Annual General Meeting 2018

Abbey Precincts Residents Association: Minutes of Sixth Annual General Meeting,
Tuesday 27 November 2018, Spicer Street Church Hall, 8.00 pm

Peter Trevelyan took the Chair and opened the meeting. He thanked those present for turning out on an unpleasant evening and Greg Strain for making the hall available and providing refreshments. [Apologies are noted from Nigel Green, John & Ros Hedges, John & Lynne Hobson, Guy Marshall, John Rae and Sandy Walkington].

1. Invited talk.  Jane Parker (Principal Waste Contracts Officer, St Albans City & District Council) gave a presentation on waste and recycling collection and processing, with special emphasis on the Conservation Area and Article 4 Direction which affects many streets. There was a useful Q&A session concerning wheelie bins, on-pavement storage of boxes and collection of garden refuse (Heritage Close). Jane provided a letter explaining Council policy. Peter led a Vote of Thanks.

2. Review of APRA activities during the year:

Robert Pankhurst (Secretary) summarised official APRA comments on local planning applications relating to 1 Mount Pleasant (the meeting was told that approval is now subject to a legal challenge), the College Place garage site (Conditions for heavy vehicle access), a garage conversion in Bowes Lyon Mews (in conjunction with BLMRA), the St Albans Local Plan (emphasising the need to protect the Conservation Area), and parking on Green Belt at the rear of Aquis Court (St Albans School indicates that this is temporary). VerulamiumPark issues affecting residents included the park Premises Licence (a much restricted and temporary Variation had been approved) and the planning application for a Christmas Festival. Delay and part displacement of the festival were due to incorrect and revised proposals requiring extension to the consultation period; this was not caused by unreasonable objections from neighbours as divisively presented in local media. All APRA submissions to SADC are available on our website.

Geoff Dyson reported that three small areas of blue brick pavements had been re-laid but dangerous areas remained (one accident that could have been more serious had resulted) – repairs are subject to a 6-monthly review by HCC. Recent damage to the brick-and-flint perimeter wall to the Abbey Orchard had been repaired, but areas of severe deterioration remained. Discussions about the iron railings outside the Romeland cottages concluded that APRA’s suggestion of essential repairs seemed the most practical solution. There had been traffic accidents at the Lower Dagnall Street/College Street crossroads – improvements to the ‘STOP’ signage were necessary. Kate Buckley reported that the planned resurfacing of Temperance Street and College Place was delayed until next year.

600 copies of our 2018 Newsletter had been distributed in June and had been well received following an absence in 2016.

The idea of blue plaques recording significant locations in the area was now encompassed within a wider such scheme by the Civic Society – they had agreed to a new information board in Waxhouse Gate with text devised by Norman James. Further suggestions from APRA members would be welcome.

We had been informed of a fresh initiative to conduct an independent safety audit of the operation of St Albans School buses in comparison with possible alternative drop-off points: this was supported in principle and we would advise members of any outcome.

Successful social events during the year were a history talk (11 April) by Kate Morris on the 18th century development of the Romeland and College estates, and a further evening drinks event in the garden of Parkside House hosted by Bishop Norman Banks (1 June). Both formats are now established annual events for APRA members.

3. Membership. Justin Douglas had carried out a very effective recruitment drive which had resulted in our highest membership to date (ca. 150). We had advertised the AGM in some outlying streets (Verulam Road, Hill Street and Portland Street) – attendance of residents from these was noted and welcomed. Overlap with other RAs should not be a problem as all are represented in the Combined RA group.

4. Financial Accounts. Andrew Yaras presented the APRA Accounts for 2017/2018 which showed a small surplus of £22 after expenditure dominated by the costs of the Newsletter and our two social events. Further increase of reserves (currently £1309) is desirable to cover similar expenditure each year but it was not considered necessary to increase subscription rates. Gordon Shepherd was gratefully re-appointed as Independent Examiner.

5. Communication with members. The current web-based e-mail had some restrictions and we might switch to a Google-based group mail. The APRA website is efficiently maintained by Catherine Soave. More immediate social media had been considered, but the experience of Fishpool Street RA was that Facebook was too little used by members to make it viable. Instagram might be more useful for rapid communication of problems by members and this would be evaluated. A Welcome Pack for new residents was also being worked on. A window sticker for members had been produced based on a design by Kate and was available at the AGM and from Robert – it might alternatively be used as a car sticker.

6. Conservation 50. Several APRA members were involved, along with the Civic Society and other RAs, in this project to celebrate and safeguard the St Albans Conservation Area which has its 50th anniversary next year. Three activities are being planned: a half-day conference on Saturday 6 July 2019 with high-profile speakers and a discussion forum, a celebration party later on the same day, and a photographic exhibition highlighting changes and concerns over the last 50 years. It is hoped to engage with both young people, through school participation, and SADC. Kate Buckley is leading the organization of the party and would welcome volunteers to help.

7. Committee. Sally Hickman is standing down and was warmly thanked for her participation over the past two years. No new nominations had been received and none was forthcoming from the floor. The existing committee (Peter Trevelyan, Geoff Dyson, Robert Pankhurst, Andrew Yaras, Justin Douglas, Norman James and Kate Buckley) was re-elected nem. con.

There being no other business the meeting was closed at 9.40 pm.