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Minutes of the Allotments Committee Meeting held in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Bideford on Thursday 27 September 2018 at 6.00 pm

PRESENT:

North Ward

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

South Ward

Councillor S Inch

Pollyfield

Mrs J Carter
Mr A Mitchell

Tricks

Mr K Jackson
Mr S Long

Marland

Mr C Cornish

Handy Cross

Mr P Butler

IN ATTENDANCE:

Mr R Coombes (Deputy Town Clerk)

1 x Allotment Tenant

1.    ELECTION OF CHAIRMAN

Councillor Pester was proposed by Councillor S G Inch and seconded by Councillor Bushby.

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

Vote: For: 7, Against: 0)

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

2.   ELECTION OF A DEPUTY CHAIRMAN

Councillor S G Inch was proposed by Councillor Pester and seconded by Councillor Bushby.

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

Vote: For: 7, Against: 0)

3.    APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Councillors D Brenton (South Ward – Council meeting), J Gubb (East Ward – personal) and Councillor R Wootton (South Ward - personal).

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 2018 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 5, Against: 0, Abstentions: 2)

7.   INTER SITE CHALLENGE

Mr Mitchell believed that the Inter Site Challenge had been a good day and equally a good judging session. He felt that the continued standard of the overall plot winner was too high for any other plot holder to emulate. He described how, in the vegetable showing world the overall medal winner could not be considered in the following year’s competition. By adopting a similar practice, opening the opportunity for other winners, he felt it would help improve the overall standard. Mr Long concurred. The Chairman too indicated support; it was clear that this year’s overall winner was the best. Members agreed that this would hold for those Site Commendation winners, also.

Mr Mitchell led members in discussion about the suitability of the Judging Criteria believing it to be too restrictive and dictatorial. He cited a plot that was simply growing potatoes yet everything about the plot was first class including the “manicured lawn” – the paths that ran alongside. Clearly the Plot holder has presented a tidy plot, is experienced and knows what they wish to cultivate.

While Councillor S G Inch felt it was important to have variety, Members were in general agreement that there should be more flexibility and a common-sense approach. Mrs Carter though suggested that plot holders do need a yard stick, a little more than just presentation – quality of vegetables; it must be clear.

Councillor Bushby concurred, some criteria were required but not too prescriptive. He dismissed: friendliness of the site, quality of soil, organic methods of pest control and wildlife friendly plots. He supported the retention of: general appearance of the site as a whole, cleanliness of site, paths and roads – neatly maintained, absence of pests, disease and examples of composting and recycling. Member discussion did not support more than 50% of the plot should be devoted to the production of fruit and/or vegetables but the quality of the crop and absence of weeds was obvious.

The Chairman concluded that the format of the judging panel should be retained.

It was proposed by Councillor Pester, seconded and

RESOLVED: That

a. the winner of the best overall plot and those that received commendations would not be considered / judged in the immediate, following year’s challenge. They would, though be eligible the year after their non-participation.

b. the following Best Plot and Site Judging Criteria:

• General appearance of the site.
• Cleanliness of the site.
• Neatly maintained paths and roads.
• Absence of weeds.
• Absence of pests, disease.
• Quality of crop.
• Examples of composting and recycling.

(Vote: For: 7, Against: 0)

8.    MARLAND SITE

Mr Cornish introduced himself as the newly elected Association Chairman.

He advised that the Site is in good repair.

The Contractors will finally complete the retaining wall of the neighbouring development (that has taken four years) and confirmed they will help with the reinstating of sheds (that had been lost to plotholders during the works).

He confirmed that the fence installed by the Council was good and had been effective. Only one person has been sighted traversing the Site recently. He confirmed that where anti-climb paint is daubed, signs informing the public will be erected.

9.    HANDY CROSS SITE

a. Update. The recently “returned” Chairman confirmed that the Site was going well, currently fully occupied although one tenant had to be evicted and one full and one-half plot will become vacant soon.

He confirmed that the Site had put the weed control fabric and retaining border in place, ready for the chippings in anticipation of the Storage Containers for the Council and the Site.

Following notification from the Council, the occupant of the property adjacent to the Site has desisted from entering.

b. Councillor Bushby explained the need for the purchase of chippings for Council / Site storage facility. The Deputy Town Clerk confirmed that the monies would not be drawn from the Allotment Budget.

Proposed by Councillor Busby, seconded and

RESOLVED: That chippings are purchased to support the Council storage facility to be located on the (Handy Cross) Site.

(Vote – For: 7, Against: 0)

10.    POLLYFIELD SITE

a. Update. Mr Mitchell felt that the weather had impacted on what was generally a poor season.

There were five empty plots, reduced to one with no one on the waiting list.

Generally, though the Site was satisfactory.

b. Mr Mitchell explained that a tenant had approached him, who is undergoing a cancer treatment that involves the injection of live TB, about the provision of a toilet facility.

Mr Mitchell had made some enquiries and concluded that it would not be possible. A compost toilet had been discounted on the basis that a considerable amount of disinfectant would be needed to kill the (TB) virus.

Cost was a further prohibition. Logistics too, if sited in the car park it would invite further complications. Councillor Bushby suggested that a blue portable toilet could be hired wondering at the length of time required.

Mr Mitchell also speculated on the back up and responsibility for any facility.

Mrs Carter while expressing sorrow for the individual did not believe that specialist arrangements could be made and that it was incumbent upon the tenant to make appropriate provision. Cleaning, management and cost prohibited any such enterprise.

Councillor Busby advised against; Mrs Carter intimated that an offer had been made during the Strongvox development and had been turned down.

Proposed by Councillor A T Inch, seconded and

RESOLVED: That toilet provision on the Pollyfield Site is not pursued.

(Vote – For: 7, Against: 0)

11.    TRICKS SITE

a. Update. Mr Long stated that there had been a fair turnover of personnel but that the Site was running smoothly.

He did not believe that the Council was sufficiently effective in dealing with recalcitrant tenants.

Councillor S G Inch indicated that the Committee should be involved and provide the staff with backing, giving more weight to any communication with tenants.

Discussion followed on processing the information, the quarterly inspections and the serving of Notice. Councillor Bushby suggested that not all cases were the same, suggesting on-going medical or personal issues. Mr Long noted that where tenants have been incapacitated fellow tenants have tilled and maintained their plots in absentia. Councillor Bushby wondered whether that held true with those tenants who were not so popular. Mr Mitchell stated that not all tenants welcomed offers of help.

Councillor S G Inch reiterated the need for Committee involvement, support staff and uphold any decisions.

b. Mr Long confirmed that a new tenant did not wish to utilise the (too) small shed fabricated with asbestos sheeting.

Discussion followed on asbestos disposal generally, historic instances and that cement fibre often is confused with asbestos.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded and

RESOLVED: That a budget of £400.00 is initially set to effect disposal.

(Vote – For: 7, Against: 0)

12.    LEVEL OF RENT FROM 2019/20

Members discussed the increase made last year, effective 1 September 2018, the commitment of the tenants to their pasttime and the independence of the Associations in setting their rental levels. They expressed no desire to increase the level for the period 2019 / 20.

Proposed by Mrs Carter, seconded by Councillor S G Inch and

RESOLVED: That the current level of rents remain for 2019/2020: £ 37.00 for a full plot and £ 19.00 for a half plot. The deposit rate will also remain at £25.00.

(Vote – For: 6, Against: 0, Abstention: 1)

13.    CLEANING AND MAINTENANCE BUDGET FOR 2019/20

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

Proposed by Councillor S G Inch, seconded by Mrs Carter and

RECOMMENDED: A budget of £5,497 for 2019/2020: the shortfall of £2,000.00 requested from Central Funds combined with an expected income of £3,497.00.

(Vote – For: 6, Against: 0, Abstention: 1)

14.    DISPOSAL OF ALLOTMENT PRODUCE

Members had received correspondence from the Legal and Operations Manager, National Allotment Society.
Councillor Bushby had raised the issue given the lack of fruit and vegetables available in the Market. Given the information he still felt there was an opportunity for surplus produce to be sold and any monies ploughed back into the Associations.

Marland Allotments operate a scheme from a table within the entrance gate where tenants place superfluous produce that any other tenant may take benefit.

Councillor S G Inch expressed caution, questioning who would police the trade (in the Market) and the need for trust. He added that he was not in agreement.

The Deputy Town Clerk informed Members that everyone trading in the Pannier Market needed public liability insurance.

Mrs Carter intimated that the Pollyfield Site had the ability to dispose of the surplus at the Site entrance.

Proposed by Councillor S G Inch, seconded and

RESOLVED: That surplus allotment produce is not sold from the Bideford Pannier Market.

(Vote – For: 7, Against: 0)

15.    BONFIRES

Members had sight of the detail that is published annually in the Administrative Letter advising tenants on bonfire etiquette. The item had been raised in response to a number of complaints during the summer.

Mr Mitchell reminded Members that the Site does have a number of neighbouring houses bordering but also some industrial / business units. He conceded that one complaint related to a bonfire on Site, but the majority of cases did relate to outside sources.

The Deputy Town Clerk advised Members that it was not against the law to have a bonfire and that generally it was difficult for anyone to make a case for the practice to be stopped. The Administrative Letter advice was as a result, of having taken advice and researched the subject.

Councillor Bushby suggested that the second sentence of the Administrative Letter relating to bonfires should include (underlined):

“In the first instance, only garden waste and wood from the Allotment Site may be burned on the Allotment Site.”

Members concurred. Councillor S G Inch intimated that the majority of garden waste should be composted, and wood should rot down and is good for wild life.

The Marland Site operate an incinerator arrangement using old drums that tenants have access to and minimises smoke. Councillor Bushby similarly spoke of an incinerator arrangement that worked effectively.

Mrs Carter advised on three occasions when she was compelled to douse fires with water where the Tenant(s) had simply vacated the Site leaving the bonfire to burn. The Deputy Town Clerk confirmed that this practice was in contravention of the advice, “Never leave a fire unattended or leave it to smoulder – douse it with water if necessary.”

He requested that should there be further instances he be advised in order for a letter to be sent highlighting the poor practice.

Members were in agreement condemning the idiocy especially with regard to the real danger presented by the weather this summer.

 

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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