FLAG AGM minutes for year 2016
AGM was held at St Michaels Parish Room at 745pm on December 12th 2016.
Present Bob Grover (Chair), Anne Hayes (also known as Anne Macdonald) (Site Steward), Richard Cloutman (Treasurer), Guy Marshall , Nigel Gale, Panos Parissis, Fiona Carey, Julia Wallace, Heather Phillips, Dick Field, Deborah Cloutman, Peter Crick, Ron Askew, John Dixon, Brian Songhurst, Barry Cropper.
Apologies received from Maurice Lyon, Jan Cropper, Kate Crick, Liz Rolfe.
Chair Introduction. In 2016 we have lost three of our longest and most active plotholders: Robin Law died at the start of the year, Jean Stringer died recently, Richard Hillier moved away a few months ago. We will miss their enthusiasm and expertise.
Looking back over 2016, we have achieved quite a lot: Working parties have been well attended recently. We cleared the trees on Robin’s plots and burned a lot of branches and brambles there; we have re-laid pallets in front of the clubhouse; we have had to remove the lean-to roof at the rear of the clubhouse and temporarily store the plastic chairs at the side.
Treasurer and Membership report (Richard Cloutman)
We have roughly £350 in the bank, we have 50 members. Thanks to Nigel Gale for his audit work.
Richard points out that we have spent slightly more than we received over the year, but we are not trying to raise money until we have a project or a serious need for it. So we propose to keep the subscription at £7.50 (but extra donations are always gratefully received).
We budgeted to buy manure in 2016 but we couldn’t find a supplier with a tractor to deliver.
Site Steward report (Anne Hayes (also known as Anne Macdonald))
Most of our 87 plots are allocated and most of those are in good condition. Over the year we have 9 new plotholders, this is an 11% turnover. Richard Hillier’s plots are fully allocated and we are trying to put new people onto two of Robin’s plots. We have offered to the Council that we maintain the allotment waiting list but they are keeping it totally under their control, we just contact people when we are given their names.
NSALG report (Bob/Anne)
The seed scheme operated again and lots of people ordered from the King’s catalogue and made good savings on seeds and sundries. We are insured for 50 members via the NSALG specialist policy. Your subscription goes mainly to cover NSALG membership and the insurance premiums.
We will continue to operate the seed scheme as individual orders.
Election of officers Liz Rolfe has officially retired as Secretary of the committee. Anne has offered to take on the role of Secretary as well as being the Site Steward. The other current officers are willing to stand again. No other volunteers put themselves forward so they were elected unanimously.
This ended the formal AGM.
FLAG AGM minutes for year 2015
AGM was held at Beaumonds, Hatfield Road at 8 pm on 22nd Feb. 2016.
Present Bob Grover (Chair) Jean Stringer (Site Steward), Richard Cloutman (Treasurer), Richard Hillier (NSALG liaison), Anne Macdonald (ass’t Site Steward), Guy Marshall (plot 16), Maurice Lyon (35W), Malcolm Hull and Claire (38), Barry Cropper(36E),Kevin Withers (26), Ken Kenward (45). No apologies.
Treasurer and Membership report (Richard Cloutman)
We have £481.10 in the bank, we had 55 members by the year end, with only about 12 plot holders not paid up (so missing out on insurance cover and King’s Seeds).
Richard points out that actual membership subscriptions brought in £419.40 but another £112 came from donations made at the same time.
To date we have 20 members signed up for 2016, please get your membership in if you haven’t done so yet – and pass the word on!
Site Steward report (Jean Stringer assisted by Anne Macdonald)
Over the year we held our annual BBQ, received two manure deliveries and a few Autumn leaves.
There have been some recurrences of vandalism, by children living nearby. If you notice the children behaving badly, please remind them the plots are private and they are not allowed on site.
Jean has decided she has to give up her post on medical grounds, Anne has assisted and is prepared to take over duties. She was thanked profusely for her work over many years in getting new plotholders shown round, installed and advised. Jean is very happy to support Anne as her assistant for continuity.
We discussed our ‘site wants’ list later in the meeting.
NSALG report (Richard Hillier)
The seed scheme operated again and lots of people ordered from the King’s catalogue and made good savings on seeds and sundries. We are insured for 50 members vie the NSALG specialist policy.
Chair report (Bob Grover)
We kept on at a reasonable level of activity last year. Technically all plots are allocated and the vast majority are properly being cultivated. We want to improve our liaison with Phil Bruce-Green, the Council’s allotments officer, to get more Non Cultivation Notices issued and enforced. In particular Robin Law’s plots 39/40/41 need new tenants.
Robin died in January, he was the site’s longest tenant (next is either Richard Cloutman or Jos Drummond, we think). We sent our sympathy to his widow Claudie and many of us attended his burial service.
His plots have been neglected recently because of his long illness, and become overgrown. The AGM agreed to support a working party to do some clearing of the trees and take the wood away.
Election of officers
All the current officers are willing to stand again, with Anne Macdonald replacing Jean Stringer as Site Steward.
No other volunteers put themselves forward so they were elected unanimously.
1 what do we really want the council to do that we can’t do ourselves?
We produced a list from small to large:
The top gate lock is still too difficult to open for short people – a longer chain is needed (ideally a lower bracket as has been done at the bottom gate)
The path from Oysterfields in the bottom gate should be rerouted outside the allotment site, not inside as at present.
The green waste piles need to be consolidated and piled higher so they rot down better – this needs a JCB to do the scraping and lifting – this would make more space for parking and possibly an extra plot by the leaf piles.
The fence between the site and Oysterfields needs to be properly built up for our site’s security.
The drive in road surface needs resurfacing to allow safe site access in wet weather.
The driveway along the fence with Folly Lane houses gets very muddy and slippery in Winter, the surface needs relaying with aggregate.
A composting toilet would be very helpful for younger people and families to use.
2 Fund raising. It is possible that there could be money available for some of these projects. Sources might be from Council’s Ward money (that a councillor can allocate for social purposes), possibly even from Veolia or other waste company as their social fund contribution; this would need a 10% supplement from an independent source to top up their funding. Barry Cropper offered to share information from the Victoria Playing Fields campaign.
3 What can we do ourselves?
Working parties will make a start on the trees on Robin’s plots; on relaying pallets in front of the clubhouse; putting anti-climbing paint on the rear of the clubhouse; burning off some of the excess material on the green waste piles.
Robin’s trees – we will seek help from Russell Cobb with a working party to assist.
Other wood. There is a pile of oak next to plot 31W which was cut down and just left – please take some, you may have to chop up some of the branches that are piled up.
4 Manure deliveries. We will try to buy two loads of manure in Spring and get one delivered via the top gate and one via the bottom gate. If this is successful we will repeat in the Autumn.
5 Wood chippings. We will continue to accept wood chippings from local tree surgeons etc. we will try to clear up the pile of chippings by plot 3E to make clear which is plot space and which is for chippings.
6 Site Water – thanks to Peter Cawdery for fixing taps when leaks are found.
7 BBQ – suggested dates either 19 June or 3 July – one week before or after Larks on 26 June. A vote suggested 3 July as more popular.
Thanks to Richard Hillier for Beaumonds’ hospitality.
Meeting closed just after 9pm. Thanks to all for attendance and constructive discussion.
Folly Lane Allotments Group AGM 2014
Wednesday 21 January 2015, 8pm, Beaumonds, Hatfield Road, St Albans.
FLAG is in good health and running fairly smoothly in low gear. There are still Seed scheme catalogues in the clubhouse, please take one. Working party due in April, BBQ due in early Summer, possibly a produce show in late Summer. Subs for 2015 raised from £7 to £7.50, your 2015 membership form is on the bottom of this email. Present Bob Grover, Jean Stringer, Richard Cloutman, Richard Hillier, Nigel Gale, Anne Hayes, Joe Douglas, Panos Parissis, Nadine Brown, Sohan Bissoonaraikh, Robin Law, Tony Kynaston. Apologies from Barry & Jan Cropper, Guy Marshall, Denise Perchard, Janet Shepheard, Malcolm Hull, Maurice Lyon, Ken Kenward.
Chair report – Bob Grover - What have we done in the last year?
We have kept our key activities - maintained our liaison with the council, run the annual barbecue, kept the seed scheme running (via NSALG group membership) and kept our insurance up to date. We have tried to look after the site with individual efforts (e.g. mowing BBQ site, clearing leaf pile weeds). We have reroofed the storage area behind the clubhouse with much stronger materials. Thanks to everyone who has contributed their efforts.
Members and Accounts – Richard Cloutman. We have some £350 in hand, membership in 2014 was slightly up at 49, we have about 70% of plotholders as members.
We have bought in trailer loads of manure in the Spring and Autumn – this is free to FLAG members; we cannot stop non-members taking it, but putting FLAG signs on the pile should encourage them to join us! We have mended the strimmer and a mower. Richard C proposed a subscription increase to £7.50 each, the first increase since FLAG was set up, because of increased costs particularly NSALG membership. This was debated and agreed. Your sub effectively covers £2.50 for each of NSALG membership, insurance and manure delivery. 2015 subscriptions are now due, there is a membership form at the back of these minutes, showing the new sub. Please send it to Richard Cloutman as a cheque or by BACS. Our actual receipts each year include voluntary donations which several members make as they renew (or join) us. Website. Richard C has maintains our website www.flagstalbans.org.uk from time to time with pictures and information – this also contains a membership form and our ‘Welcome Pack’ of useful site information and Hints and Tips.
Site Steward and liaison – Jean Stringer. Jean is the central point of contact with the council (and their contractors O’Connors), the police – so if you need to contact any of them please make sure Jean knows about it.
Phil Bruce-Green (Allotments & District In Bloom Officer) says he is trying to reduce the waiting list for all sites. He is planning to meet with several site representatives on Feb 9th to talk about things. His Allotment Strategy is on the council’s website; we will try to pin him down to specifics on how he is issuing and progressing Non Cultivation Orders. We will report back. The council have nominally let all the plots, though we know they are not as fast as we would like to make offers to people on the waiting list. Jean introduces each new plotholder to their plot and offers advice. Jean has organised the contractors’ leaf deliveries and has found tree surgeons to deliver loads of wood chippings (shredded trees) which are very useful for paths and rough mulches. Where possible, deliveries are made to the town end of the site as well as the garage end, we will try to keep on with this but it depends on having reasonably dry paths and someone being on site to open the town end gates. Skips. The council have withdrawn the six-monthly skip visit. In Spring 2014 we had to persuade Environmental Health to clear the area by the main gate where a skip’s worth of rubbish had accumulated over the winter. This area is now clean and needs to be kept clean. Joe Douglas has bought a heavy duty 4-stroke strimmer for himself. He is happy to be ‘hired’ if you need a job done, or he may loan it to you for your own use. You can contact him directly on 841741. We have a 2stroke strimmer and two 4stroke mowers in the steel shed for ‘anyone competent’ to use– in practice this means under some supervision from a committee member, at least initially. Our insurance provides some cover for these circumstances. We must provide some training in their use and also protective hard hat and goggles, which are kept in the steel shed. Maintenance of tools – this is a task with no owner at present. Does anyone know if there is a plotholder with reasonable understanding of gardening machine/ petrol engines who could take responsibility for some maintenance work? NSALG, Insurance and the Kings Seeds scheme. Richard Hillier is our link with the National Allotment Society, who provide cheap seeds and accessories from the Kings catalogue – there are still some of these available in the clubhouse. Lots of FLAG members save a lot of money this way. Our collective insurance is purchased via a link with NSALG. Current officers were willing to stand again: Bob Grover chair and secretary Jean Stringer site representative Richard Cloutman treasurer and membership Richard Hillier NSALG link. Nobody else offered to stand. The current officers were proposed as a group by Nigel Gale, seconded and duly approved. It was noted that as there were no changes made to the committee, the approved signatories for the FLAG cheque book would remain unchanged from the previous year.
Social secretary. We would all like to see some events, a produce show or something. Ideally we would have a Social Secretary for this sort of organising. However the committee will support any offers for an event if anyone puts forward a proposal.
Assistance to Site Steward. Anne Hayes offered to assist Jean with the maintenance of computerised site records and other site matters, as Anne comes up to her retirement during 2015. Communications, awareness of FLAG and Working parties. Discussion suggested that FLAG could try to communicate with plotholders more. The committee will try to issue emails every three months or so, reminding people of forthcoming events – working parties, BBQ etc – and the benefits of FLAG, with reminders just before an event. This is pretty much what we do now but we will try to do it more rigorously. We feel there may be a problem at the receiving end; people either don’t read the emails we send, or don’t remember what they read. In particular we will run a working party in April to clean up weeds etc around the leaf pile area. Manure. Several people asked for a manure delivery to the town end of the site. Jean will try to arrange this as an extra Summer delivery, from FLAG funds. She will pass details of a supplier to everyone so that they could arrange a ‘private deal’ for specific plots only. If anyone knows a suitable supplier of guaranteed ‘clean’ manure, please tell Jean. Thanks to Beaumonds and Richard Hillier for hospitality tonight.
The meeting closed at 9.00
Folly Lane Allotments Group AGM 2013
Monday 2nd December 2013, 7.30 for 8pm, Beaumonds, Hatfield Road, St Albans.
Present Bob Grover, Jean Stringer, Richard Cloutman, Richard Hillier, Guy Marshall, Nigel Gale, Ken Kenward, Barry & Jan Cropper. Apologies from Liz Rolfe.
Chair report – Bob Grover - What have we done in the last year?
At the last AGM in 2012 we decided to cut down the activities of FLAG because of people leaving. So we have kept what we thought of as our key activities but reduced the other more social ones.
We have maintained our liaison with the council, run the annual barbecue, kept the seed scheme running and kept our insurance up to date. We have tried to look after the site with individual efforts (e.g. mowing BBQ site, clearing leaf pile weeds, filling the skips etc) rather than with formal work parties. Thanks to everyone who has contributed the occasional half-hour.
Thanks also Beaumonds and Richard Hillier for hospitality tonight.
Members and Accounts – Richard Cloutman. We have some £600 in hand, this (and the membership) has stayed broadly the same for several years. We are always ready to spend money on the site when necessary, for example last winter we bought several big bags of Hoggin for the car park area.
Membership is currently 43 people, about half of our site’s plotholders.
2014 subscriptions are now due, there is a membership form at the back of these minutes. Please send it to Richard. The price is still £7 each, including membership of NSALG and your third-party insurance premium.
We have bought in trailer loads of manure in the Spring and again this week – this is free to FLAG members; we cannot stop non-members taking it, but putting FLAG signs on the pile should encourage them to join us!
This started a discussion on how to get more people to join.
We agreed to:
- put up a sign by the main gate to remind people that we are useful and can save them money! (Bob initially)
- reinstate the laminated signs for each member’s plot. (Bob will get these printed and organise a work party to put them up in the Spring)
- talk to newer plotholders-with-children to see if they can start a children’s’ group – FLAG could offer small prizes for results, maybe at the BBQ
- try to get better surfacing for our carparking. Nigel will see if there is still a ’civic’ scheme where Lafarge delivers a lorryload of rough stone or broken-up road surface tarmac/concrete at nominal or no charge.
Website. Richard Cloutman has restarted our website www.flagstalbans.org.uk which he maintains from time to time with pictures and information – this also has a membership form inside.
Site liaison – Jean Stringer. Jean is the central point of contact with the council and the police – so if you need to contact them please make sure Jean knows about it – this can strengthen our position when several people make the same point, and make it easier for them to keep track. The latest new name in the Parks and Allotments department is Phil, who is trying to reduce the waiting list for all sites.
The council have now let all the plots. Jean has introduced each new plotholder to their plot.
Jean has organised the contractors’ leaf deliveries and has found a tree surgeon to deliver loads of wood chippings (shredded trees) which are very useful for paths and rough mulches.
Jean has agreed to try to obtain a heavy duty 4-stroke strimmer – we already have a petrol mower. We approved her spending up to £150 on this.
We agreed to pay Joe Douglas an informal rate for a few hours work to use these tools occasionally for our general benefit. So we can keep the site cleared where the contractors don’t go – particularly the BBQ and clubhouse area.
The tools are available for anyone competent to use – in practice this means under some supervision from a committee member. Our insurance provides some cover for these circumstances – Bob will make sure of this. We must provide some training in their use and also protective hard hat and goggles, which will be kept in the steel shed.
Maintenance of tools – this is a task with no owner at present. Does anyone know if there is a plotholder with reasonable understanding of gardening machine/ petrol engines who could take responsibility for some maintenance work?
NSALG, insurance and the Kings Seeds scheme. Richard Hillier is our link with the National Allotment Society, who provide cheap seeds and accessories from the Kings catalogue – there are still some of these in the clubhouse. Lots of FLAG members save a lot of money this way. Our collective insurance is provided via the NSALG. This is part of the FLAG membership fee.
Current officers were willing to stand again unless anyone else is ready to join the committee.
Bob Grover acting chair and secretary
Jean Stringer site representative
Richard Cloutman treasurer and membership
Richard Hillier NSALG link.
Nobody volunteered to take on any more responsibilities; the current officers were proposed as a group, proposed by Ken Kenward, seconded Nigel Gale, and were duly elected.
The meeting closed at 8.50
Folly Lane Allotments Cheese and Wine and AGM
Monday 8th October 2012, 7.30pm, Beaumonds, Hatfield Road, St Albans.
1. Present – Sue Hall, Nadine Brown, Rona Wightman, Denise Perchard, Liz Rolfe, Bob Grover, Richard Cloutman, Richard Hillier, Robin Law, Malcolm Hull, Guy Marshall.
Apologies: Mary Cook, Christine Allen, Peter Lindeman, Ann Hayes, Ken Kenward, Jean Stringer, Jos Drummond, Alan McGlynn.
2. Minutes of last AGM were accepted. Matters arising:
· the FLAG gas burner has been partly fixed so one burner now works ok
· We asked for an archivist. Bob Grover will keep any historic pictures in the FLAG papers box. Any more pictures will be added if offered.
· Jean has kept up to date with signs on plots
· Plot 44 has not been cleared at all; it is still just a spare area with some fruit trees and brambles.
3. Chair’s Report: Flag has had several years of substantial achievement, mainly relying on a small number of people giving time and effort, supported by others for particular projects.
· The Council can’t afford to do more than provide skips, mow the main paths, remove the odd dangerous tree etc. This is why we need FLAG, to act with other sites’ associations, to persistently nag them and try to make sure they are aware of our concerns; even to resist them if necessary. The Strategic Local Plan is set to create 4,250 homes in the district by 2028. Allotment sites are not targeted in it but a poorly used, city centre site would be vulnerable.
· At present our 77 full and half plots are fully tenanted. There are 98 on the waiting list. A waiting period of 4 years is not uncommon. The council’s strategy to reduce this will involve vigorous application of cultivation standards, besides other measures.
· For personal reasons I am substantially reducing my commitment to FLAG but it is to be hoped that new people will emerge to take up the load.
4. Treasurer’s report – we have currently 46 members. Few of the new plot holders are joining and some of the old are not renewing. We have nearly £700 in the bank which both auditor and treasurer feel is a lot for a small organisation. Ideas for how to spend it are always being sought. Meanwhile the proportion of subscription that goes to FLAG – besides NSALG membership and insurance – is very modest. Liz proposed sub to remain unchanged at £7.00. Bob seconded.
5. Declining membership – the value of joining FLAG is partly financial (the NSALG membership, their Kings’ Seed scheme, collective insurance) and partly social. Members place a value on FLAG (see questionnaire of Dec 2011) but pressure of work and changing lifestyles make active participation impossible. Denise made the point she wants to feel she belongs to a group with each other’s interests at heart, even if she can’t spend much actual time organising anything. Sue offered to prepare a laminated sheet for the clubhouse and notice board reminding people of the benefits of membership. She will also ask the new Community Officer, Wendy Martin, to replace the Constabulary posters at the gates.
6. Site report – new allotments’ officer, Sharon Scott, has a remit to reduce the waiting list and several NC1, NC2 and eviction notices have been served following her first inspection.
· Information: Water will be going off in November; be prepared.
· Skip – will be on site the weekend of 19/20th Oct.
· Sue Hall retold her vandalism experience. She has an open faced shed that has been used by trespassers since May, initially recreationally, just for a smoke but then it got vandalised and there was evidence of drug use. The police were pro-active, Forensic teams took samples and the new CPSO Wendy Martin has been very supportive and active in trying to identify the offenders. Sue says the police have installed CCCTV warning signs, crime scene signs, and issued warnings through parents. The trouble is currently much reduced – since schools went back!
· The only way to stop this behaviour is for EVERYONE to report suspicious behaviour. PHONE 101 and ask for Wendy Martin and get an incident number. Do NOT attempt to tackle trespassers. If you feel threatened call 999 – then it is likely that police will arrive fast.
· PLEASE SHUT THE GATE WHEN YOU DRIVE IN AS WELL AS OUT!
7. Social Secretary’s Report – Liz thanked Rona for all her efforts as SS and made a presentation on behalf of the Group.
Since the last AGM the following group events have taken place:
· January 2012 – Fish and Chip winter social and Beetle Drive.
· March 2012 – Speaker meeting, ‘Invasive Aliens’ by Andrew Gaunt from FERA. Invitation extended to other sites who responded well.
· June 2012 – Larks in the Parks stall. Windowsill Salads and veg Quiz picture board.
· July 2012 – Barbecue
· October 2012 – AGM, with speaker, Donato Cinicolo, on hedge laying.
· There have been 4 newsletters: Dec 2011, March 2012, May 2012 and Sept 2012. Some go to members alone, others to all tenants to advertise FLAG and encourage engagement.
There have been many round robin emails, to supplement newsletters. Topics include reminders, helpful messages regarding site issues and information or requests from FLAG or its members.
Rona emphasised that she has worked as part of the Committee with support from them and also other FLAG members who pitch in with assistance. The role could be subdivided into narrower tasks and if a replacement(s) could be found she is happy o pass on tips, templates and guidance.
8. Website report – currently inactive but contact has been re-established with Greg Rooney who has had terrible family demands on his time. Richard C is looking at the material to see if he can assist.
9. Election of Officers.
Chair – no volunteer*
Treasurer – Richard Cloutman re-elected.
General secretary – Bob Grover re-elected
Because both Chair and Social Secretary wish to stand down but have no volunteers to take over, FLAG cannot continue at current level of activity. Bob proposed that we continue by reducing activity, particularly social, thus:
Summer Barbecue to be sole social activity in the year UNLESS a volunteer stepped up to organise another event.
Newsletters infrequently and only by email.
Minimum work parties, just to prepare bbq and leaf pile maintenance
Members approved this in principle, leaving Liz and Bob to manage the roles of chair and secretary between them. Other officers continue as before. Denise willing to continue to help produce hard copy newsletters should one be needed; Sue prepared to help distribute such. FLAG will continue to operate but at a lower level, until volunteers offer or any significant problem arises that needs lots of effort.
10. Election of named Officers
Site steward – Jean Stringer re-elected.
Social Secretary – no volunteer
Minutes secretary – Bob Grover re-elected.
11. Secondment of Committee members
Work party – Bob Grover happy to continue
NSALG rep – Richard Hillier happy to continue
General member – no volunteer; await progress
12. AOB Bob thanked Liz for her work over the years.
13. FLAG thanked Richard Hillier for organising the use of Beaumonds for this and other meetings
14. Formal meeting closed at 8.40pm.
15. Hedge Laying – talk with illustration by Donato Cinicolo.
Donato showed pictures of his work as a hedge layer around the local area, with fascinating insights into what makes a hedge actually work as a living entity. He also had some pictures or how NOT to do it – and why.
Donato –who is currently Herts Champion for Hedge Laying – will be appearing at the Herfordshire Ploughing and Hedge Laying Competition day at Laburnum Farm, Peters Green on Saturday October 27th. If you would like to see him in action, plus ploughing including horse drawn ploughs, the event is open to the public,
We hope to commission a hands-on working session with Donato later in the year for him to help us practise laying a real hedge on our site. This would be open to other site members and managed by the retiring committee. Members from other sites would also be invited; there would be a small fee.