AFOS January 2022 Minutes

Minutes of the Allotments, Footpaths and Open Spaces Committee on Thursday 20th January 2022 at 7pm held at The Institute.

Present: Councillors Denman, Robinson, Rose, Stevens (District), Hosking and Shinkins-Hoppe.
Chairman of the Allotments Association.
Cllr Shelton from Market Deeping Town Council.  
An allotment tenant.
Julie Fortnum (Parish Clerk)
Assistant Clerk Louise Brown taking minutes.
A current tenant from Deeping St James Parish Council Allotments attended to talk about correspondence entered into with the Parish Council, referring to the significant number of changes to the Tenancy Agreement and the enforcement of this.  The tenant felt that the Tenancy Agreement as a standard, should remain unchanged and that the Parish Council should not issue unnecessary yearly renewals other than to alter the fees as needed, he questioned the time and money spent in making the changes.  The tenant drew attention to the Public Liability Insurance, the restrictions to the size of new sheds being added to plots and the prohibition of rat poison use,  to mention three of the changes.  The tenant also alluded to the ‘enforcement’ of the Tenancy Agreement as a shotgun approach, you either abide by the new changes or you leave.    
Councillor Stevens arrived at the meeting 7.10pm.
The Chair, Councillor Shinkins-Hoppe advised that the Parish Council as landlords, have a duty to review the Tenancy Agreement annually.  The Parish Council take guidance from various sources such as the National Society of Allotments and Leisure Gardeners to help make the allotments workable.  Changes are made based upon issues brought up during the year with reference to the Allotments Association, fee reviews and by new situations that have arisen.  Tenants are sent new contracts annually to sign and return.  The tenant’s previous contract is not terminated, it ends when the renewal starts and the tenant has the choice to accept these new conditions which have been put in place to resolve issues that have arisen or go elsewhere.  
The Parish Council subsidises the allotments enormously, there are a small number of people from within the community who benefit from the amount of money the Parish Council makes available to support the allotment.  Whilst the Allotments, Footpaths and Open Spaces Committee supports the allotments wholeheartedly, a lot of money is invested in quite a small number of people from this community and not all are from Deeping St James or Frognall.  Other neighbouring Parish residents are seeing the benefits that Deeping St James Parish Council and the taxpayer are paying.  A lot of time and money is spent in administering to both the Allotments Association and individual tenants needs.
The Chair of the Allotments Association took time to bring up queries that he had with the agenda, that he was unable to detail on his report due to the crossover of when the report was to be received and the agenda sent out.
The Chair of the Allotments Association referred to his report sent out to Councillors with the agenda.
There have been continued thefts that have occurred since the major break-in in mid-October and the Allotments Association would like more security considered.  The Allotments Association would like a bigger gate, and some form of CCTV/signage.  The Parish Council was thanked for the new padlock, and advising the tenants to park in the car park, closing and locking the gate when last out.  
A suggestion was made that inspections be stepped up, to include an eye for a build up of things, to prevent the overhaul that needs to happen when a tenant then abandons their plot.
They drew our attention to four water tanks that are leaking (when the water is turned on).
Finally, they wished to put forward that the Allotments Association are not keen on the introduction of chickens to the allotments, as they have the potential to encourage vermin/rats.
The Parish Council acknowledged that the Police had been informed about the major break-in and a Councillor suggested putting up a poster reminding tenants to not forget to lock the gate.  Unfortunately, other local allotments have also been targeted for burglary.  The Parish Council are not inclined to support solar CCTV as it would be unlikely to work in the dark winter months, it would not be manned and would not stop a thief.  The suggestion of a bigger gate was dismissed as people can get in to the allotments via other methods.  It is well known that sheds are not secure and allotments are not secure.  The Parish Council can only suggest tenants do not keep valuables at the allotments and not lock their sheds, so as not to attract attention.
The Parish Council alerted the  Allotments Association to the fact that chickens are legally allowed to be kept on the allotments according to The Allotments Act 1950.
28.22 To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from Cllrs Bowell, Hall, Halls and Thomas.
Cllr Fowler did not attend.
29.22 To receive declarations of interest, if any.
None were given.
30.22  To adopt the minutes of the meeting held Tuesday 21 September 2021. 
The Minutes were agreed to be a true representation, the Chair to sign at a later date.
31.22  To consider questions and queries raised by a tenant from the Allotments.
Discussed in Open Forum.
32.22  To receive and discuss the report from the Allotments Association and make any recommendations to Council.
Discussed in Open Forum.
33.22  To receive reports from the Clerk.
There have been a number of break-ins and thefts which are still ongoing.  The Parish Council have alerted all tenants to remain vigilant and report incidents to the Police.  
DSJPC have also changed the padlock code to the site and advised all tenants.
The Skate Park, Hall Meadow Road Allotments, Millennium Woods and Deeping St James Cemetery were attended by a qualified arboriculturist to survey the trees on the 20th September 2021.  A contractor has been approached to look into the work recommended for the trees at the Allotments.
The Allotment Car Park and roadways 2 and 3, were resurfaced in October 2021 by Holland Wing.
The Assistant Clerk sent the rats’ information out to tenants after the renewal date.
Four contractors have been contacted to quote regarding the dismantling and removal of the current planters at plot 32B and the installation of 3 further large planters.  Two have responded and Cllr Halls is in the process of meeting with them to discuss expectations.
A skip was provided at the end of November 2021 and another was provided, that was used mostly for the removal of waste from plot 43B on 10th January 2022 and some Parish Council waste.  The Parish Council have recently had to remove 13 car tyres from the same abandoned plot for a small fee.  
The farmer was contacted with a view to cutting the perimeter hedge at the allotments and was asked to be sensitive to the roadways.
Cllr Robinson has agreed to make numbered stakes for the allotment plots with his Men in Sheds Group.
Daffodil bulbs have been distributed around the parish to places such as the school verge, Frognall, Tooley Way and Wade Park Avenue.
34.22  To consider the protocol regarding keeping Chickens at the Allotments.
Three appendixes were offered with the agenda detailing the RSPCA guidance for the welfare of animals kept on allotments; The National Allotment Society guidance for keeping hens and rabbits on allotments, The legal clause under the 1950 Allotments Act and the chicken run proposal given by the tenant wishing to keep chickens.
The Council discussed the law relating to keeping chickens on the plots.  Whilst the Parish Council would prefer not to allow chickens on the plots, they will look into preparing a policy to make sure that all aspects of caring for chickens on allotments are managed following the law.
35.22  To consider the amount of fees (admin/rent/charges to particular tenants), when faced with the plot overhauls from abandon plots. 
The administration fee at present is £25 to all new tenants.  This does not cover costs of the maintenance men/contractors or the skips when tenants leave a plot in an abandoned state.  We recently had to hire a skip to address an abandoned plot at a cost of £200. If a tenant left a plot in an abandoned state and the Parish Council decided to charge the previous tenant the cost of the overhaul and the previous tenant doesn’t willingly pay, it 
would cost more trying to chase them and take them to court than the cost of clearing the mess.  Discussion ensued, however no decision or recommendations were made at this time.
36.22  Cllr Halls would like to ask permission to attend the next Allotments Association meeting.
It was requested that Cllr Halls would like to attend the next Allotments Association meeting.  No objections were raised.
37.22  To receive an update regarding the Tree Planting at Fraser Close.
South Kesteven District Council are looking to plant some trees at Fraser Close.  Details have been published in the Parish Council Newsletter, so that any objections can be passed on to SKDC.  It is understood that the trees will not be planted too close to fences or properties and people should still be able to play.  It is planned to use mixed English native trees.
38.22  To agree date of next meeting.
Next AFO Meeting Thursday 23 June 2022 at 7:45pm.