HELD `29 MARCH 2011

Officers & Committee

Members Present:         John Burns (Chair), Carol Downie, Tracey Llewellyn (Secretary) and Steve Lucas (Treasurer)

In attendance:              Hugo Blomfield (Countryside Manager), Matt Hewes (City Parks Access Manager) & Gillian Marston (Head of City Infrastructure)

1)         Welcome from the Chairman

John Burns welcomed everyone to the meeting and extended thanks to the City Council in allowing the Federation to use the Town Hall.

2)         The Chair reported of the sad deaths of Pam Bean, a Vice President of the Federation, Harry Gander, Vice President and long standing member of the Federation and National Allotment Committee member, and also the death of Councillor David Smart. The Chair advised that, given the imminent County Council election, a replacement for David Smart as the Brighton & Hove City Representative would not be made for the time being.

The Committee extended their condolences and those present stood as a mark of respect and for a moment’s reflection to be observed.

3)         Apologies for Absence

It was noted that apologies for absence had been received from Steve Quinn (Site Representative for Carven Vale North), Geoffrey Theobald (City Council) & Helen Touray (Federation Publicity Officer).

4)         Minutes of the 2010 Annual General Meeting (AGM)

The minutes of the 2010 AGM were proposed by the Chairman as an accurate record of the meeting and were approved accordingly.

5)         Matters Arising

There were no matters arising which do not appear elsewhere on the agenda.

6)         Annual Report 2010 / 2011

The Chair began his report by saying that in the aftermath of the rules review the year had been one of consolidation and he felt it true to say that the fears of a number of tenants had not been realised, with common sense prevailing where disagreements had arisen. The issue of consistency in judging the 75% cultivation rule had been addressed by Steve Lucas holding practical workshops with Site Representatives at the Weald Site. Further demonstrations will be arranged at various sites going forward.

As stated in the 2009/10 annual report, one of the major criticisms levelled at the Federation andMatt Hewes at the Allotment Services office was the delay and, sometimes, non existent evidence of work being carried out on the sites around the City. The Chair was pleased to state that two dedicated operatives had been appointed in September 2010 to carry out work on all of the allotment sites and he wished to formally welcome Chantelle Hoppe and Bruce Rioche. He went on to say that it would be unrealistic of tenants to expect all work to be carried out immediately due to a substantial backlog but that progress was being made. On a similar note, the Chair was pleased to note the improvement and efficiency of the Allotments Services office administration with the appointment of Benjamin Annis.

The Chair confirmed that the Committee meets regularly with Matt Hewes to discuss various issues including lettings, waiting lists, plot inspections and cultivation notices. It also meets on a regular basis to discuss various projects that the Federation is involved in, as well as organising the quarterly meetings of the Site Representatives. At this point, the Chair paid tribute to the Committee members who freely give of their time to ensure the smooth running of the Federation. Thanks were given to Tracey Llewellyn, whose minutes were a joy to behold, Steve Lucas for his tight rein on the purse strings and administration of the Site Development Fund, Helen Touray for putting together the annual Federation Newsletter and Carol Downie who can be relied upon to give support whenever she is available, Carol being the Federation representative on the Harvest Project and also the Children’s Competition Co-ordinator. The Chair advised that, due to work commitments, Beverley Anderson had had to step down as a Committee member but thanks were also extended to her for the work she had done. Finally, the Chair gave thanks to Melanie Mathews for her excellent work in maintaining the Federation website because the Federation can now be interactive with members logging on, taking part in the forum to ask questions and loading photographs and interesting articles about their plots and sites.

The Chair appealed for new people to come forward to help on the Committee.

The Chair reported that, in conjunction with the City in Bloom, the allotment competitions had taken on a new profile last year with changes in the categories to encourage more entries, and to that end the competitions did receive the most entrants for a number of years. The presentation of the awards had taken place at the Metropole Hotel in September 2010. He went on to advise that, with a cut in City Council funding, the budget for the City in Bloom for the forthcoming financial year 2011/12 had been reduced and so, in order that the allotment competitions are not lost, the Federation had agreed to take on the administration of the competitions although the City in Bloom will make a contribution to help towards the administration costs. The Chair advised that applications would be sent to him this year and that he looked forward to a good number of entries across the categories.

The Chair advised that the site Development Fund continued to be used but not to its full extent and that, although the Committee continued to find ways to use the funding, if anyone could think of something which might be needed on a site for the benefit of all they should ask their Site Representative to make an application. All that is required to do so is an estimate of the costs of the work and a description of the work to be carried out. The application forms can be downloaded from the Website.

Reference as made to the new plots which had been created at Craven Vale, Race Hill and Foredown, with vacant ten rod plots being halved so that two new tenants could be accommodated on what was previously one plot.

Finally, the Chair talked about Councillor David Smart who he described as a good friend of the Federation, a man who would be sorely missed and he expressed a hope that whoever takes David’s place as the Allotment Liaison Councillor would approach the role with the same enthusiasm for allotments as David had.

After commending the report to the floor, the acceptance of the Chair’s Report was nominated, seconded and the Report was duly accepted. 

7)         Treasurer’s Report & Adoption of the Accounts 2010 / 2011

Steve Lucas presented the annual accounts for the year ending 28 February 2011and drew attention to the fact that £78 more had been spent than had been received. He also advised that there had been some further spending from the Site Development Fund since the accounts had been prepared and that the real expenditure was therefore closer to £5,700 but that this still meant that the funds had not been fully utilised. There were questions from the floor as follows:

Ø  Q: Why are Site Representative costs only shown as £12?

Ø  A: The actual figure is £64 but some of this is included in the Committee administration costs. Also, despite being repeatedly reminded to claim for expenses incurred, many of the Site Representatives do not make expense claims.

Ø  Q: I have asked Benjamin Annis several times for a small supply of second class stamps.

Ø  A: Noted.

Ø  Q: What is the Lottery Grant?

Ø  A: This is the remnant of a much larger grant put together by Gerry Neville, the Harvest Project and John Smyth for the purposes of training. Gerry Neville advised that the full original sum had been £10k and that the monies had been used to extend the Children’s Competition and to improve plots. Furthermore, the funds had been released over a five year period and this is the final instalment. Matt Hewes also commented that some of the money had been used for mentoring and for putting together the email training bulletins.

Ø  Q: A site Representative commented that it is impossible to quantify how much he spends on telephone calls to claim an expense.

Ø  A: We can provide you with a pay as you go telephone but the response, when we canvassed Site Representatives, was not positive and no further action was taken on this idea.

Ø  Q: What is the Levy?

Ø  A: It is 2.5% of the allotment rents from the Council to enable the BHAF to function.

Ø  Q: Should this therefore be an increase of 40% from last year?

Ø  A: No, when the 40% increase was agreed it was felt that this was too great a rise for those on concessionary rents. Therefore, their increase was reduced to a 25% rise and the difference between the funds raised from this increase and what could have been raised if it had been left at 40% came out of Federation funds at source. In other words, we never received this money so I felt no obligation to include it in the accounts.

Ø  Q: Why is the interest so low? Is it invested?

Ø  A: No, this is a standard bank account which, in the current economic climate, attracts virtually zero interest!

Steve thanked David Bubloz for once again examining the accounts and requested that the Treasurer’s Report be accepted. The proposal was seconded by John Burns and the Report was duly accepted.

8)         Election of Officers

The Chair advised that the position of President would continue be left vacant, there were no contenders for the position of Chair and it was therefore proposed that John Burns remain as Chair and the motion was seconded by Gerry Nevill. With the majority in favour, the proposal was accepted.

It was agreed that Tracey Llewellyn, Steve Lucas and Helen Touray be elected en-bloc.

9)         Election of Committee Members

It was noted that Beverley Anderson had withdrawn as a Committee member and that there were no nominations for the election of new members of the Committee. The Chair recommended to those present that any such nominations would be most welcome in the future. The Federation is a voluntary organisation which could always benefit from new input and ideas.

Tessa Pawsey stood to offer thanks to the Committee for its work and, in particular, she drew attention to the availability of Committee minutes on the webpage and also the marvellous Enewsletter.

10)        Election of Vice-Presidents

Again, no nominations had been received for the election of new Vice-Presidents. It was therefore proposed and carried that John Allam (Moulescombe Place), Ron Buckman (Weald), and Bill Wakeham (Eastbrook Farm) be elected en-bloc.   

11)        Any Other Business

 i.        Children’s Competition –  The competition will be different this year as all ages can enter all of the categories, there have been 17 entries to date and all of which are for all of the categories.

An appeal was made for plots to be numbered to assist in the judging and for children to be encouraged to enter. Posters will be going out soon and applications can be made via the Federation website or by contacting Carol Downie. Prizes for the winners will be given at the Metropole at the City in Bloom presentations.

ii.        City in Bloom Competition – The categories for this year were confirmed as the Coronation Bowl, most creative plot and best newcomer although there will be no community site entries this year. Entries should be encouraged and, not least of all, because allotments do not have to be pristine but rather that there should be a good diversity of plants grown.  

The formal meeting was concluded at this point but there followed an opportunity to ask questions of Matt Hewes. 

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