Minutes of 29th APRA Committee Meeting, 29 August 2019

Abbey Precincts Residents Association
Minutes of 29th APRA Committee Meeting, 29 August 2019, 8.00 pm,  13 College Street


1. Present: Peter Trevelyan, Geoff Dyson, Robert Pankhurst, Norman James, Kate Buckley. Apologies: Justin Douglas, Andrew Yaras

2. Minutes of the last committee meeting were approved.

3. Points arising:

  • SADC letter now planned for inclusion with a Newsletter to be delivered at the AGM. Kate would check to see if any changes were necessary and provide an Introduction.
  • Sandy Walkington had potentially found some funding for lamppost repainting and had asked for a lead-based paint test which could impact on the decision.
  • Neither RP nor GD had been able to attend 2 July meeting at the School but had a separate discussion with the Bursar. Other informal meetings had taken place with the Kevin Keenan and Madeleine Sansom (FSRA). There was general agreement that the use of High Street (and possibly Chequer Street) parking bays for some of the larger buses and coaches during the morning drop-off would be a satisfactory outcome, which the Bursar agreed to consider. RP would meet with Mr Keenan and Cllr Hill to press for this.
  • It is understood that SADC will apply for funds from Year 2 of the Urban Tree Challenge scheme. A Tree Charter had been agreed and should appear in the next Civic Society newsletter.
  • The summer evening party in the Bishop of Richborough’s garden was again a most enjoyable occasion, with 60-70 members attending.

. 4. Planning:

  • Noise from public events continues to be a concern. Following complaints about a ‘mini-Strongman’ event in St Peters Street on 23 June, SADC officials were called during the main event on 28 July and confirmed that sound levels below 70db should be considered acceptable. Reported disturbance was less than on previous occasions. The main problem is with over-amplified and distorted commentary. Future events, including ‘Pub in the Park’ 14-16 September, will be carefully assessed. Residents should definitely complain if disturbed. Further late night entertainment events had taken place in the city centre (George Street?) – members should be reminded to complain if disturbed.
  • Planning applications for Heritage Close shop fronts and 43-45 Verulam Road (retrospective) have been approved. Garage conversion for Bowes Lyon Mews was refused under appeal but a further application for a certificate of lawfulness has now been made without changing the garage door frontage.
  • RP presented at the second meeting of the SADC Enforcement Task & Finish Group 2019, as did Fiona Couper of Aboyne RA. We were disappointed by the lack of outcome and will write to the Chair and Leader of the Council.

5. Vandalism in the area:

  • Recent overnight attacks on cars (stolen wheels, slashed tyres) and other disturbances had been reported. Neighbourhood Police and SADC are supporting residents: CCTV has been installed on Verulam Road and further installations have been suggested.
  • There is concern about more open drug offences, which should be reported if seen. Empty houses/spaces and the presence of unfamiliar people connected with the many current building projects make the area more vulnerable to this.

6. There was concern at the sudden closure if the Verulam Arms PH due to insolvency of the leaseholder, but the owner was looking for someone to take it on. We see no possibility of APRA involvement in a community buyout.

7. Newsletter. We should aim to produce this in time for the AGM. Committee members are asked to provide brief copy.

8. Membership. There are now 95 paid-up members, but the number will inevitably fall after the 1 November renewal date.

9. The AGM is fixed for Tuesday 12 November, 7.30 for 8pm in Spicer Street church hall. A talk should be invited from the Safer Neighbourhoods police team and we should try top accommodate a short presentation from STAND on noise problems connected to Luton airport. Gordon Sheppard wished to stand down as Independent Examiner following the AGM. We urgently need new committee members.

10. KB suggested that the website would benefit from more interactive items, such as questionnaires/opportunities for feedback.

11. Conservation 50 events in May, June and July had been counted a major success, with APRA committee members taking important roles.

12. AOB: The current silt accumulation in the Verulamium Park lakes is alarming. GD also reported a number of burnt patches in the grass due to portable barbecues – would contact Daniel Flitton on this. Opportunities should be sought for closer collaboration with other local RAs, socially and in reporting vandalism or Conservation problems.

Next meeting: AGM

The meeting closed at 10.30 pm