Allotments Annual Meeting

Monday 16th March 2009 in the Village Hall at 7.30pm

Rachel Thrussell opened the meeting by welcoming everyone.

Chairman Rachel Thrussell, John Rivett, Richard Hetherington, Philip Thrussell -Committee members, Christine Robson – Allotmentwatch, Doreen Snelling – Vice-Chairman Parish Council, Michael Spinks – Parish Council representative

Mr Saville, Mrs Wolstenholme

Christine Robson – Allotmentwatch
Mrs Robson acknowledged the concerns of allotment-holders about the increasing thefts of produce from allotments, and sought to assure the meeting that theft is taken very seriously by the police.
Since last Annual Meeting Allotmentwatch in Coltishall had been set up, with Rachel Thrussell as co-ordinator.  Information about incidents is circulated by email to all co-ordinators so that parishioners can be fore-warned of patterns of crime.  Three signs were purchased for the allotments - one is already up, and two more were brought to this meeting.  Christine Robson had walked the site, and discussed it with colleagues.  Because there is a path through the allotments security is always going to be an issue.  Other allotments, like Sprowston, have locked gates and fencing preventing access by the public.  Vigilance and a willingness to challenge strangers or anyone acting suspiciously would be the best deterrents.  A note should be kept of vehicle numbers and descriptions of anyone about whom there are concerns.  Sheds should be securely locked, with sturdy hinges, hasps and locks.  Tools and machines should be property-marked.  Rachel Thrussell said that vehicle gates are now locked, although pedestrian access cannot be prevented.  The last break-in was prior to Christmas, but the main problem now was theft of produce.  Rachel Thrussell had written a diatribe in the Marlpit on this subject, in the hope of deterring would-be thieves.  Christine Robson reported that, following continued vandalism at the village hall, the area had been designated as a tasking site by the police; there would be a police presence there at every shift and during the night.  She was somewhat disappointed to learn that the PCSOs had not thus far spent a day with allotment-holders advising them on security matters.  Mrs Britcher had noted a group of youths in the allotments and the orchard on Saturday evening last, and remarked that she had never seen a police presence in either the allotments or the village.
Christine Robson had brought property-marker pens and stickers to give out to allotment-holders, and offered to include any interested person in the email round-robin.  She said that Broadland is a generally safe area, but that rural incidents have increased due, she believed, to the economic downturn.  Rachel Thrussell thanked Christine for her time and valuable information.

Minutes of last meeting 17th March 2008
These were approved as a true record and duly signed.

Matters arising from the minutes

Financial Report
The ledger showing all receipts and expenses was shown to the meeting, and a Financial Report given to all allotment holders.  The financial report was as follows :
Balance B/f from 2007-8           780.90
Rents received               472.00
Water rates                -115.57
Expenses – Rachel Thrussell     -19.75
Repairs              -139.30
Zurich Insurance         -246.75
Jeremy Hall             -300.00
Norfolk Constabulary                -45.00

Total remaining           386.53

A payment of £66.18 to Rachel Thrussell for stationery was approved at this meeting, giving a final balance at the bank of £320.35.

Chairman’s Report
There are 63 let plots, no spares, plots 64-85 are down to grass and community orchard.
At present there are no spare plots; a couple of people had given up their plots which will be taken by those on the waiting list.  Land currently grassed may be brought into use.  Several enquiries had been received from people outside the village, which had regrettably been turned away.  It seems there is a shortage of allotments in the area.
As reported above, theft of produce is a major concern.  Gates have been fitted with locks, and vehicular access will be by arrangement with a key-holder.  If thefts continue it may be necessary to install CCTV.
The parish council had received complaints about the condition of the track through the allotments.  Despite requests at last year’s Annual Meeting for common sense during poor weather the problem remained.  The locks fitted will help to relieve the problem, with pedestrian access via the small gate at Chapel Lane and a new small gate to be installed at Rectory Road.  This gate will be fitted by volunteers at a cost of circa £60.00. Several allotment-holders have offered to repair the track when the ground is sufficiently dry.
The parish council’s web-site is complete and includes a section for allotments.  Rachel Thrussell will compile a calendar of what to plant in each month, and ideas and suggestions were invited.
A complaint had been received about the hedge along the bridle path between Chapel Lane and Kings Road.  The parish council had included it in the grounds maintenance contract for the year, although Rachel Thrussell thought the Allotments Association might have to make a contribution to costs.  Bill Musson asked if the Allotments Association could thin and prune the hedge, as it overshadows the allotments reducing the available growing area.  It was agreed that it must in any event be cut outside the bird nesting season.  The clerk is to contact Garden Guardians to establish when and how the hedge will be cut, and advise Rachel Thrussell and Bill Musson accordingly.
Although signs disclaiming responsibility for personal accident had been erected, it had still been necessary to take out public liability insurance to cover claims caused by negligence.  The pathway is not a public right of way, and pedestrians use it at their own risk.  However, negligence on the part of allotment-holders would not be covered.

Election of Officers
Rachel Thrussell asked if there were any proposals for the position of Chairman.  As there were none, she was re-elected as Chairman.  Those offering themselves for election were Rachel Thrussell, John Rivett, Richard Hetherington and Philip Thrussell.  Proposed – Bill Musson, seconded – Mr Francis.

Open Forum
A leylandii-type tree on an allotment was hampering the growing of produce, and the allotment-holder asked if he could remove it.  The allotments do not fall within the conservation area, and Michael Spinks advised that there would be no problem in removing it.  There would not be any preservation order on such a tree.

Meeting closed at 8.10 pm.