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Minutes of Annual General Meeting
23rd Jan 2015
Present: Martin Calvert (Chair), Adrian Coltman, Joan & Mervyn Clayton, Adam & Carol Bull, Paul & Hazel Ellis, Dorothy Carter, Mike & Penny Betteridge, Peter Foulston, Trevor & Diane Kitto, Naomi Watts-Kitto, Steven Johns, Kay McDowell, Alex King, Robert Jones, Malcolm Robertson, Geoff Holden.
1. Apologies for Absence
Jenny Page, Steve Tyndale-Biscoe, Neil McDowell.
2. Minutes of the last AGM 24-Jan-2014
Agreed as a true record.
3. Matters Arising
- Action Morning Donuts
The heated debate regarding jam or custard donuts at the Action Mornings rages on, but with a definite no to chocolate donuts!
4. Chair's Report 2014 (Martin Calvert)
Martin thanked everyone for coming and thanked the Three Hulats for kindly hosting the event and supporting the Group throughout the year.
Month by Month
The Action Morning is a big litter pick at the Allerton Grange Way end of the woods. Mervyn is busy removing the information boards to his workshop for sanding and then several coats of yacht varnish. I had a walk with LCC Habitats Manager Elaine Hill and Forestry Officer Justin Williamson to discuss our proposed work activities for 2014.
Mervyn completes the 6 information boards to a really high standard. Much better than when new. Thank you Mervyn. The Action Morning was mainly beech sapling thinning. Justin takes a walk with FGVW members to explain the felling programme. FGVW agree to publicise the proposals at the FunDay with a manned display and regular announcements.
Path restoration is the main activity at the Action Morning and 5 hot water flasks are smashed in an unfortunate incident when they fell out of my car.
2 benches and 2 information boards are installed. The level of water in the lake is a cause for concern, having dropped for no obvious reason. Some water bird nests are left high and dry and the birds have to start building again.
The path and steps near "Mrs Carter's Bridge" are improved and repaired and "Mrs Hood's Steps" are tidied up.
The FunDay takes place on a lovely June day in a lovely summer. Over 1,000 people attend. Announcements about the tree felling proposals are made throughout the afternoon and a display highlights the plans with Adrian on hand to explain. Only one person is not convinced of the validity of the proposals. A big thank you to the army of FunDay helpers. It just wouldn't happen without you.
Adrian contacts a manager at the Catholic diocese of Leeds property in Allerton Park to discuss FGVW managing their field located between Allerton Park and Gledhow Valley Road, as a wild flower meadow. He was enthusiastic in his response, but for some reason we didn't hear any more from them. More path work was repaired at the Action Morning.
The Bath House receives it's annual spruce up in readiness for the Heritage Open Day weekend in September.
The Bath House receives 202 visitors and raises £359 in income. The tree felling proposals are also on display. FGVW decide to proceed with the delayed plans to create a meadow near the lake. The Conservation Volunteers are contracted to help with the clearance work. There is a planning application to build 14 houses on two fields between Gledhow Valley Road and Allerton Park. This has been expected ever since the fields were surveyed a few years ago. Discussions at the Core Group meeting with GVCAG and others lead to us printing information sheets provided by GVCAG and distributing them to the local community. Social media comes to the fore in keeping followers up to date with developments. The Chapel Allerton councillors lend their support. We spend a morning in Chapel Allerton handing out advice leaflets on how to comment and others distribute leaflets in the Valley and house to house. Joan trawls the internet and manages to unearth numerous documents relevant to the planning application. Over 450 comments are received by the LCC planning department.
Andrew Woodhall kindly led a Fungus Foray and finds plenty of species despite the dry summer. FGVW twitter followers and Facebookers increase in numbers during the planning application incident. A huge 44 volunteers plant over 1,000 bulbs at the Action Morning where work also continues on Audrey's meadow.
105 trees and bushes are planted to create a copse at the Gledhow Lane junction and a hedgerow further along Gledhow Valley Road. More bulbs are planted too. The new Christmas cards with sprinkles go on sale. Many thanks to Wendy and Steve Jones-Blackett, owners of the House of Cards, for their expertise, support and generous discount in supplying the cards. FGVW members attend the Oakwood Farmers Market, St Matthew's Christmas Fair and the Three Hulats' Farmers Market. Justin Williamson offers to lead guided walks to explain the selective felling proposals. At the Core Group meeting, for the first time ever, Joan has no items to mention in Any Other Business - wow!
The planning application is re submitted with one less house on the plan. It's probably a ploy to reduce the number of valid comments. We are not entirely sure of the need to re comment but we encourage people to comment again and spend another morning in Chapel Allerton, 200 comments are received by the LCC planning dept. Finally, FGVW members attend the Roundhay School fair.
The FunDay came about as a method of communicating with the local community. The previous method of holding open meetings was not successful, only attracting a handful of people.
The FunDay has become a main event in the local calendar, attracting over 1,000 visitors to the FunDay field every tear.
The event is our main chance to interact with the community, to inform them of what we have done and what we are planning to do. It is our way of obtaining a mandate to carry on with our partnership with Leeds City Council. We happily receive comments and suggestions.
Thus, it is important to run a FunDay if possible. Due to personal circumstances, I won't be able to organise the event this year. However I have all the contacts and relevant information and would be happy to pass them on to someone wanting to help to keep the FunDay tradition going. It's a lovely event and much appreciated by the community so please see me if you can volunteer your services.
FGVW, Wildlife, Selective Tree Felling and Meadows
FGVW came into existence in 1996 so we have been going for 19 years this March. Over that time we have earned the respect of the local community for our work in keeping the valley tidy and cared for, improving accessibility and carrying out small scale management work to improve the habitats for wildlife. We receive many compliments from local people for our work. The figures that Joan has of hours worked and the value of those hours is very impressive. We have the backing of LCC in the work we do. All the work is agreed in advance and meets their aspirations for the management of their assets.
One of the main reasons for the formation of FGVW was to improve the habitat for wildlife so when an opportunity to do that comes along, it is natural for us to support it. Hence our support for the selective felling proposals. As a result of publicising the LCC Forestry plan to fell about 75 trees in the compartments either side of Gledhow Valley Road between the lake and the Bath House and the appearance of the yellow spots on the trees, we have received many e-mails and questions from the local community. This was expected as although it is a major plan, it is long overdue. Of the many e-mails received, all but 4 people were satisfied with the proposals once the situation had been fully explained.
So here we are, supporting the felling plan. The plan is proposed by a professional forestry officer at the council, is approved by the Forestry Commission and is in line with the Management Plan for Gledhow Valley Woods. Surely, professional opinion has to be trusted?
The Beech plantation is a very poor wildlife habitat with few insects and birds depending on it. Our native wildlife continues to decline at an alarming rate for many species and has been doing since the 1950s. Wildlife needs all the help it can get. We can't do much about some of the problems facing wildlife but we can support a plan that in the longer term will vastly improve the habitat in the beech plantation. Since I have lived in Gledhow, we have lost at least 6 species of birds from the woods. Namely, lesser spotted woodpecker, kestrel, willow warbler, whitethroat, garden warbler and marsh tit. Before that, spotted flycatcher and redstart also disappeared. So to us, the plans to positively help wildlife, to try to arrest the steep decline is something we must support if we care about native wildlife. It's a long term outlook, ensuring that Gledhow Woods will thrive long after our lifetimes.
Ideally, the felling would be done little and often rather than in one major event. The Management Plan suggests this, but Gledhow has been neglected for 15 years since the last felling of 20 beeches and subsequent re-planting took place. These areas are now looking really good.
To receive e-mails from folk unhappy with the proposals is fine.
To receive e-mails from folk unhappy with the explanation of the proposals is also fine.
But to receive e-mails from folk highly critical of all FGVW activities is not fine.
To be verbally assaulted whilst volunteering in the Woods is shocking. Where have you been for 19 years? Our volunteers work very hard to improve Gledhow Valley Woods. They freely give their time and it is unacceptable to wish that FGVW never existed, having kept quiet, at least to us, for 19 years. We are an open group. Anybody can attend our meetings.
We have been criticised for our work to create 2 wildflower meadows. There is an established meadow at the end of the lake and a work in progress at the other end of the lake. Well, the facts are that 97% of meadows have been lost in the last 75 years. The effect on pollinators has been catastrophic. Our insects, bees and butterflies have been disappearing at an alarming rate. Just remember how many dead insects you used to have on your car registration plate and radiator grill at the end of a car journey. How many do you see nowadays? One way to stem this decline is to create new meadows, even if there wasn't one there before. Our meadow at the end of the lake is a delight in spring and summer, alive with insects. We hope to do the same for "Audrey's Meadow", in memory of Audrey Robertson, a great supporter of FGVW.
It's not nice to be verbally assaulted whilst helping to make Gledhow Woods a better place, but we need to realise that not everybody gets the big picture and vitriolic comments are extremely rare and vastly outnumbered by the hundreds of positive comments we have received over the years.
So, in conclusion, be proud of what we have achieved. 19 years ago we were filling a skip with rubbish each month. There were cars regularly being burned out in the woods, and parts of the woods were inaccessible unless you had wellies on. The Bath House and the old car park were used for prostitution. Now there is a network of well used paths and 6 information boards and the woods are accessible to all. The number of people enjoying the woods is at an all time high. Thank you for your continued support.
5. Treasurer's Report 2014 (Paul Ellis)
Paul produced a breakdown of the payments made and any income received by the Group over the year. Main points included:
- Although the report shows a deficit of around £793 we had a surplus from previous years to cover this and we also have a cheque for over £600 which will go into next year's accounts, so the deficit is actually smaller than it appears.
- We didn't receive as many grants this year.
- Donations were also down this year however a significant percentage of those received previously were due to the generosity of Malcolm and Audrey Roberts.
- The Bank Account balance stands at £5,717 and the EBS Deposit Account balance stands at £5,556.
- Receipts for 2014 totalled £5,229 and payments made by the Group totalled £6,022.
- The FunDay cost much less than previous years as the Group decided to have a smaller event and host more games than paid events.
- The "Other" amount was mostly for benches and Paul will separate this item out in the accounts next year.
- Merchandise takings were up on previous years but spending was modest. We have around £800 worth of stock still to sell.
6. Merchandise Sales & Web Site Report 2014 (Adam Bull)
Adam provided a breakdown of merchandise sales and website statistics. The main points covered were:
- £1,409.90 was raised by selling merchandise. This excludes coasters and nest boxes. This is an increase of over £240 on last year.
- There were 7,722 (approx. 21 per day) visits to the website over the year.
- Over a third of people are now looking at the website on mobile devices such as tablets and mobile phones, mostly iPhones and iPads.
- The e-mail mailing list has increased by 30 to 391.
There has been an increase in the use of Social Media:
- Number of Twitter followers: 107
- Number of Facebook "likes": 253
7. Action Morning, Risk Assessments and Attendance Report
Joan provided a full breakdown of the number of volunteers who have attended the Action Mornings on a year by year basis, including a breakdown between Saturday and Sunday attendances. She also provided a breakdown of the average number of hours and the average cost based on £11 per hour that this would equate to should we wish to apply for match funding.
Joan will also be looking at this year's risk assessments so we can get them agreed by the Council.
- Average Saturday attendance for 2014: 18 volunteers.
- Average Sunday attendance for 2014: 28 volunteers.
- Total number of hours (average 2.5 hours per Action Morning): 720pa
- Average Cost for the year (based on £11ph): £7,920
- Total Fund Matching over 11 years would have been: £65,202.50
Joan thanked various members of the Group and all the volunteers for their hard work and dedication throughout the year. She also thanked all the volunteers who continue to collect litter and care for the woods outside of the Action Mornings.
8. Election of Officers
No new nominations were received.
The following officers were re-elected:
- Chair - Martin Calvert
- Vice Chair - Adrian Coltman
- Treasurer - Paul Ellis
- Secretary - Carol Bull
Martin suggested that the Group may wish to think about introducing new members who may look at new ways of running the Group.
There was also a suggestion to create a new position e.g. "Director of Fun" who would be responsible for organising the annual community FunDay.
Adrian also asked for volunteers to take responsibility for seeking and applying for grants as he no longer has the time to do this. It was suggested Jenny Page may like to do this and also Peter Foulston volunteered so it was suggested that the two work together.
- FGVW Meetings
The date of the February meeting has been changed to Thursday 19th February 2015 to allow all key members and visitors from the Council to attend. It will cover how we consult with the community and how we discuss and agree plans for the year with the Council.
- Council Rangers
The Group has been without a Parks & Countryside Ranger for almost 18 months due to Council cut backs. It is hoped that we will be able to have a ranger for 4 meetings a year. Two other Friends Groups now have a Stewardship arrangement with the Council. FGVW has looked into this before but we may need to do so again.
- FGVW Merchandise
Naomi is looking into getting greetings cards and Christmas cards. Adam supplied a CD with potential pictures on so she will ask Wendy to see if she thinks any are suitable for use on cards.
- Return of Member
Robert reported that Clar
e Standage will be returning to Leeds and will re-join the Group.
- Annual FGVW BBQ
The annual FGVW BBQ did not take place in 2014 due to the Tour De France. A BBQ will be planned for 2015.
- FGVW FunDay
Due to the Chair announcing that he will be unable to organise the event in 2015. Joan suggested that if no one is able to do the event this year we should have one in 2016 for the FGVW's 20th anniversary.
- Local Services
Joan has an updated list of telephone numbers which the public can use to report various problems and request services such as needle destruction, rubbish removal, etc. Adam will update the numbers on the FGVW website.
Questions have been raised over the hedgerows and mowing the grass verges before they flower. Geoff and Peter agreed to work on this.
- FGVW Volunteer T-shirts
Malcolm suggested FGVW t-shirt for volunteers.
- Parks & Green Spaces
Peter Foulston represents the Group at Parks & Green Spaces meetings. This brings all "Friends of" Groups together. Kay and Peter have been working on a wildflower guidance document and looking at wildflower planting in conjunction with Emma Trickett from the Council. Audrey's meadow will be used as a case study. There is also some judging taking place for "green flag" status. If you would like to be involved in this over the summer please contact Peter. Kay brought the annual and perennials to the meeting for the Group to look at.
- Woodland Trust
The Woodland Trust has granted the Group another 105 free trees.
- Cannabis in the Woods
Bags of Cannabis plants have been found regularly dumped in the woods. A suggestion was made to build up the area with established plants to try and block the land from having bags dumped there.
The matters raised in any other business will be discussed at future Core Group meetings.
10. Dates of Next Meetings
- Core Group Meeting - Thu 19 Feb 2015 (Gledhow Sports & Social Club)
- Action Morning - Sun 18 Jan 2015
- Action Morning - Sun 22 Feb 2015 (previously advertised as 15 Feb 2015)
- Action Morning - Sun 22 Mar 2015
- Action Morning - Sat 11 Apr 2015