Minutes of Annual General Meeting 5th July 2016

Tuesday 5th July 2016, 7.30pm at The Bull Theatre, Barnet

Committee Members in Attendance

G Massey (GM) (Chairman)
C Partridge (CP)
S Green (SG)
J Littlewood (JL)
T Simms (TS)

Plus an estimated 49 members of the Association.

The chairman welcomed members to the 11th AGM of the Association since its re-launch and thanked them for their attendance. He thanked the Bull Theatre for the use of their venue.

1. Apologies

Apologies were received from the following members:

Helen Massey, Melvyn Sears, Sue Russell, Steven Ramsay, James Barton, Ros Staines, Judi Wallace, Ian Johnston, Adele Winston, Valerie Penn, Michael Petersen, Cnclr. David Longstaff and Wilf Nichols.

2. Minutes of last meeting

The minutes of the previous AGM were agreed and signed by the Chairman.

3. Matters arising

At the previous AGM, the issue of the siting of local bus stops was raised. The chairman reported that he had met with Theresa Villiers and subsequently John Barry, the Head of Buses from TfL. TfL will now conduct a review of local bus services.

There were no other matters arising.

4. Chairman’s Report

The Chairman reported on the Association’s activities in the past year as follows:

Membership has now reached 575 members, with nearly 100 additional members joining the BRA in the previous year.

Helen Massey and Sylvia Grant have retired during the course of the year. New members have been co-opted onto the committee to replace them. In addition, Carl Partridge has retired as secretary; the position is currently vacant.

Housing remains a high-priority issue; the council has a target of building 22,500 homes by 2015, a number likely to increase as the mayor revises his target. To date, Barnet has avoided any substantial high-rise development. Local areas such as Whale Bones park are potentially under threat from development and the BRA will be monitoring such situations closely. Elmbank, the former site of the nurses home, is now under construction. BRA has worked hard to influence local development projects such as at Brake Shear House, pushing for the height to be reduced and the gates removed. Breaches of planning law continue, for example the tawdry infill scheme at 141 High Street, the so-called ‘Beach Hut’. BRA is engaged with enforcement to rectify these types of breach along the High Street and surrounding areas.

The number of vacant shops did reduce to 14, but is slowly creeping back up again. The state of the economy may be a factor, together with an apparent stasis at The Spires as they await re-development. The parking situation at the Spires is still sub-optimal; we believe that the new owners are in serious discussion with Legion with a view to rectifying this situation.

The Highways department can cause frustration – one example being the recent, apparently unnecessary replacement of the pavements around Ravenscroft Park. However, some projects are slowly reaching fruition – for example the pedestrian crossing on Wellouse Lane, the proposed roundabout at the top of Wellhouse Lane and the proposed pedestrian crossing at Alston Road / The Avenue. There has been no movement on the promised scheme of high street pavement build-outs.

More recently, the proposed Ark School has caused great concern. The BRA looked at the proposals very carefully and is unconvinced that there is local demand for this school. We believe that the demand will come from elsewhere in the Borough and indeed the Ark has confirmed that they expect their catchment area to be up to five miles. Totteridge Academy already imports most of its pupils from other areas so we potentially have two adjacent schools bringing nearly 4000 children to the Underhill area.

The BRA continues to work hard pursuing these matters and other matters deemed to be relevant to our membership.

5. Guest Speaker

The Chairman welcomed Peter Ridley, Director of Planning at the Royal Free NHS Trust which has responsibility for Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals.

Peter outlined his considerable experience in the health sector. He talked about the recent performance of Barnet Hospital and the challenges that it faces.

He discussed The Accident & Emergency department, the pressure that it is under and some of the creative ideas to address this. There are continued issues with flow and delayed transfers of care.

Peter updated us on the re-development at Chase Farm hospital, and discussed the issue of car parking at Barnet Hospital, the largest single source of complaints. Peter believes that there is no easy solution to this problem; his team work hard to come up with innovative ways of addressing the challenge. The proposed CPZ around Arkley was discussed; Peter agreed that this is an area of concern.

Finally, Peter described the new NHS ‘National Vanguards’ program, a way to decentralise decision making; Barnet Hospital is involved in piloting ‘hospital groups’, the idea of whether hospitals could be brought together to deliver benefits. There was a subsequent question and answer session.

6. Adoption of the Accounts

It was reiterated that printing costs had increased due to the switch from black and white to colour printing of newsletters. Postage costs also increased slightly.

A listed ‘donation’ of £496 was queried by a member: the chairman clarified that this was a contribution towards the cost of hanging baskets.

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

7. 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 Treasurer, Sue Russell, was prepared to stand again and, there being no other nominations, was unanimously elected.

The position of Secretary is now vacant. There were no nominations for the position of Secretary. The chairman appealed to members to consider filling this vacancy.

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

Janet Littlewood, Conservation Officer; Melvyn Sears, Membership Secretary; Tim Sims, Health Service Liaison Officer with the remaining four places being filled by Steven Ramsay, Simon Green, James Barton and Susan Drysdale.

All seven were proposed from the floor and unanimously elected.

8. Any other Business

The issue of the council no longer supplying paper windscreen stickers to represent CPZ permits was raised. It was generally agreed that this is problematic and the BRA may look into this.

The chairman was asked to comment on the progress and availability of broadband in the area. He reported that nine fibre boxes are required to cover the area fully; BT have agreed to put in five, of which two have been installed and the remaining three are awaiting installation, with no updates on progress.

The clock above TSB bank has stopped and has not been repaired. The BRA believes that TSB, as the freeholders, are responsible for this maintenance and asked residents who are also account holders to apply pressure in this regard.

A member asked about the Alston Works site, formerly home to a gym. Another member clarified that this is being converted into eight live/work units.

A member pointed out that cars are speeding along Meadway. This falls outside of the committee’s usual remit and the chairman gave his opinion that the best way to deal with this is to take a petition to the residents’ forum at Barnet Council.

A member enquired as to who enforces the five ton lorry ban along Fitzjohn Avenue, it being the last street before the width restriction. The process was not known and the member was encouraged to consult with the police to clarify.

The issue of loose paving stones on the High Street was raised. Members are encouraged to report these when they occur as the council response can be lengthy.

Conservation area maps are now available on the website.

The proposed experimental turn restriction by Barnet Church was raised. Only 400 cars per day use this turning and the idea of the restriction is as an experiment to monitor the effects on local traffic.

The Chairman concluded the meeting at 9.10 pm by thanking everyone for coming.