Minutes of 30th APRA Committee Meeting, 16 January 2020

Abbey Precincts Residents Association
Minutes of 30th APRA Committee Meeting, 16 January 2020, 8.00 pm, 13 College Street

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

2. Peter was re-elected as Chair for the current year, and Robert as Secretary. Peter welcomed Ralph as a new member. Minutes of the last committee meeting were approved.

3. Points arising:

  • Minutes of the 2019 AGM were approved. Presentations from the Police Safer Neighbourhoods team and Paul Barnes (STAND) had been well received.
  • Kate was still collating Questionnaire replies, of which we had about 30. There appeared to be no great surprises. A reminder email for more might be worthwhile. [RP]
  • There had been no resolution of the lamppost repainting quandary [Sandy Walkington has subsequently ordered the full re-painting exercise on three as per our request]. A broken lantern support in Abbey Mill Lane had been reported via the HCC website and fixed within 48 hours.
  • There was further discussion of the St Albans School bus issue (and other inappropriate heavy traffic in the area) in advance of the community meeting at the School (23 January). There seemed to be no simple solution, but RP would continue discussion with Mr Keenan and Cllr Hill, as well as George Street traders, to press SADC on the problem.
  • The current emphasis on the need for widespread tree planting was applauded and ways of APRA involvement discussed (e.g., a scheme to encourage planting in members’ private gardens). RP would discuss with GD as soon as possible.
  • Internal redecoration at the Verulam Arms might be an indication that it’s life as a PH was not yet over. On the other hand, economic problems at Ye Olde Fighting Cocks had led to a partial shut-down for January and February.
  • Committee members continued to be involved in the extension of Conservation 50, with a new Blue Plaques scheme for the city and the plan to engage with SADC and business parties on the potential role of a Conservation Area Advisory Committee – it was suggested that this would be best approached through the Combined Residents Association group.
  • APRA continued to support STAND (St Albans Aircraft Noise Defence) in arguing against proposed Luton airport expansion. SADC and HCC had also objected.

4. Planning:

  • Robert reported on the Verulamium Park Consultative Forum meeting (14 January), chaired by Cllr Barrett and well attended. This had been a very positive meeting, with open discussion and signs of real progress (now to be monitored through an SADC Action Tracker). This should result in better control of major events (so far only the return of Pub-in-the-Park in September has been booked), as well as community engagement in decisions, tree planting and revitalisation of the river-lake system.
  • Previous planning applications to which we had objected were still under consideration. Alarm was expressed at the scale of redevelopment of small houses in the area and replacement of original windows. More detailed advice on the role of APRA and the scope for valid objections would be sought from SADC with the help of Cllr Hill [KB, RP].
  • The SADC Enforcement Task & Finish Group 2019 had delivered a report to the relevant Scrutiny Committee, whose meeting was attended by us and Aboyne RA representatives. With Fiona Couper (Chair of Aboyne RA) we had written to point out that we were unhappy that some of our suggestions for sharpening the teeth of the Enforcement department had not been adopted. There is scope for recalling the T&F Group in June 2020.

5. Roads and Pavements. Repainting of the STOP sign on the road at the College Street/lower Dagnall Street junction has still not taken place, in fact the hanging STOP sign has been knocked out of position. Temperance Street should now be resurfaced on 24 January. The blue-brick pavements continue to deteriorate.

6. The possibility of a whatsapp group for committee communications was raised and could be trialled, although not all felt very positive.

7. We needed to arrange an annual APRA Talk. The Victorian industrial history of the area would be of great interest, but it is likely that any potential speaker from Arc & Arc (SAHAAS) would be too busy this year when they are celebrating their 175-year anniversary. The suggestion of someone from Extinction Rebellion was welcomed and RP would seek to contact a reputed speaker. [RP]
Another midsummer party in Parkside House garden was highly desirable and we should investigate the possibility of late June (19 or 20), or else September [NJ]

8. Membership. There are over 80 paid-up members. Justin would chase renewals when possible. Ralph aged to talk to his neighbours and encourage them to join.

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. The APRA website was considered well worth continuing, despite the lack of interactive features. It remains a focus for advertising our existence and reporting decisions.

11. AOB – none

12. Next meeting: Thursday 26 March

The meeting closed at 9:45 pm