Minutes of CAHA Meeting 28th October 2015

Present:

Teresa Williams & Sue Harrison (Lon-y-Deri), Mac Burrows & Lynne Lewis (Llandaff North), Terry Ward (College Road), Terry Cooper (Forest Farm), Ron Wiltshire  Highfields), Judith Hill (Lady Mary), Philip Green (Allensbank), Paul Williams (Heol Chappell), Rullis McCarthy & Richard Dunstone (Lynton Terrace), Allan Bond & Penny Owen (Rhydypenau), Steph Jones & Marion Ham (Flaxland Avenue), Cllr Gareth Holden, Julian Goss & Roger Williams (Colchester Avenue), Zena & Robert Peppiatt (Fairwater) – Observers, Tim Haughton & Steve Watkeys (Leckwith Droves), Alan McCoy (South Rise)

1.Apologies

Francis Mullins, Dawn Gibbens

2. Minutes of the Previous Meeting

These were agreed as a true and accurate record.

Matters arising from the Minutes

  1. i. item 3 No points were raised. Alan McCoy agreed to send a copy to Terry Cooper.
  2. ii. item 12i Paul Williams has agreed to take the position of Deputy Secretary until the AGM in January 2016

3. Report back from LMA Monitoring Meeting

Allan Bond reported that this meeting had taken place, there were some discussions on the termination issue but very little was achieved. Termination inspections are still not being undertaken. The sticking point seems to be the distribution of money to Sites and there is very little movement on this. A further meeting is planned later in the Winter. The  ouncil’s budget meeting has been delayed until March. A new LMA is to be signed on 1/5/2016 although Associations have not received their signed copies of the current agreement.

4. Report from Allotment & Leisure Gardens Champion – Cllr Holden

Cllr Holden’s Report after his first year as Allotment Champion has been forwarded to full Council and been warmly received. He had been honest in his account and raised serious issues, notably a lack of resources and this will not change in the foreseeable future. He  feels that there has been a lessening of response to him just recently by Council officers and that last year’s good grace has waned.

He has received answers from the Legal Department as follows:

1. Eviction. It is possible to evict outside of the growing season, legally, under the 1908 Allotment Act it is possible to evict with one month’s notice. Cllr Holden is to have a meeting with officers to discuss this.

2. Bees. Allotment holders have the legal right to keep hens and rabbits under the 1950 Act; there is no legal right to keep bees, the keeping of both, however, are subject to Council permission to they are set up in a way that is detrimental to the health of humans or animals and so they do not cause a nuisance.

3. Compensation for unworked plots. This is allowed under the 1950 Act but fixing a price would be difficult as the reduction in value would be hard to calculate. Deposits for new tenants could be raised, in Brighton & Hove the deposit is £500.

4. 1925 The part that pertains to rent setting was repealed under the 1993 Act with the result that anyone now has the right to set allotment rents.

Gareth has also been looking at tree inspections and is due to meet with Jon Maidment to discuss this.

Gareth then described to the meeting the Council plans to establish an arms length Company to provide non-statutory Council services as it wishes to be an enabling rather than a providing authority. This could include allotments, as happened in Leeds, the Council legally can give another body the power to run allotments. Under the 1908 Act the Council has a duty to provide land for cultivation but there is no requirement to manage and/or maintain it. They do have a statutory duty to keep buildings safe although lack of maintenance has resulted in some buildings being in a very poor state e.g. Allensbank shed. Jon Maidment is preparing for all eventualities if the proposed Company comes into being in the next 12 – 18 months. The decision to go ahead will be made in January/February 2016 and it will probably come into being in Winter 2016/Spring 2017. If allotments are organised outside the direct management of the Council the managing body can make its own rules. Other Councils that have contracted out allotments include Brighton & Hove, Stoke, Leeds.

There is a history of Cardiff allotments being run by an outside body, Cardiff & District Society, but this ended in 2000 when allotments were taken back into Council control. Jon Maidment would be very open to self-management again by a properly constituted body and conversations Gareth has had with other councillors indicate political backing for the initiative.

The LMA has to continue in the interim as the status quo prevails.

Alan McCoy thanked Cllr Holden for his contribution and there was a round of applause in appreciation.

5. Discussion on Position Paper and future of CAHA

The Position Paper was presented to the meeting with apologies, due to computer difficulties, for the shortness of notice. The following issues were discussed:

Sue Harrison – that less than 50% of sites have signed the LMA, many of the remaining are small and each site runs differently. What will be the future of small sites?

Alan McCoy – accepting the Committee’s recommendations will involve a high level of commitment from members. He suggested an Open Meeting to which all plot holders could be invited.

Under the Recommendations Local Management can continue with monies distributed by the new CAHA body rather than the Council.

CAHA would employ personnel as there is administrative and accounting work to be done. A possible transfer of existing staff would depend on negotiations and the business plan of the new organisation. There would be no top slicing of budgets if self-management takes place.

Cllr Holden responded that if a Council budget is not spent it is lost and that £52,000 had been returned from the allotment budget in the 2014/15 financial year. There is a real risk to small sites because proportionately Cardiff has a higher number of allotments than the national average. In negotiations a clause could be included to maintain the current proportion.

Allan Bond observed that the annual rental income is insufficient to cover the costs of rectifying the lack of maintenance in the recent past. Marion Ham suggested that more economical contractors could be used. An independent managing body would have the potential to raise external finance more easily than the Council. There is also the increase in income that would come from letting more plots.

Cllr Holden explained Section 106 monies that are part of planning requirements and which are designated for use of green space in Council wards. He is optimistic in securing these monies to improve Allensbank and Flaxland Avenue sites. He stressed it is important for each Site to lobby its own ward Councillors.

Penny Owen welcomed the Recommendations and thought it important to have Councillors on the Board of Management.

RD described the nightmare scenario of working for an arm’s length company.

Richard Dunstone asked about the legal form of company and Lynne Lewis explained the Committee were investigating a Community Benefit Society, run on co-operative lines which would have charitable status and an asset lock to preserve the land.

Alan McCoy suggested that we approach the Council; the meeting requested that the wording of Recommendation 2 be changed to:

“That this new incorporated body registers an interest to the Council in taking over the running”of all allotments in Cardiff.”

This was agreed.

Recommendation 1 – proposed by Ron Wiltshire, seconded by Terry Ward, carried unanimously.

Recommendation 2 – proposed by Terry Cooper, seconded by Mac Burrows, carried unanimously.

Penny Owen thanked the Committee for all their hard work on this item.

At this point Lynne Lewis left the meeting.

6. Pengam Permanent- Update from Paul Caruana on current developments

Paul Caruana (PC) reported that a meeting had been set up to arrange the formation of a Committee.  There were 13 new plot holders and the local Community group are willing to help clearing overgrown plots.

A bank account has been set up ready to receive funding although none was forthcoming to date.

A new lock for the gates had been ordered from Brazil and this was now installed and there had been a reduction in reports of Fly-tipping and thefts. This was further improved by patrols by the local Police Constable.

Although there is a Waiting list of 23 only 5 could be traced. Steve Watkeys enquired how many Plots were available for use. PC replied that 50 had been taken. Gareth Holden commented that this was good news because Pengam was one of the largest sites in Cardiff.

PC reported that there is a problem caused by flooding and funding had been sought for the construction of raised beds but the Allotments Officer had not been particularly helpful.

A machine which had been utilised to clear plots had caused considerable damage to a shed and greenhouse. However despite this, clearance of the site was progressing.

Potential tenants had been asked to telephone the Council to be included on the waiting list – this had not been successful and 13 new tenants had been taken on by jumping the official waiting list.

7. Update agreed priorities.

The priorities were listed as:-

1) Asbestos

2) Water

3) Roadways

Gareth Holden said that the location of asbestos needed to be established – a discussion followed on the handling and subsequent removal of asbestos.

Alan McCoy enquired about progress on repair of potholes – there was little response.

Gareth Holden reported that David Jenkins had made good progress on the repair of water leaks many of which had been caused by the use of non-standard fittings installed illegally – an example of this problem had been found at Pontcanna .

Gareth Holden (GH) said that Adrian Jones was taking action to set up a meeting with WWA to agree a way forward but so far WWA had shown a degree of reluctance to meet. GH suggested that once a leak had been repaired a comparison of before and after water meter reading should be made to check the effect. GH agreed to look again at the overall problem of water leaks.

8. Allotment Issues

Teresa Williams (Lon-y-Deri) reported that her site had overcome their security problems  by carrying out repairs using their own money.

Judith Hill said that the Lady Mary site was still awaiting resurfacing work to be carried out.

Alan Bond (Rhydypenau) stated that the Council had removed a Hawthorn hedge adjacent to the main gate leaving the site open to intruders. Remedial action had been taken to resolve the problem.

Roger Williams (RW) (Colchester Avenue) stated that a break-in had taken place through the fence bordering Eastern Avenue. Having failed to obtain a response from the Allotments Officer, a repair to the fence had been carried as a result of his conversation with the local councillor.

RW raised the subject of Bee Keeping and said that two plots had beehives and a third had been approved. Applications had been made through the Allotments Officer.

RW also mentioned that potential tenants had failed to be put on the waiting List using the  telephone or the web site but had more success by E-mail and recommended that this was probably the best way forward.

9. Request for Allotment information, photos etc. on Council Social Media

sites

Alan McCoy reported that a request had been posted on the Council Web site relating to Environment and Wellbeing asking about information such as dates of Open Days and other events. Alan McCoy to provide relevant website address for members to respond.

Paul Caruana said that Pengam had been approached by a College about the relationship between Allotments and Health.

10. Any Other Business

There were no matters under this item.

11. Date of next Meeting.

The next meeting will be the AGM on Wednesday the 27th of January 2016 at 6.30 pm followed by the Ordinary Meeting.

The meeting then closed.