DRAFT –  EWAA Annual General Meeting – MINUTES

Thursday 24th September 2015, 7.30pm

Chair:             Julian Stern
Minutes:        Meryl Wilford

Present:       Jane Nimmo-Smith, Pat Mansfield, Clare Ferguson, Jane Millar, Tony Flett, Chris Flett, Stewart Young, Peter Corcutt, John Butler, Mike Harris, Edward Pope, George Murray, Jon Willis.

  1. Apologies:Josie Powell, Bridget Henderson, Helen Edwards, Colin Gamon, Sarah Pollard
  1. Minutes of AGM, 25 Sept 2014:No comments. Approved
  1. President’s Report:
    Site maintenance:
  • A number of projects have been carried out over the year helped with grants from the council. This included construction of raised beds in April; 3 new noticeboards
  • Water butt mended on road 1.
  • The pile of wood chippings by Gate 2 now seems to be under control and less often obstructs the gate.
  • EWAA have a grant to widen and replace the wooden entrance gate at Gate 1.

White House Project:

  • Dereliction of White House site is now being addressed by the council as a result of promptings from EWAA.

Events:

  • Talk on pruning by Heritage Fruit Company on 29thNovember was well attended, and further talks could be planned.
  • There does not seem to be much of an appetite for specific social events, but the committee is always open to suggestions.

Communications:

  • The new website is live along with new forum facility.

Committee:

  • There were a number of changes over the year. Bridget Henderson, Chris Parker and Josie Powell resigned from the committee. Ann-Helen resigned as membership secretary and this role was taken on by George Murray. Peter Corcutt has taken on role of maintenace coordinator.
  • Julian thanked those who were leaving the committee for all their work on the committee.

Treasurer’s Report:

  • Total shop sales are down from £2,117.48 last year to £1,688.21 this year.
  • There was a small trading profit of £153.
  • After rental income, the biggest contributor was grants: for raised beds (£1,376) and noticeboards (£461).
  • Equipment hire raised less than last year. £81.77 against £115.81 in previous year.
  • Most of the larger non-grant funded expenditure was to complete the shop renovation with full rewiring and decoration.
  • The balance in our deposit account stands at £6,126 down from £7,099.
  • This is a healthy overall balance.
  • Overall, we had kept within our agreed budget for the year (£6,176), spending £6,148, which shows that we are able to cover normal annual running costs from current income.

Discussion:

  • Issue of whether the money in the deposit account should be moved to an account which offers higher rate of interest. Julian and John explained that it is complicated getting bank to manage accounts for small charities with multiple signatories etc. and that probably not worth the effort to change banking arrangements.
  • The high maintenance cost in relation to the low income generated from equipment hire was discussed. Generally felt that the strimmers are a very useful service despite the difficulties in managing them, and the maintenance of cutters is essential for paths. Alternative ideas should be given more publicity e.g John Butler’s offer to strim plots for small fee could be advertised on rent days.  Stewart described a system at another allotment in which members can opt out of work party duty by paying £15 fee instead and that this financed professional mowers.
  • These ideas to be discussed at the next committee meeting.
  1. Membership Secretary’s Report:
  • EWAA is the biggest association in Oxford.
  • There are currently 135 plots ? of which 4% are unoccupied [10 x 5-pole plots are currently vacant]. Having approximately a 5% vacancy of plots seems acceptable taking into account turnover of plot holders and natural “churn”.
  • There are 20 new members who have taken on plots this year and 11 people on the waiting list so a bit of publicity has helped bring in new members.
  • Plot inspections have taken place and letters sent out to those with very overgrown plots. George explained that there needs to be a balance between toleration of personal circumstances which prevent people working their plots, with the need to keep the allotments well-tended. Both aspects are kept in mind during inspections.
  • 2 or 3 plots are now unlettable because they are so overgrown. Perhaps these should be tackled by a work party.
  • 2 of the 3 plots with the new raised beds on road 1 are now occupied but the two higher raised beds on the area adjacent to the White House Project are still vacant despite paving for “easy access”.
  • Important reminder to all members should be made at rent days to emphasize the need to have visible number on plots. Suggestion that notices could go up to remind people about numbering being their responsibility: “Your number’s up!”

Discussion:

Pat suggested that perhaps putting additional topsoil (from council) on very wet plots might make them more lettable.

Question about trees encroaching on plots. George explained that Chris Parker is still liaising with Urban Wildlife Group and is hoping to raise the issue of encroaching trees and height resulting in shading of some plots at forthcoming meetings with them.

Peter suggested greater use of noticeboards to communicate with members perhaps having weekly focus e.g what is good to plant at the moment, now’s the time to order manure..etc caveat that targets need to be realistic in terms of people able to carry out an idea like this consistently over the year.

6. Election of Officers for 2015-2016:

  • President:Julian Stern – Jane Millar proposed/Jane Nimmo Smith seconded
  • Vice-President:Clare Ferguson – Julian proposed/Peter seconded
  • TreasurerJon Willis – Stewart proposed/Mike seconded.
  • SecretaryMeryl Wilford– Tony proposed/George seconded
  • Membership SecretaryGeorge Murray – Julian proposed/Jane Nimmo Smith seconded
  • Shop OfficerSarah Pollard– George proposed/Meryl seconded.
  • Assistant Shop Officer & Machinery Manager Tony Flett – Mike proposed/Pat seconded.

Election of Committee Members for 2015-2016:

Everyone still happy to be on committee – Julian to check with absent members.

  • Pat Mansfield
  • Jane Millar
  • Jane Nimmo-Smith
  • Stewart Young
  • John Butler
  • Peter Corcutt
  • Helen Edwards
  • Mike Harris
  • Bridget Henderson
  • Josie Powell

Mike happy to do shop duty more often.

7. Rent: 2015-16:

Jon Willis proposed that we keep the rent at £21 per full plot (10 pole); £10.50 per half plot. Concessions are £13 for full, £6.50 for half but the concession is only available on the first plot. £15 per raised bed. 1/3 plot (Plots 1a, 1b, 1c) £3 per small starter plot.

Stewart would like the rent to go down. It was pointed out that at present a large % of the rent paid to council comes back in the form of grants and that the council have been helpful.

Jon pointed out that an on-going surplus is needed as contingency in case there is a sudden emergency such as burst water pipes or for costly projects which the council won’t pay for e.g. new water butts.

The proposal to maintain rent at current level agreed, with the understanding that there is a need to budget carefully was carried.

[Rent days: September 27 & October 4]

8. AOB:

Stewart suggested a donations box, so that people could donate more than price of plot to EWAA if they wish.

After attending Oxford Federation meeting, Stewart explained that there are metal name plates for allotments following citywide template costing £150.

On 29th October, the results of the city-wide allotment competition will be announced at the Town Hall.

On 24th November, there will be a talk at the Town Hall on soils by Chris Bird.

Date of next AGM:

Thursday 22nd September 2016

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