EPSOM & EWELL ALLOTMENT FORUM
MINUTES OF MEETING
held on Monday 20th June 2011 at Epsom Town Hall
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.
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
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
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
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: email@example.com
Action - All Forum members
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.
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.
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.