Friday, 12 October 2018

OCTOBER 2018 MINUTES


Minutes of the Meeting of Abas Monday 8th October 2018 at Astley Bridge Cricket Club
The meeting commenced at 8.00 p.m.

PRESENT: 21 representatives from 12 sites

Apologies: Dorothy Kay (Tonge Fold), Carol Barlow (Sapling Road), Kiye Simister (Harpers Lane)

MINUTES OF THE SEPTEMBER MEETING 

The Minutes having been posted on the Association Blog-site and there being no corrections anyone wished to make, the meeting moved to adopt the minutes as correct.

MATTERS ARISING 

Road Planings – Abas has passed to the Council three requests for the supply of Road Planings (Harpers Lane, Shepherd’s Cross Street, Tonge Fold). We understand that a further request has been received by Allotments from Florence Avenue. Allotments have said thye is waiting for the water bills to come in so that they knows how much remains in the budget for schemes using these planings

Hatfield Road
Hatfield Rd is a non-OMA site and not a member of Abas. It has (on paper) 27 plots
Following a site visit by Terry and Jeff – the Council issued 5 BoT2s and a further 9 “neglected” plots were subsequently identified as “untenanted”.
Allotments tried to get Community Payback (CP) to take over the task of clearing the 9 untenanted plots, but CP felt the task was “too big for them”
Terry and Jeff did a second survey following the expiry of the BoT2 “improvement period”. They reported progress to the Allotments section – 
No further involvement by Abas is anticipated

Non-OMA sites in general
“Allotments” have again stated that they do not have the resources to respond to request for information etc. from non-OMA sites on a regular basis.
There was a suggestion that Abas becomes a central collection point for all such requests which we could then aggregate and send to them in a format rather like the Monthly Reports submitted by Site Secretaries on OMA sites. Whilst we are willing to help individual sites on an ad-hoc basis, we are reluctant to take on this role for two main reasons:
1) we don’t have the resources either
2) we would be reliant on Allotments providing the answers to non-OMA sites issues in a prompt and acceptable manner, and thus we feel there is a danger of Abas becoming a football getting kicked by both sides.

OMA Roll-Out
We understand that the revised OMA Agreement (post April 2018) is now in force at all OMA sites save one.

Paths on Allotments
It was clarified that statements as to which paths should be used for access and who had responsibility for the maintenance of individual paths applied only to one case at one site and thus the item was withdrawn.

Bullying
The question of bullying (or more precisely on-site conflict) has been raised.
It is felt that the current clauses in the Tenancy Agreements need clarifying and strengthening
MR has suggested that he can work with Abas to establish a clearer policy on dealing with issues.

We are looking at the following situations:
·         “Bullying” / “Harassment” of plot-holders (individually or in groups) by Secretaries and Committees
·         “Bullying” / “Harassment” / “Intimidation” of Secretaries and Committees by Plot-holders (individually or in groups)
·         “Bullying” / “Harassment” / “Intimidation” of a plot-holders or group of plot-holders by another individual plot-holder or group of plot-holders

Abas has contacted the NAS and we have been told that they hope to publish a new extended “Code of Conduct” on these issues in November this year. If they do this could form the basis for discussions with the Council

THE NAS
During the process of the Secretary asking the NAS about a Bullying / Conflict Policy the NAS made two comments:-
1. That Abas had not responded to their questionnaire to “Federations” – this was not surprising since we never received one – they not having updated our contact address “for some years”
2. That only 6 of the 17 “associations / societies” in membership of Abas are recorded as being members of the NAS

In respect of 1) the Secretary has since received, completed and returned a questionnaire to NAS HQ.
We think 2) reflects past NAS / NWCAA concerns about Federations providing “NAS services / benefits” to non-NAS members “on the cheap”

NWCAA
Terry and Jeff will attend the Regional Meeting in Crumpsall on October 21st which has been called by the Regional Rep to discuss the future of the NWCAA

ABAS MEMBERSHIP
2018/2019 Membership Subscriptions are now due. These should (where possible) be paid to the Treasurer at or before the AGM in November. We recognise that some societies may not be able to meet this timetable and would therefore request that subscriptions be paid at or before the March 2019 Meeting of Abas.

REPORTING ON COUNCIL PERFORMANCE ON BOT NOTICES
If Abas is to try to hold the Council to account on its performance in processing BoT Notices etc. then Abas needs hard data. The only way we can get hard data is from our member societies
We have asked societies to copy us in on their Monthly Reports (but this doesn’t seem to be working), we have received so far 4 Monthly Reports plus two apologies for delay
We are now going to try to develop a form which Societies can use to provide us with the data we need.
These forms should be in use from April 2019
These forms will need processing and this will be a further call on our resources (with implications for matters to be raised later).

THE HANDOVER PACK
Abas has agreed with Allotments that we will try to develop (for the start of the 2019 “season”) a checklist for retiring / succeeding secretaries and treasurers as to what (minimum) information should be handed over when one succeeds the other. It is our hope that we can achieve this during the winter break and that some (if not all) current secretaries will help by proof-reading etc. the first drafts

GM SPATIAL PLAN
It looks as if the revised plan (due June 2018) will be further delayed (beyond October 2018) due to lower than expected area population projections and (yet to be published) changes to the government formulae for calculating housing need. 

We have been in contact with the Salford Federation about the report that Salford City had granted planning permission to a development provided an area was set aside for allotments. The Salford Federation have checked with their Council and the facts are true as is the fact that although the development is in Salford the land offered for allotments is in Bolton. As previously reported it is alleged that Bolton are resisting this.

THE AGM
In preparation for both the AGM and the continuing operation of Abas in the future the Committee invited members to think about nominations for two groups
The ABAS Executive Committee – The Officers (Chair, Secretary and Treasurer) plus 3-4 other Committee members.
As matters stand it looks as if Abas will have to elect a new Secretary for the 2019 season.
There is an argument that the Secretary’s role has grown too large for one volunteer and that we could / should look at structures which would share out the Secretary’s role between one or more office holders.
The “Shadow Committee” – membership of the Shadow Committee has two functions a) a familiarisation role with the implied intention that members will move into the Officers roles in the future and b) long term thinking and planning about Abas, allotments and relations with Bolton MBC

We hope that members will give consideration to putting forward nominations at the AGM for these roles for the 2019 season.

WHAT’S ON IN 2018?
October 14th Local Produce Market at Harpers Lane Allotments

ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Two items had been added to the agenda

HISTORIC MAL-CULTIVATION OFFENDERS
There had been reports that the Council has offered (to one Site Secretary) that all “Historic Mal-Cultivation Offenders” on their site, will receive a letter from the Council suggesting that they relinquish their plot as they have apparently demonstrated that they are unable to consistently maintain them to an adequate standard. (The phrase “Repeat or Persistent Offenders” is also used by some societies.

The meeting had the following concerns:
  • What is the definition of an “Historic Mal-Cultivation Offender”?
  • How are they to be identified and by whom?
  • What happens if they refuse to quit?
  • Will this new system be offered to all OMA sites?
  • How does the system relate to the established BoT system?
It was reported that the Historic Mal-cultivation Offenders letters had also been offered to a second site.

There was a discussion about persons who could not cultivate their plots adequately due to a long term illness or physical condition. The Committee’s view was that where the condition was temporary such cases should be identified at the BoT1 stage of the Mal-cultivation system, some agreement should be reached and thus they should never become the subject of BoT2s or BoT3s, and thus should not appear on the “Historic Offenders Radar”. It was accepted that where such conditions persisted over a number of seasons some action might be needed. The Committee feel that Site Secretaries etc. are not (in the main) medically qualified and should not be making judgements about a plot-holder’s physical ability to work a plot. Where such matters arise they should be referred “up” to the Allotments section.
The Secretary was instructed to send the questions listed above to Allotments.

The following reply has been received from Malcolm Russell (10th October 2018)
I don't know where this idea of historic mal-cultivation has come from. The only thing we have done is amend our BOT2 letter for those sent in September to remind those people that the rent is coming due so if they are thinking about terminating let us know. I have said this when visiting sites recently. We did this last year.

MONTHLY REPORTS

There are concerns about reports that the Allotments section has stated that it does not expect to be receiving Monthly Reports from Site Secretaries during the Winter Season (defined as October to March/April).

The following questions were raised:
  • Does this mean that Allotments will not process Monthly Reports during the Winter period or respond to the requests for actions contained within them?
  • Does this mean that Allotments will therefore not send out or action any BoT2 or BoT3 during this period?
  • Does that mean that any BoT actions in process will lapse? And does this mean that any mal-cultivation procedures will have to be restarted by site secretaries at the BoT1 stage in March / April?
  • Does that mean that any “probationers” who complete their probation period during this season cannot complete Tenancy Registration Forms and thence Tenancy Agreements etc.? Does this mean that (effectively) probation periods now run through until March 2019?
 The Secretary was instructed to send the questions listed above to Allotments.

The following reply was received from MR on 10/10/2018

We've said the same thing about winter reports for a number of years i.e we don't expect them over the winter.

We will continue to deal with terminations and new tenancies but will not issue BOT2s after the end of September. A number of these will now be identified as BOT3 in October and will be actioned accordingly. We would suggest that any sites who have other plots that have had nothing done by the March or April inspection (depending on the weather) can consider going straight to BOT2 if they want at that time.

Hope this clarifies things.

The Meeting however had decided that Site Secretaries should continue to submit Monthly Reports throughout the year. If no response is received to an item then it should be repeated in the following months Monthly Report (preferably highlighted in red or some similar manner).

A question was raised about persons with a criminal record – should they be offered allotment plots. The Committee's opinion was clear that it is no part of a Society’s responsibilities to vet the persons put forward from the waiting list by the Council, the Council determines who is a valid applicant and that is the end of it. As far as abas is aware there are no questions about Criminal Records etc. in the Council’s Application Procedure.

A member then raised the question of those on the “Sex Offenders’ List” as children often come onto the site (e.g. in school or other parties). Again the Committee’s view is that (in the case of organised groups) those responsible for those children should carry out a risk assessment before they bring the children onto the site (indeed Societies should request that they do this before granting permission for visits). It was felt that there was some confusion between the vetting of volunteers who would “work” with children and vulnerable adults and vetting the general population on the site. The former would fall within a society’s responsibility if the activity is organised by the Society, the latter doesn’t.

MEETINGS SCHEDULE
The following meetings are planned
Monday 12th November (THE AGM)

The AGM is a particularly important meeting because of the election of officers and the fact that it precedes the “long” winter break

The minutes of all meetings are posted on the blog site as soon as possible after the event, we also post any other information we feel relevant to our members’ concerns

http://abas2014.blogspot.co.uk


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