Monday, 19 March 2018

MINUTES OF 12.03.2018

Meeting of the Association of Bolton Allotment Societies

12th March 2018 at Astley Bridge Cricket Club

The meeting began at 8.00 p.m.
There were 26 members from 14 sites.
Apologies were received from Dorothy Kay (Tonge Fold)

The Chair welcomed members and asked them to remember our blogsite at

Minutes of the 2017 AGM 

The Minutes having been posted on the Association Blog-site for an appropriate period and no comments or objections having been received the meeting accepted the minutes as correct.

Matters Arising 

The Committee will in 2018 seek to actively promote membership of ABAS. In particular we shall seek to contact and recruit some of our non-OMA sites

Since the November meeting Mr Phil Warren had indicated that he no longer wished to serve on the ABAS Committee. The Committee would like to thank Phil for all his support since ABAS was first mooted and express our regrets that he feels he can no longer be on the Committee.


Abas exists to achieve fair treatment for all plot-holders on allotments sites within the Bolton Borough boundaries. It seeks to achieve this through effective representation of plot-holders and societies to the Council and the provision of support to individuals and societies.

In the light of subsequent discussion we would like to remind members that one of abas’ primary functions is to act as a channel of communication between the Council (essentially the Allotments section) and Site Secretaries / Societies. Communication is two-way – Council to Society and Society to Council.  Quite a lot of what we do at meetings is to broadcast information on Council policy, budgets etc. and its implications for Societies and their members.

ABAS Membership

A number of societies have still not yet paid their annual subscriptions to the Association.

Current membership stands at 399 plot-holders, although the total number of plots covered by member societies exceeds this number.

The Secretary stated that it is vital that, if we are to retain credibility as a negotiating / liaison body on behalf of the allotment community with Bolton Council, we keep membership in excess of 500.

We urge all societies who have not yet re-joined to do so.


Outstanding Issues can be divided into two areas
#1 those relating to the provision of services and facilities at sites
#2 those relating to the management / administration systems shared between society officers and the Allotments Team

Whilst Issues in #1 can be addressed by societies through fundraising initiatives and grants, issues in #2 require a decision by the authority to increase expenditure (budget) since they deal with internal staffing, systems etc.

Members were reminded of the suggestion in November that an increase in the “allotment budget” might be funded by discontinuing the “Over-60s” rent rebates which was not favourably received by the Association’s membership. The meeting again repeated its suspicions that the funds created by such a move would not actually be spent on allotment administration and/or have any major impact on the poor performance of the Council with respect to administration (as referred to in abas questionnaire results).


The latest meeting was held on Thursday 15th February 2018
An initial report from that meeting was circulated to Society Secretaries on 17th February 2018.

The principal subject of the meeting was the revised OMA Agreement intended to be applied from 01/04/2018. The key changes to the draft etc. were spelled out in the abas circular of 17/02/2018

Following the Progress meeting an amended text of the OMA was received from MR on 5/3/2018 and circulated to Society Secretaries for consideration. There were no major objections raised at the12.03  meeting to the amended text.

Other matters included

Effects of new Data Protection Regulations (GDPR Data Protection Regulation which comes into force on May 2018) on Waiting List information (society secretaries who are provided with this information may be required to sign to say they will safeguard that information and not pass it to any other body).

Request for Secretaries to supply updated information on new tenants, probationers, those leaving sites etc.

It had been suggested that societies conduct informal Site Inspections during March 2018 – to be followed up where needed by formal inspections in April leading to possible issue of BoT2s (and subsequent BoT3s)

The Council had suggested that where applicants repeatedly refuse offers of plots – that after 3 offers they should be excluded from the waiting list. Secretaries should always note any refusals on the Monthly Report.

When making contact with persons on the waiting list to make a plot offer, it was suggested that Societies if, following an initial email or letter and a follow-up phone call (if possible) and then a final email, receive no response from the applicant then this should be noted on the Monthly report and the secretary should move to the next name on the list.

Keys and Locks – there is a Council proposal that responsibility for buying new locks and keys should pass from the Council to the Society. The Council will provide an initial supply of standard locks and keys and a list of sources for replacements. Societies could then move to a system whereby on the issue of a key to a tenant that tenant pays a charge and/or deposit. The level of such charges should be set so that the provision of locks and keys is not a drain on the society’s funds.

The Committee reported on a proposal for a joint push to replace the portable chemical toilets, which are available on some sites for 26 weeks each year, with permanent composting toilets.

Such a project would be ‘grant-based’ – some ‘central’ base to create standard bids with Council support over planning matters might be a solution and the Committee will follow up Cllr Peel’s suggestion that we work with a Bolton Council Grants Advisor to set this up. Other initiatives relating to water saving etc. will be investigated during 2018

Following further discussions within the Committee, we will be requesting a copy of the 2018/2019 Allotments Budget – suitably itemised

Bolton Allotments Competition 2018
The Fairhurst, Greenhalgh, New Tenant and Rosebowl Competitions will again be run by ABAS in 2018
Judging will take place in June and July
Judging Criteria, entry forms etc. will be available at the next meeting


The Annual Vegetable Show will be held on Saturday 4th August at Trinity Church, Tonge Fold
There will be 25 Vegetable Classes and lists and schedules will be available.  Copies of the list of classes were distributed at the meeting.

Terry Farrell has offered to visit any society to show plot-holders what standards etc. are required to show veg etc. Terry can be contacted on 0786 3933064. Members were again reminded that this is a ‘closed’ show (Abas members only) and that judging is to “table quality”.


The NWCAA AGM will now be held on 8th April at Greenhall Sports and Social Club, Alder Hey Rd., St Helens, WA10 4DN– Jeff and Terry will attend for ABAS if possible

Please note the new NWCAA email address:
The NWCAA website is

Members should visit the website to sign up for NWCAA Newsletters

On page 7 of Allotment and Leisure Gardener, Issue 1 2018, the NAS proposed to establish an insurance scheme to cover all members. More details of this scheme are being announced (via the NAS website and in issues of A&LG)

There was much discussion of this initiative and it was felt that:
·         as individual members we all need to know more of the benefits
·         as Secretaries and Treasurers  we will also wish to examine to how this scheme affects their current insurance arrangements e.g. with respect to Public Liability etc.

A member from Rawlyn Road with insurance expertise / knowledge is to conduct a preliminary look at the proposals.

Information Holding

As part of the scheme mentioned above the NAS stated that “Each Association will need to provide details of all their plot holders…. By filling in a template provided by NAS”. They also stated that this action complies with the May2018 GDPR Data Protection Legislation.
We assume that when they use the term ‘plot-holder ‘, they mean ‘a plot-holder who is also a member of the NAS’.

A plot-holder on a site is always a tenant of the Council and Council restrictions on sharing data supplied by them for the purposes of waiting list management would have to be applied (see earlier note)

A plot-holder may be a member of the site society in which case it may be politic to have them sign something to the effect of allowing the society to hold contact details (e.g. for use in a case of emergency) and share them in certain specified circumstances (e.g. if the society’s insurers require a list of society members being covered)

A plot-holder may (through their society) also be a member of the NAS – if so it may be politic to have them sign that their details may be supplied to e.g. the NAS using the template provided for the insurance scheme)


Little to report save that the Council anticipate Peel Holdings setting out their intention to reclaim possession of the allotment site currently leased by them to the Council.
This site has been the subject of a successful planning application for housebuilding.
So far as we know no other sites are in jeopardy.

We understand that Bolton at Home may have sold some former ‘allotment land’ to tenants as ‘garden extensions’ (3 small patches of land used as allotments which lay within the boundaries of “council estates” were transferred to Bolton at Home by the Council some time ago).

We also understand that Bolton MBC may be considering “selling off” some areas of “surplus” woodland and also that maintenance of woodland areas has been severely curtailed

WHAT’S ON IN 2018?
We will continue to maintain the section of the blog site that highlights events being organised at or by allotment groups within Bolton (and possibly further afield).
So far we have the Annual Veg Show on August 4th and we understand that Harpers Lane Allotments will be having a Spring Event / Plant Sale on May 6th.
Please note that National Allotment Week is 13th to 19th August – the theme is “Living and Growing”

To improve facilities etc. allotment sites need a financial input

Whilst fundraising events remain vital, significant sums are most likely to come through successfully bidding for and securing grant funding for projects

We shall be investigating whether we can work with the Council’s “Grant Funding Navigators” to establish some central mechanism for helping societies / sites identify funders, make bids and carry out projects


So far as we know the principal outstanding issues from 2017 have been raised with the Council and/or covered in previous sections


There was suggestion that we ask the Council to set up a system whereby there are monthly meetings with Society representatives to iron out face to face the issues raised in each Monthly Report. Whether this should be on an individual society basis and where such meetings should be held was discussed.

The Secretary reported that the Head of Neighbourhood Services had on more than one occasion resisted making any commitment to (regular) meetings with individual sites.  The Secretary referred to the former practice of Joint Consultative Meetings which had been discontinued by the Council on grounds of lack of staff resources.

It was also suggested that abas could collate the monthly reports before they went to the Council. Abas’ ability to resource this must be questioned.

There was a discussion as to the strategy of ‘constructive engagement’ currently adopted by abas with respect to dealings with the Council.

It was suggested that the Association should return to the topic of a ‘subsidy’ for allotments and consider bringing in someone with legal expertise (preferably on voluntary basis) to reconsider the legality of Bolton’s zero budget stance.

The Committee pointed out that this matter had previously been addressed and advice had been sought from the NAS some years ago. The opinion had been that our chances of a satisfactory outcome were slim.

It was further suggested that Societies should take a more aggressive stance on untended plots and consider simply re-letting an unused plot to “some guy who’ll try to make a go of it”

The Secretary pointed out that Societies are not landlords, we have no powers to issue tenancy agreements and that any person who took on a plot in those circumstances would effectively be a squatter and would (almost certainly) be evicted by the Council and replaced by someone from the waiting list under normal procedures (probably after another long delay).

The matter rests for now….


The following meetings are planned
Monday 9th April
Monday 14th May
Monday 11th June
Monday 9th July
Monday 13th August
Monday 10th September
Monday 8th October
Monday 12th November (THE AGM)

Tuesday, 13 March 2018


Green Lane Allotment site in Horwich are looking to source a 6' x 8' greenhouse.

Can anyone with a surplus structure let us know and we'll pass the message on to Green Lane?

Saturday, 17 February 2018


To all OMA Secretaries and others

Hello everyone and welcome to the new allotments year.
The first ABAS meeting of 2018 will take place on Monday 12th March at 8.00 p.m. at Astley Bridge Cricket Club. We hope as many of you as possible will be there (or send representatives).

Before Christmas we circulated the proposed amended OMA document. Many of you responded with comments etc. and these were collated and presented to the Council.
On Thursday 15th February we had a meeting with Malcolm Russell to discuss these points.
He is now drawing up a further amended version of the proposed new OMA (to take effect from April 2018). We hope to have a copy of this document to circulate at the next Abas meeting.
On the question of the inclusion of time scales for council responses etc. MR is working on this. He is investigating using a batch system for dealing with Monthly Reports etc which he hopes will improve performance and reliability. More information is promised for 12/03.

MR has also requested that secretaries examine the OMA forms pack (version May 2015 applies) and suggest any amendments that would make matters easier – please send these through the abas secretary.

One amendment that will be taking place is an additional line on the tenant registration form (which a successful probationer should now hand back to the site secretary who then forwards it to the council) which will state “I understand that if I do not return the Tenancy Agreement (which the Council will now send me) within 28days then I may forfeit my right to take up this tenancy.”
Tenancy Agreements will now be sent out in fluorescent yellow A4 envelopes so they can’t be missed! Allotments staff will also inform site secretaries as and when a tenancy agreement is sent.
MR also confirmed that it is the Council’s intention to move all applications to go onto the Council’s waiting list for an allotment plot online and that applicants will be expected to apply through the website. There may be a need for a change to that website before this is done.

Please note new Data Protection legislation means that allotments have been instructed that for the purpose of releasing waiting list information to sites there will have to be a named / designated person at each site who will have to sign that they will protect the integrity of that data.

Request to all (OMA) Site Secretaries – please submit (to Allotments) a Monthly Report in March (preferably early) which includes details of – any new vacant plots, any new tenant registrations and any new probationers – this will enable Allotments to ensure that the ‘Refresher Monitor’ / Site Updates are as accurate as possible.

It was also suggested that site committees may wish to carry out a site inspection before Easter and send a (friendly and informal) note to any plot-holders who have not as yet recommenced work on the plots – strictly speaking this is a BoT1 but there is no need for photographic evidence or to tell the council (unless you wish to add a list of persons contacted to your March Monthly report).
Site Committees can then conduct a second inspection in April which should lead to BoT2 requests in respect of any plots which are not felt to be being adequately cultivated. BoT2s are the start of the formal process and if ignored by plot-holders can lead to BoT3s and eventual repossession of the plot. Allotments hope that this will avoid plots lying neglected during the 2018 growing season.

MR also addressed the question of people who refuse an offer of a plot. Secretaries should always inform the Council (via the monthly report) of anyone refusing a plot and (if the secretary feels it appropriate)., the reasons for refusal and whether the secretary feels they should not be demoted to the back of the waiting list. Normally anyone refusing a plot will be demoted.

The question of those who repeatedly refuse plot offers was raised – it was felt that 3 refusals should lead to removal from the waiting list altogether.
The question of making contact with persons on the waiting list to make a plot offer was raised.
It was felt that an email and then a follow-up phone call and (possibly) a further email should suffice (obviously allow a reasonable gap between events)– if there is no response then note this on the Monthly Report and move on down the waiting list.

One proposal which we shall need to discuss relates to Keys and Locks. The Council wishes to move to a system whereby an initial stock of locks and master keys will be supplied to each site. Responsibility for buying new locks and acquiring key copies will pass to the Site Society (Societies will be informed as to sources of new locks and keys.) Keys will then be issued by the site society to new tenants. New Tenants should then pay either a deposit or a charge (to be discussed) for the key to the Society. Charges should cover both the cost of providing a copy of the key and a contribution towards the replacement of locks due to wear and tear / vandalism / theft etc. The net result should be that there is no charge on society funds. Systems similar to this are in fact in place on a number of our sites already.

Finally there is a proposal to have a major push towards replacing the chemical / portaloo style toilets used each summer with permanent Composting Toilets. The mechanism for doing this would be by each site making a bid to e.g. Awards for All for the funds to install such a toilet. The Council would assist in completing the documentation that is required by planning regulations and ABAS is to investigate proposed Council assistance in identifying potential funders, drawing up standard bid documents etc. Potentially some £9,000 could be saved on the Allotment Budget if portaloos were eliminated plus Composting Toilets provide an all-year-round amenity.
Other initiatives relating water saving etc. will be investigated. Together with ideas as to how the periods toilets are available on other sites can be extended.


Wednesday, 24 January 2018


Avian Flu has now been confirmed in the country and the Council has asked us to make all members who keep poultry aware that the national action plan has been extended (see previous post)

More information is available at

Monday, 22 January 2018

Extended Bird Flu Prevention Zone

The government has extended the bird flu prevention zone nationwide.

More info at

Friday, 24 November 2017


Held at Astley Bridge Cricket Club, on 13th November 2017 starting 8.00 p.m.
Present: 30 representatives from 18 sites
Plus Mr Malcolm Russell (Head of Neighbourhood Services, Bolton MBC)

Minutes of the 2016 AGM 

The Minutes having been posted on the Association Blog-site for the appropriate period and there being no objections the minutes were adopted as correct.

Matters Arising 

GMSF – The Chair has continued to liaise with other GM societies (through the Salford Federation)

There are no other outstanding matters from the 2016 AGM



1/11/2016 to 31/10/2017


Grant from University of Bolton

Members' Donations

Show Entry Fees

Donation from J Gibson

Prize Monies Unused

Subs 2016 (belated)

members' Subs 2017


Bank Interest



Computer Security

NVS Membership plus Medal

Printing & Stationery

Mileage Costs (Competitions Judging)

Show Judges Fee

Prize Monies for Show

Room Hire

Catering For Guests (Show)

Event Insurance

Engraving Trophies

Presentation Flowers




BANK BALANCE 7/11/2016

(current and Reserve)


BANK BALANCES 13/11/2017






The accounts were accepted unanimously

ABAS Membership

A number of societies have not yet paid their annual subscriptions to the Association.

Of these the majority had expressed their intention to pay their subs at this AGM or in the near future once their own AGMs have taken place. We will therefore review membership at the March 20178 meeting.

We intend to actively campaign to get more sites (especially non-OMA sites) to join the Association

Secretary’s Report and Report on the Progress Meetings with the Council

During the year we have tried when asked by member societies to raise their concerns and get clarifications of their queries.

A full Report on the Progress Meetings held with the Council and on related matters such as the updating of the OMA documents was given (in written form) to all Society Representatives present.

Copies of that Report and the Annual Accounts were subsequently emailed to any societies not represented.

A number of key points were made.

It is important to remember that:

Abas is not the Landlord (or Manager) of the Allotments Sites – plot-holders are tenants of the local authority, their relationship with the Authority is governed by their Tenancy Agreements.

Abas’ comments and advice on matters relating to policy and management are made in good faith and on the best information available to us at the time, (whenever possible after full consultation with the Council’s appointed officers) but they are exactly that comments and advice (unless we state clearly that we are simply repeating the precise interpretation issued by the Council)

As situations change we may revise our advice to reflect new information.


Bolton Allotments Competition 2017 – organised by Abas, prizes sponsored by J Maher Ltd.

Bolton Onion Leek and Vegetable Show 2017 – organised by Abas, with financial support from the University of Bolton

Liaison with NWCAA

The Chair reported on the last NWCAA Forum on 30/10/2017

Issues covered had been:

·         Concerns over Bullying have been referred to NAS HO
·         Widespread complaints of Councils “not keeping promises”
·         NAS still investigating blanket insurance scheme for all NAS members
·         NVS as an organisation


The Chair reported that Mr Brian Southworth was retiring from Rawlyn Road Allotments after 45 years on the plots. Mr Southworth has been a firm and valued supporter of Abas since its relaunch in 2014. We all wish Mr Southworth a long and happy retirement.


There was a general discussion on relevant matters

Points to note are:

·         Secretaries should only consider submitting Monthly Reports during the winter months if they feel there is a need to do so.

·         MR has advised that Breach of Tenancy requests (essentially mal-cultivation) will not be actioned during the period November to March.


The following were (re)elected

Chair Jeff Gibson
Secretary Dave Jackson
Treasurer Terry Farrell

Committee Members – Carole Deplitch, Phil Warren, Alan Key, Teresa Morris

Next Meeting

Our next Meeting will be in March 2018