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Minutes of the Allotments Committee Meeting held in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Bideford on Wednesday 27 September 2017 at 6.02 pm

PRESENT:

North Ward

Councillor P Pester (Chairman)
Councillor D Bushby (Deputy Mayor)

South Ward

Councillor D Brenton
Councillor S Inch
Councillor B Wootton

East Ward

Councillor S Robinson

Pollyfield

Mr A Mitchell

Tricks

Mr K Jackson
Mr S Long

Marland

Mr D Hoile
Mr D McLellan

Handy Cross

Mr P Butler
Mrs D Bailey

IN ATTENDANCE:

Mr R Coombes (Deputy Town Clerk)

Prior to the start of the Meeting the Deputy Town Clerk confirmed that everyone had appended their details on the Fire Register.

1. ELECTION OF CHAIRMAN

Councillor Pester was proposed by Councillor Inch and seconded by Councillor Brenton.

RESOLVED: That Councillor Pester is appointed as Chairman of the Committee for the coming year.

Vote: For: 8, Against: 0)

(Councillor Pester assumed the Chair and thanked the Members for their vote.)

2. ELECTION OF A DEPUTY CHAIRMAN

Councillor Bushby was proposed by Councillor Inch and seconded by Councillor Brenton.

RESOLVED: That Councillor Bushby is appointed as Deputy Chairman of the Committee for the coming year.

Vote: For: 8, Against: 0)

3. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Mrs J Anderson (Pollyfield).

4. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST ON ITEMS ON THE AGENDA

There were no declarations of interest.

5. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION PERIOD

There was no public participation.

6. MINUTES

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 8 May 2017 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 8, Against: 0)

7. INTER SITE CHALLENGE

(Mr Jackson joined the Meeting.)

Mr Mitchell suggested that the judging cadre could be made up from representatives of the four Sites supporting the Chairman with the caveat that the Site representative would not hold judgement on their respective site. He further reiterated that each Plot should be individually numbered; the Chairman concurred. (In expressing support Members confirmed that the cost to plot holders was negligible.)

Councillor Inch reminded Members that an approach to RHS Rosemoor, for a professional, had been considered. He also suggested that the date should be set for mid-June – Members were in agreement.

Discussion followed where numbers were considered.

Proposed by Councillor Pester, seconded and

RESOLVED: that the Chairman together with a Site representative from Handy Cross, Marland, Pollyfield and Tricks Site will judge the Inter Site Challenge, on a date to be confirmed, in mid-June 2018.  Site judges will not hold judgement on their respective sites.

(Vote – For: 9, Against: 0)

8. MARLAND SITE

a. Update. The Chairman of the Association, Mr David Hoile, began by thanking the Committee for their continued support in working with a neighbour who overlooks the Site (the Chairman confirmed he remains in correspondence.)

Mr Hoile confirmed that the disabled path and raised beds had worked very well.

The Building Site wall has yet to be established, although the three replacement sheds have been received.

The Marland Allotment Site is full with four on the waiting list.

Councillor Inch questioned whether there remained continued contact with the Developers.

Mr Hoile confirmed that they did speak to site staff – shed bases have been promised.

The Deputy Town Clerk reminded Members that he, the Chairman, Site representatives and Mr Chris Bouchard (DCC officer) had met with Mr Paul Jones last year; he would arrange a further meeting.

Councillor Brenton believed that the Developers had experienced problems with moving tons of earth.

The Deputy Town Clerk advised that both he and the Chairman had visited the Pollyfield and Tricks Sites the previous week and Site visits to Handy Cross and Marland would be made soon.

b. Perimeter fencing improvement. The Deputy Town Clerk advised the Members that the Marland Site had been regarded as a thoroughfare by a certain element. A meeting with a PSCO, the Chairman, Council Maintenance Officer and Site representatives had identified the need to improve upon a damaged perimeter fence, with a replacement.

It had been identified as a task that the Council Maintenance Operatives could undertake with a materials cost of £400.00; the Association will administer anti-climb paint.

Proposed by Councillor Pester, seconded and

RESOLVED: that the Council Maintenance Operatives establish a new perimeter fence at a cost of £400.00.

(Vote – For: 9, Against: 0)

9. HANDY CROSS SITE

Update. Mr Paul Butler, recently re-elected Chairman, advised that the Association were re-fencing one of the fields to protect against rabbits.

He referred to the last break in with the loss of power tools, eight sheds were broken into and the Community Shed. They are looking to improve the security – people do climb through gaps in hedges to walk their dogs – but are trying to avoid fencing, rather hawthorn / blackthorn.

Three plots are available although there is not a waiting list.

They have plans to review the trees believing the need for remedial attention.

The Deputy Town Clerk confirmed he had visited the Site with a tree surgeon at the end of June 2017 (following a visit by the Chairman and Councillor Johns). He (tree surgeon) did not feel that there was any urgent work needed.

There is some work that can be done to an ash and a broken branch leaning into other trees / branches but nothing that needs to be done soonest.

Clearly there is some light work that could be done that will aesthetically look more pleasing.

10. TRICKS SITE

a. Update. Mr Long advised that there was one plot available. There are two on the waiting list and two plots that require attention.

The Wildlife garden is looking very well and benefitting the Bees.

He confirmed the success of the fence (boundary definition) and welcomed the extension.

He requested that an official sign be produced to guard against indiscriminate parking in front of the gate preventing access / exit from the Site.

Overall the Site is running well.

b.  Fence Extension on the West Side of the Site. The Deputy Town Clerk reminded Members that following their intention to extend the Tricks fencing, expressed at the last meeting, he had three quotations, including one from the contractor, Charlie Jeffery, who had completed the first fence. Given that the second phase was half as long again Members considered the quotations simply for costed materials, with Mr Jeffery’s that included materials but would need support of the Council Maintenance Operatives for eight hours’ work.

Proposed by Councillor Inch, seconded and

RESOLVED: that Charlie Jeffery is invited to purchase the materials and erect the fencing with the help of the Council Maintenance Operatives.

(Vote – For: 9, Against: 0)

c.  Perimeter wall. Members discussed the need for repointing, the question of responsibility: it has always been understood that the householders on Clovelly Road have an obligation to maintain their boundary wall (the Council deeds provide no reference) – work has been affected in the past - and the potential hazard to Allotment tenants.The Chairman indicated that the Council Maintenance Operatives would be tasked to complete the necessary repointing work and suggested that letters could be sent to the Householders advising them that the act did not constitute an acceptance of responsibility for the Wall;
the repair would not make the Council liable to future works.

Councillor Robinson saw the work simply an act of health and safety, the removal of any hazard to the Council Allotment Tenants.

Councillor Brenton made reference high and low land responsibility.

Proposed by Councillor Pester, seconded and

RESOLVED: that the Council Maintenance Operatives are tasked with repointing those loose areas of perimeter wall, on the allotment side.

(Vote – For: 9, Against: 0)

11. POLLYFIELD SITE

Update. Mr Mitchell advised that a half plot would become available at the end of September.

He noted that there are a number of “grubby” plots.

He requested that the Allotment representatives are advised when contractors will be entering the Site.

Reappraising the inter-Site challenge he stated that a lot of the plots are numbered but he felt all plots should be numbered. The Chairman concurred inviting the tenants to self-help the identification of their plots.

12. LEVEL OF RENT FROM 2018/19

Councillor Brenton believed Members should consider a decent rate that would reflect the interest / commitment of the tenant. He proposed the rent should be doubled and was seconded by Councillor Bushby.

Before a vote was called Councillor Brenton reiterated that setting an appropriate rate would ensure the drive of the tenants to work and make the most of their plot.

Councillor Inch disagreed noting that his plot had an annual cost of six pounds.

Councillor Brenton while conceding that their industry did provide food nonetheless activity on the Plot could be regarded as recreation, a past time; he intimated that hobbies do have a cost.

Discussion followed where Councillor Brenton withdrew his initial proposal. Mr Jackson expressed his concern that if the cost were to increase, would the deposit also increase arguing that the initial outlay could be prohibitive. The Chairman agreed and suggested that any rent rise should not impact upon the twenty five pounds deposit.

Proposed by Councillor Brenton, seconded by Councillor Bushby and

RESOLVED: That the Council increase the current level of rents for the 2018/2019 year to £ 37.00 for a full plot and £ 19.00 for a half plot. The deposit rate will remain at £25.00.

(Vote – For: 7, Against: 1, Abstention: 1)

13. CLEANING AND MAINTENANCE BUDGET FOR 2018/19

After a discussion on the needs of the individual sites in the coming year and contingency amounts, it was

Proposed by Councillor Inch, seconded by Councillor Brenton and

RECOMMENDED: A budget of £3,760.74 for 2018/2019: the shortfall of £1,000.00 requested from Central Funds combined with an expected income of £2,357.00.

(Vote – For: 9, Against: 0)

14. POLLYFIELD COMPENSATION PAYMENT

Members were advised that a former tenant had had his tenancy terminated in July 2016, following procedural correspondence: request to comply with the Tenancy agreement leading to the termination (including notice on the Plot) and invitation to remove tools / items within fourteen days.

Mr Mitchell confirmed that the former tenant had not attended his plot for twelve months running up to the termination.

Subsequent correspondence had elicited an itinerary of tools and fruit bushes that should be returned.

Members were advised that a poly tunnel had been erected (by the former tenant) and was being used by the current tenant, albeit that it had been in need of remedial attention, in good faith (should it be taken down it would have little worth). A fence made of pallets had been erected, that could be removed. NSALG had been contacted and they indicated that a compensation package could be considered, referencing the Tort Act.

The Deputy Town Clerk advised that he had met with the current tenant and Mr Mitchell confirming that most of the items listed had been accounted for, had not been used by the current tenant, and now resided in the communal shed, to be returned.

He advised that the plot had been left in a very poor state, covered in grass and weed past waste height; Mr Mitchell agreed adding that the current tenant had retained photographs. (Members were told the current tenant had worked tremendously hard achieving a commendation for the best Pollyfield Plot in the inter-site challenge.)

Mr Mitchell advised that the grape vines had died through lack of care and that the other fruit had to be strimmed as they had become one with the weeds and grasses; he noted the current tenant’s industry and application. Councillor Brenton led the Members resolutely refusing any form of compensation payment. Given the work that was needed to clear the plot he believed that arrangements should only be made to return those confirmed tools.

Proposed by Councillor Brenton, seconded and

RESOLVED: that arrangements are made to return those confirmed itemised tools. No payment of compensation should be made.

(Vote – For: 9, Against: 0)

15. POLICY ON ITEMS LEFT UPON VACATION OF SITE PLOT

It was confirmed that there have not been many instances where items have been left on plots only for former tenants to make claims at a later date. This was simply an opportunity to update the tenancy agreement.

Councillor Robinson felt that any cost incurred could be deducted from the deposit payment (albeit most tenancies were agreed prior to the introduction of the deposit initiative).

The Members determined that it was important an agreed timeline should be written into the Agreement for retrieving tools etc. mindful though, that it did not allow for the “fly tipping” of items, e.g. baths, that would not be regarded as useful or attractive to subsequent tenants.

Councillor Brenton stated that in concord with the final Notice letter, fourteen days was long enough for a tenant to clear their plot, otherwise the items would be regarded as abandoned with their ownership surrendered.

Proposed by Councillor Brenton, seconded and

RESOLVED: that the Tenancy Agreement is updated to include: “On giving up of the Tenancy, either voluntarily or on termination, the Tenant agrees to remove all of their tools / items within fourteen days of their giving or their having been given Notice to quit. Those items remaining for longer than the fourteen day Notice period will be regarded as abandoned and their title surrendered; a cost may be charged (to the outgoing tenant) should the Council have recourse to effect removal.”

(Vote – For: 9, Against: 0)

The Chairman, having established that there was no further business to discuss, thanked the Members for their attendance and concluded the Meeting at 7.20 pm.


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