Venue: Rennes Room, Civic Centre, Paris Street, Exeter. View directions
Contact: Sharon Sissons, Democratic Services Officer Email: email@example.com 01392 265115
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from Councillors Denham, Owen and Lyons, Daniel Smith, Becky Wells, and Clive Wilson.
To receive the minutes from the meeting held on 8 October 2015.
The minutes of the meeting held on 8th October 2015 were agreed subject to the following amendments to minute 22 when it was noted that representatives from the majority of sites informed the meeting that water is turned off in October each year and switched on a gain in the spring and Minute 25, when Councillor Bull reported that he had attended the Prince Charles Road allotments harvest festival and judged the produce competition and in both cases not as stated.
There was a discussion regard the possibility of holding a city wide allotments produce show it was recognised that some sites did undertake their own show and that any events would have to start on a small scale. The representative from Rackfields commented that perhaps other sites could join in with their show to start the event off on a small scale. The representative from Cowick Lane stated that he would be happy to receive feedback from the other representatives to see if an event could be put together.
The Deputy Chair and representative from Prince Charles Road Allotments stated that she was still waiting to hear back from Daniel Smith regarding the overgrown trees issue.
The representative from Ide commented that Daniel Smith had been able to come to their site to look at the issue with trees.
Neil Dixon (Regional Representative of the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners) is invited to make a presentation.
Neil Dixon (Regional Representative of the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners) gave a verbal presentation.
· confirmed that Exeter City Council was a paid member of the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners
· the management of allotments were changing due to Council cut backs and rents generally were increasing
· the document sent to the National Society was a good starting point to move from devolved management to self-management
· the current price for an individual member s part of an member association was £2.75 rising to £3 – this helped toward the running costs of the society
· advantages of joining were being part of the seed scheme and being able to go through the societies brokers to obtain the necessary insurance
· would help with a city wide allotments produce show
· many benefits to forming a Federation including sharing best practice and common problems and solutions.
The forum discussed the advantages of belonging to the society but has concerns that not all allotments holders would be want to pay the membership although it was less than the individual membership fee of £23.
Faith Stafford raised the question of allotments being available on prescriptions. Councillor Bull commented that this was an issues being explored via another mechanism.
The representative from Marypole/Mincinglake commented that more advice was needed with regards to the formation of a federation and the way forward.
Neil Dixon advised that the forum would need to work together to form a federation in talks with the Council. The Blackpool Federation was a model example which the forum could look at for good practice. He clarified that the Council had a duty to provide allotments but there was nothing in law regarding the letting of them. There was a lot of useful information on the society’s web site.
There was discussion regarding a small group from the forum to meet before the Annual meeting to explore progression towards a federation.
It was agreed that a sub group should be formed to look at options for setting up a federation including the aims and objections for a federation. Whilst recognising the short time scales involved the sub-group would report their findings back to the Annual meeting on 26 May 2016.
Chair and Vice Chair Update
Councillor Bull, Chair and Ms Faith Stafford and Mr Bill Martin (Joint Vice-Chair) are invited to provide an update
The Chair Councillor Bull commented that he supported the idea of a City Wide Allotment Show and felt that this should be progressed.
The representative from Rackfields commented that they already held a show and that perhaps to start off the event they could have some ‘open classes’ at their show. A date had not yet been agreed for the show.
There was discussion around the right time of year for a show and also possible suitable locations it was recognised that August was a better time of year for the crops.
Deputy Vice Chair, Ms Faith Stafford raised the issue of the format of the meetings and if there should be break group discussions sessions so that more ideas could be brought forward.
The forum agreed there was a need to explore the options for a federation outside of the quarterly forum meetings and for improved communications between the members.
Allotment Service Update
Roger Crane will provide an update.
Roger Crane provided an update he advised that Maggie Pickard was now dealing with a lot of the allotment queries. The ‘level one’ agreement had been signed by St Thomas AA on behalf of all their sites and was perhaps the first stage to setting up a federation. The waiting list for allotments had been reduced to 200 although there was still about 150 empty plots. The service had recently gone through a lot of change with the help of Daniel Smith.
The representative from Marypole/Mincinglake stated that Daniel had done a great job in taking the service forward with the help of Maggie. There were still issues regarding data protection and the sharing of information. The Chair of St Thomas AA expressed their appreciation for Maggie’s helpfulness.
The representative from Hamlin Lane stated that they had let 35 half plots in the last few months.
There was discussion regarding the clearing of overgrown sites before letting and if a fee should be charged for this to be undertaken or perhaps the plot let free for a year.
Advance Topic Raised by Forum Members
· Item from Graham Yarwood – Use of the MMAA proposed agreement as a basis for the formal Shared Management Agreement.
· Item raised by Becky Wells - Minute 27 Bonfire Timings - Further to the last meeting when the timing of bonfires on site was discussed. A suggested way forward would be that the changing demographic of allotments tenants means that many more work full time and not available to have bonfires on Tuesday afternoons during the winter months.
May the number of Saturday (or Sunday afternoons be increased to give all tenants an opportunity to have a bonfire at least one dry day?
The following item were raised by Members -
Item raised by Becky Wells - Minute 27 Bonfire Timings - Further to the last meeting when the timing of bonfires on site was discussed. A suggested way forward would be that the changing demographic of allotments tenants means that many more work full time and not available to have bonfires on Tuesday afternoons during the winter months. May the number of Saturday (or Sunday afternoons be increased to give all tenants an opportunity to have a bonfire at least one dry day?
Discussion took place with regards to bonfires timings.
Councillor Bull emphasised the need to compost wherever possible.
Roger Crane clarified that he would talk to the Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing regarding enabling bonfires to be allowed on Tuesday and Saturday from 1 September. If this was agreed by the Portfolio Holder. forum members would be notified. Roger stated that the bonfires must not cause a nuisance otherwise the timings of when bonfires were allowed would be reviewed.
Topic Raised by the Chair - Community Composters
The Chair, Councillor Bull wished to raise an item on Community Composters. He stated that Transition Exeter were unable to attend but that they were interested in setting up some community composting areas on allotments in the city for those residents who did not have any access to their own facilities to compost. It was hoped that this could be raised at a future meeting.
Faith Stafford raised the issue of bringing forward the start time of the meetings to 6.30pm with a breakout discussion session part way through the meeting and then a coming together of ideas before the close of the meeting.
Date of Next and Future Meetings
The following dates were noted, meeting now starting at 6.30pm until 9pm .
26 May (AGM)
26 January 2017