Mr Gee took the chair, apologies from Mr Ridgway, all other committee members were present with a further 18 society members in attendance.
Minutes of the previous general meeting and special meeting were confirmed and signed, proposed by Mrs J Goodwin and seconded by Mrs D Brookes.
Along with the regular maintenance of the houses, the main thrust of our efforts so far this year, has been to tackle the empty properties. The last few years have been very much akin to waiting for a bus, you wait for an hour then 3 come along together. 98 Laburnum Road has been completed and is ready to be re-let and 9 Fern Rise will not be too long before the necessary work is completed. This will leave us with two empty properties to renovate. One of the empty properties was used to temporarily re-house one of our tenants, so allowing us to get to grips with a very bad case of rising damp. It was not possible to do this work with the family in situ. The work has now been completed and the family have moved back to their own house. There was a lot of work involved in making sure the move, both to the temporary home and then back again, was completed as smoothly and as trouble free as possible. We thank the family for their patience and also our own work force and the secretary for all the hard work they put in to make sure everything worked out to plan. This only goes to enforce the policy of putting in a damp proof coarse in all empty properties where needed.
It was suggested that in order to speed up the renovation of empty properties and hence re-let them sooner, we employ a property company to do the job for us. We have had quotes for this before, but in order to test the waters again, we obtained another quote. As before the quote we received was way in excess of doing the work ourselves. It is interesting to note that something very unusual happened this year in that we had two tenants move off the estate. If this had not happened we would be pretty well up to date with empty properties. We also had to serve an eviction notice on one tenant because of rent arrears and neglect to the property. Although the rent arrears were finally recovered, but not until the tenant had vacated the property, we were still left with a bill for £1,323-00 to cover solicitor’s costs, court fees and court bailiff fees. There was also the damage to the property which was done by the tenant. This came to an additional £1,779-72. Eviction is not a pleasant task. We try every way we can to help our members but sometimes nothing works and asking them to leave is the only option left. In situations like these there are no winners. The society is out of pocket and the tenant has no home.
We managed to make a start on the painting program. One side of Fern Rise was completed and we will continue with this program as funds allow.
Last year, in order to simplify the housing list and allow us to access the people who genuinely wanted a house, we removed the names of all those people who continually refused a house when offered. These people were given the right to apply to be put back on the list after 12 months had expired. That time is now. It is important that in order to be reinstated on the list; once those 12 months has expired they write to us and apply. The onus is on them, they will not be put back on the list automatically.
We have been asked to take action with regard to the state of some of the grass verges. Most of the damage is due to cars parking on them. The verges are a matter for the council and we have on previous occasions asked if they will repair the damage. The reply we get is that they do not have the money or the resources to do this. The number of cars on the estate has increased considerable and we do accept that it is difficult to park at times, but we do ask people not to park on the grass verges if possible.
Can I just remind tenants that the light fittings we put into properties are plastic ones. If they do wish to replace them with metal fittings, they must first check with a qualified electrician to make sure the circuit they are dealing with is properly earthed.
We must apologise for the website being down for a few days, this was due to a misunderstanding and a glitch in the system. The cause has now been rectified. The future of the website is under discussion and opinion is once again divided as to whether to continue with it or not.
The government introduced a system of grants for home improvement in July under the Green Deal Scheme. This scheme was available to both private houses and landlords. It ran out of funds after seven weeks, so we missed out on that. But I understand that it is to be introduced again, with new funding in November. No more information is available at the moment. We will keep you posted on that.
It is important that all shareholders give their support and take an interest in the society. The concept of the Garden City movement was put forward by men of vision, many years ago. This estate has given many people the opportunity to have an affordable home and balance the stresses of modern life. We need to make sure it continues. It will only exist if we have people who wish to serve on the committee. Maybe some of those who continually e-mail us with their gripes and moans will take their courage in both hands and apply to be nominated. This concluded the chairman’s report.
Nominations are, Mrs L Osborne, Mr M Carter, Miss A Benning, Mrs P Smith and Miss L Johnson. As there are three vacancies and five nominations a vote will be required. Mrs I Gaten and Mrs J Taylor volunteered to act as scrutineers.
Mr Fraser said that during the chairman’s report he mentioned damp courses. He went on to say that he thought that all houses had blue bricks. Mr Gee said that bearing in mind that the houses were over a hundred years old. It is the cement in them that has failed so we need to have new treatment put in which gives us a twenty five year guarantee.
Mrs Goodwin said that she would like to thank Mrs Taylor very much for the way the office and memorial garden has been kept. It has been a picture again this summer and I am sure that what has been planted now, the spring will be just as beautiful. She went on to give a personal thanks to the chairman for planting the hedge on the corner of Laburnum Road, when it comes to fruition it will be something worth looking and it will have smartened up the area. This concluded the business of the meeting and Mr Gee thanked members for their attendance, before declaring the meeting closed at 7.15pm.
These minutes are the official record of what happened, and not a verbatim account.