Camberwell and District Allotment Society, Gunsite Section
Annual General Meeting Sunday, November 17th 2019, Ismay Room, Scout Centre
1. Apologies for absence: Chris Hyde, Brendan Byren, Jane McLaughlin, David Whiting, Crispin Tuckley, Linda Craig, Bob Reeves, Ann Revell, Bruce Gregory, Eleanor Mitchiner, David Stacey
2. Minutes of AGM, 4 November 2018, were approved.
3. Matters arising – Securing of fence boundaries now completed though one part that belongs to the Scouts still needs aPen9on.
Gate secured with new key (same padlock) allocated to all members of Gunsite and contractors that Dulwich Estate nominates now completed. It is the general consensus (including by the DE) that the gate be kept locked at all 9mes, except on Sundays during Shop hours.
Liz Brunton gave a list of volunteers who work on different aspects of the site; there are approx 25.
There has been an on going saga with Castle Water Company that Kathy Heeps will clarify.
4. Chairman’s Report – Armorel Weston – full report on website. Her important points were: hope that all appreciate the hard work by committee members and volunteers so that our community can run smoothly.
She emphasised the importance of CDAS, and Pending its AGM, for it deals with the DE (trees, potholes, terms of reference) and handles our insurance. Chair, Adrian Hill, about to retire so a replacement who can negotiate with the DE and has some legal background urgently sought.
Need for all plot holders to keep moving forward, resolve difficulties and understand changes that it is hoped to attain.
Two retring committee members are stepping down and are thanked for their efforts (Nina Walsh and Lucy Lloyd-Davies)
5. Treasurer’s Report – Kathy Heeps – full report on website. She observed that Castle Water do not take the meter reading themselves but accepted ours; she keeps a photo record. There were no questions about this report and Kathy mentioned that rents will have to be put up by 10%, from £10 to £11 per rod. Philip Milner pointed out that Gunsite is cheaper than other sites, due to subsidy by the Shop; William Marshall and PM were thanked for this.
£3 paid to CDAS per head included public liability insurance.
6. Site Officers’ Report – Jane Taylor
Full report on website. Summary of main points:
That the Site is in pretty good condi9on, including paths and ditches. She emphasised the importance of lateral ditches, especially where paths are gebng so water logged that they will need to be roped off. Many thanks to those who assisted in the huge task of clearing the main drainage ditches at the top and bottom of the site.
The waiting list is the longest it has ever been; 18 plots have been allocated over the year. She thanked all volunteers, especially William, Philip and George for the Shop, Anne Stanesby for pruning advice and Robert Holden for his efforts in arranging manure deliveries from Buckingham Palace. Nigel Thorpe, as Maintenance Officer, has organised valuable work in filling potholes and clearing rubbish prior to fence mending.
Importance of locking the gate cannot be emphasised enough: there have been some thees (tools and a crop of pears), also fly tipping which Southwark is eager to avoid (it costs them) and the burnt out car earlier this year (removed at no cost to us).
There had been an Annual Site Inspection in June with a follow-up in August. Steps have been taken to address the following disquiet from some of those who had received letters, as will be described in Item 9.
2020’s Inspection will be in June.
A question was asked about whether there could be a lock with code system put on the gate since it seemed that it could be afforded and the padlock is so cumbersome. However, Callows Locksmiths have assured PM that the re-welded padlock will never break. The DE is against using a code since there are so many Southwark contractors; the number could easily be leaked and informing them all of any code change would be a big task.
7. Shop Report – Philip Milner
Very good year: takings so far, £6424, with five weeks to go; last year’s takings were £5958 (because of the drought?) Should be £600-700 up this year, back to normal levels.
Probably will raise £600 for Project Well, thanks in part to a very generous anonymous dona9on of £100 from a lady plot-holder, which means 600 people will be saved from arsenic poisoning. Ordering and storage continue being improved. Potatoes and a new order of onions will be available from late January, when also re-stocking. Still honey available for Christmas presents! Philip emphasises that the Shop on Sunday mornings has people and books available for advice, and a room for meetings, and Project Well refreshments.
Any suggestions for improvement welcome.
Thanks to Nelly, William and George and Committee members for all their help. As George said: ‘ I love the atmosphere at the Shop’.
8. Ratification of changes to Tenancy Agreement, Sections 18A and 18C, Section 6 – Liz Brunton – Full report attached and on website. There have been 3 changes in the last year which now need ratifying by the AGM.
First: Section 6 – co-plot holders can only take over sole tenancy if they have been a shared tenant for at least 5 years, and thus a member of CDAS. It was agreed that there should be a 3-4 month catch-up period for those not thus signed up.
Action: Marc Meryon agreed to send an email about this.
Vote: FOR – 40, AGAINST – 4, Abstentions – 0
Second: Section 18 A – concerning rubbish – the words ‘or disintegrating plastics’ should be added. Vote: carried unanimously.
Third: Section 18 C – concerning path edges, that these should be trimmed, not have turf sliced off, and paths not be less than 75 cm wide.
Vote: carried unanimously.
Action: This should be explained in the notes for new tenants, how ditches should be
widened into plots, not paths. This will be included in the Inspection next year.
9. Improvement of Inspection system and standardised post-inspection letters – statement of work in progress – Marc Meryon – there is unhappiness with the inspection system but it is important to look forward not to the past. Inspectors do try to do their best but unless there is a framework there will be divergence which will lead to conflict. He is trying to learn and define the processes so that all can understand the roles. He is devising a framework that will ensure consistency; the committee has seen and endorsed this. He
would like the meeting to endorse this in principle, too, so that it can be up and running next year.
Site Officers are the communicating agents, responsible for management, guidance with new plots, encouraging good practice and offering help, ensuring people know in advance of inspections and dealing with complaints between plot holders.
Inspectors have a narrow role, no more than inspecting to check that plot holders are taking into account the Tenancy Agreement, in the light of any special circumstances given them by Site Officers. Inspections should be coordinated within a tight time frame. Plot holders should be helped and supported in an understanding and sympathetic manner.
Material failure will result in advice being offered by the SOs and then, if necessary, a letter from one person, the Chair. He read the letter and clarified it. For minor failures, there would be a light touch letter with advice as to how to avoid subsequent failing. Natural justice was important and as also was demonstrating an awareness of concerns. The whole aim was to manage expectations, define roles, assure consistency.
These are work-in-progress so he was seeking suggestions for tweaks.
Discussion ensued, mainly positive. This should be a two-way process; the letter goes out from the Chair on behalf of the committee. The appeals process will be triggered late, if necessary, not with the letter – there has to be time for people to say that evidence was got wrong. The letter should men9on the second inspection in 6 weeks time. Should there be more Site Officers than 3? This was considered to be too difficult for arranging mee9ngs – with 3 it is hard enough! Should there be more inspectors? There are already 2 for each area.
The letter should be educa9ve and suppor9ve, not condemnatory. It was suggested that people keep a photographic record of their plot. The new system would be fairer for everybody. Everyone was encouraged to get to know their Site Officer; these had offered help and requested people to tell them of any plot problems prior to inspections but very few ever took advantage of this.
There was a vote on the proposed letter wording and this was unanimous. An immediate amendment was requested but it was pointed out that it was only a prototype.
10. Proposals for a Gunsite Development Working Group – Nigel Thorpe – it is intended to look at how we manage ourselves and also make Gunsite greener. Philip Milner had draeed some proposals but he did not wish to present them here; rather they should form the starting point for a working party. This will include PM and William Marshall. Lucy L-D volunteered. Nigel asked people to speak to him if they were offering to serve in this group.
Action: Ann Revell will be asked to email all plot holders.
There were some comments from the floor after this – what data protection was there in the use of email addresses? Ann Revell was not here to explain Mailchimp which is a secure system. How do Site Officers know email addresses are current? It was pointed out that in Clause 2 of the Tenancy Agreement, it is the responsibility of plot holders to notify them of any such changes.
Also that the Notice Board could be relocated to a more central area so that, even though Liz B does try to keep it up to date, it will be more obvious and so seen by all. (Currently it is on the side of the Shop and simply passed by on entering/exiting.)
Action: identify suitable new location for Notice Board.
11. Environmental policy progress – John Hodges – his passionate paper was presented and is attached and also on the website. The main thrust was the effects of climate change already apparent and how little action has been taken over decades by governments. He underlined the significance of peat bogs as CO2 sinks and so we should NOT use compost that contains peat. Research needed as to which peat-free composts perform the best. PM observed that he had not ordered any with peat in the last 6 months. AW suggested that photos of carpets and rubbish be put on the website alongside this report.
A mulching article should be prepared.
He outlined the ongoing plastics problems, especially items blowing loose. Carpets are already banned on council allotments because of toxicity and carcinogenicity. The skip is being abused; we should NOT be sending anything to landfill (health hazards such as an increase in leukaemia within a mile radius). No more tyres on site. He urged restraint in hosepipe use; this should be limited and instead we should reduce the impact of dry weather by mulching bare soil and employing moisture retaining practices in summer. Also avoid driving up here in summer.
Action: All to aim for environmental responsibility. Research into peat free compost and mulching against drought.
12. Matters put forward for discussion:
a) Number of trees on plots – space is necessary for healthy growth. Should there be a limit? Some felt that there definitely should not be any such proscription, that there should be freedom to plant as much as one wanted. However, this can make difficulty when re- allocating a plot if the new tenant does not want these trees. However, consideration should be made of the appropriate root stock.
b) Paving slabs – there is generally no objection to SMALL pa9os but slabs become an issue when they are strewn across a plot. Nigel Thorpe recently used Gumtree to organise collection of 32 slabs at no cost.
Action: 12a and 12b to be added to informa<on for new plot holders.
c) Social events – seang up an ‘Entertainments committee’ – Armorel Weston – she explained that she and Nina had found organising events fun but hard work. The number of aPendees had dwindled and no one offered to help clear up. Yet social events are important in our community. Anyone interested was urged to contact Armorel.
d) No further development of constructions along perimeter – Lucy Lloyd-Davies – she brought to our aPen9on that sheds are on the increase around the perimeter; some are large. She is concerned that they could be inviting to homeless people from Crystal Palace. Site Officers have discussed shed construction in the past – it is against Clause 8 of the Lease from the Dulwich Estate where constructions should be no larger than 4ft wide and 2ft 6ins high, just a tool box essentially. Several plot holders present were proud of their sheds. Armorel observed that this is a risk taken by members of the Allotments – see Clause 8 of the Tenancy Agreement. But here the soil is very poor under the trees, nothing will grow, so construction has not been questioned in the past. Since this is rather a complex matter, it was not possible to take any vote on the issue.
e) Limitng bonfires to specific times/days (as Grange Lane) so visits can be planned. Inhaling smoke particulates can be harmful, especially for asthmatics – Charles Wynn- Evans – Mrs Wynn-Evans explained the need to rebalance the bonfire periods, perhaps in line with those at Grange Lane. Smoke undermines the pleasure of being at the allotment for those with asthma. It was observed that, although burning is a good way of gettng rid of pernicious weeds, generating green waste need not be a problem; Gunsite is lucky to have a large area in which to put it. The Scouts’ bonfires are much more unpleasantly smoky. The feelings of the meeting ranged from objection to any such proscription, that people should come in the morning (although many are not able to do so) to questioning the need for bonfires at all. Bonfires also contribute to London’s air pollution (see Southwark’s website) so it is in our own interest to limit bonfires.
Action: committee to discuss this and devise time scheme.
13. Committee 2019-2020: apart from the two who have stepped down (Nina Walsh and Lucy Lloyd-Wright), all other members are happy to continue and all the officers in their posts. There were two new committee members nominated and approved, Philip Milner and William Marshall; they were both welcomed back.
AW invited people to think about offering to be on the committee in future – it would benefit from new blood.
14. Any other business – there was none and the meeting closed at 11.40
Date of next meeting: Provisionally, 15th November 2020 Maggie Jarman, Secretary