Wednesday, 14 January 2009

JGA AGM main minutes (draft) 2/12/08


Minutes of the Annual General Meeting, held by kind permission of the minister and stewards of the Wesleyan Methodist Church on Short Street at 8pm on Tuesday, 2nd December 2008. John Cooper, chairman, presiding.

The chairman welcomed the many who attended – about 100 – and thanked the minister and stewards for permission to use the church itself.
Agenda had been posted, and were available on seats.

Apologies: Naomi Needs, Gill Simmonds, Anne Syfret.

There were no matters arising not due to arise.

Richard Price (Hon. Treasurer) spoke to the accounts. There were no questions. He thanked Victoria Zeitlyn for auditing them. It was agreed to seek the same auditor next year.

The Chairman reported the activities of the executive committee orally.
Five formal meetings had been held. There had also been several meetings on the Green and contact with officers of the city council and Cllr Julie Smith, executive councillor for leisure and recreation.
He recalled the terms of the association’s foundation: that it should work with but be independent of the Council; that it should encourage good use and discourage bad use of the green, seek its good maintenance and develop it in line with its existing qualities.
He noted the successful shift of the Beer Festival to a site east of the plane tree avenue, and thanked both officers and the festival organisers.
He noted the discreet use of their PA system by ‘Race for Life.’
He thanked Mr David Coventry, head of Street Scene, for attention to the grass and to litter; he thanked Anglia Ruskin students for helping to clean Jesus Ditch, and the boat people and others for similar work on the river bank.
He noted the period of heavy rain which made the green too fragile to take the circus when it came (it should have gone elsewhere); its lorry drivers ignored instructions.
Finally he noted the council’s preparation of a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for nearly £4.4 million to help refurbish and develop the green’s amenities. The executive committee had been able to comment in the summer and to achieve some modifications before the final draft went off in September (the timing had been unfortunate, consultation being difficult in summer); in particular the proposed diagonal path to the Victoria Avenue bridge had been dropped. Reservations were expressed about a two-storey cafe and increased lighting, and about the clash of pedestrians and cyclists on a widened towpath; the increased burden of maintenance was queried.
He then offered the floor for comments.

Nineteen members of the public, one member of the committee and three councillors spoke, as well as Cllr Julie Smith and Sarah Tovell, green spaces officer.
Some were for rejection of the bid in its entirety; some thought it over the top (‘grandiose’ was the word often used); others pointed to many items (18 were listed on the agenda in total) which needed attention.

Items which found favour among public comments expressed included
new toilets;
a move for the children’s playground, with a one-storey cafe nearby;
resurfacing of the hard tennis courts;
replacement of failing trees (chestnut canker is a spreading and unstoppable disease) and some new planting;
repair of paths
improvement of skateboard park
better drainagage

However, approval of some of these items also included disapproval of certain details; many opinions about the tree problem were expressed.

Items which did not find favour among public comments expressed included
a two-storey cafe;
a ‘piazza’ (for fear of too much suburban concrete);
a widened towpath (allowing faster cycling);
the ‘performance’ area;
stronger lighting (but the opposite opinion was also expressed).

Items not discussed included ornamental planting, a wild-flower meadow, an adventure playground, removal of wooden pavilion, hydroelectric plant

Many thought the consultation had been poor. Some queried the costings. There was much regret that the swimming pool was not part of the bid.

Cllr Julie Smith, supported by Sarah Tovell, explained the ‘signing off’ process, and said that the bid needed to be big, both in order to meet the HLF’s interests. They said it could be scaled down if it were successful, but not up. Some of the maintenance blight noted was inevitable in order not to jeopardise the bid while being made, but the use of section 106 money for more immediate work was not made clear.
The bid was at stage one, the stage of seeking support in principle; no proposal was bound to be implemented. We would know in the spring what support we would get, if any; then stage two would begin, a stage of detailed consultation; it would probably last a year.
Cllr Smith said she was willing to do site visits with any one who wished.

There were some further comments. The Chairman resisted calls for a vote as no suitable motion had been proposed. He observed that he would not be continuing in office, having done his time (Cassie Sparks stood down also) and put forward the names of Richard Price, Martin Thompson, Anthony Bowen (who represents Jesus College at the committee’s invitation), Alexandra Buxton, Barbara Placido and Allan Fowlie as Committee members. They were agreed.
Finally he urged all present to take part at least by responding as requested on the agenda, and closed the meeting.
John Cooper (chairman)

Footnote: 47 people left their details and some opinions. The predominant view is not dissimilar from the report above: there is much desire for maintenance and improvement of what exists, but great dislike of novelty.

NB Owing to irregularities which have come to light in the transaction of necessary business at the AGM, an Extraordinary General Meeting will be held at 7.30 for 8.0 p.m. on Tuesday 17 March 2009 at the Wesleyan Methodist Church by kind permission of the minister and stewards.

A summary of comments made at the meeting have been recorded in an appendix to these minutes.

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