeown as the new liaison person from the Parish Council.
Apologies were received from Karen Appleton, Claire Pullinger and Stephanie Willson.

2. Minutes of previous AGM and matters arising.
The minutes of the AGM held on 1st November 2021 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 he takes enormous pride in being involved in the running of Wellington Fields Allotments which are a fabulous local amenity and a great asset to the community. He thanked the Martin family and the Parish Council for the provision of the site and his fellow committee members who work hard to ensure that the site is in good condition and operates safely.
Simon explained that the day-to-day running of the site is delegated to the committee, whose members reflect a cross-section of plot holders with a variety of complementary skills. The site is divided into 63 plots, with currently 36 plot holders. At present there are 5 people on the waiting list.
Simon then discussed the rents, which have increased by 11% due to the RPI. He was pleased to say that in spite of this increase, savings on water use and careful budgeting have meant that we have been able to freeze the rents for the coming year, although given the RPI increases and a dry summer so far, it is highly likely that rents will have to be increased next year.
The last major site improvement project was the construction of the storage area for compost, manure and woodchip. This has proved to be very useful and has freed up more space for parking. We are now drawing up draft plans for the construction of a composting toilet and storage shed. These will be discussed with the various stakeholders as the plans progress.
Simon then described how he strims the perimeters of the site 5 or 6 times a year and cuts the hedge at the bottom to keep the site tidy, while ensuring that pollinating plants are left, to encourage bio-diversity. It is hoped that we can further improve the diversity with more wild flowering plants and this will be part of our general site improvement plan.
After a recent plot inspection, a few plot holders were asked to tidy their plots. We have a waiting list and it is important that all plots are well-cultivated. Simon also asked that plot holders keep the paths between plots in a good and safe condition.
Finally, Simon reported on the fund-raising which has taken place over the year, with a plant sale in the spring and another planned for the autumn. We hope to hold another quiz in the autumn and will be hosting a variety of talks.

4. Secretary’s Report. (Jane Garner)
Jane began by explaining that it was less than 12 months since the last AGM, as the meetings became rather out of step due to COVID restrictions, but that now we're back in the summer where we should be.
Jane gave a brief overview of the past months:
Five plots have changed hands and there are still five people on the waiting list which is good to see.
The plant sale in May was very successful, with many thanks to Alan who supplied most of the plants. We're planning a tree sale later in the year, but this time outside the Hall, where we might attract some passing trade. The quiz in the Bank House was another fundraising success and again we're planning another one in the autumn.
The water troughs have been well used. There were one or two small leaks when the water was turned on after the winter, but Duncan Lowe kindly sorted them out. We've suggested that the taps are now turned off when not in use to avoid any unnecessary waste.
We've had several deliveries of wood chippings and manure over the year which must be useful as they quickly disappear.
The compost bays continue to provide plenty of free compost and we need to thank John Martin for all his help with turning and emptying the compost and also for emptying the tractor bucket of all our rubbish.
The health and safety policy and the risk assessments are kept under review and are up-dated as necessary. For example, after a plot holder slipped on the ramp up to the compost bay, the ramp was fitted with anti-slip tape and a section on lone-working was included in the risk assessment. It is therefore important that any incidents are reported to a committee member and entered in the accident book.
Jane concluded by saying that 2021/22 has been yet another good year for the allotments and that it's good to see the continuing enthusiasm of plot holders new and old!

5. Treasurer’s Report.
Karen was unwell and so Simon explained the audited accounts.
Income from rents.
There was a slight increase in the rents when compared with last year, due to the increase in RPI and high water costs, but all payments were on time, for which Karen was very grateful. We pay the rent to the Parish Council each May.
Expenditure from rents.
The charge for pest control also shows a slight increase, but the NSALG subscriptions remain the same.
The equipment line shows expenditure on strimmer repairs and fuel, taps and signs, and the sundries include a thank you to the accountant, hall hire and stationary.
Income from fundraising.
We have had a successful year with the plant sale in May last year together with this year's quiz, raising £478. Further income from the plant sale was included in the sale of seeds by the accountant.
There was a donation of £250.00 from Wynns Ltd. towards the Memorial Garden, bringing the total held to £399.25.
We made £44.88 profit from the sale of Kings Seeds.
Expenditure from fundraising.
There were no capital expenditure projects this year.
Hixon Parish Council held £1254.72 ring fenced money at the end of the financial year, having spent £100 on new fence posts and £102.81 on public liability insurance.
We are therefore in a healthy financial position.

6. Setting rents for 2023/24.
The rent to the Parish Council has increased by the higher RPI, but this has been offset by the reduced water costs. We are therefore proposing that the rents be frozen for the coming year, but they will probably have to be increased in the future.
The meeting voted unanimously to accept the rents for the coming year.
There is now £279 ring fenced money from the extra rent gained when tenants change mid-season.

7. Election of officers.
Chair: Simon Ellin (proposed by Dianne Biggar, seconded by Paul Hopcroft) was unanimously re-elected.
Vice Chair: Chris Hilton (proposed by Nigel Baxter, seconded by Sean Watkins) was unanimously elected.
Secretary: Jane Garner (proposed by Hilary Aldridge, seconded by Joe Craen) was unanimously re-elected.
Treasurer: Karen Appleton (proposed by Joe Craen, seconded by Hilary Aldridge) 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 at previous AGMs and through conversations with plot holders, two suggestions for improvements to the site had repeatedly arisen. These were the provision of some sort of facility for storing equipment, which could also be used as a shop, and a toilet. Simon and Chris had therefore recently visited Colwich Allotments, where there is a composting toilet and with which they were very impressed. The committee have decided that they will look into the possibility of providing both as the next site improvement project and are in the process of drawing up plans and working out costings before talking to stakeholders.
Chris also reported that we would be arranging some talks on subjects such as composting and organic gardening, which would be interesting and informative and would raise money at the same time.
Chris finished by saying that we would still very much like to know plot holders' opinions on the site and how it might be improved, and any other ideas they might have for fund-raising.

9. AOB
Moles – A plot holder asked if there was anything which the pest control officer could do about moles which have encroached upon the site in certain areas. It was agreed that the situation be kept under review for the present.

Simon then closed the meeting by thanking everyone for their attendance.