Mr T Gee took the chair; all committee members were present with a further 25 society members in attendance.
Minutes of the previous annual general meeting were confirmed and signed, proposed by Mrs J Goodwin and seconded by Mrs I Gaten.
I will start my report by bringing you up to date with regard to empty properties. At the moment we have two. One in Lilac Avenue that is being renovated and should be ready to let within the next month. The second one, we are once again, having to use as temporary accommodation because of another bad case of damp in a house in Fern Rise. The damp treatment is almost finished and we should be able to start on renovating the second property fairly soon.
In my last report I explained the situation with regard to the Hall and how we are having to negotiate the thorny thickets of legislation that applies to community halls. The heating has now been installed and the new kitchen fitted. It is our intention to organise a coffee morning, so that all interested members can have a look at the progress we have made and we would welcome their comments and ideas on its usage. There is still a way to go before we can open it to the general public. The next stage is to have a disabled toilet fitted and also a fire safety ramp that can be used by disabled people in case the hall has to be evacuated because of fire. We are awaiting quotations for the necessary work that needs to be done. It is highly probable that we will be able to get a grant to cover this expenditure and this is being looked into at the present time. The good news is that we can open the hall to small groups and any members who wish to use it, although certain terms and conditions will apply. Our total spend on the hall to date is £16,435. This includes electric rewire, suspended ceiling, heating installation and window blinds. The paint and labour were donated. Many thanks to Susan for arranging this. We have to add to that, the cost of disabled toilets, a fire escape ramp and the kitchen, but these items, we hope will be covered by the grant. Fire precautions and the disabled ramp has meant that we have had to rethink the area around the hall and the caravan park. Our fire precaution expert advised us that we would no longer be able to have caravans parked alongside the hall. This meant that one row of caravans would have to go. With all the problems we have had over the last year i.e. two caravans stolen and the subsequent damage to the gates, we have decided to close the caravan park down and consider the use of the space for other purposes e.g. car parking for people who wish to use the hall and maybe a seating area. The space on the other side of the hall, where there are a few garages, is also to be cleared and we propose to use this area for car parking for tenants who wish to park there in order to get their cars off the street.
I do not wish to pre-empt anything that the auditor has to say in his report but at the moment we are in quite a healthy financial position. In order to maintain this, we have decided to have a rent rise which came into effect in February of this year. This was not a decision taken lightly but we need to try to catch up on the painting programme and also the windy weather of late has played havoc with the old cast iron drainpipes and gutters. A lot of which now needs replacing. Health and Safety issues mean we can do very little roof work ourselves, so have to call in outside contractors to replace tiles and other work that is essential.
The cost of renting in the private sector continues to rise. The East Midlands recorded the fastest rent increases last year. This took the average rent for a 3 bed room property to £744 per month. With 3 out of 4 young people saying that they could not see how they would be able to afford to buy a house, it puts into perspective how important it is that we make sure Anchor Tenants and our community, continues and thrives. The list of people who want a house on the estate continues to grow. It is deeply disappointing therefore, when we have to take legal action to obtain unpaid rent, as we have had to do this year. Because of their refusal to communicate with us or discuss the situation, we had no course but to take legal action. We did eventually recover all rent owing but the costs of doing so left us some £800 out of pocket. The reason for this was because the courts will only allow minimum costs to be recovered. In order to rectify this situation, should it arise in the future, we have now included, in our rental agreement for new tenants, that all litigation costs will be borne by the tenant concerned.
We have been approached a number of times this year, by existing tenants, asking if they could exchange into an empty property. Our policy, at the moment, is to refuse their request. The reasons are mainly twofold: Once the empty property has been renovated, if we allowed an existing tenant to move in, we would, in most cases have to renovate the property that the tenant has moved from. Hence increasing costs to the society. The reason given for the exchange is that they would like a larger house. It is a genuine reason, but if we allowed this we would be left with only smaller houses to offer new tenants. Any exchanges have to be arranged between the tenants concerned and we are happy to allow this, providing there is no cost to the society.
We feel that the fairest way is to stick to our present policy.
We have decided to ask the tenants whose chimneys have been condemned, how they would like us to deal with their empty fireplaces. Some are quite happy to have them closed, but others would like to use them as a decorative feature. We will try to go along with their wishes but in some cases, because of the state of the chimney liner, this will not be possible. A letter is to go out to the people concerned to assess the situation.
Yet more legislation has been heaped upon us in the form of The Right to Rent Act. The government announced that from the 1st February this year, all private landlords will have to check that new tenants have the right to be in the United Kingdom, before renting out a property. Hence we will have to ask all new tenants for identity documents, i.e. passport, before we can offer them a house.
Can I remind tenants that any alterations or improvements to their property must be authorised by the committee before any work is carried out. Also that the repair and maintenance of such works is the responsibility of the tenant.
New challenges await us this year, particularly with the hall becoming vacant. For the last approximately 50 years it has not been available for members to use. Our prime object is, and must be, to hope it will contribute to the funds of the society. I and other older residents on the estate will have lovely memories of birthday parties, Christmas parties and other events, which were held in this hall when we were children. At that time the hall was the social centre of the estate. The world changes and time moves on I know, but we hope that members will come to see it as a special place for them to use and that it will help to engender a feeling of community on the estate.
This concluded the chairman’s report.
|The result was as follows|
|Mrs J Benning||163|
|Mr M Carter||95|
|Mr W Gee||276|
|Miss L Johnson||91|
As there are two positions to fill, Mrs J Benning and Mr W Gee are elected to the committee. Mr T Gee thanked everyone who voted, and Mrs I Gaten and Mrs J Taylor for acting as scrutineers.
Mr Mee began his report by saying that the rent income had increased. This was due to the empty properties being let in 2015 giving an increase of £8,000 in extra rent. There was a last payment for rent on the hall from the Youth Orchestra, this may be replaced once the hall is put back in use and let out. With regards to the spending, there has been a saving in management expenses as a maintenance man retired and was not replaced. This gave a saving on the wages. The downside to this is that work was put out to external contractors as the figures for building, roofing, skip hire etc. shows. There was also a pair of houses that had to be re roofed at a cost of £13,000. He went on to say that it was good that the society has the money to cover the cost of renovation. Less was spent on the windows and central heating, as most of the replacement programme has been done. Most of the other expenses are a similar figure to the previous year. There was also the cost of renovating the hall, at the time of the accounts being done stood at £12,500. There was less paid in council tax from the previous year as there were fewer empty properties. Mr Mee said that the society was now in a position financially to carry out the work needed on the properties. He finished his report by saying that we are in a healthy situation and long may it continue.
Mr M Osborne proposed that the accounts were accepted as a true record, seconded by Mrs J Goodwin.
Mrs J Goodwin proposed the re-election of Nixon Mee Limited as auditors for the coming year; this was seconded by Mr M Osborne.
It was proposed by Mrs A Vernon that the committee fees are increased to £5.00 per meeting; this was seconded by Miss J Gamble. This was approved by the society members present. Before moving on to Any Other Business, Mr Gee pointed out to the shareholders that although Anchor Tenants does not have a website, one of our members does run one and the proceedings of this meeting will be put on it. Once the minutes go out they are in the public domain and are open to anyone. He felt that people should be aware of this before speaking.
Mr Osborne said that he would like to put it in the minutes and give a vote of thanks to the secretary, he wondered where the effort would come from to make the hall presentable and usable when twelve months ago it was in a state. Organising jobs for our present housing stock must be demanding so to pull in the renovation of the hall I think deserves a special vote of thanks. He went on to say that we now have a property to be proud of and hopefully will try and utilise the facility.
Mr Fraser asked when the hall would be available to use. Mr Gee said it can be used now by tenants and small groups, but could not be open to the public until further facilities are in place. He said that we would like people to start using the hall to see how it works out. Mrs Bakker asked why there were still caravans in the compound as we were given a date that they had to be removed by. Mr Gee said that there had not been a committee meeting since the deadline, but this would be discussed at the meeting being held tonight to see what action to take.
Mrs Goodwin said that some weeks ago leaflets were sent out regarding plants growing up the walls of houses and blowing the stucco. Up to now the few houses that she had looked at with this problem, nothing seems to have been done She went on to say that Anchor Tenants put these leaflets out for our own safety as it is dangerous if plants are left to grow around flue vents which if become blocked can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Repairs to the stucco can take up to three days. She said why does the management put these notices out if the tenants do not take any notice. Mr Gee said that climbing plants are a problem when it comes to the painting programme. He went on to say that it was put on the letter that if tenants were having problems getting it off the walls then to contact the office. Mrs Goodwin also said would people with gravel drives mind sweeping the pebbles back off the pavement.
Mr Ireland asked if anything can be done about the grass verges that are now mud baths. Mr Gee said that we had written to the council but they said that they did not have the time or the money to do anything about them. But if we were prepared to take photographs of the offending vehicles and send them in, they would take action. It was something that he was not prepared to do.
Mr Fraser said that he has been repairing the grass verge outside his house himself. Miss Gamble asked if it would be possible to keep some of the features taken out of the empty houses for other tenants to use. These could be put aside and stored in a container for tenants to buy. Further discussions took place regarding this. Mr Gee said that the committee would give this some thought.
Mrs Barker said that when a house is being renovated could the prospective tenant be asked if they want the features left in. It was explained that some of the features have to be taken out to carry out the work required. Mrs Benning pointed out that we do not know who will be allocated the house at the time of the renovation work. She went on to suggest that a tenant write to the estate office if they want an item for their own property.
Mrs Tuttle asked about the procedure regarding exchanging into a bigger house and asked if there was a list of people who wanted an exchange. Mr Gee said that tenants could not exchange into an empty property. But for instance, if a four-bedroom house was offered to someone who might not need such a big property, it is pointed out to them that there are people who want a larger house but it would be for them to arrange an exchange. Mrs Tuttle asked how would tenants let other people know that they are looking for a move. Mr Gee said that there is a list in the estate office that tenants can put their name on.
Mr Highfield said that his was one of the caravans still on the compound but he was having difficulty finding somewhere to store it. Mr Gee said that the problems are that as soon as the estimates have been received we will be starting work on installing a ramp at the fire exit and will need the compound cleared.
Mr Highfield asked on letting the hall do the committee intend getting a drinks licence. Mr Gee said that it was something that we will be looking at, as well as a music licence.
This concluded the business of the meeting and Mr Gee thanked everyone for their attendance before declaring the meeting closed at 7.45pm.
These minutes are the official record of what happened, and not a verbatim account.