Abbey Precincts Residents Association: Minutes of Fifth Annual General Meeting
Thursday 9 November 2017, Spicer Street Church Hall, 8.00 pm
1. Peter Trevelyan took the Chair and thanked the Greg Strain for the church’s generous hospitality once again. He welcomed members (approximately 30 attended). Apologies were noted from Committee members John Hedges and Sally Hickman, and several others.
2. Invited Talk. John Allworth (Construction Manager for Willmott Dixon) was introduced and gave a fascinating illustrated talk on the work of converting the OldTown Hall for use as the new St AlbansMuseum, which he considered a flagship project. Some of the finds made during excavating the basement were displayed. John was congratulated and thanked.
3. Q&A. Ward Councillor Edgar Hill, who had to leave for another meeting, took questions from the floor on obscured parking bay suspension notices and fines incurred as a result, SADC Conservation Area appraisal, and the planning difficulties caused by the lack of an updated Strategic Local Plan [Note added: SADC have since announced that this will be open for consultation from 9 January].
4. Reports on the year’s activities and progress
Car Parking. The merger of Zones B, Q and E seemed to have improved parking for residents and their visitors during the middle of the day, and the additional bays, e.g. on Verulam Road, had absorbed some overnight demand. The area around Romeland continued to suffer congestion that poses danger to users, particularly associated with school traffic, and road markings had still to be updated. A combined local RA party was due to meet the School headmaster to discuss the problems on the following day. It was pointed out that an SADC consultation on parking permit entitlement had been completed and a new policy had yet to be announced.
Roads and Pavements. The state of blue-brick pavements in the area had worsened considerably and a new approach to HCC was necessary.
Planning. A Planning Policy had been formulated to clarify how APRA decides on involvement in the process; this is posted on the website. Interventions during the year were: 1) houses on the old College Place garage site (approved by HM Inspector on appeal) – we were let down by the weak SADC grounds for refusal and the failure of HCC Highways to object to the serious deterioration of the road and the effect on residential properties [contractors are responsible for repair where they cause damage, but evidence is needed!]; 2) St Albans School 3-storey Maths building (a slightly modified proposal passed by SADC Planning Committee); 3) development including a 5-house terrace over 3 storeys high on the land at 1 Mount Pleasant (twice refused by SADC, now in appeal). The lack of SADC enforcement action on breaches of planning conditions at 10 Pondwicks Close was frustrating but we shall persist.
Website. This continues with the active support of Catherine Soave. APRA Committee Minutes are now posted promptly in draft form.
Newsletter. The lack of an APRA Newsletter in 2017 was regretted as its wide distribution is one of the few ways in which we can reach non-members with whom we have no e-mail contact.
Environmental. The revised recycling system seemed to be effective. Neighbourhood Watch alerts are automatically e-mailed to you if you sign up to the Online Watch Link (https://www.owl.co.uk). [Note added: Herts Police can provide a mobile app for non-emergency contact, see www.herts.police.uk/app]
Social Events. These were a special talk for members on the geophysical exploration of Roman Verulamium (update due at Arc& Arc meeting on 5 December), a well-attended drinks evening at Parkside House in June (thanks once again to Bishop Banks), and a House Concert in October given by Julian Trevelyan (piano). These social occasions are seen as an important part of our role and will continue.
5. Accounts & Membership. Justin Douglas has taken on the role of Membership Secretary ([email protected]). There were just over 100 paid-up members for 2017, slightly down on 2016 numbers even after chasing back-payments on two occasions. Subscription fees are vital as they are primary evidence of the degree of our representation and we are grateful to those who pay. A new recruitment drive was needed. Andrew Yaras presented accounts verified by Gordon Shepherd showing a current balance of £1287. Gordon was confirmed as Independent Examiner for 2017/18.
6. Constitution. Committee proposed changes to the Constitution to allow re-election on an annual basis without time limit and with the elected committee assigning Officer roles as appropriate. The opportunity was also taken to propose a few minor changes for consistency and simplification where possible. The revised Constitution (accompanying these Minutes) was voted for by those at the meeting nem con. with immediate effect.
7. Committee. Members of the 2016/2017 Committee were duly re-elected for 2017/2018 nem con., with the exception of John Hedges who wished to stand down [the meeting passed a unanimous vote of thanks for his contribution to APRA over the past 4 years]. No advance Nominations had been received but Kate Buckley (College Place) agreed to stand and was unanimously voted in by those present.
8. AOB. In general discussion it was pointed out that Street Reps could not easily be identified by newcomers to the area and photographs or addresses might be included on the website: Committee would consider and consult the Street Reps. Members were encouraged to talk to non-member neighbours to help advertise APRA.
Peter thanked Robert for his work as Secretary. The meeting closed at 9.50 pm