Ealing Allotments Partnership
March 8th 2016.
Polygon, St Mary's Church, Ealing W5
Approximately sixty members attended the Ealing Allotment Partnership AGM along with Mr Chris Welsh from LBE.
1. Apologies for absence.
Tom Alley had sent his apologies for absence.
2. Minutes of previous AGM.
The minutes of the meeting held on the 18th February, 2015 were approved.
3. Matters arising.
The reimbursement of costs from LBE in the sum of £126 for 2014’s AGM costs had been received and are noted in the accounts submitted in this year’s AGM Agenda.
4. Chair's report.
Patrick Williams related the effects of the loss of a dedicated Allotments Manager. This was symptomatic of a trend across the country and was not unusual. EAP have had several meetings with LBE and have advised of the difficulties this will cause. The response has been positive and both parties are working to mitigate the effects. David Farrell has been playing a useful role in supporting the Park Rangers and Chris Welsh in the administration of allotments in the borough. There will be an increase in the level of self-management.
There has been an increase around the borough in community involvement by allotments. There has been an increase in the amount of ‘outreach’ by allotments with Residents’ Associations, schools etc. This has raised the profile of allotments with local councillors. A copy of the full report is attached.
Preliminary accounts for the year Oct. 2014 - Oct. 2015 showing a balance of £667.76 (copy attached) were presented by Joe Mangar.
6. London Borough of Ealing report.
Chris Welsh reported that another local management arrangement had been approved today (South Acton). He confirmed that the former duties of the Allotments Manager would be carried out by himself, David Farrell and the Park Rangers who would be allotments’ first point of contact for infrastructure matters, DF for administrative matters. It was LBE’s intention to have a meeting between CW and allotment managers, in the near future, to review and discuss procedures on lettings and enforcements.
A web-based information system was being introduced to allow the posting of information from sites. This was considered to be especially useful for the co-ordination and efficient use of waiting lists.
Ealing Council has been nominated for the Large City category of Britain in Bloom as London’s representative, something that LBE was particularly pleased and proud of. The next EAP newsletter will have information on entering the local Ealing-in-Bloom competition.
A copy of the full report is attached.
7. Election of Officers and Executive Committee Members.
The following were elected by the meeting nem. con.: Joseph Mangar (chairman, Horsenden); John Bradley (secretary, Blondin); Simon Higginson (treasurer, High Lane) and as committee members: Andy Doyle (Braund Avenue); Christina Fox (Ealing Dean); Tom Alley (Ascott); Patrick Williams (Brentham) and Michael Bunyan (Jubilee).
8. Any other business.
Nigel Sumner, from the floor, advised that the centenary of the Ealing and Hanwell Allotment Association would take place in June 2017. There were plans to celebrate this milestone and the meeting was advised to look out for further details in due course.
At this point the Annual General Meeting was formally closed. It was followed by a presentation on the provision of composting toilets by a representative of Dunster House Ltd of Bedford. Julie Riehl then gave a presentation on the organisation ‘Capital Growth’. Their site in Regent’s Park (Chester Road/Inner Circle) would have an open day on April 16th and would be part of the ‘Open Square’ scheme in June. Otherwise it is open Thursdays and Friday 8:30-4:30pm. Further information may be obtained from capitalgrowth.org including their ‘Harvest Meter’ that shows the monetary value of what one has grown.
There are three main items that have affected or characterised this year as far as EAP and the Ealing allotments community are concerned.
Changes in Site Management Arrangements:
The current figures for Council Sites are:
|Management System||Number of sites||Number of Tenants|
|Fully Self -Managed||1||192 (12.2%)|
|Local Management||8||564 (35.8%)|
|Council–appointed Site Manager||19||709 (45.0%)|
The major change over the last year or two is the increase in the number of sites taking on increased responsibility for their sites by taking on Local Management. Similar changes have occurred in the charity-run section with the two Pathway sites Northfields and Haslemere adopting similar arrangements. Early days, but these changes seem to be working well.
Increased Community Involvement:
One of the more noticeable features of the last year or so is the extent to which sites have looked to Council Ward Forums for support for developments on their site. One of the conditions for such support is the ability to demonstrate that the money awarded benefits the general community. This has led to an increased interaction between sites, their local residents associations, schools and charitable organisations. A useful knock-on effect is that, in many cases that sites have also developed a useful working relationship with local Councillors. Another area worthy of note is the increased interest of sites in the local Ealing-in-Bloom competition. Ealing has always taken a pride in its green credentials and it is heartening to report that it has been nominated as one of the finalists in the “Large City” category of this year’s RHS Britain-in-Bloom competition.
Loss of Ealing Allotments Manager:
Undoubtedly the main development of the year has been the abolition of the post of Ealing Allotments Manager. Alternative arrangements need to be made for the issue of rent bills, overseeing the rent collection procedure, the maintenance of site infrastructure and security, and the resolution of disputes of all kinds. EAP have had preliminary discussions with senior Council Officers alerting them to the problems involved. Clearly, any proposals will rely heavily on the co-operation of site managers and EAP is lobbying hard for their inclusion in any further discussions.
Ealing Allotment Partnership accounts for period Oct 2013 – Oct 2014 and preliminary accounts for Oct 2014 - Oct 2015.
|Closing Balance||£768.76||£ 667.76|
Ealing Allotments Partnership AGM, 8th March 2016
Ealing Council’s Update
Structure at the Council
This past winter the Council had a few successful meetings with the EAP Committee to discuss the processes moving forward. We are currently reviewing the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved in Site Management and are working towards clear and concise guidance moving forward. Rules and template documents will be updated to ensure Local Management Associations and Site Managers are consistent across all sites. Once the processes have been updated and agreed, the Council intends to host a meeting (end of March/early April 2016) to discuss the details with representatives from the Local Management Associations and Site Managers.
In addition to the existing processes, one of the key elements that developed from the discussions with the EAP relates to more collaborative working and partnerships. There are several great stories coming out from many of the allotment sites and sharing good practices and working together will only help strengthen the allotment community.
The Council were recently advised by ICT that due to server restrictions, alternative allotment software will need to be explored. Therefore the Council are considering the introduction of Colony Enterprise, an allotments database that provides all administrative and mapping tools in one place. Additional modules allow for the delivery of live allotment information about current plot vacancies, site facilities and images, and allow third party administrators (Local Management Associations and Site Managers) the ability to input their managerial information directly into Colony. Further information will be circulated to Local Management Associations and Site Managers prior to this being adopted.
The efforts made by Stephen Cole in his 12+ years with the Council have allowed Ealing to thrive into one of the best allotments services in London. Stephen’s positive relationship with the EAP has also been a key factor for the successes over the last decade and we are committed to ensure this continues.
Also, as we continue to explore how the allotment community can help each other, I refer to the concluding notes Stephen mentioned in the 2015 update below:
The more control you have of your own plot, your site and, collectively, all the allotments in the borough, the better the chance that change will work positively. And if you’re in doubt about what can be achieved, do take the time to read the Partnership’s newsletters and website, where you’ll see reports on the many diverse activities going on at our allotments.
Collective working can breathe sustainable life into allotments which we hope will not only benefit the usage but also the value of allotments.
Parks Operations Manager