Agenda and draft minutes

Exeter Allotments Forum - Thursday 21st July 2016 7.00 pm

Venue: Rennes Room, Civic Centre, Paris Street, Exeter. View directions

Contact: Daniel Smith - Customer Service Team Manager  Email: 01392 265370

No. Item



To receive apologies.


Apologies had been received from Bill Martin (STAA Pinces), Cllr Paul Bull, Cllr Rosie Denham, Cllr Rachel Lyons, Catherine Jowett (Trews Wier), Graham Yarwood (PCR) and Clive Wilson (Hamelin Lane)



Minutes pdf icon PDF 178 KB

To receive the minutes from the meeting held on the 26th May.



The minutes of the last meeting were circulated and two inaccuracies were noted; The sub-group exploring different management possibilities were asked to further look at options 2 & 4 and Dan hoped to be able to provide details of the management of composting loos. Apart from these, the minutes were passed as an accurate record.


Matters Arising:

1: Dan circulated copies of the management instructions for the Compus Twin Full Access Toilet. The chamber usually took between 2-3 years to fill, after which the pan could be moved across to fill the other chamber. The composted matter had always been intended for use on tenants' plots after it had been left to further break down for a full year. The resulting compost could safely be used on fruit trees and flowers but not it is not meant for use on edible plants and vegetables. This meant that there was free compost for any tenant who wanted to dig out the composted matter, estimated at 1 cu metre. The Parks Department estimated that the cost of emptying the chamber would be £50-£80, more to dispose of the matter.


2: Dan presented some figures for the overall allotment maintenance costs for the year 2015/16 and some discussion followed. David Hayes (Topsham) compared the figures with those given during the original Consultation in 2014. The income now appeared to be about £47,000 and the expenditure about £46,000. He asked if that meant that the crisis had passed. Dan replied that the situation was certainly much better but that the expenditure figures did not include the contribution each department makes towards the running of ECC. He said that  Allotment Maintenance figure included all maintenance including the clearing of very messy plots. Although ECC cannot strim overgrown plots, the clearance of all physical rubbish and unlettable plots would be done asap by ECC.

Sue Chedzoy (Hamelin Lane) said that of the 35+ plots let on their site, none had been cleared by ECC. Indeed new tenants who had cleared a very messy plot and taken the rubbish in their car to the Pinhoe Recycling centre had been refused permission to deposit the rubbish there. Dan said that he would take this up with DCC.

Ron Blakey (Cowick Lane) asked if a skip could again be left on sites, as before. Dan said that this had been open to misuse, with off-site rubbish dumped by tenants. There was, however, a possibility of there being lockable skips, with access policed by Associations on larger site this Autumn.

Simon James (MMAA) asked about the asbestos figure and Dan replied that the biggest clearance had already happened but that there was certain on-going specialist clearance necessary.

Ken Camm (PCR) thought that the water bills were high and wondered whether people were using hosepipes to water. Dan said that, although it is allowed to siphon water via a hose into a water butt, it is against Allotment Rules to water plants direct with a hosepipe. He asked  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.


Allotment Service Update

Daniel Smith will provide an update and give feedback from the recent visit by the student group form Phonix, Arizona



The feedback from the visit from students from the University of Pheonix, Arizona U.S.A. had been very good. They had chosen Exeter for the UK part of their research because it had a high proportion of allotments in a small area and were welcomed to various sites. Sue Chedzoy (Hamelin Lane) said that it would have been helpful to have warning of the visit. Dan apologised for the rather last minute arrangements made by the party. Their report would be circulated as soon as he received it and a second visit was anticipated. One suggestion made was that more 2.5 rod plots should be made available for new tenants. Robert Edwards  (Ashwood Road) remarked that the on-site letting and inspecting allowed for more flexibility and better judgement in assigning plots. Becky Wells (Cowick Lane) feared that offering too small a plot could mean that tenants who wanted to increase their ground ended up with several pockets on different parts of the field. Whipton Lane offers a 6-week introductory course covering basic allotment practices. Topsham had used a questionaire and FAQs for new tenants, which David Hayes  would circulate to delegates, but found that some gave misleading answers in their enthusiasm. A "Buddy Scheme" had had some success but Dan remained wary of these because of problems in the past. Dan reported that Whipton Lane had started to go self-managed and that ECC was pursuing that with them.



Chair and Vice Chair Update

Mr Bill Martin, Ms Faith Stafford and Mr David Hayes are invited to provide any update that they wish to include.



Faith Stafford (PCR) asked for an update of the Smart Water scheme. Dan's perception was that, since the scheme's adoption, there had been fewer thefts by either outsiders or tenants. There was a discussion about how to include new tenants in the scheme. Faith offered to decide on a couple of dates in October for people to join the scheme. The venue would be at Prince Charles Road, in the Trading Shed if wet, with parking at Morrisons.


Prince Charles Road, amongst others, has paired sheds which were originally supplied by ECC many years ago. The custom has been for tenants to refurbish their sheds together but Faith Stafford asked what should happen if one tenant refused. Dan said that tenants had a responsibility to maintain structures on their plots. David Hayes (Butts Road) said that, if they didn't, the shed became a "dangerous structure" which contravened the rules. Tenants could receive a 28 day letter. Ian Frost (Newman Road) suggested that the rules be updated to specifically deal with this situation. Ken Camm (PCR) said that many of the sheds on the site were in a similar condition. Dan said he would look into it.



Advanced Topics Raised by Forum Members

Item by Faith Stafford – management of joint sheds


Item by Sue Chedzoy – schedule for general maintenance



There was some discussion about a list of possible maintenance options, taking tenants up to a Level 2 Partnership Agreement. (This list, for discussion site by site, had been issued to St. Thomas Allotments Association sites at their request.) Sue Chedzoy (Hamelin Lane) asked if there was a fixed maintenance programme for sites where there was no Association. Dan replied that although there was no fixed timetable, the grass-cutting should be done in spring and again in summer, with a possible third cut later in the year. The composting loo was monitored by an on-site tenant (who was given a small remuneration for this task) and it was cleared when necessary. Potholes could be filled in by tenants using hardcore supplied by ECC. Sue asked that the long track through the park to Hamelin Lane site was repaired by ECC and Dan agreed. The Parks Department should do a water inspection when they turned on the supply to each site in spring. Robert Edwards asked about using ECC's potential bulk-buying capability to purchase, for example, black plastic to cover vacant plots. Dan agreed to explore this possibility.


Any other business




Date of Next Meeting

To agree the date of the next meetings:


·         6 October

·         19th January



Next meetings are 6 October 2016 and 19 Jan 2017.