Minutes of the abas meeting June 13th 2016
Present: 15 members from 9 sitesApologies: Ann Craven (Settle St.)
Minutes of the May MeetingThe minutes of the May meeting having been posted on the abas blog-site, they were accepted as a true and fair record.
There were no matters arising that are not covered in tonight’s agenda
On-going Concerns – (the abas issues matrix)
Moss Lea – There has been no progress on a Council decision as to whether to permit individual greenhouses and sheds. It is understood the matter has been referred to the Executive Member and to the Council’s Legal Department.Harpers Lane – there has been no visit by the Council’s Enforcement Officers relating to the Rat Infestation
Smedley Avenue – now have an OMA and all previously vacant plots have been let
Florence Avenue – there being no representative of Florence Avenue present it is not known if any progress has been made on the car park.
Tonge Moor – the Allotments section have now emailed the secretary at Tonge Moor confirming she may now let one plot and promising to follow up two other (mal-cultivation) issues.
It was generally felt that there is an issue relating to keeping secretaries informed as to Council progress on issuing requested mal-cultivation notices and on tenants who have vacated their plots.
Particular points are that Secretaries need to know when a tenancy ceases (either through the tenant leaving or through the tenant receiving notice to quit) so that plots may be re-let before they deteriorate too far. This applies particularly to tenants who do not pay their rent in response to the October notices, can secretaries be informed in February at the latest of such tenants so that the plots may be re-let in time for the growing season.
Break-ins and Vandalism
May saw a number of small break-ins and vandalism reported. Then it got more serious – Harpers Lane had a rotovator stolen and then there was a major set of thefts from Ainsdale Rd.
This pattern is being repeated at sites throughout the Borough – Moss Lea, Tonge Moor, Tonge Fold, Sapling Rd. etc.
A number of sites (Harpers Lane, Moss Lea, Tonge Moor) are also experiencing a lot of fly-tipping – the need to keep site gates closed and locked needs to be stressed. We need the Council to support site societies in any action they take against those who persistently ignore the need to lock the gates.
Onion, Leek and Vegetable Show – August 20th
Posters (a revised design for use in e.g. shop windows) for the show can be obtained from the Committee.We still (urgently) need sponsorship (£10 per class) for individual classes at the Show
Schedules of classes etc. will be printed following this meeting and be made available through the Show Committee.
There will be stalls at the Show showing local produce (honey, ice cream etc.) and with information on the NAS and the National Vegetable Society. If any society or any of its members wishes to take a stall then please contact Dave Jackson on email@example.com Stalls will be free, but numbers will be limited.
The show is being sponsored by the University of Bolton
Bolton Allotment Competitions
The first round of judging in the Fairhurst, Greenhalgh, New Entrant and Rose Bowl competitions has been completedThe second round of judging will take place w/c July 18th
The prizes will be presented at the Bolton Onion, Leek and Vegetable Show on August 20th by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Boton, Mr George HolmesThe prizes have been provided by J Maher Ltd.
Both the show and the allotment competitions have been supported by a grant from the Big Small Grants Fund through Bolton CVS
The Harrogate Trip
TheTrip to the Harrogate Show will take place on Sunday 18th Sept
The Treasurer (Terry Farrell) needs to know who wants to go and he needs the transport payments in advance – the July abas meeting is the crucial date.
The North West Counties Allotments Association is holding its quarterly forum in Tameside on July 3rd. All secretaries whose societies are members of the NAS should have received notice
Abas will be represented by the Chair (Jeff Gibson)
NWCAA is again running their “The Best Allotment Site in the NW” Competition. This competition is community-based and a key factor is what a site does for its members and others as well as what it looks like. Details are now posted on the NWCAA web-site. Entries Close August 31st
The Allotted Exhibition
The Allotted Art Exhibition runs from 30th June till 7th August in the Market Place (Neo:Gallery 27 on the 1st Floor).There is a catalogue of the art work which will be available at the gallery during the exhibition. The catalogue has been funded by Bolton Arts Forum.
There is also a booklet “Allotted: the back of the seed packet” which contains essays, stories and poems inspired by Allotments. The booklet has been funded by the National Allotments Gardens Trust.
Posters advertising the exhibition were made available to Site Secretaries at the end of the meeting.
There is interest in widening participation in this event. Although all spaces for 2016 (both in the exhibition and in the booklet) have been taken, there is already interest (from plot-holders interested in photography and short story writing) in repeating the project in 2017. The Secretary agreed to investigate whether (if we cannot find suitable gallery space) the project could be part of the Annual Show next year.
We shall have posters at the Allotted Exhibition giving details of events (Open Days etc.) on Sites during July – September.Events so far are:-
Tonge Fold – Open Day – 10th July
Astley Bridge Festival – July 10th / 11th – will involve Moss Lea and ? Florence Avenue?
Sapling Rd. – Open Day 14th August
Moss Lea – Open Day 27th August
Shepherd Cross Street – Mini-show, Barbecue 28th August start 2.30 p.m. entry £3.00
Harpers Lane – 11th September
If any other site is having an event please could they let us know. We need to get the posters ready by June 28th (latest)
Abas have been contacted recently for assistance regarding Swarming Bees.
If you think you have a swarm of honey bees and don’t have a bee expert on your site then you should go to the Manchester District Beekeepers’ site (mdbka.com) – click on the link to ‘Swarm Service’ – access ‘To Find a Swarm Collector’ and follow the instructions. This will give you contact phone numbers based on your postcode.
Any Other Business / Date of Next Meeting
There was a brief discussion about self-maintenance / self-management (prompted in part by the piece from the National Chair which had been copied onto the abas blog-site).
A major concern was how given the Council’s evident lack of resources, maintenance of sites (even the limited activities covered by OMAS) could be afforded by Site Societies. It was agreed that where the Council has discontinued tasks which it previously undertook or had done by contractors most of the jobs (e.g. grass cutting, hedge cutting) so created would involve paying a third party to come in and do them. Societies will find difficulty in finding the funds to pay other people to do this work. There will be resistance from plot-holders to putting subscriptions up to pay for work which many tenants still feel is the Council’s clear responsibility.
The Secretary reported that he had had little success in finding ways to access plant and equipment such as diggers etc. so that societies could undertake minor works. It was felt that contractors were the only answer. Abas will investigate whether the Council can assist in finding an effective, affordable arrangement.
There was a limited discussion of the NAS Chair’s points about the responsibility for the allotment service being transferred to third parties. There was some discussion about Bolton at Home’s initiatives in creating ‘hubs’ based on some social housing estates, but concern as to whether such a model could be applied to other areas. There seemed little enthusiasm in the current climate for either individual sites or abas to take control.
The next meeting is on July 11th at Astley Bridge Cricket ClubStart Time 8.00 p.m.