EPSOM AND EWELL ALLOTMENT FORUM

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					                          EPSOM & EWELL ALLOTMENT FORUM

                                 MINUTES OF MEETING
                      held on Monday 20th June 2011 at Epsom Town Hall

Present:

Peter Baines                        Epsom Common
Alan Barham                         Elmstead
Chris Barker                        Elmstead
Roger Cayzer                        Barn Elms
Sarah Clayton (new Secretary)       Alexandra Allotments
David Dowson                        Hessle Grove
Ian Dyer                            EEBC (Operations Manager)
Tania Haywood                       Kingston Road Allotment Society
Mike Madgwick (new Chairman)        Epsom Common Allotments
John Mander                         Kingston Road Allotment Society
Julie Morris                        Alexandra Allotments (Councillor Representative)
John Pearce                         Alexandra Allotments
Sue Peeters                         Park Avenue West Allotments
Jimmy Pigden                        Park Avenue West
Tim Price                           Hessle Grove
Clare Stay                          West Ewell Allotment Association
Mike Teasdale                       Park Avenue West (Councillor Representative)


1. Apologies: Kevin McDonnell, Gay Keeble, John Golding (who informed the Chairman that he is
no longer on the WEAA committee), Gary Daws

2. Introductions. All those present were invited by the Chairman to introduce themselves

- New representatives for sites:
Sarah Clayton, representing the Alexandra Allotment Group (AAG) was attending the Forum meeting
for the first time, joining John Pearce, who has been an AAG rep on the Forum for many years.

- Welcome to elected representatives - Cllr Julie Morris and Cllr Mike Teasdale are now the two
council representatives to the Forum, and this role replaces that of allotment site rep.

3. Election of post holders:

- Secretary. (Iris Rooney has resigned and the Chairman has accepted her resignation, leaving this
position vacant). A volunteer for the role of Secretary was sought from those present, and Sarah
Clayton offered to take on the post. This was approved by all those present.

- Treasurer. As the Forum does not hold funds, and does not have any plans to do so, it was agreed
that there was no need for a Treasurer. The Forum would review any future need for another official
post in the future,

3. Minutes from last meeting (10.8.2010) Matters Arising:

   Self-managed sites: The sites had to submit their business plans to EEBC by April 2011, and
   representatives had met John Vadgama. However, the draft agreements on self-managed sites was
   still awaited from EEBC, and the delay is understood to be with the EEBC legal department.
   Until the agreement is finalised, it is understood that the sites will not be charged for water use.

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   The Chairman suggested that sites deal with any local issues, particular to their site, themselves
   but just report back to the Forum on issues that are common to all the self managed sites.
   Allotment rents: Chris Barker had been in liaison with NSASLG but there had been no progress
   since the August meeting of the Forum. It was noted that EEBC now charge the 2nd highest rent
   per square metre in the UK, and the council that charges more provides many more services.

   It was agreed that the Forum would ask EEBC that any rental increases are in line with inflation,
   and that the Forum is given sufficient prior notice of any rise to permit debate, and to inform plot
   holders.

   Chris Barker (not present at this meeting) was to contact NSALG to ascertain whether they have
   progressed the issue.

       Action - Chris Barker - before the meeting of the Forum in October

   It was noted that the Forum has never in the past been given adequate cost breakdowns of the
   costs to EEBC in running that allotment sites, making assessment of the fairness of the level of
   rents difficult. Ian Dyer agreed to send the Chairman the spreadsheet showing the relevant
   financial figures, and this will then be circulated to Forum members as soon as possible.

       Action - Ian Dyer and Chairman - by August

   New Tenancy Agreement and allocation of plots: The position on whether new tenants are
   being charged a fee of £25 for the administration process of allocating their plot was discussed. In
   Gary Daws' absence it was not possible to determine what the EEBC policy is on this and how it is
   being applied. It was agreed that the Chairman would obtain the information from Gary and
   report back to the Forum.

       Action - Chairman - by August

   There was discussion about the current process by which new plots are allocated, and agreement
   that the current system is unsatisfactory. There have been some improvements, and a new flow-
   chart showing the stages of the allocation process has been produced by EEBC. It appears that the
   theoretical system is not working as well as it should, on some sites. Demand and capacity are
   still not being well matched.

   An area where the allocation process could be improved is where a plot holder decides to give up
   their plot well before April, or even at the end of the previous year, but under the current system
   this plot remains un-let until June. It was suggested that allotment groups could help EEBC with
   the allocation of such plots, reducing the amount of EEBC staff time by helping to show new plot
   holders available plots.

   Julie Morris suggested several allotment sites giving Gary and Sean a list of plots that were not
   being cultivated in good time before their September cultivation survey is done. The Forum
   would then ask Gary for the case histories of these plots, in order to better understand the process
   and why it is failing in some circumstances. Our two councillor representatives, Julie and Mike,
   may be able to help on this.

       Action - All site representatives - by start of September

4. Invitation to Council Officers to brief the Forum on any impending items that impact the
sites

In Gary's absence, Julie Morris has asked for a full report on allotments to go to the Leisure
Committee in the autumn. There may eventually be a new allotment site on West Park, if financial
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arrangements can be agreed with developers. The Stones Road allotment site needs to be regenerated,
after years of problems from the traveller site next door.

5. New items

Funds: The Forum has £59.16. It was agreed that this would be given to the Mayor's charities, as
the Forum has no need of funds). The cheque from Iris Rooney would be paid into the Chairman's
bank account, and he would then write a cheque for the same amount to give to the Mayor's office in
support of the Mayor's chosen charities.

       Action - Chairman - by July

Common site issues:
    Waste management. It was agreed that each allotment site can work independently on how it
     manages its waste, and that EEBC is content for sites to deal with waste as they think fit. Sites
     do not need to all do the same thing. EEBC has now bought a mulcher, which is a powerful
     machine that converts plant waste rapidly into small pieces, that can be rapidly composted.
    The mulcher, and the two men and two tractors needed to operate it, will be available to
     allotment sites if they make arrangements with EEBC for when it can be brought to their site.

         Fires on sites. The current tenancy agreement permits plot holders to have small fires on
         their plots, if necessary. There may sometimes be a need to burn material on a suitable
         communal area too. It was not felt that occasional small fires would be a problem for
         bees. Alexandra Allotments are planning to build a small incinerator, so that occasional fires
         on a central waste area can be safely contained. Members of the Forum had no objections to
         this, or to infrequent fires and agreed that fires are an issue for each site to decide themselves.

       Circulation of minutes outside of the Forum membership. It was agreed that the Forum
       minutes can be circulated widely, and either emailed to plot holders or put on an allotment
       site website, if they have one.

       Early outline discussion as to the way forward for the Forum. Forum members agreed
       that the Forum should raise its profile, and push the profile of allotment issues higher up the
       borough's agenda. There are already around 700 plot holders of allotments in Epsom & Ewell,
       plus an additional 200 potential holders on the waiting list. The Forum should be dealing with
       substantive issues in relation to the provision and management of allotments, and promotion of
       best practice. The Forum should be a conduit through which issues of common concern to
       allotment groups are raised with the Council, and not merely the means by which, through its
       constituent allotment groups, the Council disseminates information downwards from EEBC to
       plot holders. It is therefore important to have EEBC officer representation at all Forum
       meetings. It would be the decision of Steve Davies whether this can be agreed, and Julie
       Morris and Mike Teasdale would discuss this with Steve.

      Action - Julie Morris and Mike Teasdale - before the meeting of the Forum in October

       The Chairman welcomed input, ideas and suggestions from Forum members at any time.
       His email address is: mike.madgwick@ntlworld.com

       Action - All Forum members

6. AOB

Cllr Jan Mason:
It was agreed that Cllr Jan Mason, the new Chair of the EEBC Leisure Committee, would be invited
to the next Forum meeting.
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Action - Secretary - well before the meeting of the Forum in October

Actions being time specified:
It was agreed that all actions from Forum meetings would have a time deadline, which would be
added to the Minutes.

Keys:
Some new plot holders had not been given keys when they took over their site, which had resulted in
time being wasted. It was agreed that, where necessary or thought desirable, allotment groups could
be given a number of keys by EEBC, for distribution.

Alexandra Allotment representation:
It was agreed that another representative from the Alexandra Allotment Group can attend Forum
meetings, now that Julie is a councillor representative.

7. Date of Next Meeting

To be arranged - probably in early October.




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