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Allotment Committee Minutes 14 September 2015


Minutes of the Allotments Committee Meeting held in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Bideford on

Monday 14 September 2015 at 6.00 pm

PRESENT:

North Ward    

Councillor P Pester (Town Mayor)

East Ward:    

Councillor S Robinson

South Ward    

Councillor S G Inch
Councillor B Wootton

South (Outer) Ward    

Councillor D Howell

Pollyfield:    

Ms J Anderson
Mr A Mitchell

Tricks    

Mr K Jackson
Mr S Long

IN ATTENDANCE:    

Mr R Coombes (Deputy Town Clerk)
Mr D Hoile (Marland Chairman)
Mr D Maund (Handy Cross Chairman)
3 x Members of the Public

001  ELECTION OF CHAIRMAN

Councillor Inch was proposed by Councillor Howell and seconded by Councillor Robinson.

RESOLVED: That Councillor Inch is appointed as Chairman of the Committee for the coming year.

Vote: For: 9, Against: 0)

(Councillor Inch assumed the Chair and thanked the Members for their vote.)

002  ELECTION OF A DEPUTY CHAIRMAN

Councillor Wootton was proposed by Councillor Robinson and seconded by Councillor Howell.

RESOLVED: That Councillor Wootton is appointed as Deputy Chairman of the Committee for the coming year.

Vote: For: 9, Against: 0)

003  APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Councillor D Brenton (South Ward – personal).

004  DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

There were no declarations of interest.

005  PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SESSION

There was no public participation.

006  MINUTES

The Minutes of the meeting held on 17 September 2014 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 6  Against: 0, Abstention: 3)

007  MARLAND ALLOTMENT SITE

Mr David Hoile, Chairman of the Marland Allotment Association for the last twelve months, advised of the work carried out by Association members and volunteers on paths generally, the gate, hedge trimming, purchase and the distribution of water butts.  He spoke of making the facility a safe environment for tenants (and associated family members) to enjoy.

Two tenants had been given notice to leave for not tending to their respective plots, in accordance with their tenancy agreements.  

It had overall been a good year with five new tenants, full occupancy and a waiting list of three.

An initiative to encourage families has seen an “In House” plot competition, where everyone had a vote, with prizes for first and second placings.

008  HANDY CROSS ALLOTMENT SITE

a.   Handy Cross site update.

The Chairman of the Association, Mr David Maund, stated that the Site had enjoyed a really good year, the new field had been successfully prepared and cultivated resulting in an additional fifteen new tenants.   With a full occupancy there remained a waiting list of four.  The Hedges had also recently been trimmed around the Site.

b.   Lease Notice Date.

Members had noted the Landlord’s request that should they not serve notice by 31 March 2016 the Council would accept any Notice served subsequently effective from the fifth year anniversary of 31 March thereafter.

Proposed by Councillor Inch, seconded by Councillor Howell and

RESOLVED:  That the Council accepts that should the Bideford Bridge Trust not serve notice on the Handy Cross Allotment Site by 31 March 2016 any Notice served subsequently will still take effect from the fifth year anniversary of 31 March thereafter.

(Vote – For: 9, Against: 0)

c.   Site Entrance.

The Association Chairman stated that the Site no longer wished to develop an entrance incorporating part of the Stucley Estate but rather obtain a wider, taller gate that would extend up to the speed limit sign.  

Mr Mitchell indicated that a bespoke six foot tall gate with a width of thirteen to fourteen feet would be needed adding that the hedge would need to be dug out and rebuilt with a fixing post.  He stated that security would be an issue while the works were being carried out.

Mr Maund believed that he could arrange for a digger and that the new latch post should be set slightly back.

Subsequent discussion included variation of gates and where they could be ordered (including Market Place Tenant).

Proposed by Councillor Inch, seconded by Councillor Robinson and

RESOLVED:  That Mr Maund and Mr Mitchell work together in arranging digger, pricing gate, the cost to dig out and rebuild hedge.  That a budget of £2,000 is made available for the works.

(Vote – For: 9, Against: 0)

009  TRICKS SITE UPDATE

a.   Site update.

While the Site generally had enjoyed a good year Mr Long advised that there had been concerns raised regarding the hedge bordering No 1 Pynes Lane and the extent that it had grown into the Allotment Site.

The Deputy Town Clerk had spoken to the occupant who had instigated some remedial work, cutting back along the Allotment Site side and removing the detritus.  He had visited the Site prior and subsequent to the nesting season.

Mr Long while stating that the hedge was largely filled with ivy indicated that the resident believed it to belong to them.  He felt that further work was required as the overhang had restricted and indeed reduced the plot area for a number of tenants.

The Deputy Town Clerk advised that there were funds in the Budget to engage a contractor to further cutback the overgrown hedge.


b.   Communal wild half plot / seating area.

Members had received correspondence advising that a number of Tricks’ Tenants had indicated a desire for a half plot to be reallocated as a communal plot with flowers, herbs and water / pond to attract bees, bugs and insects.  

Mr Long had identified Plot 50 B that sat alongside 50 A currently occupied by the Sustainable Group.  Given that 50 A was gratis it was hoped that the Committee would look favourably upon the Community request and similarly waive a charge.

Members noted that the National Allotment Society had been approached and that their reply suggested that it was a good idea to have a small group responsible for the upkeep, “otherwise ponds especially can get out of hand”.

Similarly the Site would need to be mindful of health and safety aspects especially with children and families.

Members discussed the water hazard element and methods of eliminating danger.

Ms Anderson asked whether the (Council) insurers had been approached believing this to be a necessary course.  The Deputy Town Clerk stated that the Council had a good relationship with Zurich and would contact them.

Proposed by Councillor Inch, seconded by Councillor Howell and

RESOLVED:  That the Committee agreed to waiving the fee for plot 50 B in order that a group of tenants, led by Mr Long, would prepare it for (Tricks) Community benefit and that appropriate health and safety measures are implemented.  This would be subject to the Deputy Town Clerk contacting Zurich Insurers and the group acting upon their recommendation.

(Vote – For: 9, Against: 0)

010  POLLYFIELD SITE UPDATE

Ms Anderson spoke of the work to clear the Site, that half a plot remains to be allocated and that the new tenants were fitting in well.

She felt strongly that the Housing Developers had severely inconvenienced a tenant who had not enjoyed free access to (the whole) of his plot all year.  

The Deputy Town Clerk advised Members that the Developers had approached the Council with a request to enter the Site and build a wall to delineate the respective Sites.  They would not be encroaching upon the Site boundary simply underpinning the wall.  While a compensation agreement of £300 for a shed and replacement of topsoil had been agreed between the Tenant and the Developers, nonetheless the time taken had far exceeded what was originally understood.  He had recently met with the Site Manager and asked him to engage with the Tenant, given the extended occupancy.  The Deputy Town Clerk had advised him that the Council would expect the Tenant to pay the rent for the forthcoming year although his enjoyment had been somewhat restricted to date.

Ms Anderson stated that the footprint on the plot now covered a third.

The Chairman felt that a firm date for withdrawal from the Plot should be established.

Councillor Howell believed that the Allotment Holder should be compensated further stating the importance of the pleasure and wellbeing brought by working the land.  The Chairman added that the Council should be party to the negotiating process.

Councillor Robinson wondered why compensation was paid for the shed.  Mr Mitchell advised that it was situated in the area that provided access; he confirmed that the Plot Holder did have an alternate shed on his plot.

Mr Mitchell expressed concern at a fence that had been erected bordering Plot One and the housing development’s car parking area.

The Deputy Town Clerk advised that he had also raised this with the Site Manager adding that a fence of 1.4 metre’s high had been erected where the originally agreed compensation package had stated 1.8 metres.

011  SIX MONTHLY FORMAL INSPECTIONS

Councillor Howell believed that formal inspections by the Committee would take the pressure away from the Office Staff and would benefit the Allotment Holders generally.  He did venture that the Deputy Town Clerk should accompany the inspections.

Ms Anderson said that it would encourage new tenants who were often quite daunted when faced with poorly cared for plots.  A regular inspection regime would ensure that plots were being kept properly.

The Chairman observed that a number of plots had not been cared for.  He also felt that plots should be numbered.  Mr Mitchell said that an initiative had been tried and failed.  Mr Hoile, however, advised that this was practised at the Marland Site.  Ms Anderson displayed her number with pride.

Members felt that the inspection could be combined with the judging of the inter site challenge.  A four monthly inspection was discussed with Councillor Pester suggesting: March, July and November.

Proposed by Councillor Howell, seconded by Councillor Inch and

RESOLVED: That formal four monthly inspections of all four sites be conducted by the Committee Members, accompanied by the Deputy Town Clerk in March, July and November months.  The judging of the inter site challenge is incorporated into the July inspection routine.

(Vote – For: 9, Against: 0)

012  POLLYFIELD SITE NEIGHBOURS – DRAINAGE ISSUE

Members had received correspondence between the Council, South West Water and a resident neighbouring the Pollyfield Site regarding water drainage.

Reference was made to a blocked sewer pipe and resultant run off that needed attention during a summer weekend.

Discussion included the widening of the path across Pollyfield with the painted demarcation line indicating pedestrian and cycle users that effectively channelled water outside the car park.  It was felt that water was still able to soak through the grassed areas above and below the hardcore car park.  Mr Mitchell intimated that during heavy rainfall the water on the gravelled area would take longer to soak through and would run towards the gate.  He believed that the Housing Site run off water had been directed towards a stream.

The Chairman reflected that the impact of building developments on waterways citing the difficulties experienced within his own ward.  Given the authoritative advice provided to the Council, with no further course it was felt that an approach should be made to Torridge District Council highlighting the effect of the raised paint delineation line during heavy rain.

Councillor Pester left the Meeting.

013  NEIGHBOURLY ACCESS TO POLLYFIELD SITE

Members were advised that a resident had recently erected a fence that delineates between the Pollyfield Site and his boundary.  It was understood that the resident had accessed the Site over a number of years and twice yearly affected to spray an area with a weed killer (August most recently).  Further it was believed that he wished to have an area left clear so that he could attend to his fence.

Ms Anderson expressed a wish to plant perennial shrubs at the beginning of the Site to improve the presentation but felt this would be restricted by any outsize access area.

Councillor Howell wondered how the Resident had obtained access.  Ms Anderson stated that in the past it had been the practise of tenants to leave the gate insecure when on site.  This has recently changed and the gate is now secured following entry.

The Chairman stated that a letter, outlining conditions of entry on to the Site, including the details of the paint / treatment to be used on the fence be sent to the Resident.

Councillor Howell and Ms Anderson stated that the Resident should have to write to the Council, requesting permission for entry giving a preferred date and time.  The Office would arrange with the Site representatives to facilitate (entry).

014  LEVEL OF RENT FROM 2016/17

Committee members felt the level of rents for Bideford Allotments 2016/17 should remain the same.

Proposed by Councillor Inch, seconded by Councillor Howell and

RESOLVED: That the Council maintain the current level of rents for the 2016/2017 year at £ 25.00 for a full plot and £ 12.50 for a half plot.

(Vote – For: 7, Against: 1)

015  CLEANING AND MAINTENANCE BUDGET FOR 2016/17

After a discussion on the needs of the individual sites in the coming year, including tree maintenance and contingency amounts, it was

Proposed by Councillor Inch, seconded by Councillor Howell and

RECOMMENDED:  A budget of £8,000.00 for 2016/2017: the shortfall of £5,707.50 requested from Central Funds combined with an expected income of £2,292.50.

(Vote – For: 8, Against: 0)

The business of the meeting having been completed, the Chairman thanked the Committee for their attendance and the meeting concluded at 7.40 pm.




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