Tuesday, 27 June 2017

KEDNAL SHOW

The Bolton-based arts group The Slug Society are staging an exhibition in Kendal this summer.


If you're in the Lakes why not drop in

Monday, 19 June 2017

follow-up questions from 12.06.2017


Following the abas meeting of June 12 a series of questions were sent to Malcolm Russell.

The questions and Malcolm’s answers are given below:-

 Smedley Avenue had been told by a representative of “Allotments” that they were not to create and let ‘half-plots’. This would seem to contravene previous policy and we shall seek clarification from MR.

Smedley Ave – as agreed with Abas there are criteria to follow for splitting plots. At Smedley Ave there is one plot of 195m2 and one of 192m2 the remainder are 171m2 or smaller, therefore not suitable for splitting.

Abas note: “policy” states that “splitting” must not create plots of <= 125 sq metres.

See also previous abas guidelines about access etc.

 There seems a gap in procedures in that when a tenant voluntarily terminates an agreement areas of confusion can arise

By what date does the tenant have to vacate the plot and remove their property – one tenant had claimed that he did not need to do this until October and could just leave his plot untended with any property on it until that date (even though Allotments had informed the site that the plot could be re-let.)

There still seem to be instances when Allotments don’t inform Secretaries that a person has terminated his / her tenancy.

Voluntary terminations – if someone tells us they are vacating a plot we expect that they will have removed their possessions before telling us or by the date they tell us they are relinquishing the plot. If this is a regular problem we may need to re-introduce the confirmation letter we used to send out following notification of termination (obviously we would prefer not to have to do that).

 The question of keeping poultry on plots was raised.

As abas understands the new procedures, if someone wants to keep between 3 and 12 birds on a plot, then all the site society need / can do is ensure they are meeting Council guidelines and notify the Council of the tenant’s intention to keep poultry.

 One Society stated that, as a site society, they have voted not to allow poultry keeping on their site. On that basis they would refuse a tenant permission to keep poultry.

 The feeling of both abas and others at the meeting is that they cannot do this. The applicant is a tenant of the council and it is the Council’s rules that apply, and the Council permits poultry keeping subject to the Council’s own guidelines. Therefore if those guidelines are met the Site Society must permit poultry keeping.

Poultry –In a recent waiting list update one site said that a probationary period was terminated because the prospective tenant wanted to keep hens. I’ve advised them that the tenant could keep hens (although in hindsight that should probably only apply on completion of a probationary period). There has been no mention of the Society deciding to unilaterally ‘ban’ poultry and that would not be acceptable to us. As far as we are concerned the approach agreed with Abas applies. 

The Committee were requested to submit a Freedom of Information Request to Bolton Council relating to Expenditure and Revenue on Allotments. This has been done.

MINUTES OF 12.06.2017


Minutes of ABAS meeting held 12th June 2017 at Astley Bridge Cricket Club



Present: There were 19 members present representing 11 sites



Minutes of 15.05.2017

The minutes having been duly posted on the Association’s blog site for an appropriate period and members having no points to raise at the meeting it was moved that be accepted.



Outstanding Matters

A number of issues have been communicated to the Allotments section with little or no response.

These issues were collated and summarised and included in an email to MR sent w/c 05/06/2017



In that email, on behalf of the Committee and members, the Chair expressed our concerns that there is a lack of Support and Commitment from the Allotments Section to Abas and the OMA Secretaries, and that this is leading to dissatisfaction not just with the Council but with abas and with individual site societies.



Members also (in a wider context) feel that the Council’s “there’s no money” response is wearing thin, and that we may need to put pressure on e.g. elected members to win a bigger budget for allotment management and maintenance.



Issues are:

Site specifics:

·         Moss Lea – who hasn’t paid rent and therefore which plots may be relet – it was confirmed at the meeting that the Society had received no update

·         Tonge Moor – query on tenant termination, query on supply of locks – nothing on tenant termination, locks have been provided, no more keys though

·         Smedley Avenue – no response to Monthly Reports – action – two BoTs have been issued and a waiting list has been provided

·         Florence Avenue – failure to keep promises on car park etc. – no change



General Items

·         Pigeons on Plots

·         New Clerical Procedures

·         Procedures on Probationers

·         Provision of Keys

·         The Breach of Tenancy Procedures

·         Plot Splitting – Advice

·         Council Information Request

·         Applicants on Current Waiting List – no reply from Allotments but Rawlyn Rd had agreed with Allotments that the repeating applicants need not be contacted each time



Details of all the above issues are included in the minutes of 13/03/2017 and 15/05/2017



Security issues

It was the general feeling of the meeting that allotment break-ins and vandalism are not regarded as a priority by GMP either the main force or PCSOs. Settle St. have been given a named contact in CID to report break-ins to.



No response had been received to a suggestion that the Council assist sites by bulk purchasing security fencing which sites could then arrange to erect under the self-help scheme. Sites would be expected to contribute to such purchases.



Secretaries seem at present to be resigned to the current situation of regular break-ins and vandalism on many sites continuing for the foreseeable future



Fundraising issues

The council had stated that only fundraising events that were closely connected either to allotment cultivation or local food growing would be permitted. Specifically one site had been refused permission to hold a car boot sale.

General advice is to be very careful when requesting permission from the Allotments section to hold an event

Ensure that there is always a strong ‘plots’ element in the event and stress this

Ensure that you are clear about what the event is, why it’s suitable / needed and how it will be organised / staged etc.



Waiting List

We had been informed that Allotments had issued a waiting list which contained only email contact addresses. This appears to have been a one-off error and we have now been informed that following representations by the Site Secretary concerned Allotments have now provided a waiting list with both telephone numbers and email addresses



GM Spatial Plan

Andy Burnham has appointed a team to review the GM spatial plan with a strong emphasis on reducing Housing Development on Green Belt land. We are encouraged that he has asked the Leader of Salford Council to lead this review as Salford have been active in co-operating with the NWCAA lead on the question of stipulating new allotments to serve new developments.



Abas allotments competitions

Some 29 entries (of which 5 are for the Rosebowl) have been received from 6 Allotment sites.

Judging began week commencing Monday 5th June and the first round is completed.

Second Judging is week commencing July 10th



Members holding any cups / trophies are asked to return them to Terry by or at the July meeting



Abas onion, leek and vegetable show

The Show will be held at Trinity Church, Tonge Fold

The date is Saturday 12th August

The list of classes is given on the blog-site



We still need sponsorship for the various classes - £10 per class is suggested – the closing date for sponsorship was the June abas meeting – but Terry can accept donations up until the schedules go to print. – which will be very soon.



Members holding any cups / trophies are asked to return them to Terry by or at the July meeting



What’s on?



Ø  Moss Lea Annual Show – 26th August 2017

Ø  Settle Street Open Day 9th September 2017

Ø  Tonge Fold Open Day 29th July 2017 (starts 11.00 a.m.)





NWCAA

The next NWCAA meeting is scheduled for Sunday 25th June at Rusholme

Terry and Jeff will attend on behalf of abas.

Terry stated that based on what is reported at these meetings, members’ problems with Bolton Council are replicated at most councils across the region



Grants and Funding Opportunities

There are details of potential funding from TESCO for projects such as meeting rooms, chemical toilets, site and land improvements on the NWCAA web-site (Blackpool Federation has secure £13k so far with a possible £5k to follow)

Societies (and abas) need to look seriously into future fund-raising since support from the ‘Big Bolton Fund’ / CVS has diminished and is likely to be further cut in future. In addition many funders are refusing repeat applications within a set period.

CVS grant advisors are advising even medium size groups to look at designating a fundraising officer or committee and to make maximum use of e.g. the Fundraising portals that Bolton CVS and GMCVO operate



Any other business

Smedley Avenue had been told by a representative of “Allotments” that they were not to create and let ‘half-plots’. This would contravene previous policy and we shall seek clarification from MR.



There seems a gap in procedures in that when a tenant voluntarily terminates an agreement areas of confusion can arise

By what date does the tenant have to vacate the plot and remove their property – one tenant had claimed that he did not need to do this until October and could just leave his plot untended with any property on it until that date (even though Allotments had informed the site that the plot could be relet.)

There still seem to be instances when Allotments don’t inform Secretaries that a person has terminated his / her tenancy.



The question of keeping poultry on plots was raised.

As abas understands the new procedures, if someone wants to keep between 3 and 12 birds on a plot, then all the site society need / can do is ensure they are meeting Council guidelines and notify the Council of the tenant’s intention to keep poultry.



One Society stated that, as a site society, they have voted not to allow poultry keeping on their site.

On that basis they would refuse a tenant permission to keep poultry.



The feeling of both abas and others at the meeting is that they cannot do this. The applicant is a tenant of the council and it is the Council’s rules that apply, and the Council permits poultry keeping subject to the Council’s own guidelines. Therefore if those guidelines are met the Site Society must permit poultry keeping.



ACTION AGREED:

The Committee were requested to submit a Freedom of Information Request to the Council to obtain details of expenditure and revenue on allotments in sufficient detail to allow members to create a rudimentary Income and Expenditure statement for their specific site and to ascertain the costs of e.g. water and toilets so that they can assess the potential benefits of water saving and composting toilets.



Dates

Our next meeting is on Monday July 10th and will be followed by:-

·         Monday August 14th

·         Monday Sept 11th

·         Monday October 9th

·         And the AGM on Monday November 13th

All meetings start at 8.00 p.m. at Astley Bridge Cricket Club








Monday, 22 May 2017

MINUTES OF 15/05/2017




MINUTES of the meeting of ABAS held 15.05.2017 at Astley Bridge Cricket Club

Present 16 People from 10 OMA Sites



·        Chair Jeff Gibson

·        Terry Farrell Treasurer

·        Carol Deplitch Committee Member

·        Phil Warren Committee Member

·        Alan Kay Committee Member

Apologies Dave Jackson (Secretary), Carol Barlow (Sapling Rd.)

All Members at the meeting expressed their Very Best Wishes to Dave and Margaret, with a hope for Margaret’s full and speedy recovery.


MINUTES OF 10.04.2017

The minutes of the AGM having been posted on the Association’s blog site and members invited to submit corrections etc. on 08/05/2017, the minutes were accepted as correct.



Matters from Minutes

The Chair reported that the minutes of 13/03 and 10/04 plus our notes from the Progress Meeting had been sent to the Allotments Section and the outstanding issues – Recurring Offenders and Failure by Allotments to inform Site Secretaries of BoT notices etc. had been communicated.



No substantive reply had been received by the date of the meeting.



Over May, Site Secretaries had reported a lack of response from Allotments to e.g. monthly returns.

The following specific items of concern were mentioned

·        Moss Lea Still awaiting a response regarding who has not renewed their Tenancy Agreement so that they can re let Plots to new Tenants

·        Tonge Moor Sent "E" Mail ref if existing Tenant has finished so that they can re let No response from Council, Also phoned regarding the need for new Locks told they should "E" mail the request - no response to date.

·        Smedley Av receiving no responses to their Monthly Reports.

·        Florence Av. Following the previous Progress Meeting with the Allotments Section it was agreed that they would consider the repairs to the Site Fencing and Main Road on the Allotments , No response or Status received.  



The OMA Allotment sites present stated they are continuing to issue their Monthly Reports but the only responses from the Allotments Section is "Noted". May Monthly reports still to be issued by the site Secretaries.

On behalf of the Committee, the Chair expressed our concerns that there is a lack of Support and Commitment from the Allotments Section to Abas and the OMA Secretaries, and it was evident that the meeting shared these concerns.

Members were of the opinion that they and Abas are losing Members due to lack of Responses/Support from Council. Members appreciate that Abas are trying to do their best but they have no real power and the Council is only paying lip service to co-operating with Abas.

The Council should remember that Abas and the OMA Secretaries are Committed Volunteers trying to make the OMA Agreements work and we would expect the Council to do the same.



Mr John Woods

Mr Woods was to give a talk at the last abas meeting.

A close friend of Mr Woods passed away the previous day and in the upset Mr Woods completely forgot his appointment at abas. Terry rang him the day after the meeting. Mr Woods was very apologetic and has offered to give the talk at another time of our choosing.



SECURITY ISSUES

There are increasing concerns about vandalism, trespassing and thefts from sites, sheds and greenhouses. Tonge Moor, Harpers Lane, Shepherd X St., Tonge Fold and recently Rawlyn Rd. have all reported problems.

Florence Av. expressed concern that the reported gap in the gap in their fence had still not been repaired.

Various suggestions were put forward by those present:

Maintain and Repair Existing Fencing, (get the Council to maintain and repair perimeter fencing on Allotment Sites)

Report and obtain an incident number from the Police for very incident

Contact the Local Police/PCOs to request assistance on Security

Install remote Security Cameras.

Use Anti Vandal Paint.



Abas to contact GMP requesting suggestions as to how to reduce Break ins and thefts.



GM Spatial Plan

It is now reported that Andy Burnham the newly elected Mayor of Greater Manchester has appointed the Mayor of Salford Paul Bennet to establish a team to re write the Spatial Plan with an emphasis on reducing the planned Housing development on Green Belt Land , Building more “Truly Affording Housing”, and a shift away from Housing on Main Roads to building in wards revitalising Town Centres with the improvements made to Bury Town Centre as an example.



ABAS ALLOTMENTS COMPETITIONS

We are again organising the Fairhurst, Greenhalgh, New Tenant and Rosebowl Competitions.

We hope as many sites as possible will enter plot-holders in these competitions

Judging will be in June and July (the scoring system is set out as part of the 13.03 minutes on the blog-site)

Forms etc. available via Terry



ABAS ONION, LEEK AND VEGETABLE SHOW



The Show will be held at Trinity Church, Tonge Fold

The date is Saturday 12th August

The list of classes is given on the blog-site

We need sponsorship for the various classes - £10 per class is suggested – the closing date for sponsorship is the June abas meeting



PHOTOGRAPHIC EXHIBITION

We have received no interest / communication etc. about the proposed Photographic / Art Exhibition to be held in conjunction with the Annual Show

Therefore we shall not take this idea forward for 2017.



WHAT’S ON?

Could members please remember to advise us of any events, shows or functions that you are planning  for 2017 and we’ll put them on our blog page as well as trying to get wider publicity.



NWCAA

Members were reminded that the minutes of the North-Western Counties Allotments Association AGM held at Stanley Park, Blackpool on 25th March are now available on the Association’s website (see below) - www.nwcallotmentassociation.com

NWCAA can be contacted through the secretary (Andrea Hallissey) at nwsecandrea@gmail.com

Abas’ representatives to NWCAA events are Terry and Jeff.



Grants and Funding Opportunities
Members were reminded that there are details of potential funding from TESCO for projects such as meeting rooms, chemical toilets, site and land improvements on the NWCAA web-site (Blackpool Federation has secure £13k so far with a possible £5k to follow)

Societies (and abas) need to look seriously into future fund-raising since support from the ‘Big Bolton Fund’ / CVS has diminished and is likely to be further cut in future. In addition many funders are refusing repeat applications within a set period.

CVS grant advisors are advising even medium size groups to look at designating a fundraising officer or committee and to make maximum use of e.g. the Fundraising portals that Bolton CVS and GMCVO operate



ANY OTHER BUSINESS

Harpers Lane expressed concern that when they sent an "E" mail to the Allotments Section requesting if they could have a Car Boot Sale on the Site to raise much needed society funds, they received a Flat no without any explanation as to why !!                 

Harpers Lane are concerned that they are trying to raise money for their funds but get no assistance to do so .



Following a conversation with Harpers Lane’s Secretary, Dave has subsequently (20/05/2017) emailed the Allotments Section asking them to reconsider.



Dates

Our next meeting is on Monday June 12th this will be followed by:

Monday July 10th

Monday August 14th

Monday Sept 11th

Monday October 9th

And the AGM on Monday November 13th

All meetings start at 8.00 p.m.



The Meeting Closed at 21:20












Saturday, 15 April 2017

MINUTES OF 10TH APRIL 2017


Meeting of Abas at Astley Bridge Cricket Club

8.00 p.m. on April 10th 2017

 
The meeting was scheduled to begin with a talk from Mr John Woods NVS.

Unfortunately a close friend of Mr Woods had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away on the day before and in the aftermath he completely (and understandably) forgot his appointment with us. He has offered to come on a future occasion to give the talk.

On behalf of ABAS the Committee would like to apologise to those who came especially to listen to Mr Woods. There was a large turn-out and we were all looking forward to his talk.



After waiting some moments we decided to begin with a Request for Help from St Thomas of Canterbury Primary School. The School is looking for a couple of mentors / advisors to assist a group of parents / pupils in creating a growing area on land owned by the school. If anyone is interested they should contact Charlotte on charlotte.riu@sky.com



MINUTES OF 13.03.2017

The minutes of the AGM having been posted on the Association’s blog site for the required period members were asked:-

1. Are there any points anyone wishes to raise?

2. Can we move that the minutes be accepted?

3. Are there any matters arising / remaining?



It was noted that there was an omission in the record regarding a suggestion as to how to deal with situations in which a prospective tenant repeatedly reaches the top of the waiting list and then says they are not ready to take on a plot. They are then placed at the bottom of the waiting list but at some sites with very short waiting lists they then rapidly come to the top again only to repeat the process. A favoured suggestion was that some ‘marker’ be placed on their file so that they had to contact the Council to say they were now ready to take on a plot before their name was submitted to the Site Secretary. Failing such a mechanism it was argued that after three ‘refusals’ the Site Secretary should request through the monthly report that they be removed from the waiting list.



Matters from Minutes

A copy of the minutes had been sent to the Allotments Section, highlighting the outstanding issues – Recurring Offenders and Failure by Allotments to inform Site Secretaries of BoT notices etc.

As of 10/04/2017 no reply had been received

We understand that the section had an “Allotments Day” as catch up about 7-10 days ago, which resulted in a number of outstanding issues being dealt with.

FOLLOW-UP ON PROGRESS MEETING OF 13.03.2017
There has been no further communication from Malcolm Russell or the Allotments Section on matters arising from the Progress Meeting.

Florence Avenue have also had no further communication regarding their car park issues.

In the meantime we urge all member societies to study the advisory notes that came out of that meeting on BoTs, probationers etc.

A draft ‘contract’ to be given to probationers has been drawn up by Sapling Road Allotment Society. It is suggested that this form the basis for a form to be used by all sites.

*************************************************************************

PROBATIONER’S FORM – to be signed by the Probationer and the Site Secretary

I ……………………………………………………. Agree to work plot ##### at (name of site) for a period of …. Weeks commencing ………………………. on a rent free basis.



If at the end of the …. week trial period the plot has (in the opinion of the site committee) been adequately prepared for growing and is in a suitable condition, then I will be registered by Bolton Council for the tenancy of that plot.

No structures (Sheds, Greenhouses, Poly-tunnels or anything the Committee deem to be a structure) or any livestock, are to be erected / brought onto the plot during the probationary period.

I understand that if/when I receive my tenancy agreement from the Council, I will need to ask permission from the site committee to erect any structures and that any such structures must meet the guidelines laid down by the Council. Similarly permission must be sought for the keeping of chickens and / or rabbits.



Signed ……………………………………………………………………

Probationary Plot-holder



Signed …………………………………………………………………………

Site Secretary

******************************************************************************

It was also agreed that the correct way to end a successful probationary period is for the Site Secretary to complete a Tenancy Registration Form with the successful plot-holder and then to send that form (attached to the monthly report) to the Council. Site Secretaries were advised to keep a copy of such documents on files.

Current Waiting Lists

The following was repeated from the minutes of 13.03.2017

The current waiting list stands at 483 – this is historically very high

The Council believe it is a distortion due to

1.      The new application system is very easy to use and encourages less than committed applications

2.      The Council believe a number of people on their waiting list were offered probationary slots during the winter – please inform the Allotments section of anyone who has been offered such a plot on your site

3.      There also appear to be a number of multiple applications.

4.      Some people have submitted 2 or 3 applications each for a different site

5.      Some related people living at the same address have submitted individual applications for plots. The Council will exercise sensitivity in respect of this group due to the complications arising from extended families, houses in multiple occupation etc.



GM Spatial Plan

The results from the consultation exercise are now under review by GMC, some 25,000 responses / objections were received from the general public regarding these proposals and the response time is to be extended

ABAS ALLOTMENTS COMPETITIONS

We are again organising the Fairhurst, Greenhalgh, New Tenant and Rosebowl Competitions.

We hope as many sites as possible will enter plot-holders in these competitions

Judging will be in June and July (the scoring system is set out as part of the 13.03 minutes on the blog-site)

Entry forms etc. available via Terry

Site Secretaries were reminded that when entering any plot-holder into the competitions they should ensure that the entry form gives that person’s contact details. Also that any plot entered is clearly physically marked with its plot number so that the judges may correctly identify it.

ABAS ONION, LEEK AND VEGETABLE SHOW

The Show will be held at Trinity Church, Tonge Fold

The date is Saturday 12th August

The list of classes is given on the blog-site



We need sponsorship for the various classes - £10 per class is suggested – the closing date for sponsorship is the June abas meeting – please contact Terry if you or your society can sponsor a class.

PHOTOGRAPHIC EXHIBITION

It had been suggested that we should hold a photographic competition (on an allotment related theme) to coincide with the Onion, Leek and Vegetable Show. The idea was that it would be displayed in the large space outside the judging hall.

We need help if this exhibition is to be held but we have received no interest / communication etc. about the proposed Photographic Exhibition.

Can anyone interested please contact the association otherwise we will be forced to drop the idea

Grant Funding



Abas has been successful in obtaining funding to support the competitions and show from:

·        The University Of Bolton

·        J Maher

If approved we will seek funding for the photo competition



WHAT’S ON?

Could members please advise us of any events, shows or functions that you are planning for 2017 and we’ll put them on our blog page as well as trying to get wider publicity.

Please note that Sapling Road will be holding their Annual Open Day on the 5th August 2017.

Also, Florence Avenue will be holding a Summer Festival on 10th June from 12 – 4.00 p.m.

NWCAA

The North-Western Counties Allotments Association held its AGM at Stanley Park, Blackpool on 25th March.

NWCAA will publish the minutes on their website- www.nwcallotmentassociation.com

NWCAA can be contacted through the secretary (Andrea Hallissey) at nwsecandrea@gmail.com

Terry and Jeff represented ABAS at that meeting, the key points were:

The Competition for “Best” Allotment Site in the North-West – The Dave Cartner Trophy – is being held again this year.

The criteria for judging and entry forms are available via the NWCAA website – closing date 31st August 2017. Sites in the Bolton area are urged to enter.



INSURANCE – There is a suggestion that the Public Liability Insurance held by individual sites should be raised from £5m to £10m

In the longer term Dave Morris (NAS National Treasurer) is looking into the feasibility of Negotiating Blanket Insurance Cover for all members of the NAS.

Members are recommended to seek Competitive Like for Like Insurance Cover.

Sites in Bolton use a range of insurers e.g. Shield and Bluefin. Some sites who are affiliated to bodies other than the NAS have access to a further range of deals.

It was reported that British Telecomm are allocating surplus / unwanted land for allotment sites. Nearest North-West examples to date are in Preston, Macclesfield, Frodsham and Glossop. It was also reported at the meeting that British Rail (Railtrack?) are pursuing a similar policy.

Grants and Funding Opportunities

The NWCAA website gives details of potential funding from TESCO for projects such as meeting rooms, chemical toilets, site and land improvements on the NWCAA web-site (Blackpool Federation has secure £13k so faar with a possible £5k to follow)

Abas believes that Societies (and abas) need to look seriously into future fund-raising since support from the ‘Big Bolton Fund’ / CVS has diminished and is likely to be further cut in future. In addition many funders are refusing repeat applications within a set period.

CVS grant advisors are advising even medium size groups to look at designating a fundraising officer or committee and to make maximum use of e.g. the Fundraising portals that Bolton CVS and GMCVO operate

ANY OTHER BUSINESS

It was reported that there had been a number of incidents of vandalism on the Rawlyn Rd and Harpers Lane sites. It was reported that following representations to the Police, PCSOs had been regularly patrolling at Tonge Moor and that officers had also had ‘conversations’ with youths on nearby housing estates.

There being no further business the meeting closed at 9.15 p.m

Dates

Our next meeting is on Monday May 15th   this will be followed by:

Monday June 12th

Monday July 10th

Monday August 14th

Monday Sept 11th

Monday October 9th

And the AGM on Monday November 13th

All meetings start at 8.00 p.m.








Wednesday, 29 March 2017

SHOW CLASSES


The following are the classes for the Bolton Onion, Leek and Vegetable (as last year)









MINUTES OF 13/03/2017


Minutes of the meeting of ABAS held 13.03.2017 at Astley Bridge Cricket Club

The meeting was attended by 24 individuals representing 13 allotment sites

MINUTES OF THE 2016 AGM – held November 2016

The minutes of the AGM having been posted on the Association’s blog site and there being no further points or matters arising, the Committee moved that the minutes be accepted. This was unanimously agreed by the meeting.

ABAS Vision statement - a reminder

1.      Abas exists to represent the allotment societies within the Borough particularly in relations with Bolton MBC



2.      Abas exists to assist in the formation of new societies and the maintenance of existing ones



3.      Abas exists to promote allotment gardening and local food growing in the Bolton area.



ABAS MEMBERSHIP

Currently Abas membership (in terms of signed-up plot-holders) stands at 447

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE FOLLOWING SECTION CONSISTS OF THE ABAS COMMITTEE’S REPORT ON ITS MEETING WITH THE COUNCIL ON 13.03.2017

REPORT ON PROGRESS MEETING HELD 13.03.2017 (between the ABAS Committee and Mr M Russell – Bolton MBC)

The key points to report are:

Allotment Section Budget – in two parts – the money they can spend and the staff time they have available – in terms of money which can be spent this is again limited to the amount raised in rents (the “balanced budget”), in terms of staff time this is not planned to change but Council spending / staffing reviews are continuous.

Outstanding Issues raised by members since the last progress meeting

Pigeons on Plots – MR is considering how requests by (non-stock plot) plot-holders to keep pigeons on their plots should be addressed– no decision has been made

NOTE: A number of procedures are in place to try to reduce the clerical work on both secretaries and the Allotment Staff.

Rabbits and between 3 and 12 chickens may be kept. The plot-holder should inform the society (or on a non-OMA site, the Council). The Society should inform the Council of any new rabbit or chicken keepers in the Monthly Report. This is important since the Council may need (as in the current Bird Flu incidents) to contact poultry keepers with advice.

The previous requirement to pre-submit drawings etc. when wishing to erect a shed or greenhouse on a plot no longer applies. If a structure is within the rules (which have been forwarded by the Council to all secretaries) then all that is required is that the plot-holder informs the Society who record it in the monthly report

There are also Council Guidelines / Regulations on the keeping of Bees – these centre on the Training and Insurance Requirements for prospective beekeepers. Societies also need to be aware that there are people who are extremely allergic to Bee stings and therefore Societies and the Council should work with prospective bee-keepers about the safe placement of hives etc.

Outstanding Breach of Tenancy Requests / Reports

MR believes that the majority of outstanding (pre-Nov 2016) BoT3 requests were dealt with. There may be one or two that have been delayed due to disputes. He is checking on these and also on non-payers.

Probationers

Abas and the Council have agreed to look into developing a new form and procedure to deal with probationers.

The Abas suggestion is that:

Probationers should be given (in writing) a date at which their progress will be assessed and a decision made as to whether they should be recommended for a tenancy. (Until they have ‘passed’, they have no tenancy rights).

The length of any probationary period should vary with the time of year, the state of the plot and the situation of the tenant. 6 months is the maximum.

Progress should be assessed at monthly intervals (in a similar way to assessing existing tenants). The criteria applied should be appropriate to the expected progress. Societies should take photographs as with normal inspections.

Dependent on the results of these assessments the probationary period may be extended, or the tenant be recommended for a tenancy or (in the event of insufficient progress) the probation terminated.

Probationers should not be given permission to erect new structures nor to keep chickens or rabbits until such time as they have satisfactorily completed their probation.

If a probationer fails an assessment, he / she should be informed (in writing) and should vacate the plot. Probationers may appeal to the Council.

Probationers should return any site keys in their possession

Keys

It is suggested that Societies charge a deposit of £10.00 for site keys, which is returnable when someone terminates their probation or tenancy.

MR confirmed that the Council WILL provide one set of keys for each new tenant, as needed.

Breach of Tenancy

It was felt that a reminder / summation of our joint understanding of the Breach of Tenancy System should be issued. Both parties would prefer the term Breach of Tenancy since it is both wider and better defined (by reference to the Tenancy Agreement) than the term “Mal-cultivation” – which leads to arguments about what constitutes “adequate cultivation” etc.

The system is as follows:

BoT1s are informal warnings given by a Society to a plot-holder. They allow a common sense approach to dealing with tenants who are either experiencing difficulties or who are causing problems to others. In an ideal world all problems would be solved by coming to an agreement at this stage.

Only if BoT1s do not sort the issues should the formal system be invoked and the Council become involved. (It is important however that societies should maintain a (written) record of all communications sent and agreements / undertakings given– emails are useful)

The BoT2 is the first formal warning.

The Society issues a request for the Council to issue a BoT2 (with accompanying photo evidence) as part of the Monthly Report.

The Council will then (if the evidence is sufficient) issue a BoT2 and inform the Society of the date of that issue.

The Society should then re-inspect the offending plot not less than 14 days from the date of issue of the BoT2. There have been some problems because Societies have carried out inspections (as part of their normal inspection cycle, usually a month after the previous inspection) which have fallen within the 14 day “improvement” period referred to above and thus the photographic evidence obtained (which Societies have used as the basis of a BoT3 request) is inadmissible.

If insufficient improvement is found at the inspection date, then a request for a BoT3 (with accompanying photo evidence) should be submitted as part of the Monthly Report.

A BoT3 is issued by the Council and is a Notice to Vacate the Plot. Once the Council has served that Notice they must give the plot-holder a calendar month to clear the plot. They will then “take possession”.

A BoT3 is not a further ‘grace period’ in which a plot-holder gets a second chance to improve their plot.

There needs to be some clarification about e.g. the purchase of e.g. greenhouses by new tenants etc. and to a degree about clearing a plot of structures etc., – however it is clear that once the notification period has elapsed ownership of everything remaining on that plot belongs to the Council and that the Council will transfer ownership of those items to the new tenant when he/she/they take possession.

Once the Council has retaken possession then they will notify the Society that the plot is available for re-letting.

The Society should not re-let the plot until it has received this notification.

The Council acknowledge that some problems have arisen in the past because they have not informed site secretaries of the issue (dates) of BoT2s, BoT3s and Repossessions.

Related points

Termination of a Tenancy by the Tenant

If a tenant informs the Society that they are quitting their plot – GET IT IN WRITING and keep a copy in your files. Inform the Council through the Monthly Report.

In such a situation arrangements between the outgoing and incoming tenants about the transfer of e.g. greenhouses and sheds can be made, provided they are concluded BEFORE the new tenant takes possession. If no agreement is reached the outgoing tenant should either remove the structure OR the structure becomes the property of the incoming tenant.

There will be occasions when a tenant (for whatever reason) informs the Council and not the Society that they are terminating their tenancy. The Council accepts that on occasion they have been lax in not informing the Society so that the plot may be re-let. Similar problems can arise / have arisen when a tenant has been “evicted” for non-payment of rent.

Some tenants simply abandon their plot, without word to anyone. Such abandonments should be dealt with through the BoT system (in these cases BoT1 may not be appropriate since contact cannot be established with the tenant.)

There is a related point here which applies to Secretaries having contact details for the plot-holders on their site. Secretaries should have contact details for all members of their society – indeed if your society is affiliated to the NAS then they will require you to provide such a list.

The problem arises with non-members – the Council cannot (Data Protection) provide contact details of tenants to Secretaries. Tenants can be asked by Societies if they will voluntarily provide contact details (this helps e.g. when there are break-ins) and Secretaries should take such opportunities.



Plot-splitting

When a plot becomes vacant it does NOT automatically have to be spilt. A Society shoud assess whether splitting is workable and desirable.

Remember Council advice is that:

1.      You should not split any plot so that any resulting part is less than 125 sq metres

2.      You should not split a plot of less than 250 sq metres

3.      Any plot created should have a direct frontage onto a site road or path



Remember that you can (re-)amalgamate smaller plots where this is sensible.

Remember this does NOT mean that you have to upset any existing arrangements / plot configurations where the plot-holders are satisfied with them. These suggestions merely apply to opportunities that arise when one or more plots become vacant.

REQUEST FOR ACTION

Most Societies have (as was requested) not been submitting Monthly Reports during the Winter.

Can you therefore (as soon as practicable) please inform the Council of

1.      Any tenant who has notified you that they have quit their plot (terminated their tenancy)

2.      Any tenant who the Council has informed you has had their tenancy revoked (non-payment, BoT etc.)

3.      Any new tenant who has been allocated a probationary plot

4.      Any probationer who has quit the site

5.      Any tenant who is being / has been recommended for a Tenancy Agreement



The Council intends to use this information to update its database and thence to reissue the waiting list and vacant plots information that was sent to Secretaries on 20/12/2016

Current Waiting Lists

The current waiting list stands at 483 – this is historically very high

The Council believe that the figure is distorted due to

The introduction of a new on-line new application system which is very easy to use and may encourage less than committed applications

The Council believe a number of people on their waiting list were offered probationary slots during the winter and will in fact be working those plots. (Judging from issues raised by plot-holders with societies there could also be a number of people who have been recommended by their Societies for Tenancies but who have either not been sent Tenancy Agreements by the Council or who have not returned those agreements.)

There also appear to be a number of multiple applications.

1.      Some people have submitted 2 or 3 applications each for a different site

2.      Some related people living at the same address have submitted individual applications for plots

The Council will exercise sensitivity in the latter group due to the complications arising from extended families, houses in multiple occupation etc.



< note from the evening abas meeting>

Members at the meeting raised the issue of ‘rotating applicants’ – as waiting lists at some sites have become shorter the following situation has arisen –

·        A name (or group names) reaches the top of the list.

·        The Site Secretary therefore contacts that person and asks if they want the plot.

·        The person says “not just at the moment” – sometimes for valid reasons

·        The person then goes down to the bottom of the waiting list (but is not removed from the list)

·        As time passes the person reaches the top of the list again and the process is repeated. Some sites say the same name(s) have been round a couple of times now, slowing the process of re-letting plots and wasting secretaries’ time. 



OTHER MATTERS AT THE PROGRESS MEETING

There may be some funds available to assist societies with plot-holders who are having difficulty accessing their plots due to some form of disability. Societies should approach the allotments section directly by email if they have such issues. It was agreed at the meeting that the issue of Florence Avenue’s car park would be dealt with under uch arrangements.
There was some discussion about unaccompanied children on allotment sites. Allotment sites can be dangerous places (there are frequent warnings issued by NWCAA and this is why we all have Public Liability Insurance (don’t we?)). Plot-holders need to be reminded that any children they bring onto the site are their responsibility and should be adequately supervised. Children should not be on site unaccompanied by adults (in extreme cases this might be seen as a safeguarding issue)

THIS MARKS THE END OF THE REPORT BACK FROM THE PROGRESS MEETING



GM Spatial Plan

As far as we can ascertain the 3 plot site in Chequerbent is under threat from possible housing development. We understand that this site is actually rented by the Council from Peel Holdings at present.

We would like to thank Cllr N Peel for his help in confirming this and also our Chair, Jeff Gibson for all the work he put into compiling information on the GM Plan. Abas continues to collaborate with other GM Federations and the NWCAA both on protecting existing sites and in lobbying for new land to be set aside for additional allotment sites to service new developments.

ABAS ALLOTMENTS COMPETITIONS

We are again organising the Fairhurst, Greenhalgh, New Tenant and Rosebowl Competitions.

Judging will be in June and July

Forms etc. available via our Treasurer, Terry Farrell. (Forms were distributed at the meeting and will be posted to those Societies not present.)

The scoring system for these competitions is as follows:

                                                                                                MAX POINTS     

A APPEARANCE OF PLOT (inc. condition of structures)                         20

B LAYOUT/ ORGANISATION / COMPOSTING                                     20

C BRASSICAS                                                                                             20

D LEGUMES                                                                                                20

E ONIONS AND LEEKS ( all onion types)                                                 20

F ROOT CROPS                                                                                           20

G FLOWERS (including Borders)                                                                20

H FRUIT (Hard and Soft)                                                                             20

I SALADS                                                                                                    20

J HERBS AND OTHERS (anything not included above)                           20

                                                                                    TOTAL             200

ENTRY DETAILS

Each entry must have:

Section Entered (Greenhalgh, Fairhurst, New Tenant etc.)

Name of Site

Plot Number  (also it is important that the number of any plot entered is clearly indicated on the plot itself)

Name(s) of Plot-holder (with contact details)



ABAS ONION, LEEK AND VEGETABLE SHOW

The Show will be held at Trinity Church, Tonge Fold

The date is Saturday 12th August

The list of classes is given in a separate posting

We are also canvassing interest in a Photographic (and possibly more general Art) Exhibition on an Allotment Theme to be staged outside the main judging room at the Onion, Leek and Vegetable Show. We need to assess interest and we also need volunteers to help organise, curate and set-up the exhibition. Contact us on boltonallotments2014@yahoo.co.uk if you are interested.



Grant Funding

Abas has been successful in obtaining funding to support the competitions and show from:

The University Of Bolton

J Maher

If approved we will seek funding for the photo competition

WHAT’S ON?

Could members please advise us of any events, shows or functions that you are planning  for 2017 and we’ll put them on our blog page as well as trying to get wider publicity.

GUEST SPEAKER(S)



Mr John Woods (FNVS) will give a talk on

“The Growing of Vegetables on Allotments” at our meeting on April 10th

This talk will be suitable for all levels of growers so please encourage your members (especially New Tenants) to attend

Other Talks

A talk on Bee-Keeping has been suggested

Are there other topics?

NWCAA

The North-Western Counties Allotments Association will be holding its AGM at Stanley Park, Blackpool on 25th March.

Terry and Jeff will be representing ABAS, and will report back at the April meeting

ANY OTHER BUSINESS

Members raised the issue of “recurring offenders” – those people who are at regular intervals receive either BoT1s or BoT2s and who then do the minimum work to prevent a BoT3 only to relapse immediately into their former ways and the process begins again. This issue has been raised at the Progress Meetings and we will continue to follow it up.

Some members also reported issues where some requests for BoT notices are not actioned and the plot-holders are leaving semi-derelict plots lying idle sometimes for years. Again this issue has been raised and we will continue to follow it up. We would urge Societies to issue BoT2s to any such cases they have and then follow the procedure outlined previously.

Dates

Our next meeting is on Monday 10th April, this will be followed by:

Monday May 15thplease note this is the 3rd not the 2nd Monday in May

Monday June 12th

Monday July 10th

Monday August 14th

Monday Sept 11th

Monday October 9th

And the AGM on Monday November 13th

All meetings start at 8.00 p.m.