Minutes of Annual General Meeting 11th November 2013, 7 pm in United Reformed Church Meeting Place
1 Apologies had been received from 10 members, 26 members were present
2 Minutes of the last AGM not applicable (minutes of inaugural meeting are on website)
3 Chairman’s Report from Bill Woods:
“Welcome and thank you for attending this evening. The first year of the society’s existence has been challenging in many ways and I would like to thank the committee for their support during the last 12 months and in particular Carole the society’s secretary for fielding a range of hard balls without the aid of wicket-keeper’s pads or gloves.
As you’d expect, the society has had a steep learning curve in establishing itself as an emissary for quality planning decisions in the conservation area. It was important to establish our aims and benefit to members. This has informed our decision making when working in tandem with planning officers, policy officers, developers and council members. Central to our effectiveness is the political impartiality that we adhere to in our decision-making.
Having said that, I’m often told that Tim Dawes,-“that Green party chap” is chairman of the society. This is sometimes used as a reason for not joining the Society. Although my surname is Woods, and yes trees do have green leaves, I can assure you I have a long track record of apolitical decision-making and the committee is very capable of detecting any bias. This does raise the important issue however, of effective communication with the Society’s membership and Havant residents. This year through dialogue we have learned more about your needs in this regard and Annette will be speaking about this later.
I think we must be doing something right as the membership has steadily grown during our initial year. Pleasingly, individual contributions from members about planning issues are becoming more frequent. And to facilitate this on your seat you will find a consultation document on the proposal to turn the White Hart into a bingo hall and amusement arcade. I would always encourage you to reply individually to planning proposals as well as helping to inform the Society’s collective response. With this in mind I hope you have all received a copy of the relevant extract from the Havant Borough Cancel Allocations Plan. The society can only be effective if we hear your views, debate them, check them against planning policy, and register our position with HBC.
I’m pleased to say that in our first year a range of developers, specialists, community trusts and planners have sought the opinion of the Society or engaged with us as trusted partners in understanding the archaeology and built environment within the conservation area. Such relationships underpin the quality of our speakers at the society’s public meetings. We would love to hear from you with any suggestions for speakers for 2014”
4 Treasurer’s Report from Ray Cantwell:
The society has 89 paid up members
Our current bank balance is £209.08
Venue hire costs since the founding meeting (12/09/2012) £92.00
Printing costs since the founding meeting (12/09/2012) £116.60
Outstanding bills – None
No invoice has been received for either of the two meetings held in St Faith’s Church Hall. Tim Dawes said that the first of these pre-dates the founding of HCS so is not our responsibility. Attention was drawn to the free community room at Asda. Others commented that it is inconveniently remote, small and users must wait for it to be unlocked.
Use of the £20 corporate membership was unanimously considered applicable to residents’ associations, specifically Langstone Residents and Lansgstone Village associations.
After a short discussion it was agreed that membership runs from one AGM to the next, i.e. October to October.
5 Constitution and committee protocols: discussion lead by Bill Woods
Copies of these 2 documents had been placed on chairs
Tim Dawes remained unhappy about the Area of Benefit being specifically focussed on St Faith’s “conservation area” as this is too limiting; St Faith’s ward is not only too large for us to cover effectively, but has political connotations. Various phrases were discussed until the words “Havant Town Centre” were unanimously agreed as preferable to “St Faith’s conservation”. This change was made (proposed Tim Dawes, seconded Beryl Francis). It was noted that the £1 membership for those in receipt of a means tested benefit had been inadvertently omitted from the document. The revised constitution was accepted (proposed Christopher Evans, Seconded Brian Nash)
6 Logo: discussion lead by David Smith
Three ideas in sketch form were circulated #1 based on a splash, #2 on the railway station, #3 on water drops; these could be equally effective using either HCS initials or the name in full. The most popular design proved to be #3 which will be worked into a finished logo by Sarah Smith.
7 Communication strategy: lead by Annette Harley
The following suggestions and thoughts were put to the meeting:
Initially the main strategy to raise awareness was: wide distribution of newsletters to local households by hand, website creation and open meetings. We’ve recently completed a communications audit after our first year. It concluded that the newsletters are a time consuming and highly labour intensive method. We’re now working on an integrated communication strategy & plan to incorporate:
By email to members (or printed copy to non-email members)
Available at meetings, in packs, etc.
In local outlets including the library, cafés, shops, etc.
Possible annual distribution to local households
Feedback via a stakeholder questionnaire
Welcome/renewal packs for members
Regular e-shots to members/interested parties including Minutes, Meeting notices, Relevant planning applications/deadlines, Other relevant information
Appropriate Social Network pages
Open & Member Meetings
This strategy and plan will support and promote the creation of a brand/logo
8 Feedback Questionnaire: lead by Annette Harley and David Smith
A short questionnaire was distributed with the intention of identifying those aspects of the organisation which are in need of improvement.
9 Election of new committee members
Existing committee members indicated whether they were willing to serve for a further year. Jim Davis has been replaced by Christopher Evans (proposed Gillian Peskett, seconded Lucy Flannery). Ina Allum is not able to continue. There is now one vacancy. Bill Woods vacated the chair whilst David Smith sought the approval of the meeting for Bill to continue in this role. This was unanimously agreed.
10 Any other business
Bill Woods drew attention to the consultation document (copies on seats) about the planning application for change of use for the White Hart to Adult Gaming and Bingo Hall. Although initially widely seen as a welcome way of preserving the building and ensuring its maintenance, other views were expressed. Tim Dawes was concerned about the encouragement of unwelcome activities in this key location and further deterioration of town centre ambiance. Supported by Lucy Flannery he pointed out that this is now the only town centre venue for live music. This view appeared to gain favour. The chairman encouraged members to make their personal views known so that the society can present a balanced, representative opinion to the council. The value of the Bowling Alley on Portsdown Hill was noted as an amenity with excellent disabled access.
There was a suggestion that the 10 members without email could be more efficiently contacted if a neighbour with email was willing to print and deliver notices.
Tim Dawes’ comments about planning blight in East Street triggered a debate covering the options for residents and local councils to prevail against excesses of the free market economy. Havant’s Economic Development Officer works in Havant only one day a week and Havant doesn’t have an empty homes/properties officer who might make a significant impact in the town centre.
Gillian Peskett suggested that invoices should be sent to members when annual fees are due and that payment by BACS would be a useful option. The treasurer will investigate this option and thought email receipts would also work well with printed receipts only where necessary.
John Pile reported that the year long effort to get Havant War Memorial listed with English Heritage has been successful – it is now a Grade II listed structure. He is less confident of the same success with his application for the White Hart.
The secretary suggested that the appearance of the town would be improved by attention to improvement of poor and excessive signage. She urged that members note any examples which we could present to HBC.
Bill Woods commented on the impact of Brent geese on Havant’s Allocations plan and suggested a speaker for an open meeting who would explain why this is the case.
Lucy Flannery thanked the committee for their year’s work.
The meeting closed at 8:45 pm.