Minutes of Annual General Meeting 30th June 2015

7.15 pm Wesley Hall


Committee Members

Gordon Massey (Chairman)
Janet Littlewood (Minute taker)
Charles Wicksteed
Helen Massey
Melvyn Sears
Tim Sims
Steve Ramsay

Plus an estimated 35 members of the Association.

The Chairman welcomed members to the 10th AGM of the Association since its re-launch and thanked them for their attendance on a very warm evening. The pack of papers on everyone’s seat included the inaugural minutes from the Association when it was formed in 1934 which showed that some things never change. The chairman also revealed BRA’s new logo which showed a stag although used in a different way from Hertfordshire County Council.

1. Apologies for absence.

Apologies had been received from Margaret & Alan Mills, Brian Barnes and Simon Green.

2. Minutes of the last meeting.

The minutes were agreed and signed by the Chairman.

3. Matters arising.

There were no matters arising

4. Chairman’s report.

The Chairman reported on the Association’s activities in the past year.

The newsletter is now printed in colour which had been favourably received. This had obviously meant an increase in printing costs but the Committee felt we were able to absorb the additional expenditure without increasing subscriptions. However if printing or postage costs increased in the future, an increase in subscriptions would be recommended.

Membership to date was 478 members, a huge increase from 215 on our re-launch in 2006.

The most significant issue which the area faced was changes in response to population growth and over 400 extra homes are in the pipeline, most notably on the old nurses’ home site, Whitings Hill and 30 or 40 new flats around or just off the High St. There is no expectation this will pressure will decrease. Even in the Borough of Barnet, there are plans for 20 or more tower blocks of more than 20 storeys but they are in the Colindale and Cricklewood area. Locally, BRA have had some success in getting the top floor knocked off an application in the Park Road development. BRA would try and protect the area as a low-rise development area.

The first phase of the re-build of The Spires was now completed to widespread approval. It was agreed there was a buzz about The Spires which augured well for the whole town. The decline in The Spires over recent years had troubled BRA but we hoped and believed we were turning the corner. A downside is that 3 more charity shops had opened on the High St. Last year there were 23 empty shops, now there were 14, so that was hopeful and a move in the right direction.

Parking had been a big issue again. In the past 18 months to 2 years we have battled with the Council about their parking. The Council had 350 of the 800 spaces around the town, the rest are privately owned. BRA had initiated the free time in two locations around the town. The Council’s parking spaces were full most of the time, whereas Legion’s parking in The Spires and the market site were only half full, and BRA was going to battle with Legion in the coming year whose prices are out of kilter with the Council’s charges.

There had been a tremendous effort getting new stalls back on Barnet Market but unfortunately the revival has not been as good as everyone had hoped, with the Wednesday market looking particularly threadbare. Friends of Barnet Market were the leaders on this and we participate in that group. Hopefully things would improve in the coming year.

Another of our campaigns has been against people making inappropriate changes to shop fronts and buildings in the conservation area. We declared war on the former Crown & Anchor pub six years ago and we have kept that up with the Council throughout that whole time. The council eventually got to the point of prosecuting and it was only at that point that the inappropriate signage was removed from the front of the building. That is an indication of how difficult it is to protect the conservation area. Another example is the Shoku Japanese restaurant where the frontage had been ripped out four years ago without planning permission and, despite the Council going through various stages, the situation was still unresolved.

Barnet Football Club has definitely gone, with the site being sold for a new school for 1,800 pupils. There are already concerns about the traffic implications and BRA will be keeping a close eye on that development.

Barnet Hospital parking had improved. The approach road in front of the hospital had free parking for 20 minutes which enabled patients to be dropped off without charge. We have also been informed that the hospital are going to introduce a bus service between Barnet and the Royal Free three times a day.

Improvements to road junctions and roads had quietened down. The Alston Road/ The Avenue scheme, drawn up a while ago, had gone quiet, as had the junction at Barnet Church with the High St and Wood Street where the college had put up £80,000 to improve the crossing there. A scheme is in place but it is yet to happen. There is also a proposal for a roundabout and pedestrian crossing at the Wellhouse Lane/Wood St junction. There was also a proposal to build out the pavements along the central section of the High St which would make the crossings narrower. The resulting wider pavements would mean that cafes could put out tables and chairs which would make an enormous difference to the ambience of the town. BRA are in discussion with the Council about that and our impression is that the Council are keen on that development.

Overall, BRA is optimistic about the coming year. A lot of positive things have happened in the past year and we are hopeful this will continue.

5. Adoption of the Accounts.

It should be noted that the cost of printing had gone up. The figures cover only one issue of the newsletter being printed in colour, so these costs would increase in the next financial year.

Overall we are running at a surplus over the year.

It was noted that the donations of £75 were as a result of excess subscriptions from various people rather than one generous benefactor.

The adoption of the accounts was proposed from the floor and unanimously carried.

6. Election of Officers and Committee members

The Chairman, Gordon Massey, was prepared to stand again and, there being no other nominations, was unanimously elected.

The position of Secretary had been vacant for a year, with committee members variously undertaking the secretarial duties. Carl Partridge had volunteered and he was proposed from the floor and unanimously elected.

Sylvia Grant had been the Treasurer for many years but was standing down although remaining on the Committee. Sue Russell, our auditor for many years, was prepared to stand. The Chairman proposed Sue Russell and she was unanimously elected.

There remained 7 committee places and there were nominations for all seven places:

Janet Littlewood, Conservation Officer; Helen Massey, Planning Officer; Charles Wicksteed, IT and overseer of website; Melvyn Sears, Membership Secretary; Tim Sims, Health Service Liaison Officer; with the remaining two places being filled by Sylvia Grant and Steve Ramsay. All seven were proposed from the floor and unanimously elected.

7. Election of Honorary Auditor

Mervyn Jones, who has been a member for some years had agreed to replace Sue Russell as honorary auditor. This was unanimously agreed by the meeting.

8. Guest Speaker: Phil Archer, Manager of Waitrose, High Barnet

The Chairman welcomed Phil Archer, manager of the High Barnet branch of Waitrose in The Spires. See separate document for the Q&A session with the membership.

9. Any Other Business

The siting of various bus stops in Barnet was discussed and the fact that some buses have to use laybys to pull into rather than more obvious bus stops without laybys which would be more convenient. The Chairman explained TfL regard laybys as essential for getting buses off busy main roads. The number of buses in the area had increased in recent years but it was agreed Barnet did not have anywhere satisfactory to properly load the passengers. The Chairman did not think there was a short-term solution and looked forward with interest to how the owners of The Spires would deal with the second phase of development. If there was to be an extension to Waitrose in any further development, Waitrose would have to pay a community levy which should be used to improve bus terminuses. TfL do have long-term capital investment programmes but it is very hard to find out exactly what they are. Phil Archer thought there would be retailer support for good bus stops.

The increasing size of lorries and trucks going through the High St was discussed, with some so big that they are knocking down the traffic lights at the St Albans Road junction and they are far too big for the High St. The Chairman stated that the building out of the pavements, if it went ahead, would eat into the parking spaces and not the width of the road. No one knew the answer to the weight restrictions on lorries although it was suggested these should be advertised on telegraph poles and lamp posts.

Some of the newer, yellowy pavement stones become very slippery when wet. It was suggested that if there were to be pavement build-outs then these pavement slabs could be changed at the same time.

The height of the trees outside The Spires carpark and the fact they needed lopping was raised but it was agreed that the Council budget was restricted and not everything could be raised at the same time.

It was mentioned that the rubbish bins outside the Library had disappeared. The Chairman mentioned the Residents Forum to be held this coming Thursday at 6.30 pm in the Library, and that BRA had already tabled questions about rubbish bins generally across the town centre.

The Chairman concluded the meeting at 9.30 pm by thanking everyone for coming.