Mr Gee took the chair, all committee members were present with a further 16 society members in attendance.
Minutes of the previous annual general meeting were confirmed and signed, proposed by Mr M Cort and seconded by Mrs J Goodwin.
There were no matters arising.
The chairman commenced his report by saying that the past year was a fairly challenging one. We had the task of taking on the responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of all central heating systems, irrespectively whether they had been installed by the tenant or by the society. The reasons for this I explained at the last quarterly meeting. Progress is being made, thanks in part to a mild winter. Systems that need repair are repaired in order to function safely and correctly, but where it is not economically viable to repair the system we are fitting new boilers and if necessary, updating the existing pipework. Our secretary Susan after some hard bargaining managed to obtain a five year guarantee on all boilers that we fit, so this will help to alleviate costs in the future. It is our intention to make sure that all properties have a safe and workable heating system.
As far as emergency out of hours repairs are concerned, a contractor will only be called out if there is a substantial water leak. All other repairs will be dealt with on the next working day.
I also mentioned at the last meeting the problems that we are experiencing with the failure of chimney liners. This is turning out to be a bigger problem than expected. Approximately one in four chimneys that have been inspected so far has failed to perform correctly. Some because the flue liner is crumbling, causing debris to collect at the bottom of the fireplace, others because of the deterioration of the bricks in the lower part of the chimney. We have a duty to inspect all chimneys that have a gas fire fitted by Anchor Tenants. Chimneys where a gas fire has been fitted by the tenant are exempt from legislation, but because we are an active and responsible landlord and the safety of our tenants is paramount, we are looking to check all chimneys and flues on a regular basis. We shall inform tenants of our decision on this shortly. It is worth noting that electric fires are a viable alternative to gas fires and at the moment electricity is cheaper than gas and looks to remain so.
Again something that I mentioned at the last meeting was the matter of tenants improving their house and doing their own repairs. We have no problem with people improving their house, but only if you are competent to do so. If not a bona fide contractor must be used. All electrical and gas work has to be done by a qualified person. In cases where we find that this has not been done and it costs the society money to put it right, we shall charge the tenant for doing so.
The committee are a team, and I include our secretary Susan, as an integral part of that team, because without her we would be floundering in the dark at times. This team strives to enable our members to have the opportunity to have not just a house at a reasonable rent, but a home, in a nice environment in which to live and bring up a family. We treat our obligations, under various legislations very seriously, but tenants also have obligations, the most important of which is to pay their rent regularly and on time. It is very frustrating and causes extra work when direct debits are cancelled or refused by the banks. It does not help matters when letters regarding these matters are ignored and not answered. Unless the tenant communicates with us we have no idea what the problem is. We can only assume that they no longer wish to live on the estate and act accordingly. We have a strict rent arrears action policy, which all tenants are informed about and we adhere to this.
But all is not doom and gloom. I do not wish to pre-empt anything that Mr Mee will say, but the year’s expenditure went pretty much as we had planned and expected. The major part of Keyham Lane formed the painting program and new doors were fitted where required. New tenants joined our community, in the houses that had been renovated. Our maintenance team kept up with the necessary repairs and we managed to avoid a rent increase. But as you know we decided to have a small increase for the coming year. Severn Trent Water has decided, in their wisdom, to fit water meters to all new accounts. So if a house becomes vacant a water meter will be fitted. We understand that this is part of new government legislation and can do nothing about it.
As far as the land at the rear of Lilac Avenue is concerned, we have no further news to report, except that we are pressing ahead with our claim for the disputed land at the end of the gardens of 15/17/19 Lilac Avenue and are awaiting confirmation from the Land Registry regarding this. We would hope to have this settled in the near future.
Mr Gee concluded his report by reminding all members that the shares you hold make you part of a very special and unique organisation. We, on the committee, give our time freely and willingly in order that this society can continue in its present form. It is important that we acknowledge that we all have a part to play in the continuance of this community of ours and our actions affect, not just ourselves, but all members of the society.
Mr Mee began his report by saying although there had been no increase in rent, the income was much the same as the previous year, which had been a 53 week year, this happens from time to time. But the extra rent increase from the newly modernised houses had kept the annual income much the same. There had been an adjustment for the hall rent which is now £3,000 per annum.
Management expenses were up due to a wage increase, professional fees were up due to the cost of engaging a health and safety consultant. Light and heating expenses were down.
With regards to estate expenses, the society made a surplus last year purposely because they knew what would have to be spent on central heating systems, the balance sheet shows that £41,000 was spent on repairs and installation of central heating.
The electrical expenses were just over £12,000 the majority of this was for re-wiring of empty properties.
The cost of the painting programme was double that of the previous year, this was due to the cost of painting the stucco houses.
This year there is a deficit of £21,000, but the tax paid on last years surplus will be claimed back.
Mr Mee concluded his report by saying, all in all the society has achieved what it set out to do and with £62,000 in the bank it is in a strong and satisfactory position.
Mrs J Goodwin proposed that the accounts were accepted as a true record, seconded by Mrs I Gaten.
Mrs J Goodwin proposed the re-election of Nixon Mee Limited as auditors for the coming year; this was seconded by Mr R Parr.
Mr Gee said that as no one had submitted any names, the committee would appoint the arbitrators for the coming year.
Mrs J Goodwin proposed that the committee fee should be increased to £3.00 per meeting; this was seconded by Mr M Cort.
Mr Cort asked if the estate had been told that water meters were being fitted. Mr Gee said that we had been informed that it is a new legislation.
Mrs Baker asked if anyone had noticed that the road sign at the top of Fern Rise had been missing for some time. Mr Gee said that we would see what could be done about it.
Mr Parr asked if all shareholders need to have the minutes sent to them, he went on to say that it costs money to send them out and it doesn’t encourage people to come to the meetings. Mr Gee said that this was a requirement in the society’s rules that all shareholders receive the paperwork.
Mrs Goodwin said that this is something that could be looked into with the cost of stamps going up; this is going to increase the cost of sending out all the paperwork. Mr Gee pointed out that most of the paperwork was delivered by hand for the estate. Mr Pawson said that the only way to reduce the cost would be to only have one meeting a year instead of two.
Mrs Bakker brought up the problems of the locks on the back way gates being oiled. She went on to say that she knows that they need to be oiled from time to time, but whoever has done it this time has used too much oil, as it is dripping onto your hands when you are trying to lock and unlock them. Mr Gee said that he did not know who had oiled them, as each time he had gone to do it, it had already been done. He went on to say that he would try and find out who is doing it.
Mrs Goodwin said that she had noticed that scaffolding had been put up at an empty property where the chimneys have been made redundant. She went on to ask if this was a necessary cost. Mr Gee said that in some cases side chimneys are taken down to below roof level, but on this property the committee decided that it would spoil the look of the house. Either way scaffolding is needed to remove or overhaul the chimney. Mrs Goodwin said that if taken down it is a one off cost, rather then leaving it up, which would then need maintaining. Mr Ridgway said that you also have to consider what fuel may be available in the future and chimneys may have to be brought back into use. Mr Gee said that we have to keep our options open.
This concluded the business of the meeting and Mr Gee thanked members for their attendance, before declaring the meeting closed at 7.25pm.