Thursday, 14 September 2017

SEPTEMBER MINUTES


MINUTES OF THE SEPTEMBER 2017 MEETING OF ABAS

11th September – 2017 – at Astley Bridge Cricket Club – the meeting commenced at 8.00 p.m.

Present: 20 members representing 11 sites

Minutes of the August Meeting

The August Minutes having been posted on the Association Blog-site during August the minutes were accepted by the membership as being correct.

Outstanding Matters

It was reported that two questions had been put to the Head of Neighbourhood Services (Malcolm Russell)

Qn: Do Council Officers have to give a tenant 24 hours’ notice of their intention to enter onto a plot?

Ans: Strictly speaking yes, it’s in the tenancy agreement. However this is rarely an issue as the tenant is usually absent when they have cause to do so

Qn: What if a Society cannot carry out an inspection on a particular plot.

Ans: In such cases the neighbours will usually raise a complaint about the plot and the Society should submit these complaints on the Monthly Report. This will then be taken as evidence of a need for action and the Council will take appropriate action as and when resources permit.

Previous Backlog

We had been informed by e-mail that a concerted effort had been made within the Allotments Section and that the backlog of administrative matters (BoTs, Replied to Monthly Reports, and Tenancy Agreements) as it stood on 28/07/2017 had been processed.

Subsequent communications from Site Secretaries suggested that this was not the case (Abas had  pursued at least one issue and will pursue others as they are raised with us by Site Secretaries).

The meeting instructed the Secretary to follow up one particular Health and Safety case and to email Malcolm Russell expressing our concerns. It was also argued that contact should be made with the Ward Councillors.

Some sites reported that BoTs had been processed. The Secretary asked that sites keep him informed when actions result from the submission of Monthly Reports etc. in order that Abas may have a balanced picture of the Council’s performance.

Abas future strategy

27 questionnaires have been distributed (we have multiple contact points for some sites and none for others) and as of 08/08/2017 we had received 11 replies (Two further replies are expected imminently).

Reminders have been sent

A preliminary analysis has been done and shared with Committee members. This shows a high degree of dissatisfaction with the reliability and speed of Council responses to site needs. There was a strong feeling that the Council is failing to meet its side of the OMA agreements.

Members felt that the OMA Agreements had offered a possibility of a more productive partnership between the Council and the allotment societies, but that the Council had not shown sufficient initiative or commitment to the idea to make it work as we had all hoped.

Members present recognised that the Council has severe resource problems but feel the constant placing of allotments at “the bottom of the pile” when it comes to dealing with matters is not acceptable.

Members therefore instructed the Committee to seek (as a matter of urgency) a meeting with the relevant Cabinet and Executive members and also the Head of Neighbourhood Services.

Members also instructed the Committee to contact all elected members to inform them of the feelings of the allotments community.

Site Secretaries were also encouraged to contact their own Ward Councillors to start a dialogue. IT was pointed out that a problem is that while a site may be in one Ward, the plot-holders may be drawn from several. Abas has had similar difficulties in the past contacting MPs about cross-Borough matters, MPs demand a reply address within their own constituencies.

Freedom of Information Request

Unfortunately due to a range of domestic and other commitments the Committee had not had time to analyse the information received from the 2 FoI requests. We will try to get on with this as soon as time permits

Risk Assessments

Tonge Moor Road Allotments Society had drawn up some Risk Assessment documents – which cover Health and Safety requirements etc.

With Tonge Moor’s agreement these will now be placed on the blog site.

GM Spatial Plan

The position on the GMSF is

A Lead team has been established to re-write the Plan. This team will be lead by Paul Dennett – Salford City Mayor
Initial Results of 1st Consultation (based on 27,000 responses) will be published in Sept 2017
Second draft of GMSP to be developed from Jan onwards
Publication of 2nd Draft – June 2018
Followed by a 12-week consultation period

Members were urged to keep up to date with developments via http://greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk which is Andy Burnham’s mayoral website.

Abas is trying (with the assistance of NWCAA and others) to obtain data on existing allotment provision in Greater Manchester. So far 4 authorities have responded. Whilst this initiative has some connections to the GM response (lead by Don Booth – Salford) it is also needed to support pressure for new / improved provision in Bolton itself. Preliminary results suggest Bolton is ‘middling’ in terms of provision in Greater Manchester.

NWCAA
Jeff and Terry continue to be our liaison with the NWCAA
Minutes of NWCAA meetings are available on the NWCAA website
The NWCAA also issue a monthly news-letter

Grants and Funding Opportunities
We have identified no new opportunities since the July meeting
We would however continue to urge Societies to use Bolton CVS and GMCVO portals to look for opportunities.
The National Allotment Gardens Trust is also a possibility
The CVS have re-opened the ‘Big Bolton Fund’ for applications – see CVS website
Age Concern may be able to help identify sources of funding for e.g. disabled access – yasminholgeth@ageuk.org.uk

Abas Membership 2017 18
If we are to continue to be regarded by the Council as the primary spokes-body for allotment plot-holders in Bolton we need to maintain (and hopefully increase) our membership numbers – both in terms of sites and plot-holders.

Abas subs (£1 per Society member) are due at the October Meeting and ideally paid by the AGM in November.

Any Other Business
Supplies of Chipped Bark / mulch etc.
Haslam Park passed on a contact who may be able to supply quantities of chipped bark etc. “Danny” on 078056 29352
Poly-tunnels
There was an enquiry about poly-tunnels and a number of sites confirmed that they had such.
First Tunnels and Northern Poly-tunnels were suggested as possible suppliers.

Meeting Dates
Our next Meeting is on Monday October 9th

Then Monday November 13th which is our AGM

Please note that the AGM will see elections for officers and committee. If you are interested in standing please come forward.

All meetings start at 8pm at the Astley Bridge Cricket Club






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