Minutes of Annual General Meeting 5th July 2021

Barnet Residents Association AGM on Zoom 5th July 2021 7.30 pm

There were 52 members present at the AGM including the Committee.

1. Introduction & Welcome by Ken Rowland chairman.

2. Apologies: David Parry, Dawn & Bruce Mercer, Gillian Garvie, Tricia Narracott-Wales, Bryon Barnes, Tony Barnes & Peter Sawyer.

3. Introduction for Mark Hunt the Operations Manager for London Borough of Barnet’s street cleaning. He outlined his job:

Manages 100 plus staff covering the whole borough. Operating out of 2 depots, Oakleigh Road and Harrow. Has 3 supervisors, one for each of the 3 constituencies. 8 Main Town centres covered by Town Keepers (Dougie Shrub in High Barnet), 11 secondary area (i.e., New Barnet). Work includes, Graffiti removal and pavement washing teams, Fly-tip collection, there are teams who also collect paid for bulky waste.

Manual and mechanical sweeping. £4.7m annual budget (very low compared to other London Boroughs)  

Works with and collaborates with internal and external partners; environmental health, enforcement, parking, Barnet homes, estates, Thames Water, Network Rail and other private landowners / managers. There are over 3000 litter bins on streets to be managed. Alternate side cleaning and residential cleaning teams.

The Challenges include Seasonal peaks and troughs i.e., Autumn leaf fall, increased use of parks during pandemic. Winter services. Geographically Barnet is a large borough so a lot to cover. Increasing fly-tipping and poor waste storage infrastructure. Littering. Full bins and people leaving rubbish around them when full. Operating out of 2 depots, makes the job more complicated.  Managing and keeping a large work force motivated and managing high staff turnover.

Mark’s talk was very well received, and these are the questions put to him at the meeting:

  • When residential streets are to be cleaned can we be notified when this is to happen? Mark replied that as this is a new scheme it is still in trial phase, eventually they do hope to give notice as to when exactly this will take place.
  • Technology exists to make reporting easier. You can report fly tipping online at:
  • https://www.barnet.gov.uk/roads-and-pavements/road-maintenance/street-care-and-cleaning/report-fly-tipping or use Fix My Street at
  • https://www.fixmystreet.com/reports/Barnet?zoom=12&lat=51.61271&lon=-0.21735
  • New Shop ‘Home Solutions’ on the High Street has pilled goods onto the pavement what can be done about this? Retailer would need a licence. Mark to pass details to Highways officers.
  • Does Council still monitor bushes from front gardens obstructing pavements and cars causing a problem on our narrow pavements? Mark answered that yes Highways can issue an enforcement notice under section 154 of the highways act.
  • Sue Young asked if 100 staff was enough? And thanked the team for all they do to try to keep up with the litter issue. As ever a balancing action of right number of workers, bins and education. 
  • Sue like many other residents do their bit by picking up litter locally. Council now accepting orders from public including litter pickers, High Viz vests, gloves rubbish bags and hoops. KR has just collected 6 sets for litter picking events. Details to follow. KR to share details of how to order to members.
  • Rochelle Collins asked about the bins in Church Passage, the bins always seem to be overflowing with take away items what can be done? She felt that bins are too small. Mark said that they are looking into this and if bins more fit for purpose would be better. She also asked if council could reinstate putting skips in residential streets once a year. Unfortunately, not currently offered but significant interest from members on resurrecting the scheme. Also, Manor Road are not in a good state and need repairing.
  • Clare has picked up litter where she lives for several months there is some industrial waste left in a blue bag at the top end of Stafford Road, Mark will get this collected tomorrow.

Retrospective approval of 2019 accounts and election of officers [Deemed 2020 AGM] accounts proposed by Tim Sims and seconded by Mike Petersen

Chairman’s Report.

Membership

On membership matter we currently have over 750 members although a number are currently overdue. So could Melvyn and I please ask that all members renew their subscriptions as early as possible. With so many banks closing including two on our own high street we would also request where possible that members pay by standing order or PayPal.

Planning & Conservation

In 2020 we objected to 18 planning applications, of which 14 were refused. Of the 4 allowed two concerned 17 Park Rd where the applications sought to convert these offices to 24 tiny flats using permitted development regulations. We knew the council was very limited on the potential reasons for refusal, and it was no surprise when these applications were allowed. However, there is some consolation that an initial attempt for 36 flats was turned down. Of the other two we lost one was minor, but the other, involving demolition of a detached house and replacement with six flats, was one we really hoped we would win. Successful objections included stopping unsuitable developments in the conservation area at 202 and 204 High St, and the proposed demolition of two houses in Quinta Drive to make way for blocks of flats.

We remain especially committed to preventing the loss of family houses, but the impending Planning Bill and the new Local Plan will make it easier for developers to get approval for this kind of application.

We pressed the council very strongly on the breach of planning approval for the new building at 70 High St (former After Office Hours) and towards the end of the year a demolition order was issued. We are awaiting the outcome of an appeal.

We were pleased when we influenced the design of the development on Salisbury Road but are extremely disappointed with the build quality. Unfortunately, this is becoming a recuring theme.

151-153 High Street after a long hard battle we feel we have a satisfactory outcome and building work is now underway.

We continue to fight to get acceptable designs for both the old Statons building

and the Bentley showroom on the East. Having fought hard to get an appropriate design over the road we feel these two building should be treated as sympathetically.

Finally, our very own Janet Littlewood has taken over the role of Secretary of the Conservation Area Advisory Committee covering both Hadley and Wood Street conservation area. The CAAC is a key body which helps to protect valuable heritage assets including building like the CYMA garage which after much pressure has had a welcome renovation.

Environment

I am disappointed to report that the long-promised CCTV in St Albans Road to thwart fly tippers still hasn’t been installed. Three years after it was first discussed. The council say that as this will be a new solar powered solution, so it is taking longer to install. Anyone familiar with driving will see this type of cameras are common on motorways so we’re not sure why the council are dragging their feet especially as we’ve seen reports of fly tipping increase from 4,134 in 2019 to 5,106 in 2020.

You may have seen recent article about the cleaning of the long bench in church passage. A real community effort. While it was hard working scrubbing all the muck off it was extremely rewarding when finished. Other projects are planned so if you want to get involved just contact me.

Highways

Buildouts completed just prior to the lockdown and although not universally welcomed has proved extremely important in regard to social distancing but by giving the pavement back to shoppers. It is also good to see businesses now taking advantage of the extra space. The addition of the Museum’s information boards is another welcome addition and helps visitors learn about the area’s rich heritage.

Back in September 2020 the Council agreed to discuss a long overdue traffic review. The importance of which is growing as the many developments both at application and in development will inevitably put further pressure on our roads and local infrastructure. Unfortunately, the council are again slow to act despite regular chasing.

High Street

With so many businesses moth balled over the pandemic it was always going to be difficult to estimate how many would survive.

It is pleasing to see that the high street appears to have weathered the storm quite well although there is still a moratorium on commercial eviction until March 2022. But for now, we are seeing a fairly buoyant high street. After re-opening as few months ago we have heard that most non-essential shops traded briskly for a while, but trade has dropped again. So please support local businesses where you can.

Applications were seen for ‘Comms hubs’ or more accurately ‘digital illuminated advertising were refused but we another battle to try and get the application for advertising banners on the lampposts refused. We have lodged an objection we’re but still awaiting a decision.

As the saying goes a year is a long time in business so we have seen more traditional brands disappear and replaced with the likes of Botanica and Kronos and Rhea offering new and exciting alternatives. Additionally, alfresco café’s Huddle and Perk appear to be trading well and building up custom.

One of the biggest threats to the high street will be new Permitted Development Rights (PDR) to convert high streets shops and businesses into residential. Unfortunately, there is now little legal recourse to object, but we feel that the central section should remain wholly retail. So far, we’ve only seen one application (Painted Pot) which thankfully was refused.

Crime

We had a success at last month’s CAP (Community Action Policing) meeting to get both High Barnet & Underhill SNTs (Safer Neighbourhood Team) to join forces to undertake a metal detector sweep of known crime hot spots. A welcome initiative suggested by us only last month.

And finally

A big thank you to all the committee for their collective dedication and perseverance. Like most things it is about teamwork so the bigger our membership base the more the council take note. So could I ask you all to please spread the word about what we do at Barnet Residents Association and that is great value at £6 p.a. which is equivalent to 50p a month. I’m always free to meet members in person if there’s anything you’d like to discuss or feel you can contribute to the association.

Questions from Members to Ken Rowland and Mark Hunt:

  • Liane & Jeff asked if anything can be done if bins are left on streets and not returned to gardens, Mark is working on a document with Highways which can be sent to householders who leave their bins on the street. Meeting to be arranged between Jeff & Mark.
  • Yasmin asked about mattresses left in street. Mark is writing to landlords of licenced HMO’s outlining how bulky items can be disposed of legally. If anyone reports fly tipping to the Council, they will deal with it.
  • Jeice Tan lives in a small block of flats and they need more recycling bins and there is also a passageway near the block that is littered on a regular basis although they do pay a cleaner, Jeice, Mark and Ken to meet up to discuss problem.
  • Mike Petersen has been picking up litter on Barnet Road for some time and has noticed that when the council get the verges cut, they do not pick up litter before they do this and so one small piece of polystyrene becomes hundreds of smaller pieces, there needs to be some litter collection before the verges are cut. Schools do need to be encouraged to teach young people not to drop litter. He finds a small rake better than a litter picker.
  • Patricia Gay has a problem with fly tipping near the Rainbow Centre on the Dollis Estate. Meeting to be arranged with Mark, she thanked him for his work keeping the streets mostly clean in our area.
  • Rita Harris lives opposite shops on Potters Road where there is a problem with flats over shops leaving bins on the pavement and when bins are overfull the wind blows rubbish out of the bin. Ken will arrange meeting with Mark to look for a solution to this. 

Treasurer’s Report 2020: Balance sheet and income and expenditure. accounts document attached.

2020 Re-election of officers and independent examiner

Committee:

  • Ken Rowland, Chair
  • Anna Watkins, Secretary
  • Russell Brookes, Treasurer
  • Gordon Massey, Planning Policy
  • Barry Henderson, Planning
  • Janet Littlewood, Conservation Area
  • Melvyn Sears, Membership
  • Simon Green, Crime
  • Sean Mitchell, Highways
  • Tim Sims, Health

Co-opted:

  • Wendy Marler, Environment
  • Charles Wicksteed, Website

Independent Examiner:

  • Mervyn Jones

Accounts and officers proposed by Tim Sims and seconded by Rita Harris. Approved.

Online Poll, 3 questions put through Zoom Poll, and were answered by membership.

Results:

Q1 – If all covid-19 restrictions were lifted would you be willing to meet in person. – 66% happy to meet in person

Q2 – How often do members use library services – 50% use regularly

Q3 – How often do member use public transport - 15% never use

Melvyn Sears Membership Secretary wanted to thank all our members for renewing on time, sending us donations and kind notes with their renewal cheques.

Meeting ended at 21.03pm.