Wednesday, 14 November 2018

AGM MINUTES




Minutes of the Annual General Meeting

Of the Association of Bolton Allotment Societies

Held on November 12th 2018

At Astley Bridge Cricket Club



Present: 27 members representing 14 sites

Apologies: Malcolm Russell, Head of Neighbourhood Services, Bolton MBC and Cllr Susan Howarth, Bolton MBC

MINUTES OF THE AGM 2017

The minutes of the AGM 2017 having been posted on the Association’s blog-site http://abas2014.blogspot.co.uk for an appropriate period, and there being no unresolved matters arising, the meeting voted that those minutes now be accepted as a complete and correct record.

THE TREASURER’S REPORT

STATEMENT OF ACCOUNTS 2017/18










INCOME













Total In Bank as of 12/11/2017



£2,615.85
Belated Subs 2017




£139.00
Show Entry Fees




£35.80
Donations





£126.70
Duchy of Lancaster Grant



£250.00
Cash in Hamd paid in




£14.30
Members Subs 2018




£202.00
Bank Interest




£0.88












TOTAL
£3,384.53







EXPENSES













Laminating Pouches and Printing Aids


£61.40
Computer Anti-Virus Software



£60.00
NVS Subs and Medal




£28.10
Individual Membership NAS (Secretary)


£24.00
Printing





£158.40
Priniting Inks




£36.00
Prize Money / Judges' Fees



£278.00
Room Hire




£75.00
Refreshments




£20.00
Engraving Trophies




£27.50
Flowers for Show Secretary



£20.00
Event Insurance




£106.00





TOTAL:
£894.40







INCOME LESS EXPENSES



£2,490.13







CURRENT ACCOUNT




£587.69
BUSINESS RESERVE ACCOUNT



£1,902.44





TOTAL
£2,490.13
Representing a nett outflow of funds of


£125.72

The meeting voted to accept the accounts as a true and accurate record.

ABAS MEMBERSHIP REVIEW

Abas has membership in 17 sites in Bolton
Prior to the AGM 10 sites had paid their membership subscriptions, others had indicated that they would pay at the AGM (ad did so).

According to the last Council Monitor (Feb/ March 2018), there were 15 OMA sites in Bolton (plus 2 more “pending”) – at present 13 of these sites (plus both pending sites) are Abas members. There are 2 sites which are not members.

OMA sites cover some 68% of the individual plots in Bolton, Abas members (OMA and non-OMA) cover some 70%.

ABAS EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES
In 2018, Abas again organised the Borough-Wide Allotments Competitions, (The Fairhurst, Greenhalgh and New Tenant Trophies plus the Rosebowl for “Best Site”.) A full record of the results of these competitions is available on the blog-site.
Thanks are due to Jeff Gibson, Terry Farrell, George Wild and Richard Hayes for undertaking the judging.

The meeting voted that Abas should again run these competitions in 2019.

In August, Abas organised the Annual Vegetable, Onion and Leek Show. A full record of the results of the show is available on the blog-site.
Thanks are due to Margaret Farrell and the “Show Team” for their efforts in planning and running the Show.

The Treasurer stated that due to personal circumstances the current Show Team could not undertake to run the Show in 2019, and that unless others were willing to come forward there would not be a Show next year. In the event Audrey Woods (Secretary, Haslam Park) offered to take over Mrs Farrell’s role as Show Secretary and work with the remaining Show team to organise the 2019 Show.

OMAs

As previously noted, some 68% of plots in the Borough are now covered by OMAs.
There continue to be problems relating to communications between OMA Secretaries and the Allotments Section, and there are still issues about the registration of tenancies and the enactment of Breach of Tenancy Requests.

Abas is reconsidering the way in which it collects and uses information from its members on the performance of the Allotments Section and hopes that it will have a new system ready for the resumption of the BoT system in March / April 2019. The Committee would like to thank Stewart Draper (Shepherds Cross Street) who has offered to develop an IT based system over the coming winter months.

It was noted that the Allotments Section “are not expecting Monthly Reports over the winter period” (October to March) and will not be actioning any BoT request in this period. Abas has advised Secretaries to submit Monthly Reports during this period if there are any continuing issues remaining unresolved. We understand that any unresolved mal-cultivation issues can be restarted with a BoT2 request in a March or April Monthly Report (with accompanying photos). It is also felt that where a BoT2 or BoT3 request has been submitted and no response received before the next Monthly Report this must be highlighted in the monthly reportr and the request renewed (unless the matter has been resolved).

PROJECTS WITH THE COUNCIL
Abas has two ongoing projects
1.       The development of a “Secretary’s Handover Checklist” for new Society Secretaries and Committee Members – work on the production of this is stalled due to a lack of time and resources at Abas. Work will resume when resources are available
2.       The development of an on-site Bullying, Conflict and Social Behaviour Policy which will replace the ineffective clause in the current Tenancy Agreement – this development is awaiting the production of a Guidance Document by the NAS which is promised for November 2018.

The Secretary drew members attention to an article in the current issue of “Allotment and Leisure Gardener” from Chris Barker, the Vice Chair of the NAS’ London Region. Mr Barker addresses a problem that has arisen at some self-managed sites where the Committee has been “infiltrated” by representatives of land developers who then impose draconian rules and restrictions on plot-holders with the ultimate aim of driving them from the site so that it may be re-classified as development land. The Secretary pointed out there are no self-managed sites in Bolton and so far as we are aware no plans to create any.

NAS AND NWCAA
Jeff and Terry attended a meeting at Crumpsall convened by the NAS Regional Rep – John Irwin – on October 21st

It would appear that a skeleton committee for the NWCAA is being formed and that a meeting at Crumpsall in the New Year (February 10th) to which NAS representatives have been invited will give a better indication of the way forward

Jeff and Terry will continue to represent us at these meetings

GM SPATIAL PLAN
There continue to be delays in the production of a GM Spatial Plan.
These revolve around arguments on population forecasts (and thus the estimates of housing need) and on the government’s formulae for calculating that need

In the meantime it has been argued that the absence of a 5 year plan for Bolton has meant that a number of developers have been able to win appeals for housing developments which had been turned down by our local planners. There have also been arguments about the nature of housing developments being permitted (both on sites and on the type of housing). Abas does not wish to become involved in these arguments which have now become the basis for party political dispute.

Abas is however concerned about Bolton Planners’ reported reluctance to include allotment provision in development permissions. Abas continues to work closely with the Salford Federation where such inclusion is proposed.

No threats to allotment sites have as yet been identified (other than to a small site currently leased by BMBC from Peel Holdings)

MATTERS RAISED BY MEMBER SOCIETIES
Site Security – following recent incidents of arson, thefts and vandalism at their site, a member society had requested that we address questions of site security.
Issues included:

1.       What is the Police’s responsibility?

A number of those present had had problems reporting incidents via the 101 number – waits of 30 minutes plus were reported. It was suggested that contact could be made either by using the Area Team numbers given on the GMP website or by using the “Live Chat” facility on that website.

There is a general feeling that given the limited budget and resources currently available to GMP we cannot expect allotment crime to be a priority for them.

In at least one recent instance the Police have commented that the Council could make a difference by improving site security (fencing).

2.       What is the Council’s responsibility?

The Council has stated that criminal incidents are a police matter.

They have also stated that there are no resources to improve site security e.g. fencing etc.

Abas repeats its advice to Societies to maintain lobbying pressure on their local Ward Councillors to get the Allotment Budget reinstated to a more useful level.

3.       What is the Society’s responsibility?

Strictly speaking the OMA does not impose any responsibilities relating to site security on Societies. However societies usually try to impose rules such as ensuring that gates are locked at all times. Societies may take on responsibility for communal facilities (shop, meeting room etc.) and may take out insurance on such facilities and their contents. Some Societies may wish to take other measures e.g. CCTV or improved lighting but this is at their own discretion and using their own (or grant) funds.

4.       What is the individual plot-holder’s responsibility?

Simple things like ensuring that they lock the gates etc.

Abas advises plot-holders against keeping anything of value in sheds, greenhouses etc. Such structures are exceedingly vulnerable.

When an incident occurs the “victim” should report the incident to GMP and obtain a crime number. On some sites it is the practice to inform the site secretary of all crime numbers received.

Individual security on sheds etc. is up to the individual tenant, in practice a range of locks and alarms are employed.

What can we (as an allotment community) do?
It has been argued that if all incidents are reported to GMP then when this reaches a critical number the Police will be “forced” to take some action. Doubt has been expressed as to how the data is actually collated by GMP so that this critical mass is recognised and what action they might take even if it is. Lack of perceived action, coupled with the issues surrounding the 101 number, acts as a discouragement to plot-holders who then “don’t see the point” in reporting incidents, thus creating a vicious spiral of inactivity.

It was suggested that Abas invite GMP to send an officer to a future meeting to advise on site and plot security. It was pointed out that abas has done this in the past. We have had one such presentation (there was also a presentation at a NWCAA Meeting held in Bolton) but our last request was turned down “due to lack of resources”. Abas will try again after March (ideally getting a presentation before the Summer School Holidays),

Other practical measures included:
Fitting Motion Sensitive Lights at Strategic Points on the site.
Advising Tenants to use “van locks” rather than padlocks on sheds.

CCTV has been suggested by GMP to some sites. The Council has recently pointed out that there are rules to be obeyed and restrictions on the use of CCTV and the information it collects in locations where the general public may be realistically regarded as having access. It was also pointed out that there are additional issues where those being filmed may be minors. Abas will try to clarify what the Council’s advice and concerns are.

It was also pointed out that security devices themselves may become targets for vandals and thieves and need to be made secure.

It was also pointed out that although a secure lock may discourage an opportunistic thief, such provision might also suggest that the contents are worth stealing and / or lead to greater damage to the structure by the offenders (“if you’ve got a lock, they go in through the roof!”)

A general feeling would seem to be that there is little chance of the situation improving and that we should expect further problems at the next school holidays.

It was however pointed out that the nature of offences has changed in recent years, we no longer have the major raids when thousands of £ss worth of equipment was taken for communal stores etc. (Mainly because no one has that level of equipment any more or if they have it is kept off site.

OTHER ISSUES FROM THE FLOOR?
The question was asked as to what effect the additional water usage over the past summer might have on the Allotment Service. The Secretary replied that the Head of Neighbourhood Services has expressed concern about the size of water bills that the Council can expect. He is concerned that this will have an adverse effect on the section’s ability to do any minor works such as the projects involving road planings etc.

THE ELECTION OF OFFICERS AND COMMITTEE

The Following were re-elected unopposed
Chair – Jeff Gibson
Secretary –David Jackson
Treasurer – Terry Farrell

The following were elected as Committee Members
Peter Chapman (Settle St.), Eric Golding (Florence Avenue) and Paul Longworth (Harpers Lane)

The Committee wish to express their thanks to Alan Kay (Smedley Avenue) and Carole Deplitch who have retired from the Committee, for their contribution over the past years.

The Chair then expressed the Association’s thanks to the Secretary (Dave Jackson) and the Treasurer (Terry Farrell) for their work over the past year. It should be recorded that the Chair (Jeff Gibson) has also made a significant contribution this year (as in previous years).

The meeting was then closed

The next Abas Members’ Meeting will be on Monday 11th March 2019

AGM Minutes will be posted on the blog-site http://abas2014.blogspot.co.uk






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