Gardens & wildlife

RHS Minutes 2014-10-01 AGM

Minutes of the RHS AGM of 1st October 2014 at Downs Infant School, 7pm.

The minutes from last year were agreed by those who had been there, without amendment.

No nominations for the committee came from the floor, and the following were voted by simple majority en-bloc to serve for the coming year. Annie Rimington – Chair, Sandy Hawkins - Deputy Chair, Ted Power - CAG/planning, Rob Stephenson – Secretary, Carol Hall - Treasurer, Kate Potter, Boo Vaughan and Cath Kronhamn with Playsafe Portfolio, Barbara Harris and Jan Curry as members without portfolio. Adam Campbell, Maria Bonner and Deborah French all stood down – we thank them all for their input, especially Deborah.

RS circulated the Treasurer’s report as Carol is away. We had an income of £1665 and outgoings of £2075, of which £1100 was taken from the CUPP money for the planters, leaving just over £420 in the CUPP pot and £3222 in the general fund. The Reporter has made money consistently this year.

Short reports on the year’s activities:

Annie ran through the Richmond House planning application and appeal process which was eventually turned down. The inspector gave some good protection for future developments, on retaining views, and the woodland strip, and being in keeping with the area. The Inspector’s report is on the Round Hill website.

Rob reviewed the Seasonal Singing which brought in £154 last year. A couple of hours, lots of fun for adults and children, we provide songsheets. Money went to Brighton Housing Trust’s First Base Day Centre.

Sandy addressed the ongoing refuse/recycling problems, drawing attention to three key issues – unreliability of collection (about one in five collections missed), poor communications with Cityclean (empty promises, delaying tactics and obfuscation), and no perceived accountability – who is at fault? Cllr West said the new man at Cityclean promises to be very proactive, he is Richard Bradley. Sandy proposed a working group to get closer to Cityclean, and suggested another community clean-up. More ‘Love Round Hill’ stickers were offered.

Sally outlined the 3 planning applications for the open space and offices behind 55 homes on Belton Rd and Crescent Rd. The first application was withdrawn, the second (to get change of use without planning application failed, and the third (to show the original use was B1a) was withdrawn when the developer saw the strength of the arguments put up by local residents.

Ted reviewed the odour and noise (glass tipping and reversing alarms) issues at the Veolia plant. He noted that the Environment Agency officer said that the problem stems from handling food waste in a poorly designed building. People from Belton Rd and Richmond Rd said they had smelt the plant, which has been bad since Easter this year. Another resident said that he knew other parents in Hollingdean (with children at Downs Infant School) who also suffered the bad smell at their homes. Waste food separate collection was suggested as a solution. Cllr West observed that low take-up rates (typically 16%) in areas that have food collections would make the impact on odour insignificant.

Rob outlined the steps which have led to 4 new planters at the ends of Round Hill Crescent. Annie noted that we are on a list waiting for new bike racks as well. The key role of Chris, Tina and Ashley Groom was noted.

Annie spoke of the popularity of the Reporter, delivered 4 times a year to nearly 1000 homes on Round Hill, and on the value of the website, kept interesting and up to date by Ted. The value of the Yahoo chatroom and the Twitter account were both noted.

Rob outlined the history of cast-iron lamppost losses and fights to get them back, culminating in creating a record of all Round Hill’s lampposts in 2013 and a plan to effectively add this document to the details of the Conservation Area. Current loss of a swan neck lamp support and its replacement by a brutish modern fitting was illustrated.

Kate, Cath and Boo reported on the first two Playsafe events on Round Hill, and their great success. Two hours of free play across the street free of cars proved very popular, with fast descents on skates and boards particularly thrilling/scary. The co-operative links with neighbouring Playsafe schemes was mentioned, and the need for volunteers for future events. There is a video of the first event on the Round Hill website, made by a student from Brighton University. They also described our Picnic event, with its singers and musicians, plant stall, free cake, raffle and folk coming out with food and wine to make the most of the day.

Bonnie said she was part of the team that covered St Peter’s and N Laine, and that she has been here 3 years now. She said that there had been just one burglary in the year, in June, and it was a better result than last year. Graffiti had been a problem especially on Upper Lewes Rd, Cat Creep and Ashdown Rd, and there had been a few stolen bikes and some car vandalism. She had visited 4 student houses in the last week, and would be happy to do more if called upon. Bonnie finished by drawing our attention to printed materials she had brought on protecting your bike from theft, reducing burglary risk, a website called immobilise.com where lots of portable goods can be registered online and scams which particularly trick the elderly.

Possible future events:

We agreed to hold a Seasonal singing event on Thursday 18th

Rob sought approval for a retro lamppost, having a traditional glass lantern. There are cost implications, but these will be examined before any commitment.

Boo and Cath outlined the Halloween late Playsafe event on the north end of Crescent Road, with its pumpkin lantern call and face painting option, and subsequent trick or treat event (homes willing to receive them should have pumpkin based sign visible from the street).

Mark Woolford had been unable to attend but we still discussed students in the community. Sandy drew attention to the exceptionally high rents HMOs fetch, compared with similar sized family homes. The Home Sweet Home campaign was outlined, which challenged poor letting agents and poorly maintained houses last year, and plans to continue this work. We are in an HMO-controlled area, where the Council limits the proportion of homes which can become HMOs, but they need to be aware of informally created HMOs. One way forward, said to work well, is to invite neighbouring new students in for a drink. Easier to build good relations after that, but regular turnover is a problem. Pete West pointed us to the Scrutiny panel document on the City website on the subject of Studentification.

We discussed the possibility of a campaign (in this election period) around Veolia odour and seeking solutions. Stefan Missen expressed interest in helping.

Annie outlined 4 proposed groups which are seeking members with an interest in that area, Planning and Conservation (with Ted as lead), Environmental Issues (with Sandy leading), Community Events (Cath, Boo and Kate leading jointly) and Communications (with Annie leading). Stefan M said he’d help with Playsafe, as did student Emily Robertson. Ruby Casey-Knight said she’d help with Communications and Planning/conservation.

Meeting ended 9.15pm

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