15th Committee Meeting, 15 September 2016

Abbey Precincts Residents Association
Minutes of fifteenth APRA Committee Meeting, 15 September 2016, 7.30pm, 13 College St.

1. Present: Peter Trevelyan (Chair), Geoff Dyson, Andrew Yaras, Robert Pankhurst, John Hedges, Norman James. Apologies: Justin Douglas

2. Last meeting’s Minutes were approved and signed.

3. Matters arising. 500 copies of the Newsletter had been distributed in July and had been favourably commented on. Printing by SADC had cost £100 (confirmed, RP). The 10 September garden party was considered a great success (about 40 attendees) despite continuous rain, with two loaned gazebos and well within the budget of £250: the committee thanked NJ and his helpers for excellent organization.  The Bishop of Richborough was a delightful host and had offered his garden for future events, which we should certainly accept.

4. Car parking. The TRO scheme was due on 21 September for its final 3-week consultation. John Charlton (JC) had said that most APRA suggestions had been incorporated but that NCP had refused permit-holders use of Gombards car park from 7.30 to 8.30 am because of market traders and season ticket priority. This should certainly be contested further, although we had missed the chance to influence the NCP contract renewal last year. JC had offered to talk to us and should be invited to do so at the AGM (see item 11). Up to 6 school buses had been observed simultaneously causing chaotic congestion in Romeland Hill and JH had sent photographic proof to SADC (JC) and the Police: they should also be sent to the Headmaster [JH]

5. The Brickyard. News received the previous day that the premises were to close, with APRA and residents being blamed for failure of the business, was on the front page of the Herts Advertiser together with a highly offensive editorial comment. A riposte was called for – JH and RP had both produced drafts that should be sent to the newspaper: PT would sign the latter, which should go in first and be posted on our website as our record of the case [JH, RP, PT] with subsequent copies to members and councillors. Supporting letters to the Editor from other RAs should be sought via the Combined RA group [GD].  A BBC Radio Three Counties investigator had recorded comments from NJ and GD and RP would be interviewed along with James Hanning during the following day’s breakfast programme.  It was also noted that HM Inspectorate had upheld SADC refusal for lowering the front wall on Verulam Road: APRA had not made a submission.

6. APRA had written to support residents at the SADC Planning Committee meeting on the application for 1 Mount Pleasant, which had been refused. It was a shame that no new members had resulted among the objectors. The plans for houses at the end of the College Place cul-de-sac had been withdrawn but revised versions were anticipated; we would continue to support the residents in their concerns about the stress on their quality of life and stress on the damaged infrastructure of the road.

7. We and Aboyne RA had been invited to a meeting of the SADC Night Time Economy Task & Finish Group (3 August).  NJ and RP had been attended and pressed for culture-based development centred on the new Museum, and warned against a post-10 pm economy based solely on alcohol.

8. Membership. Members joining at the garden party had taken this year’s total over 100 and the bank balance was now £1100 (less party expenses to come).

9. GD said that the £5000 per Ward budget provided by the Community Neighbourhoods Committee had been confirmed for small projects in 2017 and we should seek suggestions. JH put forward one such idea from several Abbey Mill Lane residents for adoption of the 100m grass bank/verge on west side of the street, now covered in ivy and brambles.  Ideas and approx costs for replanting to be sought [JH].  Similar restoration of the green space in front of Romeland Cottages was another possibility (voluntary labour, funding for plants) [GD].

10. RP had attended the introductory meeting of the Look St Albans! workshop on designs for the City Centre Opportunity Site (i.e. old police station and Bricket Road). The plan was to use included housing to fund civic building. We were unable attend the workshop itself: a round-up meeting was due on 16 September.

11. The AGM was confirmed with Spicer Street Church hall for 8 November, 7.30 for 8.00 pm. A later start was impossible in view of the pressure of business and the need to finish so that church staff could clear up and close the hall. RP had secured an offer for a talk on archaeological surveying results from Verulamium, which should be of interest to many members, but the available time was likely to be inadequate and we should try to arrange this as a separate APRA-hosted meeting in December, or early in 2017. Announcement of the AGM should go out by 7 October [RP]

12. Length of service of committee members and officers under the APRA Constitution would be an immediate and critical problem if insufficient new elections for replacements were not forthcoming. Turnover was desirable but APRA needed continuity. Some thought the present Constitution too prescriptive in relation to other RAs and voluntary bodies in St Albans.  JH proposed that, rather than a formal amendment, a special resolution to allow extension for next year should put instead, to give more time to resolving this [All].

13. Next meeting: AGM

The meeting closed at 9.30 pm