Minutes for PPAA Committee Meeting held on 13th March 2023 at 19:00 by Zoom
Present: Richard Masterman (Chair), Sue Jones, Dan Philips, Wendy Gunter (Treasurer)
Apologies: Alan Coombs
Matters arising from the Committee meeting 7th February 2023 addressed as the agenda.
Richard had attended the Site Reps meeting 15th February 2023 and had circulated notes.
It was noted that allotment committees do not have authority to intervene with any potential dispute and only the Council can adjudicate and implement disciplinary action.
The Allotment Officer had also stated that “associations” could not take on a plot without express permission from the Council.
Covered by agenda items.
Wendy confirmed she had updated the account and repeated her request that plot holders identify bank transfers with plot number and purpose of payment: ie: subs, shop, polytunnel.
Plot re-inspection and termination notices
Monitoring of previously noted overgrown plots to continue and nothing to report from the Council regarding issue of notices.
Clearance of overgrown plots and vacancy list
Great work carried out over the last few months.
Sue reported that there is currently only one plot available. All others now occupied.
Management of trees and hedgerows
Richard reported that he had recently received direct emails from two concerned plot holders regarding protection of wildlife habitat. The Committee confirmed that it was fully committed to preservation of habitat and diversity of wildlife and Richard would respond to the plot holders on behalf of the committee.
It was agreed that whilst management of “wild” common areas of the allotment is essential any future work of significance would be discussed and agreed prior to implementing.
It was agreed that a winter work plan would be developed for future seasons.
Seed potatoes and shop
Richard reported that sales of seed potatoes had been popular and additional stock had been purchased.
Two new puncture proof wheels have now been fitted and new plywood sides are being constructed.
The trolley is now functional again.
Stone wall repair
Following a very helpful meeting, work to repair the stone wall damaged by a fallen tree could now be planned. Thanks to Richard Staniforth for his time and expert advice.
Frost has damaged the above ground pipework to two troughs. Sue agreed to source a plumber to repair.
Dan confirmed that construction of 6 No. new grow beds was now mostly complete and a delivery of compost to fill the new beds was expected shortly. All beds have now been allocated.
Existing compost heap
The large heap of waste material adjacent to the old shop building had been explored by a plot holder for usable compost and, whilst it is contaminated with non-degradable items including glass and plastic, if carefully riddled it provides excellent material which is available to all plot holders providing that care and appropriate PPE (stout boots, hand/eye protection) are employed.
AGM and Plant Sale
Date for AGM to be agreed. 2nd, 16th or 30th April 2023 suggested.
Any Other Business
Nothing further to report
Date of next meeting
19:00 Tuesday 4th April 2023 on site or Zoom.
Site water has been turned on.
After repairing some leaks, the Site Volunteers have turned the water back on, but there is further work to do.
The Council – presumably for public health reasons – arranged for all the troughs to be fitted with non-return valves to prevent any back-siphoning into the system if pressure were lost. However, the present Committee were not informed of this work. Back-siphoning is impossible anyway, as the whole float valve body is well above the overflow level of the trough in every instance on our site, so they can never be submerged.
The contractors apparently did not do this work with e.g. rugged soldered copper pipe and fittings, but with plastic and push-fit, and the new work was not lagged against frost. The extended period of freezing temperatures before Christmas had, it appeared, resulted in some split pipes and forced joints. There is a further problem in that the new valves require pressure to open them, leaving even less to operate the float valves, in turn meaning that some troughs fill even more slowly than before – the site being fed from a regulated, low pressure source. There are, however, solutions to these problems, and Site Volunteers are addressing them.
A programme of insulation and other work will now be undertaken, so could all plot holders adjoining a trough please kindly ensure that access is not hindered by encroaching compost heaps or by other material – thank you one and all.
Update 04 04 23
Here is a summary of what was found and of the measures taken:
Of the 11 troughs on site only 2 were satisfactory.
2 float valves have been replaced.
6 float valves have been modified for low pressure operation to enable proper trough refilling.
1 blocked float valve and 1 blocked non-return valve have been serviced.
2 damaged/split lengths of pipe and associated fittings have been replaced.
1 sub-surface leaking stopcock was excavated, joint remade and resealed.
There only remains the insulation/lagging to be done.
Wild plants – danger to pets and to children.
We have received the below message from a plot holder, who wanted awareness raised re this plant. It raises the issue that – like many wild plants are – what is an important source of food for one animal may be poison to another.
Hopefully, as dogs should be kept on a lead whilst on site, and children under parental supervision at all times, any accidents can be avoided.
“I just wanted to get in touch as I’ve noticed the spring growth of Lords and Ladies / cuckoo pint / arum maculatum around the site (especially at the foot of the hedgerows and entrance from Western Avenue), and also noticed two rodents a couple of weeks ago – (who like to eat the berries of it). I have read that it’s extremely poisonous to animals and humans (but not birds and rodents) and people should avoid including it in composting, so just wanted to draw attention to those things. We have a dog so I’ll be removing it from the discontinued industrial sized composting heaps at the entrance to our plot, and will take off site and dispose of elsewhere.”
Sincere thanks to this plot holder – PPA Website Team.
Help for charity
PPA Website Team were asked by FoodCycle, Riverside to publicise their work, and to ask that if anyone has any surplus produce, then this charity would be very grateful for it. They would also welcome any volunteer help. They have a branch from 27 03 23 in Ely too.
The Website Team are pleased to do this.
The things that sometimes meet volunteers. A tale of everyday life on PPA site…
For some years, the door to the Bring And Take Point near the Western Avenue gate had been wedged open with a piece of natural stone – or weathered concrete maybe (a geologist was not consulted). However, one day that just disappeared, and so the Site Volunteers replaced it with a building block. Within twenty-four hours that too had disappeared, and so they tried a traffic cone – maybe more than one – which lasted the relative eternity of about thirty-six hours before also vanishing. Next, they tried driving a piece of scaffolding into the ground for nearly all its length, leaving only a few inches exposed to stop the door – and yes, you guessed. It really must have taken some vehemence and determination to wrench the best part of a yard of it out of the ground, into which it had been sledgehammered too. So they – the patient souls that they are – tried an even longer piece, leaving even less exposed, only with exactly the same result. (Ordinary folk can only wonder, as to the degree of fixation and obsession on the part of the vandal or vandals at this point, we’d venture.)
The rather attractive and charming hand-written sign on a slate was also broken during this time, after which even its pieces “evaporated”.
Whatever, more recently, a traffic cone appeared – not placed by the Volunteers – to hold the door open, and it’s remained there for some time, so let’s hope that someone has finally got bored of their rather bizarre hobby.
Nonetheless – sharp-eyed as ever – in passing recently a Volunteer noticed something orange through the winter sparseness of the beech hedge, and on a closer look it was plain that most of the missing items had been launched over it and into the brambles on the park side, to join all the other stuff thrown over. If – dear reader – you’re stuck for something to do, then you could name and tot up all the offences committed so far. (If you’re really stuck, that is.)
Here are the things, having been retrieved, though we’re still missing one piece of scaffold:
1 thought on “March PPAA Committee Meeting Minutes And Other Items.”
Re the minutes “It was noted that allotment committees do not have authority to intervene with any potential dispute and only the Council can adjudicate and implement disciplinary action.”
I can only assume that this means in relation to a breach of the terms of tenancy. Since the tenancy is a contract between the Council and the tenant (and not with the Association) only the parties to that contract would normally be able to enforce it, and so this would seem to be only logical. That said, the LMA is also binding on the Council, and so it seems to me that PPAA can require the Council to act where needed under that.
However, nothing agreed between the Council and tenant can detract from the latter’s general rights under law, and so if they are a victim of any wrongdoing then it remains open to them to pursue that as they might see fit, whether by reporting it to the police or through the civil courts, and that jurisdiction doesn’t end at the allotment gates – either inward or outward.
I think that this minute perhaps needs a bit more detail on an important point.