BHAF 2012 AGM Comment

A positive meeting

By Melanie Matthews

I haven't received the minutes yet so I thought I would give you my personal view of the meeting.  This is PERSONAL MEMORIES, and MY OWN OPINION (not that of the BHAF) Others may remember it differently - don't take my view as gospel but it will give you an idea!

I thought it was a really positive meeting - not an easy one and people quite rightly had lots of tough questions for the BHAF and the council.  

The four main issues raised were:

  1. The proposed rent increase (which had, before the meeting, been outvoted at the council meeting).  Concerns were raised that tenants were not consulted or represented, and that if it hadn't been for activists outside the BHAF, teh rise might have gone through.  The BHAF recognised this, our Chair, John Burns admitted that while he had the best intentions at the time, in hindsight the decision to try and work with the council to find cost savings and lobby for the rise to take place over 2 years instead of 1, was the wrong decision.
  2. A group of people put forward a motion that the BHAF, whilst clearly hardworking, was not, by nature of its constition, able to fully represent and work on behalf of tenants.  A motion to hold a Special General Meeting to re-write the constitution proposed by Simon Powell and seconded by Teresa Cairns was warmly received by all and a working group was set up.  The BHAF welcomed new members to the committee including Mark of www.dontlosetheplot.org, and was pleased that Simon put himself forward for the steering group to look at the constitution.
  3. The Hosepipe ban was discussed.  The council clarified that it is not their rules but Southern Water who enforce this.  It was agreed that Southern Water have been giving out confusing messages about exemptions for older people or blue badge holders and the council promised to try and get more information on this. It was confirmed that all hosepipes are banned (including filling water butts using hosepipes).  Gillian Marsden, Head of City Infrastructure promised to deliver broken wheelie bins to allotment sites to use as water butts (this has since taken place).
  4. Questions were raised about a payment of £3000 from BHAF funds.  It was explained that this money was part of a Lottery Grant, and paid to BHAF for the specific use of promoting learning for new plotholders, and had paid for the monthly Bridgette's Bulletins.  This money was restricted in its use and could not have been used for other purposes.

In summary, there are lots of challenges ahead but for the first time it seems that there are people willing to help us take on those challenges and the BHAF committee has a much-needed boost of new talent and enthusiasm.  We welcome all of our new members and look forward to keeping you up to date with their progress to re-constitute the BHAF to make it more representative of its members. 

This page was added by Melanie Matthews on 05/04/2012.