Chairman’s Report for 2010-11

ALEXANDRA ALLOTMENT GROUP

CHAIRMAN’S REPORT APRIL 2010 TO MARCH 2011

I am pleased to present this report of the activities of the AAG for the period April 2010 to March 2011. This has been a very successful and effective year for the AAG.

We have 115 plot-holders on our direct contact list, covering about 190 plots and have used poster campaigns to reach everyone on the site about key issues and events. In addition new tenancy agreements now include AAG contact details. All plot-holders are entitled to attend and make an active contribution to Management Committee meetings. We have held regular meetings, attended by a total of 20 plot-holders and we thank them all for their contributions. We have issued a number of Newsletters to keep plot-holders informed of issues and events and we have had up to 200 hits per month on our website, which has been kept regularly updated and now includes a message board.

The AAG has effectively represented plot-holders on the Epsom & Ewell Allotment Forum and the AAG Chairman has acted as Secretary to the Forum.

The AAG established relations with the local police and arranged for the allotment to be included in their regular patrol of the area, as well as in night inspections. We now receive regular updates from Surrey Police on local issues.

In July 2010 the AAG agreed to rent the vineyard plots on site in order to preserve and maintain the vines for the benefit of all plot-holders. We successfully won sponsorship from Denbies Wine Estate for the project. As well as covering the cost of the rent for the first three years, Denbies are providing practical on-site training and advice.

Ten plot-holders agreed to manage the nineteen rows of vines and have given extremely generously of their time and resources to replace the framework and care for the vines. For the first harvest the vine managers decided to join the Urban Wine Company (UWC), which acts as a winemaking collective for local growers in London and the South East. The first batch of allotment wine was delivered at the end of March 2011.

In November 2010 the Council attempted to block access through the top gate in Bridle Road. After seeking the views of plot-holders the AAG successfully campaigned against this action.

We launched a new discount seed scheme with Marshalls Seeds, with a 35% discount on seeds, as well as reductions on a wide range of other products.

Over the winter Diggers’ Den was revamped and is now available as a pleasant communal area for use by all plot-holders, as well as for AAG events. The shed donated by Wilkinson’s was erected and painted and contains a range of information and advice for plot-holders.

We have held a number of successful events, including a summer BBQ and a Harvest Supper & Quiz.

The AAG successfully publicised the site and allotment issues via the media, in order to ensure continued support for and understanding of the allotment from local residents and Councillors. These included an interview on BBC Radio, an article in the Epsom Guardian newspaper and a piece in the Epsom Matters magazine.

We have campaigned for a reduced rent for vulnerable tenants including senior citizens and those on low-incomes. The Council has now agreed to consider the practicalities and implications of concessionary rates in time for the review of rents and fees for next financial year.

Finally we would like to express our sincere gratitude once again to John Pearce for kindly arranging deliveries of manure. We would also like to thank Kimberley Gimines for supporting the bee hives on site.

Further to the issues raised at the last AGM the following actions were taken:

  1. Charging for permission to raise structures. The AAG has successfully negotiated with the Council to have this charge removed.
  2. Non-cultivation surveys. The AAG successfully negotiated on behalf of a number of plot-holders who had received unjustified warnings or notices to quit.
  3. Management of the Waste Bays. At the urging of the AAG all the waste bays on site were fully emptied by the Council for the first time in some years. Further awareness-raising about the proper use of waste bays needs to be carried out, as some plot-holders persist in dumping carpet, plastic and other rubbish in them.
  4. State of the onsite toilet. The AAG thoroughly cleaned and disinfected the toilet and has continued to maintain it, providing toilet tissue, cleaning products and water containers. We would ask that users please have consideration for others by leaving it clean and tidy.

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