Estate AGM Minutes: 2017

SOUTHCOTE PARK ESTATE MANAGEMENT

Trustee Trustee Trustee Trustee
Mr M Amos Mr A Gow Mr JG Cook J Greenbank
Chair Treasurer Secretary
Vacant Mr JG Cook Jo Greenbank
87 Kenilworth Ave 94 Kenilworth Ave

Minutes
Annual General Meeting, 27th April 2017
The Grange Church - Circuit Lane

1.Welcome - The meeting opened at 19.30 with a welcome by the Treasurer (John Cook). It was noted that apologies had been received from a number of residents. John took the opportunity to remind attendees that we are seeking new Committee members, given a number of people have left, or are due to leave. He also reminded the meeting that Committee Members and Trustees give their time voluntarily and that their time and contributions help to maintain the attractiveness of the Estate, which benefits all residents.

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

3.Matters Arising - The following matters arising were noted from the 2015 meeting:

  • Replacement/improvement of signs - the second set of signs has been put up in the entrance to Monks Way. Replacement signs in the same style will be put up in Kenilworth Ave and Winser Drive.
  • The Constitution and Rules document was redrafted and this features later on the Agenda.
  • Issues relating to parking and verges, as discussed in 2016, also appear later on the Agenda.
  • Elvian site - John reported that we have been in touch with Taylor Wimpey about issues relating to parking, etc., in Monks Way. They have put a sign up and promised to brief their staff on the site. However, another problem was witnessed today so we will be in touch again with the Site Manager. John encouraged Monks Way residents' to report things directly to Taylor Wimpey and take pictures for evidence.
  • Street lights - at last year's meeting there was a suggestion to clean the lamps. John confirmed that we did a few pilot cleans, as bulbs needed replacing, but that this made little difference. We have been trying to find replacement heads and contacted Reading Borough Council (who have been replacing their own lights in the same style) but nothing has been forthcoming on that yet.

4. Committee Report to Residents - Treasurer

a) Trees - John gave an update from Leila - the Committee Member who manages the tree work - and the meeting thanked Leila for all the work she does. Four trees (at 12 and 45 Monks Way, 84 and 104 Kenilworth) were taken out in January 2017 because of disease. The verge at 104 Kenilworth has been left unplanted for one year on the advice of our aborist due to honey fungus. The three other verges have been replanted. Replanting is done using flowering cherry trees where possible, but sometimes alternatives are required if the cherry trees do not thrive. Residents are reminded to water new trees.
b) Verge repairs - John explained that we did the verge repairs, as agreed at last year's meeting, and the patching in the middle of the verges has worked out well but not all of the edges.
c) Footpath repairs - The committee has been discussing this issue, identifying that there are some areas with cracks, etc, and we did a survey across the whole Estate. Hazell and Jeffries have quoted for the repair work however the costs are a lot more than anticipated so we may need to look for different contractors. The Committee intend to do the footpath repairs within the year.
d) Trustee Matters - John confirmed that, as reported last year, Jo Greenbank has been appointed into the vacant Trustee position and subsequently Alan Gow has replaced Maria Saligova-Smith, who has moved abroad.

John explained that The Trustees reported last year about our dialogue with one resident of Monks Way over the copse at the end of Monks Way (officially known as the Island Site). Despite everything (and there were many emails and letters and supply of documents) that resident instructed solicitors in June, and then issued formal court proceedings against the Trustees in February.

The main purpose of the court action appears to be to set aside the deed signed in 1959 by the Trustees at the time, on the grounds that the then Trustees acted inappropriately. We believe that the deed was and remains valid and binding and cannot simply be set aside. As proceedings have been issued against the current Trustees we have no option but to deal with them and are duty bound to defend the Trustees against the claim of inappropriate action. We therefore had no choice but to take legal advice, and have, and are, following that advice. This is the reason for most of the legal costs in the financial statement. There has also been further expenditure of around £3300 in the current financial year.

The case is still ongoing. We believe, and are advised, that the claim has no realistic prospects of success and we are intending to apply for the case to be dismissed. If we succeed we will seek an order to recover our costs from the resident, so we would hope to be able to recover most of the costs shown in the accounts. Also we have insurance cover and we have confirmed that most of the costs shown will be recoverable via that route whatever the outcome of the case. Going forward most of the further costs will be covered by our insurance (and/or recovered when we win the case).

As the case is still ongoing John explained that he could not say any more at this time.

6. Financial Update
a) Financial statement on the back of the agenda: John confirmed that the accounts have once again been checked and signed off by Mrs Perera - thanks were expressed to her. John explained that Mrs Perera asked that we highlight the legal fees (linked to the action outlined in the Trustee Update above), and it was noted that there has been further legal expenditure since the accounts closed at the end of February. Some of last year's legal costs relate to other matters, such as Trustee appointments. John explained that most of the costs will be met by our insurers, and that we are in conversations with them about how much that will be. A resident asked if there could be any impact on future insurance premiums, but John didn't think this would be the case as the insurance covers a range of issues.

John confirmed that all levies were eventually paid last year - the final one related to a house sale that completed in March 2017. As of the meeting, 30 levies remain outstanding for this year.

The meeting accepted the accounts.

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 explained that we had said at last year's meeting that we might resurface the road this year. The Committee have concluded that they do not think it necessary for this year but will be planning it for 2018, however it is recognised there are some dips in the road which might require repair work before then.

c) Levy for 2016/17. - John explained that the Committee recommend keeping the levy £110 and this was agreed unanimously by the meeting. One resident asked if it was normal practice to build up the reserve fund. John agreed that this would be helpful so that we would not have to ask for additional money when significant works are required.

The meeting gave a vote of thanks to John for all the work and years of service he has done as Treasurer.

6. Constitution and Rules

John explained that previous version was created in 1990s and therefore given its age, and some other practical changes we wanted to make, including the layout, an updated copy has been produced that was distributed to residents with the Agenda. John explained that it is not a legally binding document but the Committee have spent a long time discussing it and have had it reviewed by solicitors. We would like it to be endorsed by the meeting so residents are signed up to it and the Committee will pass copies to new residents as they move in and hopefully encourage good behaviours. The meeting was happy to endorse the updated Consitution and Rules.

7. Nominations for the Committee Posts

Jo confirmed her willingness to continue in the role of Secretary and the meeting confirmed this.

John confirmed that he would be stepping down as Treasurer in June and it was noted that the Chair position remains vacant.

All current Committee members are happy to continue, although numbers have reduced given people have moved.

John explained that we have had interest from David Cumming to join the Committee and be Treasurer, and John has spent time with him explaining the role and a possible handover. The meeting welcomed the offer by David and unanimously agreed to his appointment as Treasurer (with a handover around June).

Four other residents expressed an interest in joining the Committee.

Others were asked to contact SouthcoteEstateCommittee@gmail.com if interested or to request any further information.

The meeting endorsed the Committee appointments.

John explained that if we are unable to find Committee Members and fill the vacant posts, then the Management option route could be very expensive. It was agreed to wait to see how the recruitment for new Committee members goes before discussing further.

8. Formal Proposals To The AGM

Jo explained that 5 responses had been received in response to the AGM notice and the general theme related to parking and protection of the verges.

The committee have discussed the idea of parking permits and concluded that aside from the fact that there is actually no right for anyone - even residents - to park on the roads, the practicalities of managing parking permits would be challenging. For example, how many resident stickers per household would be acceptable? How would visitors be identified? Who would police it and how would it be enforced? We looked at how parking enforcement companies operate and apart from the cost implications they would need to install yet more highly visible signs throughout the estate to meet legal requirements. The Committee felt that this would not be the direction to go in.

However the Committee remain concerned about the damage to verges caused by vehicles parking badly. While it is easy to say "charge them for the repairs" there would still be issues about proof and about the cost of individual repairs (we have the same issue about tree damage by lorries). We had even considered installing kerbs throughout the estate - but that would change the appearance, would not prevent people bumping over them, and would cost up to £80,000 (we had a quote). At our most recent meeting the Committee therefore decided to look more closely at installing posts with no parking signs at the entrances to the estate and possibly on verges we repair to prevent more damage while the repairs bed in.

The Committee propose to trial this at the Beefeater end of Kenilworth Avenue, where parking from the flats and the Beefeater cause a problem, and also outside number 24 Kenilworth, where the road and grass verge requires repair.

The meeting supported the proposal to trial the posts.

John also explained that we did a traffic survey in June 2016 to get a baseline of how many cars potentially use the estate as a cut-through - the numbers were low but the intention is to repeat this when the Elvian site development has concluded.

One other resident asked us to raise the issue of dogs not on leads. The meeting did not feel it is a significant issue, and it was noted that there are already signs up around the Estate.

The meeting closed at 8.30pm (Attendance 33 residents from 32 properties)