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EGVRA AGM - Minutes

19/04/2018

Englefield Green Village Residents' Association

Minutes EGVRA AGM 2018

Held at the Village Centre

10.30am on Saturday 17 March 2018

Present

Keith Bendall, Mike Sadler, Richard Scott, Rob Buick, Christine Welsh, Mr and Mrs A Greig, Elizabeth Howell, Sheila Miller, Veronica Neilson, Dr Julian and Mrs P Richardson, Dr Brian and Pat Summers, Tim Killen

1 Apologies for Absence

Joyce Taylor, Alvin Cerely, Chris Palomba, Sheila Quennell, Mr and Mrs R McLellan, Mr and Mrs R Gouriet, Sarah Branquinho

 

2. Minutes of the Last AGM held on 4 March 2017

There were no matters arising from last year’s minutes.  The 2017 AGM Minutes Agreed

Proposed by Mike Sadler

Seconded by Brian Summers

 

3. Chairman’s Report

Mike Sadler reported.

Your chairman’s report this year comes from your Vice-Chair.  Joyce Taylor is unfortunately unwell and sends her apologies for this morning.  More on that shortly. 

I would like to start with a brief review of EGVRA’s fund raising methods of which there are two; the village fair and the bi-annual publication of the Clarion magazine. 

The Village Fair Committee again put on an exceptional event last summer, and our thanks go to Sue Stones and the rest of the Committee for their efforts in putting this together.  We look forward to what promises to be another excellent event in 2018, and keep our fingers crossed for some fine weather. 

The Clarion is our other major source of income and our thanks go to Debbie Bates for her efforts over the past year in putting together two excellent publications.  Debbie single-handedly not only edited the publications but dealt with the advertising, revenue collection and distribution.  It was without question a mammoth task. 

Funds enable EGVRA to provide financial support to village causes; more on that in the Treasurer's Report, but without these two key strategies we would be unable to continue this support. 

And it is at this point that I need to send out an appeal.  Debbie Bates has decided to stand down as editor of the Clarion.  The role is a significant one and too much for one person; it needs to be broken down into a number of bite size roles dealing with editing, advertising, revenue collection and distribution.  We are therefore desperately seeking additional volunteers to assist with this publication, both so that we are able to continue with providing information to the Village but also so that we can continue benefiting from the advertising revenue which in turn supports local causes.  Please do let us know if you are prepared to help in any way. 

As in previous years the EGVRA Committee arranged the Christmas tree along with the turning on of the lights supported by Lodge Bros.  Particular thanks for the 2017 display should go to Cllr Mike K who kindly donated the Christmas tree to the village, and a fantastic one it was too. 

Moving to various matters relating to planning and development.  The potential redevelopment of The Roman Catholic Church in Harvest Road caused much consternation in the Village and the EGVRA committee lent it’s support to lobbying the Bishop in opposition to this.  The sale appears to have been shelved although we believe the adjoining land is certainly something to watch as we view it as having strong development potential which will interest prospective developers. 

Ashdene House has also been a hot topic of discussion in the Village in recent months.  The EGVRA committee has come under much criticism for its historic support of student accommodation on the site and the AGM is an opportunity for me to set the record straight.  The current EGVRA committee are not supportive of this site being developed into student accommodation.  We have registered our opposition to Runnymede Council, as many residents did, and our combined efforts generated a consultation event at the Jurgens Centre hosted by Runnymede Council in early January.  Turnout was strong and feelings of villagers were made abundantly clear to the Council.  We believe this has made one or two Councillors reconsider their position on the matter.  To date no decision has been made on the planning application and we will monitor this with interest. 

Student accommodation continues to be a divisive subject in the village.  From a personal perspective, the economic benefits that Royal Holloway brings to the village I believe are often overlooked.  Students are, and should be, an integral part of village life.  However, the balance between university and village is often challenging.  Royal Holloway’s new developments along the A30, known as the North Campus, have altered this balance.  Allegedly, only two thirds of the new units have been occupied in the current academic year and the reception with students has been mixed.  However, there is no doubt that this influx of new units has had an impact on private landlords, and local estate agents are describing the student rental market as strange and unprecedented.  Many units in the private landlord student sector remain unlet which at this stage of the year is unusual.  This may well ultimately result in rebalancing of the local housing market with units returning to either the private rental sector or, coupled with changes in the tax regime for private landlords, even being sold to owner occupiers.  This would be a welcome position for many residents and would-be residents, but strengthens EGVRA’s view that in the short term the Ashdene House proposal will only add to an already surplus stock of student housing. 

One of the other side effects of new student housing is car parking.  It is the government’s position, and therefore planning policy, that students don’t require cars and therefore student accommodation developments are not required to provide car parking.  Whether students require car parking and whether they want car parking are two very different things and I think all residents within Englefield Green experience the issue with current planning policy with cars parking in roads adjacent to the North Campus, particularly around Harvest Road, becoming at times unbearable.  There is much discussion about solutions to the problem, one of which is the creation of a Community Parking Zone or CPZ.  This may well be a viable option, but the EGVRA committee have concerns regarding how this will be funded and the impact this would have generally to the village.  RHUL have confirmed that they will not fund a CPZ scheme meaning it will be for villagers to do so which some may well view as being unequitable.  One consideration would be those residents wishing to avoid CPZ charges turning current front gardens into driveways.  This could have the potential of changing the appearance of some roads immeasurably.  EGVRA are of the view that RHUL should be addressing this matter directly and providing more car-parking opportunities for students on campus, something we have campaigning for with the university but something that RHUL are resisting. 

This leads me on to our efforts with RHUL liaison.  Alvin Cerely, one of our committee members, has been instrumental in liaising with RHUL on behalf of the village for the last 4 years.  More recently Christine Welsh has joined him in his efforts and they are now in regular discussion with Mike Berry and Marie Ennis at RHUL in a variety of forums one of which is the RHUL Consultative Group where both EGVRA and ERA are contributors.  RHUL also make themselves available at Councillors Surgeries should residents want to liaise with them directly. 

One matter that we have been publicising over many months is establishing a Neighbourhood Forum.  In July we held an EGVRA Extraordinary General Meeting at the Jurgens Centre where the following motion was carried unanimously:

 Motion :

A Village Forum is to be created by incorporating the EGVRA membership and all other non-members in the village interested in participating.  The Forum will have a minimum of 22 committee members with the intention to create a Village Plan to be ratified by Runnymede Borough Council and become a statutory document by which all further development in the village will be measured and determined at planning.

44 EGVRA members attended the meeting and there were 19 proxy votes.

Since then we have held two more events to generate support and have established a Steering Group.  The first Steering Group meeting was help in February and we have now asked for candidate nominations for Officer roles within the Steering Group.  We hope to submit our application to Runnymede Borough Council shortly and once established the Forum will be a formal consultee for all planning applications in the Village and will also benefit from a share of CIL contributions for new developments.  The potential for the village to gain control over its destiny cannot be over-emphasised and this must be the key driver for EGVRA over the coming months. 

Finally, I would like to close this Chairman’s Report with news of the EGVRA committee.  This last year has been a rather turbulent one for the Committee for reasons good and bad.  Charlotte Howe, our Membership Secretary, decided to step down in the run up to the birth of her second child.  Many congratulations and thanks to Charlotte.  We welcomed Robert Buick to the committee who has taken over the role. 

Both Richard Scott and Alvin Cerely have decided not to stand for nomination next year.  Richard has been our treasurer for a number of years now and has done a sterling job in keeping EGVRA solvent.  Unfortunately he has decided to defect and move to Virginia Water!  Alvin is also looking to move out of the area and as a consequence has decided now is a good time to step down.  I would like to thank them both on behalf of EGVRA for all their efforts over the years and wish them both well. 

As reported in the last edition of the Clarion, Terry Morgan, our vice-chair, sadly passed away last year following a brave fight with cancer.  Terry had been involved with EGVRA for many years and was a dear man who is much missed. 

Joyce Taylor, our Chairman, has also been unwell with shingles which has been quite debilitating and asked me earlier this year to take on the role of Vice Chair to support her which over time has evolved into acting Chairman.  After over 10 years as Chairman of EGVRA, Joyce has decided that her health will no longer allow her to continue in the role and will today step down from the Committee.  She sends her apologies as she is not well enough to be here.  It is rather cliché but until someone stops doing a role that they have been doing for so long it is often unclear quite how much they did.  Joyce has done a huge amount for the village during her tenure as Chair of EGVRA and I would like to say a heartfelt thank you for everything she has done and wish her both a speedy recovery and all the very best for the future.

Proposed by Mike Sadler

Seconded by Brian Summers

 

4. Treasurer’s Report

Richard Scott reported

Our Accountants Wilkins Kennedy of Egham have agreed the accounts for 2017 but for the purpose of the AGM I have prepared a summary outlining our Income & Expenditure.  I should add that Wilkins Kennedy provide their services on a no cost basis for which EGVRA would like to convey their thanks.

As in previous years our main source of revenue continues to be derived from the advertisements placed in the Clarion Magazine which for 2017 produced £2080.  This was significantly down on the previous year (£4356.00 ) due to certain administrative issues of which the committee are fully aware  and which are currently being addressed.  In addition the annual village fair continues to go from strength to strength and for 2017 contributed over £3000 to EGVRA funds – so a vote of thanks to all concerned.

These activities enable us to support local good causes and during the year grants totalling £1266.63 were made to the following:

Royal Air Force Association (wreath) 

£18.50

Englefield Green Action Group (to help offset cost of holding a public meeting with Philip Hammond) 

£200.00

Community Hub (Installation of outside lighting)

£598.13

Cooper’s Hill Tennis Club (to assist with the cost of purchasing seating)     

£450.00

Total 2017

£1266.63

                                                                                                                                             

During the course of the year a donation was received from Surrey County Council specifically to support EGAG to the extent of £200.00 as already indicated.  The remainder helped to offset the costs involved in preliminary expenses involved in setting up the Village Forum totalling £816.00.

We were able to significantly reduce the cost of our P.L. Insurance by transferring our business to Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance a company specialising in Charities and Not for Profit Organisations.  Our saving amounted to £267.00.

The cost of our Village Christmas Tree amounted to £408.79 but thanks to a generous donation from Councillor Mike Kusneraitis of £400.00 this virtually covered the total cost.  At this stage we should thank Lodge Brothers for providing refreshments and to the Journey Church for leading the Carol Singing.

A final thank you should go to Gilliam Parker for all her hard work in maintaining the flower beds at the entrance to the village.  The £125.81 in the accounts relates to the purchase of bedding plants etc.

Proposed by Mike Sadler

Seconded by Tim Killen

 

5. Membership Secretary’s Report

Reported by Rob Buick

The Englefield Green Village Residents’ Association has 625 members representing 418 households. There has been an increase of 14 members from last year’s count of 611 and an increase of 9 household from last year count of 409.  This also allows for residents that have moved out of the village or have deceased. We strive to get as many email addresses for our members as possible as this makes it is easier and more cost effective for us to contact our members.

At present we have email addresses for 392 members, which is over half our membership, which is an increase of 14 members from the previous year.

If you have an email address and we do not contact you by this method please let us know.

The Membership Secretary requested that Members attending the AGM encourage their neighbours to join EGVRA thereby increasing its influence with the relevant authorities.

 

6. Election of Committee

Presented by Christine Welsh

The EGVRA Committee can have a maximum of 9 Committee members though with the resignation of a number of current Committee members for personal reasons there are now only 5 members willing to re-stand.  They are Keith Bendell, Mike Sadler, Chris Palomba, Rob Buick and Christine Welsh.  Under the EGVRA Constitution a quorum for agreements is 1 officer and 3 other committee members.   After the AGM Christine Welsh is taking on the EGVRA RHUL liaison role and therefore there is a vacancy for a Secretary as well as 3 other Committee members.

The following Officers were voted in:

Chair:  Keith Bendall

Proposed by: Veronica Neilson

Seconded by: Liz Howell

Vice Chair: Mike Sadler

Proposed by: Tim Killen

Seconded by: Liz Howell

Treasurer: Mike Sadler

Proposed by: Tim Killen

Seconded by: Brian Summers

 

7. Members Suggestions for 2018 and Beyond

The following suggestion was made from a member:

More EGVRA engagement events with members and residents such as Jumble Sales

 

8. AOB

A number of items were raised by the members.

  1. RHUL attendance at Councillors Surgeries: concern was raised that they were stopping.  It was confirmed that the EG Councillors hold Councillors Surgeries on the 2nd Saturday of each month, apart from August and December.  RHUL are now attending surgeries at both Egham and EG.  Their next attendance in EG is Councillors Surgery on 12 May 2018.
  2. Wants: What is happening with Wants as this is an eyesore and health hazard.  EGVRA has flagged with RBC environment health.
  3. Ashdene House:  No determination has yet been given by RBC.  Marisa Heath has questioned further following residents' opposition to Student Accommodation at meeting before Christmas.
  4. Church of our Lady of the Assumption: The decision by the diocese is not to sell the Church, but the grass next to the Church will be sold. Cllr Mike Kusneraitis has posted a response on Englefield Greenies.
  5. Forest Estate: with the influx of University accommodation how long before accommodation is freed up.  This will be looked at as part of the Neighbourhood Forum 
  6. Neighbourhood Forum: Forum is not yet established, though the first steering meeting has taken place.  Once it is and we have an approved Neighbourhood Plan it will sit within the Local Plan.
  7. RHUL: A member shared that the Governors are the decision makers and ERA has the contacts.  EGVRA will contact ERA.
  8. The Clarion should be reviewed so that email updates of relevant matters are communicated on a regular basis and the website updated.  The Clarion should continue as it provides necessary revenue for EG causes.
  9. Closing remarks from New Chair Keith Bendall: I am honoured to have been given the opportunity to serve as chair for EGVRA and commit myself to doing all that I am able to promote the aims of our Village Residents' Associatio.

I look forward to working closely and productively with my committee members to ensure that the concerns of EG residents are listened to and their aspirations and expectations for our village are fulfilled if at all possible.

Please feel free to contact me directly with any matter that you think should be brought to my attention.

Thank you for your attendance and a safe journey back home.

 

Meeting closed at 11.45.