Our Annual General Meeting was held on 14 November at the Meanwood Institute.
The Chairman reported that 2013 was a wonderful season for most of us, with many bumper crops. Strangely, although we did not have a wet summer, many of the potatoes had slug damage.
We had plant Bring & Buy Sales on 9th June and 14 July, and our Autumn show on 8 September. All three were well attended by plot holders and members of the public.
We had problems with the locks on the gates. The old bronze padlocks were becoming unreliable, and then someone was able to open the gate and steal a greenhouse frame. We decided it was time to change the locks. A new set of trouble-free locks plus keys would cost about £500, so we are trying combination locks, as some other allotment sites seem to have success with these. These have their own problems: the numbers can be hard to see in poor light, the numbers don’t get scrambled sometimes, and one lock had to be destroyed because someone tried to move the numbers when the lock was not properly closed. This had the effect of changing the combination, and no one could open the lock afterwards.
A big concern this year has been the Council’s “Allotment Consultation” and then their decision to raise our rents. The way in which this was done has caused much ill-feeling on all sides, and there has been a breakdown in communication between LDAGF and the Council officers involved.
As things stand, our rents will increase each year until 2016-2017:
|Full plot rent
At present we keep 2/3 of rent collected + give LCC 1/3. By 2016-17 we will keep just 32% and give LCC 78%. The total value of our share stays about the same, but theirs will be four times bigger!
Concession for pensioners will be just 20%, instead of 50% as before. A concession of 50% will still be available for people in receipt of certain benefits.
Our old lease has been cancelled, and the new one has to be signed by Oct 2014. The new lease lasts 25 yrs, not just 6, so it will be better for getting grants. Need to read new one carefully before signing.
LDAGF has started proceedings for a judicial review to try to overturn the Council’s decision. Even a favourable judgement will only cover this current decision, though.
We need to raise public awareness of benefits to the community of allotments. Good news stories are needed!
The Treasurer reported that our finances were in a good state, with about £1500 more in our current account than at this time last year.
The Trustees carried out plot inspections on 1 March, 15 April, 3 June and 16 Sept, looking at health & safety issues and the state of cultivation of plots. Five people were evicted or voluntarily left their plots. Not all plots have compost bins, and they should.
Election of Officers
The officers elected for 2012-2013 were
- Chair: Joe Foster
- Treasurer: Ness Clark
- Secretary: Louise Allen
- Committee: Rosie Hall, Ness Clark, Donald Hood, Gillian North, John Oughton, Pat Shore, Jenny Ward, Angie Willshaw.
Rosie Hall agreed to act as letting secretary.
David Jones stood down as Treasurer, and has been helping Ness Clark to take over. Many thanks to both.
Peter Blakey retired from the Committee after serving for more years than anyone can remember. We will miss his steadying hand and wise contributions.
This year three of us entered the Leeds and District Allotment Gardeners Federation city-wide Best Plot competition. Ros Dunlevey won a special merit certificate for “effective and innovative use of terracing on a very challenging plot.” Joe Foster and Peter Blakey also entered.
The Hollin Lane Best Plot competition was judged by Joe Maiden 15 July:
- 1st place: Ros Dunlevey (plot 37) and Peter Blakey (plot 13) tied.
- 2nd: Joe Foster.
- 3rd: Malcolm Coles (plots 19B, 22B, 34).
The best Best Newcomer competition was judged by the Trustees, and this year’s winner was Jess Poole (plot 4BR).
The overall points winner at this year’s Autumn show was Rosie Hall (plots12B, 23B), and the best exhibit in the show was Pat Shore’s onions (plot 25).
Many thanks to Joe Maiden for judging both the Best Allotment and the Autumn Show.
These year we were able to give some attractive prizes. Thanks to John Oughton for arranging this, and to our sponsors for their generosity. Please support them:
- Glendor DIY, 2-4 Weetwood Lane
- The Secret Garden Cafe, 6-8 Weetwood Lane
- Maria’s, 4 Green Road, Meanwood
- Fobi’s DIY 44-50 Grean Road, Meanwood
- Woodies Ale House, 104 Otley Road
- The New Inn, 68 Otley Road
- Giorgios Ristorante Italiano, 72 Otley Road
- Floral Expression, 86 Otley Road
- Fancy Dress Experience, 88 Otley Road
- Unwin’s Seeds
- Steven H Smiths Garden Centre, Pool Road, Otley
- Kings Seeds
The meeting closed with an open discussion. Several points and suggestions were made by members of the audience:
- C Foren suggested that we could make our perimeter more secure by planting blackthorn (sloes) along the bottom fence. Young blackthorn whips are not expensive, but we would need some volunteer labour.
- M Coles suggested that we should be quicker to evict people who are not using their plots, and that paths around some plot are badly overgrown.
- R Hall inquired about plans to replace the communal hut. We need to decide on a design, and get some idea of cost.
- E Walton asked if we planned to paint the hut. We should have a work day to do this.