Mr T Gee took the chair, all committee members were present with a further 19 society members present.
Minutes of the previous annual general meeting were confirmed and signed, proposed by Mr M Cort and seconded by Mrs J Goodwin.
Mr T Gee began his report by saying that it is almost impossible to list the amount of maintenance and repairs that have been completed over the past 12 months, although it is nice to report that we are keeping well up to date with the necessary work. The usual list of repairs e.g. blocked drains, failed window seals, dripping and broken taps, loose tiles, broken gutters, etc. kept our maintenance man busy. We still continue with one maintenance man where before we had two at the present we are keeping up to scratch with the repairs and are monitoring the situation to see how things develop. Because of Health and Safety considerations, a lot of the work that our men used to do, is no longer possible. This applies particularly to roof work and chimneys so we will continue with one maintenance man and see how things work out.
With the installation of the disabled toilets and the necessary fire escape ramp, all major work on the hall has now been completed and the hall is available for hire and the bookings have started to come in. I understand, from our hard-working booking agent, Amy Benning, that the hall has already been booked 12 times and there are more bookings to come. This still leaves us with the areas at the side of the hall and discussions are ongoing about their use. One of the ideas for the use of the land on which the old wooden garages stood was to enable tenants to park their cars there in order to get them off our crowded streets. We sent a letter round to all tenants to see if they would like to avail themselves of this opportunity and were disappointed to receive only 3 applications. We may still reserve a small area for tenants to use and allow people who book the hall to use it for parking. We are considering levelling and grassing the other side and making it available for outside activities for those who book the hall. You may think that it would be a simple matter to find a use for these areas, but you have to bear in mind that all the health and safety regulations that apply to the hall also applies to these areas. There is also the matter of costs which can be quite considerable.
The painting program for this year will be part of Keyham Lane. As well as painting these properties we are also going to renew the gutters, bargeboards, facias and downrights. This we hope to include in all our future painting programs. We shall also be renewing the balcony on the front of 6 and 8 Fern Rise.
There is currently a drive to make the rules on electrical safety more transparent just as they are with gas safety. It may be that 5 yearly electrical checks will become mandatory. Although this has not yet been agreed, legislation is likely to be introduced in the near future. We need to be aware of this and prepare for it. With this in mind it is of vital importance that if you have any electrical work done in your house, it must be with a qualified electrician and a certificate obtained from the electrician for all work completed. Strict rules govern what electrical work can be done without notification and inspection. Part P of the building regulations limit what work may be carried out other than by a qualified electrician. When work is carried out by a qualified person, they will deal with the necessary paperwork to comply with the regulations. They will also provide you with a completed Electrical Installation Certificate. Whilst the electrician is there they now have to notify us of any wiring that they consider to be substandard. This means that we then have to commission a full report on the state of the wiring and take whatever action is necessary. This is already happening and we are having to undertake 3 full rewiring’s and 5 partial rewiring’s in order to satisfy safety guidelines.
I can report that finances are in a healthy state and our Auditor Mr Mee will give more details in due course. We have been helped by the lack of empty properties. Having said that, we have just received notification, that one tenant on Fern Rise is vacating her house and getting married, so we will start off this year with at least one vacant property.
Can I ask tenants, that if they put decking or indeed, any other forms of landscaping in the garden, that they give due consideration to drains and inspection covers. Sewers and drains sometimes get blocked and it doesn’t help if, in order to clear any blockage, we have to spend time removing decking so that we can access the manhole.
We have finished fitting smoke alarms where necessary. These alarms are to comply with current regulations and should not be removed or tampered with. If you have a problem with them please report it to us and we will rectify it.
It may seem, especially to those of us who have been on the estate for a number of years, that all the committee do is to issue dictates saying that you must do this or you can’t do that. The freedoms that we used to have, to run this estate how we wished, are no longer valid. Various acts of parliament, new housing regulations and landlord and tenant legislation and particularly health and safety regulations now limit and control our actions. Many legal and safety issues rest with the landlord and we take them very seriously. We know that your house is your home and many of you have spent time and money on it. If we have to do any work on your home we will try our best to make sure that you are inconvenienced as little as possible.
We are not just a collection of houses, we are a community and your committee and our hardworking secretary Susan, wish to make sure it continues as such. Many of us can step out of our front door and say hello to the neighbours on either side of us, wave to the people across the road and chat to others as we walk around the estate. This is a situation that is unknown in many other places. It would be a shame if this disappeared. I have always stressed in my reports, the need to support the ethos of Anchor Tenants. Attending our meetings shows support, and I thank those who have taken the trouble to be here tonight, filling in the voting forms shows support and again I thank all those who have done so. But how about a session on the committee, let’s have lots more nominations. This concluded the chairman’s report.
The result was as follows:
As there are three positions to fill, Mrs K Creese, Mr T Gee and Mr I Pawson are elected to the committee. Mr Gee thanked everyone that had voted and Mrs I Gaten and Mrs J Taylor for acting as Scrutineers.
Mr Mee began his report by saying that the rent had increased, this was a combination of factors. A £2.00 per week rent increase pulled in an extra £15,000 and with a 53-week year and the empty houses coming on stream, this took the increase up to £24,00 but there was less income from the hall.
In terms of spending, the management expenses which the biggest component of this is the wages and salaries. In the first three months of the 2016 year there were three employees’ then for the rest of the year you were down to two, so there was a saving on that and also on the national insurance contributions. Most other expenses were the same as the previous year apart from the hall expenses, this was for various equipment pots and pans etc. Mr Mee said there were two empty houses where extensive work was carried out. There was more spent on damp proofing, as an occupied property had to be treated at a cost of £4,000. Spending on electrical work was down from the previous year due to there being only two empty properties. There was more spent on the painting programme for Laburnum Road, and more on lead pipe replacement this year. There was also £6,500 spent on installing a disabled ramp and £7,350 for toilets. This brings the total spent on the hall including last years spend to a total of £28,000. Hopefully this will be the end of doing up the hall and you will not be doing that sort of spending in the future years.
Overall, you are still left with £40,000 surplus, this will cost the society £6,500 in corporation tax, there has not been any paid over the last several years due to the losses incurred over that time. But the downside of putting money back into the society’s funds is that you have to pay tax. Essentially you have the funds to carry out the essential work that needs to be done, the society is in a strong position with a nice fighting fund.
Mr Mee finished his report by saying that it was a credit to the committee’s hard work for getting the society in this position.
Mr M Osborne proposed that the accounts were accepted as a true record, seconded by Mrs J Goodwin.
Mrs Goodwin proposed the re-election of Nixon Mee Limited as auditors for the coming year; this was seconded by Mrs J Bradshaw.
Mr T Gee said that last year the committee had quite a rise and they would not be looking for an increase this year.
Mr Pawson said that personally he thought that the remuneration for the committee in his opinion should be zero. He said that they do not do it for the money, they are all in walking distance so there are no expenses involved. The money comes out of the rent and should be spent on maintaining the properties not on the committee.
Mr Cort said that the committee do put themselves out and go that extra mile. A large percentage of the people on the estate don’t appreciate and can’t even be interested. He went on to say that he appreciates what Mr Pawson is saying and it is a wonderful gesture but, he thinks that the remuneration goes a little way in showing the tenants appreciation.
Mr Gee said that any individual committee member could refuse payment if they wanted to. It was agreed to keep the fee’s as they are.
Mr Cort brought up electricals mentioned earlier, he said that partial work had been done in his house over the years by a qualified electrician. He went on to ask that if the rest is found to be substandard who would pay the cost. Mr Gee says that that depends, the electrical spec we put into a property now is far greater that it was years ago, so in some cases people are going to get more. But it is fair to say that if there are any extras over and above that spec then tenants would have to pay for the extra. Mr Gee clarified that if a property needs to be rewired then Anchor Tenants would pay, anything extra would have to be paid by the tenant.
Mr Osborne said that he would like to thank the committee for taking this on board. He went on to say, wouldn’t it be better if all tenants went through the office to the committee before any electrical work is carried out. Mr Gee said that a letter will be sent out asking tenants that if they have any electrical work done that they inform us first.
Mr Parr said that he has the old type fuse box, does the electrical spec include fitting a new consumer box. Mr Gee said that a complete wiring includes a new consumer box.
Mr Ireland asked what were the two bits of land either side of the hall going to be used for. Mr Gee said that the garage side we are hoping that some tenants may use it to park their vehicles and for people using the hall. The other side is under discussion, it is hoped that this can be levelled and grassed and be used with the hall and also outside events in the summer.
Mrs C Smith asked if there were plans to have a caretaker to clean and look after the hall. Mr Gee said that we already have a cleaner coming in, the rest we are looking after ourselves. If we have lots of business coming in, then we may have to look at someone else taking over or another way of running it. Mrs Osborne said that if we get someone else to do it we would have to pay them.
Mrs C Smith said who on the committee would come to the hall and take responsibility and make sure that everything is alright. Mr Gee said that at the moment the committee take it in turns.
Mr Parr brought up the 20mph speed limit through the estate and asked if we could do anything about the speed people come through the estate as they take no notice of the speed limit. Other society members voiced their concerns.
Mr Gee said that there was nothing that the estate could do but advised tenants to keep reporting it to the police.
Mr Woolley said that he had spoken to a police officer and was told to take it up with the council.
Mrs Bradshaw said that she had brought it up at a community meeting. Mr Gee said that probably we should have a go at the council.
Mrs C Smith asked if there was a time limit on the hall. Mr Gee said that it is 11.00pm although if someone wanted it any longer we may have to get special permission.
Mr Ireland asked if we had got any bookings for the hall. Mr Gee said that there had been twelve bookings up to now and there’s more coming in. Mr Ireland said that the local community halls had put their rents up. Mr Gee said that we had the rent for the hall fairly low at the moment with a view to increase it if necessary. If the bookings come flooding in we shall look at it again.
Mr Woolley said going back to the 20-mph speed limit could you get in touch with the council to complain. Mr Gee said that we have just the same effect as individuals writing to them. The more people that write and complain about the speeding vehicles the more effect it may have. He said that there is a website that you can put comments on.
Miss Benning said that when she complained about the dog mess on Lilac Walk, they came and put up signs but that was all. She was told that there is an app that you can download and if you see something, you can register it on the app whether it is dog fouling or regarding the 20mph speed limit it will then be actioned. The more people that report things the more chance there is that something will be done about it.
Mr Woolley asked if it would be better coming from the estate. Mr Gee said that the road pavements and grass verges are entirely out of Anchor Tenants control and we are treated no differently than any other individual.
This concluded the business of the meeting and Mr Gee thanked everyone for their attendance before declaring the meeting closed at 7.35pm.
These minutes are the official record of what happened, and not a verbatim account.