Held 4 March 2014
Associations present as recorded in the Attendance Book.
The President, Tom Douglas, was unwell and unable to attend. Alderman Peter Woods formally opened the meeting and welcomed the members.
Apologies for absence
Received from the President, Foxbury, Bull Lane, Halls Farm, Councillor Ellie Harmer, Pauline Ramus, Anne Schuman and Messrs Ashford, Lorenzo White and Jansen.
Minutes of the 48th Annual General Meeting
Minutes of the 48th Annual General Meeting were accepted.
The Chairman reported on the following:
- The number of vacancies had started to grow – possibly connected with the exceptional weather over the last year. Efforts must be made to achieve higher levels of lettings – failure to do so will increase the vulnerability of the sites to other uses.
- A growing number of associations had succeeded in obtaining grants for site improvement – mainly provision of WCs – with help from Amy Rogers and Lorraine Courtenay to whom our thanks must go.
- A number of grievance arbitrations had arisen in the last few months. The Chairman thanked Lynda Townley and Clive Randell for representing the Federation in these cases.
- It was proposed that a further training session be arranged to look at the grievance procedure and other issues, the previous training session having proved to be very helpful. It was likely that this could be held at Dorset Road, and as an evening rather than afternoon session. The issue of safe use of machinery and equipment had been raised recently and referred to the Consultative Panel with a request for specific advice. The matter had been discussed at a Panel meeting; there was no firm conclusion or advice, but there was a presumption that most associations have rules in place which apply to the use of machinery. It would be useful to hear from associations what those rules are, and the Federation might in due course issue a guidance note.
- Marion Spicer, with help from others, had again worked hard to pull together the annual competition and reception, and consideration continued to be given by the Federation as to how best to organise these in the future.
The Chairman concluded by giving his customary thanks to all those who helped in making the operation of the allotments and leisure gardens system in Bromley so successful – in particular the councillor Panel members for their continued support, Patrick Phillips and his team, the Federation Treasurer, Secretary and President, fellow Panel members and last but not least the Federation members who make the efforts worthwhile.
The Secretary, first picked up on two points that the Chairman had made:
We had ‘enjoyed’ a period, during the recession, of full sites and waiting lists. A combination of the improving economy and deteriorating weather meant however that we could not assume that full sites would be a permanent feature.
These factors had to be combined with the ever-increasing scrutiny of the use of council assets and of local authority expenditure.
We may therefore have returned to the situation of a few years ago – a need to maximise the use of our land and justify our keeping it. The expiry of the site leases in a few years’ time may give us even more cause to focus our efforts.
- Administration and arbitrations
Some of the problems caused had undoubtedly been due to insufficient paperwork. For example some associations had seen first-hand the problems of tenants not having signed tenancy agreements or where proper procedures were not followed. This had been addressed in the last training session and would be included again in the further session now proposed.
In reply to an invitation to comment on the website, Tim Lund explained that this had just been switched over to WordPress – a new way of generating websites used by most organisations. The new site would have the facility for emailing associations direct without revealing their email address and will enable some documents to be kept away from public access and available to Federation members only – he would shortly circulate a single common log in/password for this. We should aim for the site to be a source of reference and information for members and a means of contact and information for the public. He would be happy to speak to any associations who wish to put news and other items on the website, and associations were asked to let him know of changes to their main contacts.
On behalf of all of the members, the Secretary thanked the Chairman and Treasurer as always for their dedication and professionalism.
The Treasurer reported that the various payments due from associations were easier to manage now that there was a single spreadsheet showing a single payment per association. Members should bear in mind that there is a penalty for late payment.
The audited accounts for 2013/2014 were circulated at the meeting and it was proposed and seconded, and agreed unanimously, that they should be adopted. The Treasurer thanked Mary Dawe who had stepped in and assisted with the auditing.
The reception had been arranged for 9 October at Crofton Main Hall, Orpington. The buffet would be bought from Marks and Spencer or Waitrose, which would be cheaper than in previous years and would give more flexibility. The cost of the hall would be around £125 – £150, plus £25 for hire of the PA system and an additional charge for use of the kitchen. Stephen Tickner and Sue Holland would judge the competition together with assistance from our external judge. Two members of Southlands Road would assist with the organisation this year with a view to taking this over next year.
Thanks were extended to the Treasurer for the clarity of the accounts and for immense amount of work on the reception and competition.
Election of Officers
It was noted that Marion Spicer wished to stand down as Vice Chair. There being no other nominations, Clive Randell was elected as Vice Chair.
There being no new nominations for the other positions, the Officers for the coming year were re-elected as follows:-
Chairman Mr J Penney
Hon Secretary Mr A M Chase
Hon Treasurer Ms M Spicer
Auditors Mary Dawe and Mr K Rodwell
The existing Consultative Panel members were also re-elected.
Extraordinary Item – Report of Recent Panel Meeting
The Chairman reported on matters discussed at the last Consultative Panel meeting.
Any Other Business
It was noted that one of the judges on BBC 2’s Great Allotment Challenge, filmed last year but due to be shown later this year, is Jim Buttress, an ‘old friend’ of the Federation. Sheila Simner had an application form for this year for anyone interested, but the filming location is in Reading.
In response to a question from a member association the Secretary explained the background to the ‘levy’ payable by each association to the Council. This had in essence been a means of enabling the Council to achieve a required £5,000 reduction in its allotments budget, agreed by the Federation membership as preferable to other proposed means of achieving the saving.
It was agreed that Clive Watson should arrange for re-plating of the Douglas Cup which was beginning to look very worn.