Mrs Benning took the chair, all committee members were present, with a further 20 society members in attendance.
Mr A Newcombe has requested by letter that the minutes be amended, as it was his recollection that a member of the committee had agreed that the estate should provide a chimney pot where there had been one previously prior to a flue being fitted. Mrs Benning asked if there was anyone who was at that meeting and could recollect what was said, as no committee person could recall this. Mrs Benning said that she did not feel that an individual committee member would have said this. As Mr Newcombe was not present and no one else could recall this, the minutes of the previous meeting were then confirmed and signed. Proposed by Mr M Osborne and seconded by Mrs A Vernon.
The chairman commenced by saying that in 2007 there had been five empty houses; these had now been let after having a considerable amount of money spent on them. Already this year we have another two empty properties with another pending, the properties need far more work doing to them before they are re-let because of their age. It has now been decided that central heating will be fitted in the empty properties and rent will be set accordingly.
The painting programme will continue this year with the bottom half of Lilac Avenue being done, also doors will be replaced before this, where needed.
The lead pipe replacement is carrying on with four properties on Keyham Lane and the even numbers on Fern Rise being the next houses to be done.
It has been decided to only have two shareholders meetings a year, the AGM in March and another meeting in November. This decision has been taken after taking into account the cost of administration and postage, but if anyone would prefer further meetings please let the committee know.
There have been reports of break-ins to sheds and garages, could you please secure your property where possible. Also any contractors carrying out work in you property must be qualified and fully registered.
We will be commemorating the laying of the stone on the first cottage built, this will be held on the 12th July, and information on this will be sent out shortly on events that we hope to lay on.
This concluded the chairman’s report which was proposed by Mrs I Gaten and seconded by Mr M Osborne.
The results were:
As there were three positions to fill, Mrs Creese, Mr Gee and Mr Pawson were invited to join the committee.
Mrs Benning thanked everyone that had voted, and thanked Mr E Gaten and Mrs P Smith for acting as scrutineers.
Mr Mee began his report by saying that there had not been a rent increase within the last two years. With the number of properties being vacant this had resulted in £800.00 less being received in rent, than the figure for the previous year. As these properties are let on an increased rent this will show in the next years income. Laburnum Hall brought in rent of £5,000 plus the interest from the money held in the bank, this had brought the total income for the year near to that of the previous year.
As for expenses, there had been pay rises for all the staff; this was to reflect the extra work that all the staff had undertaken with the amount of work that is now done. Most of the other expenses have not changed from year to year, there has been the additional fee’s for a Health and Safety Consultant, and the Rent Deposit Scheme, all contributes to the professional expenses being more this year.
The biggest expense is the repairs to the properties and the estate expenses, this year Chestnut Avenue has been painted. As the doors are replaced on the estate, this will be reflected in the cost of future painting as there will be less wood work to paint.
At the beginning of the financial year a budget is set to aim to spend the income that will be received, but you cannot foresee all expenses. This year slightly more was spent, resulting in the balance sheet showing a deficit of -£2,238.00.
At this time the society is in a strong position with funds in the bank to meet any rainy day problems. This concluded Mr Mee’s report.
Mr M Osborne proposed the accounts were accepted as a true record and Mrs P Smith seconded this. Mr T Gee then proposed the re-election of Godkin & Co Ltd as auditors for the coming year; this was seconded by Mr E Gaten.
Mrs Benning said that as no one had submitted any names, the committee would appoint the arbitrators for the coming year.
Mrs P Smith proposed that the committee fee remains at £2.00 per meeting; this was seconded by Mrs A Vernon.
Mrs Benning read out apologies from Mrs J Goodwin and Mr & Mrs J Potterton, who were unable to attend the meeting.
Mr S Smith asked if properties along Chestnut Avenue could be made secure, to stop people getting through to the back way. Mrs Benning said that it had been requested at a previous meeting that tenants make their properties secure as there had been a number of break-ins. She went on to suggest a walkabout by the committee to see how many houses have no side gates, we could then write to these tenants asking if they could fit a gate. Mrs Benning pointed out that this could only be a request. If tenants want to secure their gardens they could always approach their neighbour, to see if they would contribute to the cost. The estate would only fit posts and three strands of wire. Mr T Gee suggested planting good hedging material.
Mr S Smith suggested putting up a notice to say that the area is patrolled; Mrs Benning said that if anyone else had any ideas on security to let the committee know.
Mr A Newcombe, who had arrived at the meeting late, brought up the question along with Mr S Smith regarding skips not being allowed on the back way this made it difficult to dispose of rubbish. Mrs Benning said that the committee made the decision to stop skips being delivered on the back way because they were churning up the ground, and the bottom gates had been damaged by a skip lorry.
Mr A Newcombe said that it would mean having a skip in the street. Mrs Benning said that a lot of people on the estate do not have the same access to their back gardens as those that live adjacent to the back way. These people have to bring things to the front of the house from their back gardens.
Mr A Newcombe asked if transit vans are allowed. Mrs Benning said that it would be classed as a light vehicle.
Mr R Parr brought up the question of rubbish that accumulates outside the shop on Laburnum Road. Mrs Benning said that we could have a word with the council to have the bins emptied on a more regular basis.
Mrs A Cook asked if we were in a smokeless zone as the smoke from bonfires have been horrendous. Mrs Benning informed her that it was. She went on to say that even people on Hamilton had complained. Mrs Benning said that the office had not received any complaints, and she was not sure of the regulations governing bonfires, she advised that if there were any further problems to inform the council.
Mrs C Smith brought up the vehicles that are parked on the back way which are not used, she went on to say that previously she and her neighbour had received letters asking them to move cars parked there. She said that she had written, complaining of cars being parked and had been told that these had a Sorn on them, she felt that this was not fair and people were not being treated the same. Mrs Benning said that this would be looked at during the walkabout.
Mrs C Smith also asked why a spouse could only have one share and can not be given any more. She went on to say that she felt a second rate citizen on the estate, she said that she had been told previously that she could not be given any more shares, but asked what the situation would be if shares were willed to her. Mrs Benning said that it had been a committee decision not to make new shareholders, and that if a spouse of a tenant could find someone who would transfer a share to them this would be approved. This would then give the spouse, as a holder of one share, the right to attend shareholders meetings and feel part of the estate. She went on to say that as far as she is aware this was still the policy but would look into this and write informing her of the outcome.
Mrs C Smith then brought up the fact that tenants own kitchen units and fitments were not covered by Anchor Tenants insurance. She felt that everyone should be notified of this so that they can take out extra insurance. Mrs Benning said that this had been brought up previously at a shareholders meeting and she hoped that people had read the minutes and were aware of this.
Mr A Newcombe brought up his concerns regarding having a downstairs bathroom when he has a family. As his house has three good sized bedrooms he was hoping that he would be allowed to make alterations to accommodate a shower and toilet upstairs. He went on to say that he had asked previously to install an upstairs bathroom but had been refused. Mrs Benning said that it was policy not to allow a house to change from a three bedroom to a two, as the estate wanted to keep them family sized houses. Mrs Benning said that from time to time the committee have to alter policies, and one had recently been changed regarding replacing baths with showers, she went on to say that if Mr A Newcombe wanted to carry out any alterations he should write in and the committee would consider his request.
Mrs A Cook asked if a friend could transfer her shares to her. Mrs Benning said that she would have to write in requesting this, it would then be considered. She went on to confirm that the only new shares that are issued are to the children of present tenants.
Mrs A Cook said that she felt it was unfair that her grandchildren could not purchase shares.
Mr A Newcombe brought up the discussion held at the previous meeting regarding the lining being left in the chimney, when he took over tenancy of the property. Mr T Ridgway pointed out that his comments at the time were made as a shareholder and not a committee member, when he agreed that it should have been removed by the estate.
Mrs Benning said that there had been a lot of correspondence regarding this, and it had been pointed out that the chimney in question had been made redundant prior to the property being let. If a tenant then chooses at a later date to open that chimney up, then they do so at their own cost. Mr A Newcombe said that the estate was only doing half a job by leaving the flue lining in. Mr Pawson said why should the estate spend money on removing the flue liner when the chimney was being bricked up. Mrs Benning said that on this occasion we would have to agree to disagree on this. But pointed out that when a tenant makes alterations to their property, they must see all the cost of any work through.
Mrs C Smith brought up the central heating that is being put in empty houses, and asked if the tenant will be responsible for servicing and maintenance. Mrs Benning said that it would be down to the estate to service and maintain, as it is where gas fires are fitted by the estate. The committee had thought long and hard over whether to install central heating, but when adding up the cost of installing a new cylinder and immersion, along with a gas fire, the difference was not that great. The rent charged also reflects the cost involved.
Mrs I Gaten asked what happens if a house becomes empty that has central heating installed, is this left in or taken out. Mrs Benning said that the plumber would check the system it would depend on how old it is, to whether we would take it out and replace it with new.
Mr A Newcombe asked if it had ever been considered, to allow committee members to only stand so many times for the committee. Mrs Benning said that if that were to happen then there would not be a full committee, as there are not many who put their name forward. She went on to say that the majority of people are not interested, this shows with how many people are here tonight out of 143 tenants. It was also pointed out that the younger tenants may not have the time, due to work commitments to serve on the committee. In defence of those that have been on the committee a long time, this came into good stead a few months ago, when something came up relating to a long time ago. The mature members of the committee could remember the incident; this helped enormously when dealing with the current issue.
Mrs C Smith said a walkabout should be done to look at the state of some gardens. Mrs Benning said that as a committee we do write to tenants asking them to tidy their gardens, but we cannot force them.
Mr S Smith asked if anything had become of the traffic survey carried out a few years ago in Fern Rise. Mrs Benning said that nothing had come of this, as the survey was taken during the school holidays when the traffic was a lot less. The estate has written several times to the council regarding the volume of traffic that uses the estate as a cut through.
Mrs Benning ended by welcoming Mr T Ridgway onto the committee. This concluded the business of the meeting, and she thanked the members for their attendance before declaring the meeting closed at 8.20pm.