Tuesday, 17 October 2017

OCTOBER MINUTES


MINUTES OF THE OCTOBER MEETING OF ABAS

9th October 2017

Present: 27 members from 12 societies

Previous Minutes

The Minutes of the September Meeting having been posted on the Association Blog-site and there being no corrections etc. raised, the minutes were approved by the meeting.

Matters Outstanding

Abas future strategy

27 questionnaires had been distributed and as of 08/10/2017 we had received 13 replies, all from member OMA sites

A preliminary analysis has been done

The questionnaire results indicate that members are (to varying degrees):

(Actual %s have been withheld until conversations (see below) with the Council are completed)

·         dissatisfied with the Council’s response to the Monthly Reports which are submitted by Site Societies under the terms of the OMAs

·         dissatisfied with the Council’s performance in notifying Site Secretaries when plots fall vacant and may be re-let

·         dissatisfied with the Council’s performance in regularly supplying Site Secretaries with updated Waiting Lists (under OMAs it is the Site Secretary’s responsibility to contact the next person on the waiting list when a plot becomes vacant)

·         dissatisfied with the Council’s performance in processing Breaches of Tenancy (particularly persistent mal-cultivation) reported by Site Secretaries

·         dissatisfied with the Council’s performance in respect of repairs and maintenance (including Health and Safety concerns) on sites



Action So Far

An Email giving a summary of the questionnaire results was sent to Cllrs Peel, Burrows and Watters on 21/09/2017 – a copy was also presented to Malcolm Russell (Head of Neighbourhood Services)

A Follow-up email was sent to ALL Councillors sent 28/09/2017

A reply Email was received from Cllr Nick Peel on 28/09/2017. He was “awaiting officer availability” and hoped to get back to us soon

Replies have been received from 9 of the 60 Councillors contacted. 5 of those 9 stated that they had contacted Cllr Peel. We are grateful for their interest, time and support.

A meeting has been arranged for 12.00 p.m. Tuesday 10th October with Cllr Peel, Kellie Hopkins (Asst. Director Environmental Services) and Malcolm Russell at the Town Hall.

(A separate note on that meeting will be released following our Committee meeting on Monday October 16th.)

Future Actions

There then followed a discussion as to what members hoped for / expected from the above meeting.

·         Members discussed what line the Executive should take.

·         Members discussed what might constitute a satisfactory outcome?

·         Members discussed what further actions they might wish us to take, dependent on the results of the meeting.

The Committee will continue to try to find out more about what is happening on non-OMA sites.

The Secretary repeated that abas is ready to help any site form a society and if it desires move towards an OMA. (Model Constitutions etc. are available and NWCAA has announced some possible grants to help in Society formation (see below))

NWCAA

Jeff and Terry continue to be our liaison with the NWCAA

Minutes of NWCAA meetings are available on the NWCAA website

The NWCAA also issue a monthly news-letter

The next NWCAA Forum is on 29/10/2017

Freedom of Information Request

This issue is still under consideration

GMSF

Andy Burnham’s office continue to issue interpretations of the last consultancy exercise.

These are regularly covered in the Bolton News and on the GM Mayor’s web-site

Grants and Funding Opportunities

NWCAA have small grants available to assist sites wishing to form new societies and / or organise events which promote NWCAA and /or the NAS

AVIVA have community grants available http://community.fund.aviva.co.uk

Abas Membership 2017 18

If we are to continue to be regarded by the Council as the primary spokes-body for allotment plot-holders in Bolton we need to maintain (and hopefully increase) our membership numbers – both in terms of sites and plot-holders.

Abas subs (£1 per Society member) are now due and ideally should be paid by the AGM in November.

Any Other Business

The Council has now introduced a new system EGRESS which they intend to use to distribute sensitive information such as names and addresses on waiting lists. Some secretaries have found this easy to access, others are having problems. Abas has not been given access to the system.

ABAS remains concerned about non-OMA sites. About 1/3rd of the plots in Bolton are on non-OMA sites. The overwhelming majority of such sites have no site Society and no affiliation either to ABAS or to the NAS.

Given current Council resources such sites may only receive a Council visit once every four years or so. Identifying uncultivated and abandoned plots is ‘ad hoc’ to say the least. Re-letting vacant plots is not systematic.

ABAS has identified this as a priority issue once the current “communications” issues between Site Secretaries and the Council have been addressed.

Meeting Dates

Our next Meeting is our AGM on Monday November 13th starting at 8pm at the Astley Bridge Cricket Club






Thursday, 14 September 2017

SEPTEMBER MINUTES


MINUTES OF THE SEPTEMBER 2017 MEETING OF ABAS

11th September – 2017 – at Astley Bridge Cricket Club – the meeting commenced at 8.00 p.m.

Present: 20 members representing 11 sites

Minutes of the August Meeting

The August Minutes having been posted on the Association Blog-site during August the minutes were accepted by the membership as being correct.

Outstanding Matters

It was reported that two questions had been put to the Head of Neighbourhood Services (Malcolm Russell)

Qn: Do Council Officers have to give a tenant 24 hours’ notice of their intention to enter onto a plot?

Ans: Strictly speaking yes, it’s in the tenancy agreement. However this is rarely an issue as the tenant is usually absent when they have cause to do so

Qn: What if a Society cannot carry out an inspection on a particular plot.

Ans: In such cases the neighbours will usually raise a complaint about the plot and the Society should submit these complaints on the Monthly Report. This will then be taken as evidence of a need for action and the Council will take appropriate action as and when resources permit.

Previous Backlog

We had been informed by e-mail that a concerted effort had been made within the Allotments Section and that the backlog of administrative matters (BoTs, Replied to Monthly Reports, and Tenancy Agreements) as it stood on 28/07/2017 had been processed.

Subsequent communications from Site Secretaries suggested that this was not the case (Abas had  pursued at least one issue and will pursue others as they are raised with us by Site Secretaries).

The meeting instructed the Secretary to follow up one particular Health and Safety case and to email Malcolm Russell expressing our concerns. It was also argued that contact should be made with the Ward Councillors.

Some sites reported that BoTs had been processed. The Secretary asked that sites keep him informed when actions result from the submission of Monthly Reports etc. in order that Abas may have a balanced picture of the Council’s performance.

Abas future strategy

27 questionnaires have been distributed (we have multiple contact points for some sites and none for others) and as of 08/08/2017 we had received 11 replies (Two further replies are expected imminently).

Reminders have been sent

A preliminary analysis has been done and shared with Committee members. This shows a high degree of dissatisfaction with the reliability and speed of Council responses to site needs. There was a strong feeling that the Council is failing to meet its side of the OMA agreements.

Members felt that the OMA Agreements had offered a possibility of a more productive partnership between the Council and the allotment societies, but that the Council had not shown sufficient initiative or commitment to the idea to make it work as we had all hoped.

Members present recognised that the Council has severe resource problems but feel the constant placing of allotments at “the bottom of the pile” when it comes to dealing with matters is not acceptable.

Members therefore instructed the Committee to seek (as a matter of urgency) a meeting with the relevant Cabinet and Executive members and also the Head of Neighbourhood Services.

Members also instructed the Committee to contact all elected members to inform them of the feelings of the allotments community.

Site Secretaries were also encouraged to contact their own Ward Councillors to start a dialogue. IT was pointed out that a problem is that while a site may be in one Ward, the plot-holders may be drawn from several. Abas has had similar difficulties in the past contacting MPs about cross-Borough matters, MPs demand a reply address within their own constituencies.

Freedom of Information Request

Unfortunately due to a range of domestic and other commitments the Committee had not had time to analyse the information received from the 2 FoI requests. We will try to get on with this as soon as time permits

Risk Assessments

Tonge Moor Road Allotments Society had drawn up some Risk Assessment documents – which cover Health and Safety requirements etc.

With Tonge Moor’s agreement these will now be placed on the blog site.

GM Spatial Plan

The position on the GMSF is

A Lead team has been established to re-write the Plan. This team will be lead by Paul Dennett – Salford City Mayor
Initial Results of 1st Consultation (based on 27,000 responses) will be published in Sept 2017
Second draft of GMSP to be developed from Jan onwards
Publication of 2nd Draft – June 2018
Followed by a 12-week consultation period

Members were urged to keep up to date with developments via http://greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk which is Andy Burnham’s mayoral website.

Abas is trying (with the assistance of NWCAA and others) to obtain data on existing allotment provision in Greater Manchester. So far 4 authorities have responded. Whilst this initiative has some connections to the GM response (lead by Don Booth – Salford) it is also needed to support pressure for new / improved provision in Bolton itself. Preliminary results suggest Bolton is ‘middling’ in terms of provision in Greater Manchester.

NWCAA
Jeff and Terry continue to be our liaison with the NWCAA
Minutes of NWCAA meetings are available on the NWCAA website
The NWCAA also issue a monthly news-letter

Grants and Funding Opportunities
We have identified no new opportunities since the July meeting
We would however continue to urge Societies to use Bolton CVS and GMCVO portals to look for opportunities.
The National Allotment Gardens Trust is also a possibility
The CVS have re-opened the ‘Big Bolton Fund’ for applications – see CVS website
Age Concern may be able to help identify sources of funding for e.g. disabled access – yasminholgeth@ageuk.org.uk

Abas Membership 2017 18
If we are to continue to be regarded by the Council as the primary spokes-body for allotment plot-holders in Bolton we need to maintain (and hopefully increase) our membership numbers – both in terms of sites and plot-holders.

Abas subs (£1 per Society member) are due at the October Meeting and ideally paid by the AGM in November.

Any Other Business
Supplies of Chipped Bark / mulch etc.
Haslam Park passed on a contact who may be able to supply quantities of chipped bark etc. “Danny” on 078056 29352
Poly-tunnels
There was an enquiry about poly-tunnels and a number of sites confirmed that they had such.
First Tunnels and Northern Poly-tunnels were suggested as possible suppliers.

Meeting Dates
Our next Meeting is on Monday October 9th

Then Monday November 13th which is our AGM

Please note that the AGM will see elections for officers and committee. If you are interested in standing please come forward.

All meetings start at 8pm at the Astley Bridge Cricket Club






RISK ASSESSMENT FORMS



APOLOGIES FOR THE QUALITY OF THIS POST BUT THE LAST MICROSOFT UPDATE STOPPED MY PDF TRANSLATION SOFTWARE FROM WORKING - I'M STILL TRYING TO CONTACT MY SOFTWARE SUPPLIERS TO REMEDY IT - DAVE

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Bark and Mulch

Haslam Park has reported a potential source of free bark chippings etc.

"Danny" on 07805 629352


Sunday, 27 August 2017

Correction to MInutes

In the minutes of the August meeting we used a number of figures (to calculate the ratios of plot provision to population in Bolton)  which have since been updated / revised.

Using data from the bolton.gov.uk website
Our current estimate of the 2015 population is 281,436

The number of dwellings in Bolton in 2015 is estimated at 119,867

Hence number of persons per dwelling is (approx.) 2.35

(the Bolton website suggests that average household size in new dwellings is falling)

Hence given that Bolton had 959 plots in 2015 and a (full-sized) plot is approx. 250 sq metres

Bolton has (959 x 250) / (119.876) sq metres per 1000 dwellings or approx. 2,000 sq metres per 1000 dwellings.

The NAS target is 5,000 sq metres per 1000 dwellings (for new developments)

Hence Bolton is about 40 % of target.

There are a number of issues with these figures e.g. -

1. Can we assume all plots are 250 sq metres - is there a better figure available for an average plot?

2. Is household size in new dwellings the same as household size in existing properties?

3. Can we therefore use the NAS target as a guide to assessing the adequacy of existing provision? - we also have waiting list data which suggests a large and growing demand for plots

Etc.

But we're working with what we have - and we're continuing to search for comparison data across Greater Manchester


Thursday, 24 August 2017

Funding Workshop


Little Funds for Big Ideas 

Farnworth UCAN Centre, 84 Campbell Street, Farnworth, Bolton. BL4 7HH

8th September 9.30am - 11.30am

Are you looking for a small amount of funding to deliver some community activities? Maybe you're a new group with some great ideas but need some start-up funds.

This interactive workshop is suitable for any voluntary and community groups interested in finding out about small pots of money that may be available to support their work. John Aitken, one of our Group Development Officers will be on hand to tell you about small grant funding opportunities, both local and national.

Come along to hear about useful hints and tips to make your applications as strong as they can be.

Click here to book your place.

For other training opportunities at Bolton CVS, please click here

Thursday, 17 August 2017

AUGUST MINUTES


Minutes of the meeting of 14/08/2017 at Astley Bridge Cricket Club

Present: 15 members representing 9 sites

Minutes of the July Meeting

The July Minutes having been posted on the Association Blog-site and there being no corrections anyone wished to make or additional points anyone wished to raise, the Committee moved that the minutes be adopted as correct. This motion was passed unanimously.

Outstanding Matters – it was reported that having corresponded with Malcolm Russell our response is- (our views in italics MR’s views in red)

•A society had raised the issue of contacting plot-holders.

Where plot-holders are members of the society the society should have contact details as part of its membership records. Where plot-holders are not members of the society it may not.

Agree. Whilst the potential benefits of having that information are understood Data Protection does not permit it without the individual’s consent.

 •When a society cannot contact a tenant by any other means may they go onto his / her plot in order to post a notice or leave a note?
 Abas advice would be that it depends on why the Committee wanted to contact this person.

•If it was a BoT1 situation then if the Committee has no contact details for the plot-holder then they should proceed directly to a BoT2 request to the Council. (Beyond BoT1 all communication is through the Council).

•For any other reasons we would argue that the Committee should avoid physically going on a plot unless they have express permission from the plot-holder or unless there is an urgent issue of site health and safety affecting other plot-holders (in which case the Council should also be informed without delay).

•(It might be worthwhile getting members to agree that notices etc. can be delivered to their sheds / greenhouses as part of renewing their membership each year).

Agree

 There was further discussion of this matter – it was argued that in some cases in order to carry out their responsibilities under the OMA, a society needs to be able to inspect the condition of plots. In a certain number of cases this may be impossible from the site roads and paths. It was argued that there should be some system of implied permission to cover this. The Committee will discuss this with the Council.

It was also stated that under allotment regulations anyone wishing to go on a plot must give 24 hours’ notice to the tenant of their intention to do so. This apparently also covers Council officials. 

 •We were asked what procedure should be followed if a complaint is received about the welfare of poultry being kept on plots – a plot-holder had approached his society saying he has concerns about the health of poultry being kept by a neighbour. He wished his Society to take this matter up with the Council.

Abas advice (based on past conversations with Allotments) is that any plot-holder with concerns about the well-being of livestock should in the first place contact the RSPCA who are the appropriate organisation to make an assessment and if necessary take action. The only exception would be where there is an urgent issue of site health and safety affecting other plot-holders e.g. dead birds lying around (in which case the Council should also be informed without delay).

Agree.

•A Society has been approached by a non-member on their site who states that even though he is a non-member (and has refused repeatedly to join his site society) he has been told by “a Council representative” (no statement as to who this was) that as a tenant on that site the Society is obligated to represent him on any matter of concern he may have.

Abas’ view (based on conversations at past Progress Meetings) is as follows: Issues arising between an individual plot-holder and the Council are matters between tenant and landlord. A Society only becomes involved if and when the plot-holder asks for support / advice in which case the Society takes the role of an interested friend / advisor. The Society may also in these circumstances ask for help / advice / information and / or support from both ABAS and the National Allotment Society (if appropriate).

•Societies are NOT obliged to assist non-members and we would argue should not do so since any action they might take could be considered as not a legitimate part of the activities of either the Society or the NAS and thus they may not (under the insurance and related protections available e.g. through affiliation to the National) be protected against the consequences of any action they may advise.

•Matters affecting ALL or a number of plot-holders on a site are a valid matter for the Society to take up with the Council. The Society may also in these circumstances ask for help / advice / information and / or support from both ABAS and the National Allotment Society (if appropriate).

•Matters affecting ALL or a number of Sites are valid matters for ABAS to take up with the Council. ABAS may also in these circumstances ask for help / advice / information and / or support from the National Allotment Society (if appropriate).

Agree.

Abas would also argue that Societies should make it clear to plot-holders that the Society will only act for paid-up members in any matter related to any Public Liability scheme operated by the Society.

In further discussion it was argued that where a Society’s constitution expressly allows it, membership of a society may be withheld from any individual tenant on that site (e.g. for abusive behaviour towards other plot-holders or Society officers).

Previous Backlog

•We have been informed by e-mail that a concerted effort has been made within the Allotments Section and that the backlog of administrative matters (BoTs, Replies to Monthly Reports, and Tenancy Agreements) as it stood on 28/07/2017 has now been processed.

A number of site representatives stated that to their knowledge some matters remained outstanding.

Abas future strategy

•27 questionnaires have been distributed (we have multiple contact points for some sites and none for others) and as of 14/08/2017 we had received 11 replies.

•Reminders were sent on 07/08/2017

•We are at present analysing the replies we have but need more ……

The Secretary will send out further reminders asap

•Once we have a clearer picture we can start to think ahead

 Freedom of Information Request

•Following the July meeting we submitted a second FoI request to the Council.

•In that request we asked for more site specific information and also for clearer definitions as to what the various headings in the previous information actually cover.

•We received a reply on 11th August 2017 –as yet we have not had sufficient time to analyse that reply.

 GM Spatial Plan

During a discussion it was pointed out that the new Mayor of Greater Manchester had indicated he wished to reduce the effect that new housing development would have on “the greenbelt”. This might lead to the re-designation of zones for new housing etc. There was a concern that under pressure to meet Government housebuilding targets, there might be a greater threat of infill development on ‘greenfield’ sites within existing urban areas. This might include e.g. green spaces, community gardens, allotments etc.

Abas is part of a collective of the Federations within Greater Manchester which (lead by the Salford Federation) is seeking to ensure the revised Spatial Plan makes explicit provision for the setting aside of allotment land within developments. The target provision (as suggested by the NAS) is 5000 square metres of allotment space per 1000 new dwellings.

We believe that new allotment sites should be sited wherever possible close to the areas where potential plot-holders live with due attention to accessibility on foot and by public transport. There are already difficulties about the distribution of allotment sites within Bolton.

The Committee was asked whether they had statistics showing how Bolton’s figures for plots provided per 1000 inhabitants / 1000 dwellings compared to those of the other Councils of Greater Manchester. The Committee do not but will look into this matter.

Since the meeting, the Bolton News has reported (BN Thursday August 17th page 2) that “a new version of the controversial housing blueprint …. will be published next June.”

Following the publication of this second draft (in June 2018) there will be another 12 week public consultation. Paul Dennett, Mayor of Salford, is leading the rewrite.

NB In 2015 the population of Bolton was estimated at 280,400 and there were 959 plots. This gives a ratio of 3.4 plots per 1000 population (or about 800-850 square metres per 1000 population). If we use 2.4 persons per dwelling this gives 1900 to 2000 square metres per dwelling, about 40% of the NAS’s suggested provision for new developments.

Abas Allotments Competitions

•Some 30 entries were received from 7 sites, the results are:

FairhurstTrophy

•First, Dave and Debbie Urmston of Sapling Road Allotments

•Second, Jean and Roy Dyson of Sapling Road Allotments

•Third Alan Kay, of Smedley Av. Allotments


Fred GreenhalghTrophy

•First Mike and Mary Marsh, of NasmythStreet Allotments, Horwich

•Second Phil Woods of Sapling Road Allotments

•Third Mrs Patricia Keenan of Moss Lea Allotments


Best New Tenants Trophy

•First Heidi Kelly of Smedley Av. Allotments

•Second Sandra Hill of Settle Street Allotments.

•Third David Day of Tonge Moor Road Allotments .


Rose Bowl Competition 2017

•First, Tonge Fold Allotments

•Second, Dealey Road Allotments

•Third Moss Lea Allotments

•Fourth Tonge Moor Allotments

•Congratulations to all prize winners and our thanks to J Maher Limited for providing the prizes. Our thanks also to Jeff Gibson, Terry Farrell, George Wilde and Richard Hayes for judging the competitions.



Onion, Leek and Vegetable Show.

Bolton's Onion Leek and Vegetable Show organised by the Association of Bolton Allotment Societies [Abas] took place at the Trinity Methodist Church in Tonge Fold on Saturday the 12th August.

The Show with its 25 classes of varied Vegetables attracted over 112 entries on the day and was a resounding success. The entries were judged by Mr Kevin Knowles FNVS of the National Vegetable Society who said that the quality of the Vegetables was of an extremely high standard.

The Prizes for the Vegetable Show were sponsored by the University of Bolton and a number of individual Allotment Societies. On the day Dr Zubair Hanslot, Provost of the University of Bolton, presented the awards.

The Secretaries’ Shield was awarded to Jeff Gibson of Little Lever for the Most Points awarded in Show and the Bolton Allotment Council Challenge Trophy was awarded to Dorothy Kay of Tonge Fold Allotments.  .

As part of the day’s proceedings the awards for the Bolton Allotment Competitions for the Best Allotment in various classes were presented.

A special thanks to Vegetable Show Manager Terry Farrell, Show Secretary Margaret Farrell and the show committee who put on a first class show.

What’s On –on Allotment Sites

•AUGUST 26TH –MOSS LEA ALLOTMENTS OPEN DAY

•SEPTEMBER 3RD –HARPERS LANE ALLOTMENTS OPEN DAY

•SEPTEMBER 9TH –FLORENCE AVENUE ALLOTMENTS OPEN DAY

•SEPTEMBER 9TH –SETTLE STREET ALLOTMENTS OPEN DAY

•Details of all these events are being circulated through the NWCAA .

THERE IS ALSO A TALK BY ROY LANCASTER AT BOLTON CENTRAL LIBRARY ON 30TH SEPTEMBER (11.00 A.M. TO 3.00 P.M.) – ENTRY IS FREE, BUT TICKETS MUST BE BOOKED IN ADVANCE – 01204 332853 Secretaries may block-book small parties.

NWCAA

•Jeff and Terry continue to be our liaison with the NWCAA

•Minutes of NWCAA meetings are available on the NWCAA website

•The NWCAA also issue a monthly news-letter

 Grants and Funding Opportunities

•We have identified no new opportunities since the July meeting, we would however continue to urge Societies to use Bolton CVS and GMCVO portals to look for opportunities.

•The National Allotment Gardens Trust is also a possibility

•The CVS have re-opened the ‘Big Bolton Fund’ for applications –see CVS website

 Abas Membership 2017 18

•If we are to continue to be regarded by the Council as the primary spokes-body for allotment plot-holders in Bolton we need to maintain (and hopefully increase) our membership numbers –both in terms of sites and plot-holders.

•Abas subs (£1 per Society member) are due at the October Meeting and ideally should be paid by the AGM in November.

Meeting Dates

Our next Meeting is on Monday Sept 11 followed by Monday October 9and Monday November 13th which is our AGM

All meetings start at 8pm at the Astley Bridge Cricket Club