Friday, 17 May 2019


Minutes of the May meeting of abas, held at Astley Bridge Cricket Club on Tuesday 14th May 2019
There were 17 members present representing 11 sites
Apologies: Harpers Lane Allotments Society

Minutes of the April Meeting 
The Minutes having been posted on the Association Blog-site and there being no corrections anyone wished to make, points anyone wished to raise or other matters arising, the minutes were adopted as correct?

Matters Arising from the April Meeting  
A number of matters had been highlighted for the abas committee to take up with the Allotments Section
Road Planings – see Progress Meeting
Tonge Moor Rd. – Plots on satellite site. MR replied that the Council is happy for all plots to be treated as one site, if this is what the current committee agree. As far as the Council is concerned the whole site has statutory site status. There is currently an issue with one tenant on the satellite plots who has been burning trade waste. A Warning has been issued to this tenant.
Moss Lea – Building Control are aware of the issues but MR will pass on the Society’s concerns about the condition of the access road.
Naysmith St. – there are difficulties meeting the request for fencing materials due to problems with the budget. If it is an imminent H&S issue then Allotments can help. (It was clarified by the Naysmith St representative that the matter had been identified as an H&S issue on their monthly report.)
Sapling Rd. – see Progress Meeting
A general point - In the Council’s view many of the points raised by abas as matters arising following monthly meetings should be raised by individual societies directly with the Council through the Monthly Reports.

The general feeling of the meeting was that most points had already been raised through monthly Reports but were brought to the abas meeting in a bid to elicit a more timely response.

A Progress Meeting between the abas committee (Messrs: Gibson, Golding, Chapman and Jackson) and the Council’s Allotments Section (Mr M Russell) was held on Tuesday 30th April.

Item 1- Bullying and Harassment on Sites
MR agreed to discuss with “legal” and elected members to clarify whether the existing clauses within the Standard Tenancy Agreement allow the Council to take action against any individual acts of bullying or harassment. 
MR did not feel that there could be any wholesale rewriting and re-issuing of Tenancy Agreements, nor that the elected members would support a wholesale (formal) adoption of the Draft NAS Policy on Bullying and Harassment.
MR stressed that any action against a tenant would require evidence to be provided (especially the need for witness statements). He did however stress the need for societies to keep Allotments informed when there was a feeling that such situations were likely to develop on a site.

It was agreed that ABAS would circulate copies of the NAS Bullying Notice and the Code of Conduct to all member societies for their consideration and possible inclusion into their rules. (This has been done.)
Item 2 - Allotment Budget 2019/20 and Allotment Expenditure 2018/19
The 2018/19 expenditure figures provided were provisional, final figures are not yet available.

The 2019/2020 budget is again a balanced budget – that is expenditure is set to equal the target / expected income from rentals. This means that effectively spending will increase by inflation i.e. 2%

There was discussion as to whether plot-holders would be willing to pay more to ensure an improved service. It was widely thought there would be little support for this. Many plot-holders seem content with / resigned to the current situation and there is also some distrust as to whether additional money paid into the Council would actually be spent in ways that plot-holders valued.
Income Figures
MR reported that income targets had not been achieved in 2108/19. There were four contributory factors:
1.       Number of vacant Plots
2.       Speed of Turnover
3.       Rent-free Probation Periods
4.       The number of tenants claiming the 60 years plus rebate

MR stated that his section are recalculating targets to take account of the rise in 4 (above)

It was agreed that a move to end the rebate would be very unpopular with abas members and MR reported that there is no political appetite for such a contentious move 

Referring to the 2018/19 expenditure it was noted that there had been a rebate from United Utilities relating to overcharges in 2017/8 resulting from leaks. It was also noted that new responsibilities such as those for Statutory Appliance and Water (Legionella) testing had added to costs.
Item 3 –Locks and Keys
It was agreed that (OMA) sites should adopt a system whereby the Society supplies tenants with keys rather than the Council. Societies should either take a deposit from the tenant on handing over the key or keys or should sell keys outright.

Where Societies need to know what model of lock they have Allotments should be able to help. Both abas and Allotments can suggest suppliers for replacement locks and keys.

 Item 4 – the Refresher Monitor
No new Refresher Monitor is currently available, work is in progress.

The current Borough Waiting List stands at 771 people. This excludes (so far as is possible) those buddies (who are essentially hoping to take over the plot they are “buddying” on), and those on probation.
Item 5 – Requests for Waiting Lists
Some sites had stated that they had received no waiting list updates since last summer.
MR sent out two emails at Christmas 2018. However some secretaries may not have received them due to their systems diverting the emails into “junk” / “spam” mail.
The two emails were:-
1.       Instructions on accessing EGRESS (in future ALL waiting list updates will only be available through EGRESS – Data Protection provision)
2.       A December 2018 Waiting List Update for the site (this update also gave vacant plots – which included those whose tenancies had been terminated for non-payment.)

It was agreed that abas would circulate members asking them to check if they had received these emails and if not to contact Allotments. (This has been done) At the meeting Moss Lea and Smedley Avenue reported that they had not received these emails. This information has subsequently been passed to the Council.
It was stated that in future Allotments intend to only issue two Waiting List updates per year. The next scheduled update will be June 2019.

Item 6 – Monthly Reports Replies
It was expected that replies to Monthly Reports would be going out on 30/04/2019.

Item 7 – Invoices to those who have not signed a Tenancy Agreement
MR said that this does happen, if Allotments feel too much time has dragged on between sending the draft tenancy agreement for signing and the need to send invoices.

It was argued that it can be held that by working the plot the tenant has implicitly accepted the Council’s terms and conditions (certainly if they have been doing this for a period (which would usually be post-probation)).
Item 8 – Probation

It was suggested that a suitable length for most probations was 2-3 months.
However, secretaries present felt that the period should reflect the time in the season that the plot-holder took on the plot. Longer periods where a plot-holder takes over in autumn / winter, shorter periods in Spring / Summer. Similarly it was argued that the condition of the plot was a factor. It was again stated that there is not an expectation that a new tenant will have fully worked the plot by the end of probation, merely they have demonstrated (to the satisfaction of the site committee) their commitment to working the plot.

MR reported that he feels probation has obviously worked, it has made it easier to weed out those who won’t make it, whilst some 2/3rds of probationers have gone on to take up tenancies.
Item 9 – Road Planings
There had been a communications breakdown about the road planings. The Manager responsible had gone on long term sick leave and his deputy had not been aware that the planings were earmarked for Allotments and had used them on other work. MR hopes to identify replacements.

Item 10 – Admin Points
As mobile phone cameras become more sophisticated the memory required to store the images sent in with Monthly Reports is expanding beyond Allotments’ equipment’s capacity. Could sites look to use low resolution photos or perhaps convert photos to pdf or even images embedded in Word Files?

MR said that at times opinions minuted at abas meetings had been seen as being over critical of his staff and this had caused some upset in the department. He asked that Allotments be taken off the circulation list for minutes and the minutes sent only to his personal email.

A discussion ensued.
The position of the meeting is that the minutes record what is said at the meetings, no more and no less.

As a secondary point, the Secretary doesn’t think Allotments are on any circulation list for minutes. He feels that actually there isn’t one, just that he sends out a note to site secretaries, saying when minutes are available on the blog-site. He will check that Allotments aren’t sent such a notice. All that goes to the Council is a list of key points which he sends to MR and which he may (he needs to check) copy to Allotments. He will, in future, not copy to the general allotment’s email address.
(as an exception copies of these May minutes have been circulated to all member societies, however no copy has been circulated to Bolton MBC)

Reporting on Progress on BoT Notices etc.
Stewart Draper (SXS) has been doing some work on forms for collecting data on BoT2s, BOt3s etc.
This work continues

Site Security
As previously reported the Secretary wrote (on 18th March 2019) to the Divisional Chief Inspector covering the Bolton Area (C I Michael Russell) asking if time could be found for a representative of GMP to meet with either our committee or (better still) to attend one of our open meetings.

Issues for discussion were:
a.       Problems getting through to the 101 line – recently Tonge Fold reported a better result using 101.we have also advised using LiveChat on the GMP website –
b.      What happens to incidents reported to GMP – e.g. shed break-ins? Both how are they recorded and what actions may or may not follow?
c.       Is there any active process of collating incidents so that particularly vulnerable sites get identified?
d.      What is GMP’s attitude to “allotment crime”? There is a concern that it is seen as petty vandalism but some incidents have cost plot-holders up to £2,000 in damage etc.
e.      What (in GMP’s opinion) are the responsibilities of; The Police, The Council (who after all own the sites), Site Societies and individual plot-holders and what action might each take.

Approximately a fortnight ago a telephone call was received by the Secretary from Beverley Anderson on behalf of the DCI. She said that we would be contacted by representatives of our Neighbourhood Policing Unit.
To date no such communication has been received

The 8-week consultation period completed on 21st March.
The Final Plan will be issued following consideration of the consultation results

Bolton Allotment Competitions and Show
Abas will again run the Bolton Allotments Competitions

The Fairhurst, Greenhalgh and New Tenant Trophies plus the Rosebowl for “Best Site” – judging will take place w/c June 24th and w/c July 22nd – Entry Forms are now available – please note that contact details for entries should be taken. Can secretaries also ensure that any plot entered is clearly physically marked with its plot number at a point visible from the site road or path. Judges need to be able to identify plots.

As in previous years the prizes will be provided by J Mahers of Bolton. We are very grateful for their continued support.

On August 3rd, Abas will again organise the Annual Vegetable, Onion and Leek Show.
As in previous years Abas will be seeking individual / society sponsorship of the Vegetable Show Classes. There will be 25 classes at £10 per class.

Any society who would like a presentation about preparing items for the show please contact abas
The Show Classes are again:-
Class 1 Best Display of 4 Vegetables
One of each kind selected from a list provided [space allowed 60cm X 45cm with no overhang of produce]
Class 2 Three Carrots [any type with 5-8cm of tops]
Class 3 Three Parsnip [with 5-8cm of tops]
Class 4 Three Onions dressed from sets under 250gr
Class 5 Three Onions dressed from seed under 250gr
Class 6 Three Onions dressed from seed 250gr and over
Class 7 Three Onions dressed one under 250gr one 250gr to 450gr and one over 450gr
Class 8 Two Blanched Leeks with foliage and roots
Class 9 Two Pot Leeks with foliage and roots, not to exceed 6” [15cm] to tight button
Class 10 Ten Shallots dressed under 30mm
Class 11 Ten Shallots dressed 30mm and over
Class 12 Three Red Onions dressed
Class 13 Heaviest Onion as grown complete with foliage and roots
Class 14 Four Tomatoes with calyces attached
Class 15 One Cucumber [with stalk]
Class 16 French Beans 6 pods [with stalk]
Class 17 Runner Beans 6 pods [with stalk]
Class 18 Peas 6 pods [with stalk]
Class 19 One Marrow [with stalk]
Class 20 Four Potatoes White
Class 21 Four Potatoes Coloured
Class 22 Three Beetroot [with 5-8cm of tops]
Class 23 One Cabbage [with 8cm of stalk]
Class 24 One Cauliflower [with 8cm of stalk and trimmed to show curd]
Class 25 One of any other type of vegetable not mentioned above

Entries allowed are Class One only one entry per person
Classes 2 – 25 max of two entries per person per class


NWCAA have now issued the minutes of the meeting held at Crumpsall on February 10th
The next NWCAA meeting took place on Sunday May 5th - this meeting was attended by the Chair on behalf of abas

Report by the Chair
I attended the NWCAA AGM on the 5th May and the following points were noted
Venue Crumpsall and Cheetham Allotments
Some 19 people attended the meeting
  • John Irwin NWCAA Representative welcomed the attendees of the Meeting
  • There was no minutes of the previous AGM as the Management Committee had resigned following the 2018 AGM and no minutes had been issued
  • Following  persons were elected
           Chair John Gare
           Treasurer Mike Rogers
            NWCAA Representative John Irwin
            Secretary Liz Coupe
            Face Book Sharon Martindale
            Committee No volunteers

            Financial Status NWCAA currently have £4000 in their account
           The NWCAA Constitution has been reviewed and was accepted by those present

           Minutes of the Meeting will be issued in due course

         Date of next Meeting is Sunday 21st July  at Liverpool or on the Wirral 11:30 for
         12 noon

        NB   The Chair still has the impression there are problems with Members Contact Details
               and the NWCAA Data Base !!! 

From the NAS monthly Newsletter
Win! A garden security kit with Burg-Wächter! 

With Summer fast approaching the days are getting longer, brighter and warmer. This means that you can enjoy spending time in your garden or allotment. To ensure that you can spend the summer in sunny bliss make sure that you practise good safety habits to keep your tools and shed safe and secure. A simple combination of padlock and security cable or strong secure chain can prevent expensive garden tools from going missing and deter thieves from targeting your garden equipment.

To help kick start your security habits, Burg-Wächter is giving away 5 garden security kits, worth over £50 each, to help make sure your equipment stays in place. Each kit contains a steel ground anchor, a braided steel cable and a steel padlock.

Q. What metal is used in the ground anchor, cable and padlock?
A) Titanium
B) Steel
C) Vibranium

To be in with a chance of winning, email your answer to

There seemed to be a feeling at previous meetings that abas does not sufficiently promote membership of the NAS. We therefore asked NAS for suitable promotional materials for distribution to members. These materials are now to hand and copies were distributed at the meeting.

Members may have noted (from Allotment & Leisure Gardener) that Salford Council have just opened a new allotment site (Mossfield) and that Rochdale Council are investing £170,000 as part of their Capital Investment Programme to create 500 new allotment plots over the next 5 years. This was contrasted with Bolton MBC’s attitude and priorities, and a debate ensued at which points for and against Bolton MBC’s stance were put.

The Secretary pointed out that given the significant changes in the Council’s make up following the May 7th elections and the imminent appointment of a new abas secretary (see below), there could be a possibility that new personnel might lead to new ideas and perhaps a movement towards a policy more in line with the NAS initiative.

Secretary for Abas
As was circulated to members early this month, a mixture of family commitments and other issues meant that Dave Jackson had decided to step down from the role of Secretary of ABAS.

Dave explained that there were a number of reasons for his retirement, one being the need to provide support to his wife as she continues to receive cancer treatment. However a major factor was that he no longer intends to remain an allotment holder once his current crops are cleared. His plot was the subject of an arson attack at the end of last year in which his shed and one greenhouse were burnt to the ground, and the glass of two other greenhouses destroyed. About a fortnight later there was a further arson attack on his wife’s beehives nearby and all three were destroyed. Dave and his wife feel they do not have the time, money or indeed will to recreate what they had before (especially as they feel this would just provide another opportunity for the arsonist(s)) and have decided to quit the site.

Abas therefore need someone to take over this role initially for the period from May through to the AGM in November.
The duties involved (include)
·         Preparing the agenda for abas meetings (optional) preparing slides etc. for abas meetings
·         Preparing the minutes from abas meetings
·         Posting the minutes on the abas blogsite
·         Communicating relevant matters arising to the Council and others
·         Liaising with the Committee etc.
·         Maintaining the Members’ Contacts Data Base

Dave will assist in an orderly handover and the new post-holder can negotiate the exact parameters of the role with the Committee

Will anyone interested in taking on this role, please contact the abas email address – as soon as possible?

WHAT’S ON IN 2019?
1st June 2019 – Florence Avenue – Flower Sale (12.00 – 4.00 p.m.) – This will be opened by Hilary Fairclough, the newly installed Mayor of Bolton

3rd August 2019 – ABAS – Annual Vegetable, Onion and Leek Show


National Allotments Week 2019 – Press Release from the NAS
“From the 12 to 18 August we will be once again celebrating the many benefits of allotment life. This year the focus is on the “Shared Harvest”. Most plot-holders share their crops with family and friends, some people take baskets of spuds and green beans in to work for colleagues and others distribute food to care homes and food banks.

How many people will your plot benefit during National Allotments Week? We would like to take a snap- shot during the campaign week of how many people have benefited from allotment grown food. Please SIGN UP now to let us know by emailing  we will send you a reminder email during the week for you to reply with numbers of lucky people who have dined on your produce.

As usual, the Society will also be supporting associations that open their gates for Open Days and Events with a striking poster and publicity.”

24th August 2019 – Moss Lea Open Day and Show

1st September 2019 – Harpers Lane – Open Day and Show

There was some discussion about “buddies’ rights”

It was reported that a buddy on a plot had asserted that as she had been doing the bulk of the work on that plot for 12 months, (a period during which the actual plot-holder had suffered a bereavement and a bout of ill-health) the plot should now become hers and the existing tenant should be forced to leave.
The understanding of the meeting was that the buddy acquires no such right.
Our understanding is that if a person has been a buddy for two years then (if the existing tenant agrees) the tenancy may be converted into a joint tenancy. There would also appear to be a tacit understanding that where an existing tenant has had a buddy for two or more years and the original tenant decides to quit then the buddy (provided he or she has served a suitable time on the waiting list) may request to the Council that the plot be made over to them and that such requests will be sympathetically received. The normal expectation is that such buddies would be high enough on the site waiting list to justify the offer of a tenancy.

The following meetings are planned
June 10th
July 8th
August 12th
September 9th
October 14th

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

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