Estate AGM Minutes: 2015

SOUTHCOTE PARK ESTATE MANAGEMENT

Trustee Trustee Trustee Trustee
Mr M Amos Vacant Mr JG Cook M Saligova-Smith
Chair Treasurer Secretary
Vacant Mr JG Cook Jo Greenbank
87 Kenilworth Ave 94 Kenilworth Ave

Minutes
Annual General Meeting, April 2015
The Grange Church - Circuit Lane

NOTE - The Annual levy is due on 1 April each year.
If residents have not paid this year's levy (£120), it is now overdue. Please pay the treasurer or your relevant Committee member. If you have any problems with making payment, please let the Treasurer know.

All Residents are reminded to:

  • Keep to the speed limit of 20mph
  • Water newly planted trees regularly
  • Refrain from parking on the grass verges; where possible park on driveways
  • Cut back foliage overhanging pathways
  • Clear fallen trees to prevent drain blockages
  • Keep dogs on leads when walking on the estate

1.Welcome - The meeting opened at 19.45 with a welcome by the Treasurer (John Cook).
It was noted that apologies had been received from a number of residents.

2.Minutes - The minutes of the last AGM were agreed by the meeting.

3.Matters Arising - There were no specific actions or matters arising from the last meeting.

4. Committee Report to Residents - Treasurer
John reported that looking back over the last year, the single most significant change to the Estate was the change from sodium street lights to the white LED ones. Changing all the lights cost £1500 and John explained that in the previous 12 months the cost of repairing failing sodium lights was around £1000 pounds and getting more expensive as parts were becoming obsolete. Two of the new lights on Kenilworth Ave are shortly to be repaired, although only one is a bulb failure.

A few residents raised concerns about the ‘shadowy' nature of the current bulbs, which makes it difficult to see and some people may feel vulnerable, especially when walking or running along the road at night. Whilst recognising that the lights look attractive and fit with the nature of the Estate, John explained that brighter bulbs are being sought, although this will depend on finding a brighter bulb that the light fitting can tolerate.

John explained that the only other significant road cost within the last year was in getting all the drain gullies cleaned out.

The trees continue to be maintained, although at a much lower cost than was budgeted for. There is more tree work to be done and, as reported under the finance report, the budget has been increased compared to this year - but this is not more than previous projections.

At Committee there have been a number of discussions about signs round the road (there are new Monks Way and Winser Drive signs). However, John acknowledged that the Committee know there is more that could be done (see item 7a and 7b).

John explained that another area of concern at the Committee through the wet winter has been the damage to grass verges. Residents have previously received a note about this. John emphasised that the verges are owned by the trustees - they are not part of the individual properties. In the past, the estate employed a full time gardener to maintain the common areas, but for over 50 years the custom has been for residents to do their bit and hence keep costs down. John noted that if we were to ask an experienced contractor to do a once over comprehensive maintenance of just the grass verges, it would cost between £6000 and £10000. That would spend half of each house levy just for a once over.

A member of the Committee asked if we should approach residents individually if they continue to neglect the verge outside their house. John explained that the Committee have talked to some residents, but he asked all residents to encourage their neighbours to respect and maintain the verges, rather than leaving it to the Committee to resolve. One resident asked if stones could be put on the edge of the verge to discourage parking there - John answered that some residents had already taken this approach. Another resident asked if the Committee had considered putting kerbs in - John explained that although a discussion had taken place at Committee previously, the expense would be significant and it would change the nature of the Estate - and some people would still bump over kerbs.

If residents have a new tree planted in the verge outside the property, John asked them to please try and keep it watered during these dry spells we are having now - noting that the tree will look better and will improve year on year.

6. Financial Update
a) Financial statement on the back of the agenda: John apologised for an error, although he explained that it is a matter of presentation. At the bottom of the page it showed that 32 houses had already paid their levy for this year when the books were closed. The £3200 was incorrectly included in the very top figure for levies received, which should reflect only the 2014/15 levy income, however the income total is correct and all the rest flows through and balances correctly. John confirmed that the accounts and the corrected report have once again been checked and signed off by Mrs Perera - thanks were expressed to her.

John added for information that all levies were fully paid last year, and that around two thirds have already been paid this year.

John also noted that the accounts were closed on the 21 st March in order to give time to get everything pulled together and audited for the AGM. The main difference this makes is that the interest on the Monmouthshire account only appears on 1 st April - it will therefore be counted into next year's accounts. As a point of information, John noted that it was £256 this year.

John also noted that the accounts are healthy and under control, and the Estate stayed within the budget set out last year.

A resident asked if there was any cost to the Estate for the gas works last year - it was explained that the Estate had no costs, and that the contractor met all costs, including the repairs to grass verges caused by their work.

The financial statement was accepted unanimously by the meeting.

b) Projected Income And Expenditure- John provided a copy of the 10 year spreadsheet showing the last five years and then projections for the next 5, explaining that prices have been inflated by 5% year on year. John noted that the Committee recognise that more will need to be spent this year on trees. Secondly, that while the Estate has an estimate for road resurfacing to be done perhaps next year, this is not a commitment and the Committee will keep it under review. There are some places where there is evidence of slight sinking of the road surface and these may need emergency fixes, or extra work as part of resurfacing. A resident asked when the road was last re-surfaced. John explained that it was done in 2008/09.

c) Set Levy for 2016/17. - For the reasons outlined above, John explained that the Committee are recommending increasing the levy to £110 next year (payable in April 2016) and that this will re- establish the old practice of building up reserves beyond planned work - something that was eroded completely by the approach that was taken to the footpath resurface. There were no Page 2 of 5counter proposals to this recommendation and the meeting unanimously agreed to the levy of £110 for 2016/17.

6. Nominations for the Committee Posts
John explained that Nick Burn is stepping down from Secretary after 5 years. John expressed how grateful the Committee and residents are for his efforts over that time - he was not only secretary but also coordinated all the street light works. His work takes him abroad frequently and he could not continue to commit the time.

John explained that the committee recommend Mrs Jo Greenbank as Secretary who has already stepped up to cover for Nick tonight - and welcomed her. Committee Member Keith Beldam (40 Kenilworth Ave) will be co-ordinating any issues and actions around street lights.

In the absence of other offers, John Cook expressed his willingness to continue as Treasurer but noted that the Chair is still vacant.

The meeting confirmed John and Jo in the Treasurer and Secretary roles.

The meeting registered their thanks to all the Committee and the Officials for their time and efforts.

Any resident interested in joining the committee should contact the Secretary (Jo Greenbank, 94 Kenilworth Ave) - you would be welcome at any Committee meeting to see what is involved.

It was also agreed to re-circulate a list of Committee members and the addresses they cover - this can be found at the end of the Minutes.

John also reported that Norman Williams, one of the four Trustees, has resigned. Norman has been a tremendous servant for the estate, having being involved for well over 35 years. Residents expressed their thanks for all of his work and commitment over the years.

John explained that the Trustees are in conversation with a few residents who may be able to take on the vacant Trustee position, and are also checking on whether the number of Trustees is limited to four, or if it can be higher.

7. Formal Proposals To The AGM
a) Mr Carter of 49 Winser Drive presented his proposal to the meeting - that speed signage should be increased to discourage speeding and protect children on the estate.

The meeting discussed different options, including the previous consideration that had been given to possible solutions.

John reminded the meeting that the estate had established the 20mph limit to keep the roads safe, but that as a private road we are less constrained in what we can do in terms of meeting road traffic act signs. Hence the Committee had already purchased 20mph wheelie bin stickers - available at the to collect after the meeting. Note - if any residents need further stickers please contact your Committee Member.

It was agreed that the Committee would look at a combined, systematic approach to highlighting the 20 mph limited, including:

- Reminding residents about respecting the 20 mph limit in our various notices

- Stickers for the bins which remind people of the speed and ask people to drive carefully - some were available at the meeting for residents to take away, but we could make them available for all (they cost 70p each)

- Signs on lampposts - the Committee already has a couple of 20mph signs that need to be put up, and other repeater signs would be explored (they cost around £50-£70 each), including the possibility of mobile signs that flash up when people go over the limit.

b) Mr Fryer-Saxby of 7 Monks Way presented his proposal to the meeting - that in view of increasing and regular use of Monks Way by non-residents for parking and offloading, and an anticipated increase in use for dropping off once the Wren school starts, that the two broken signs at the entrance to Monks Way be replaced to define clearly the private and restricted nature of the estate.

The meeting unanimously agreed that the signs need to be reinstated on Monks Way as a matter of priority, and that the Committee should consider if the signs could be made more robust and resilient to damage. The missing sign at the shops end of Kenilworth Ave would also be reinstated at the same time.

If and when the Elvian school redevelopment starts, Residents asked if the Committee could explore the signs that have been seen in other places nearby to restrict construction traffic in residential roads.

c) Mr Whitaker of 29 Monks Way presented his proposal - that in view of the likely increase in parking on Monks Way by non-residents during construction of the Wren school, and its subsequent use as a drop-off, that Monks Way should be closed off at the Southcote Lane end and opened at the Southcote Farm Lane end.

John explained that the Council do not take account of private roads in traffic plans for new developments, so residents are encouraged to write to local Councillors about the concerns over increased traffic as a result of the construction.

John explained that problems may occur at whichever end is closed, as a layby would be created because of how the road is configured with the Council owned areas. This proposal would also therefore require consultation with the Council. The proposal would also result in 1, 3 and 5 Monks Way being seen as outside of the Estate.

When considered previously, because the issue only affects residents in Monks Way, a referendum had been held of those residents, with some agreeing the Southcote Lane end should be closed, but a majority wanting it to stay as is. It was recognised that the Wren school development has changed the situation, but it was also noted that the timescales for the new permanent building for the new school is not clear, as planning permission for the permanent building has not yet been granted.

It was agreed that it is important to understand as much as possible about the issues, options and timing before carrying out a referendum. The Committee agreed to draft something which could be used to consult with affected residents.

8. A.O.B.
Mrs Payne from 1 Kenilworth Ave asked the Committee to consider cutting down the tree on the grass verge outside her property - it is a Field Maple (in the same family as the Sycamore Tree) which could grow to a significant height. It has already suffered damage from cars and the leaves make the path slippery.

The Committee member who co-ordinates tree maintenance agreed to speak with Ben Mackie, the Estate's Arborist, and investigate the costs for cutting it down. It was noted however that, given its size, it may need to wait until the winter, when the ground will be softer.

Mr Carter asked who maintains the grass verge outside 44 Winser Drive, as it has been overgrown. It was explained that the property had previously been rented, but has now been sold with permission to build another house attached to it (details are available on Reading BC planning website). It was noted that other residents from the street do cut the grass.

The meeting closed at 9.05pm
(Attendance 36 residents from 28 properties)