Mr Gee took the chair, all committee members were present, with a further 19 society members in attendance.
Minutes of the previous general meeting were confirmed and signed, proposed by Mr M Cort and seconded by Mrs J Goodwin.
I mentioned in my last report that we were tackling the last of the empty properties on the estate and hopefully, after that was completed, we would have a period of respite. I should have known better. One more has recently become empty and so we continue the saga. Also to become empty this year was the hall. The hall is an asset and needs to take its place bringing in income to the society. It has to earn its keep. There is a host of legislation that has to be complied with before we can consider doing this; insurance, public liability, fire regulations, health and safety, electrical certificate, the disability act, all have to be taken into account and complied with. We are proceeding carefully and as finance is available. We hope that already you can see the results of our efforts. The next stage is to install some heating and also kitchen facilities. We can then maybe consider its use for certain activities.
New legislation has been passed which obliges landlords to fit smoke alarms on each level of occupation in tenanted houses. This we already do when we renovate a property but we now have to fit them in all houses. We have completed our survey and have approximately 100 alarms to fit in order to comply with the law. We know that it may inconvenience some people, but we ask that you help all you can while this work is carried out. Once fitted the smoke alarms have a life of 10 years. We ask tenants, that if they have any problems with them, to contact us and not to remove or tamper with them themselves.
Painting has started on the even numbers of Fern Rise. A little late this year because the weather conditions delayed the contractor and also the decision to paint was not made until August to make sure we had the funds available. We are monitoring the situation and if it is not possible to finish all of Fern Rise this year we shall continue next year.
Since we took action to simplify the housing list, by removing the names of those people who continually refused a house when offered, the letting of vacant properties has gone more smoothly. I again remind those people who were removed from the housing list that when their 12 months is over; it is up to them to apply to be reinstated on the list. Unless they do so they will not appear on the waiting list.
It is our policy, at the moment, that once a tenant has been in a property for 5 years, we inspect the property and if everything is in order and there is not a history of rent arrears, we refund the deposit that the tenant paid when they first moved in. We now intend to include the garden in that inspection. We do not expect to see a garden that would win prizes at the Chelsea Flower show, but that at least some effort has been made to keep the garden tidy.
Our website is no longer available. We do not have the resources or the expertise to keep one going. There is an alternative website run by a member which can be accessed. This website does not have the support of the committee nor can we control its content. I happen to think that it is a very good site but opinions differ.
The problem of plants growing up the house wall, particularly ivy, is again causing some concern. We cannot always see what is happening at the rear of houses and we have recently had a case where ivy had completely covered the central heating vents. We ask tenants to be vigilant and to remove ivy where ever possible and if they are having any problems to let us know.
I started off my report by commenting on the fact that we continue to get empty properties. The matter of the property being empty is not too much of a problem. They will be renovated and new tenants will move in. Our greatest loss is the elderly people who lived there. They would have been on the estate for 30 or 40 or 50 years and would have supported the concept of the estate and all that we try to do.
This committee and previous committees work hard to provide a nice house at a reasonable rent. To continue, we need the support of all shareholders, particularly those that live on the estate. What better way to show support than to attend the meetings and consider serving on the committee? I thank all those who have taken the trouble to attend tonight. Some of us on the committee are getting close to our sell by date. In fact, there are some that would say we are well passed that date. It is true that a well-balanced committee needs an element of experience but we also need young blood with modern ideas and energy. Just remember, if there are no nominations there will be no committee, if there is no committee there will be no Anchor Tenants, if there is no Anchor Tenants the future will be very uncertain for all of us.
This concluded the chairman’s report.
Nominations are: Miss L Johnson, Mr M Carter, Mr W Gee and Mrs J Benning. As there are two vacancies and four nominations, a vote will be required. Mrs I Gaten and Mrs J Taylor volunteered to act as scrutineers.
Mrs Taylor asked if the trees in the estate office and memorial gardens could be trimmed back. Mr Gee said that they will be looked at. Mrs Goodwin said that the one in the memorial garden was bought as a miniature but unfortunately it has turned out not to be so. Mr Cort said that he has two trees in the neighbouring garden which are getting bigger and bigger and he fears that one day they will take his fence down.
Mr Gee said that as far as tress are concerned, our policy is yes we will have a look at them, we are very reluctant to take them down unless there is a good reason, such as they are in close proximity to the house and the roots may cause damage or they are rotten. Mr Cort said that one of them is full of ivy growing up it and he is worried that it will take the tree down. Mr Gee said that we will certainly have a look.
Mrs Goodwin asked if the committee could look at the side hedge as there are ash trees in it, taller than the house, and takes the light from her garden. Mr Gee said that this will also be looked at.
Miss Gamble asked if the policy applies to empty houses or houses that are coming empty and have big trees in the garden, will you be taking those or some of the trees down. Mr Gee said again we would look at them. If they are in close proximity to the house and we think that they are going to be a danger, we will take them down. We try as best we can to leave them as they are a feature of the estate, but it depends on each individual case. Mr T Smith said that there are a lot of tress growing wild, even up the back way, and are totally out of hand.
Mr Gee said that there are some, but they are not doing any damage, as they are not near a house.
Mrs C Smith said could you remind tenants that they are responsible for keeping the back way tidy, because nobody seems to bother about it nowadays. She went on to say that when she first came on the estate you could eat of the floor, you couldn’t now as its disgusting. There are old cars down the back way and people make excuses, but their excuses are not good enough.
Mr Gee said that we had looked at this but it is a very difficult question. The council have told us that they will not move cars from there unless it is a health hazard. Mrs C Smith said that there are vermin and foxes there, which is a health hazard. Mr Gee said that letters are sent out, but are ignored, what else do you do. Mrs C Smith said that it is on the rent book that gardens must be kept tidy.
Mr Gee said it is almost impossible to force tenants to move them, but we shall keep at them and hope that eventually they will get them moved.
He went on to say that you must bear in mind that legislation has changed so much since this estate was first built and the estate has not got complete control over it as it used to have. We are now governed by rent acts and landlord and tenants acts and it is quite difficult. It is a small minority of tenants, we keep writing to them, but we can then be accused of harassing them, so we have to be very careful. They do not have to prove that we are harassing them, we have to prove that we are not, this can lead to all sorts of problems.
Mrs Goodwin said that standards had gone down.
Mrs Bakker asked what ideas had the committee got for the use of the hall, which she said was looking really good.
Mr Gee said once we have got it finished we are hoping to let it out on a daily basis to groups and people who want to use it and see if that works. He went on to say that what we do not want to do is let it out on a long lease again where we lose control of it. There have been one or two inquiries from various people and we will see how it goes.
This concluded the business of the meeting and Mr Gee thanked members for their attendance, before declaring the meeting closed at 7.20pm.
These minutes are the official record of what happened, and not a verbatim account.