Draft minutes to be approved at the AGM 2023
RUSHMERE COMMONERS COMMITTEE
Registered Charity No. 274900
Minutes of AGM held on Tuesday 19th July 2022 at Tower Hall commencing at 7.30pm
Mike Gilson (Chairman)
Alison Pledger (Vice Chairman)
John Adams (Co-opted)
Bob Gosden (Warden)
Chris Kendall (Clerk)
- Minutes of the last AGM held on Thursday 29th July 2021 – agreed. Proposed by Kev Driver and seconded by Ray Whymark.
- Chairman’s Report
The Chairman thanked everyone for attending the meeting.
Trustees - John Adams has asked to remain as a co-opted trustee.
Derek Gardiner, who was elected at the last AGM, has now resigned and he was thanked for what he did during his time as a trustee.
Geoff Poole, who was co-opted during the year, has decided not to stand for election and was also thanked for all his efforts.
Mike explained that the trustees are elected by commoners to manage the common. Although each trustee has different aspects of the common that they deal with, Mike was keen to re-iterate that any key decisions are made by the managing trustees as a whole and never by individuals.
Thanks – Mike thanked all the trustees, the clerk, the warden and all the volunteers for their efforts during the year. The volunteers do things such as litter picking and filling up the dog bag dispensers. During the year we have sent ‘thank you’ letters to Mr & Mrs Dave Price, Peter Dearsley and Reg Claydon. Mike also thanked all the greenkeepers and anyone else who fills up the dog bag dispensers.
Covid 19 – This year has continued to be affected by the Covid pandemic, as it has had a knock-on effect on the financial management and longer term management of the common. There is currently a backlog of work to be done.
Management of the common – Mike reported that Adrian Pearce, who had carried out work on the common for a large number of years, has decided not to continue working on the common for a variety of reasons. His work and enthusiasm has been much appreciated and he is thanked for his great work. We are now looking to get other contractors with the necessary equipment and time available to carry out the work and this is our main challenge.
In the past the trustees have not taken a prescriptive approach to managing the common but now feel that a more carefully managed plan is needed, especially regarding management of the gorse. This will also allow us to inform the commoners of what we are doing and planning on the common.To assist with this, zoning of the common is being re-done.
Last year some positive things happened, namely starting to control the saplings,the tree survey was completed, we looked at regeneration of the gorse and at regeneration of the Little Heath, Suffolk Wildlife Trust have looked at the pond and communication has improved greatly via regular magazine articles in In Touch, the Parish Magazine and our website. Also the Green Light Trust have continued to help us greatly, and they provide a major source of unpaid resource. Suffolk Wildlife Trust commented that the pond is in a good state and contra to our original thinking, it should not be refilled with bore water unless absolutely necessary, if it dries up in the summer, as this could be detrimental to the wildlife.
Some of the challenges from last year however were Payback was curtailed, there was both vandalism and metal detecting on the common (which should be reported direct to the police), and East Suffolk Council produced a Walking and Cycling Strategy and if this were to go ahead it would have a severely detrimental effect on both the common and Rushmere Golf Club. Some of the proposed routes go across the common and another proposal was for the path to go along the Little Heath. After seeking solicitor’s advice we objected to all the proposed routes.
The trustees will continue to make improvements to the common with the objective that it will remain the place it especially is as we all have a stake in it.
Rushmere Golf Club – Are hosting a prestigious tournament of Friday 12th August.
- Matters arising from items 1) and 2)
John Adams said that he is a co-opted trustee and that he wishes to remain co-opted and not be elected. He has already been on the committee for 9 years, some of which were as vice chairman as some as chairman. He is happy to help and be there to form part of a quorum but does not wish to be allocated any particular jobs.He went on to say that we need more trustees to share the work and keep the common beneficial to all.
Mike asked the attendees what they thought of the common as any input is gratefully received. Mike, himself, said that one problem we have is maintaining the pond, especially as the reeds are currently taking up too much of the pond. GLT will remove some reeds in the near future. Kev Driver mentioned that we cannot take the liner out of the pond as it would then fail. The amphibian club are to take a look at the too. A commoner asked how the pond was fed and Kev explained that it was fed from drainage and through a grate and channel that has has been dug to assist water to flow into it.
- To consider financial statement
Mike highlighted some key figures and advised that page 8 had been replaced at the last minute as an error had been discovered.
The reserves are artificially inflated due to the golf club paying approx £21,000 in advance. Last year’s figure from the golf club was less than normal due to rebate given in view of Covid 19.
The figure from National Grid was down as some of this year’s income was received the year before.
The payments for the year included £3200 for a tree survey. This then resulted in tree surgery costs being increased by £600. The amount spent on pathway clearance was more than last year due to the backlog of work due to Covid and will probably be more next year due to more clearance and firebreaks being needed, as new contractor/s will cost more than Adrian did, and the effects of inflation. Costs will be monitored next year.
Page 8 item 3 of the accounts shows the true figures after adjustments have been made for debtors and creditors and shows that our true reserves are £103495.65.
No trustees received any remuneration during the year.
Proposed by John Adams and seconded by Kev Driver.
- Election of Independent Examiner
Chris was asked to comment on the work that Ensors had done on this year’s accounts.She explained that there had been quite a few problems as some of the 2021 and 2022 figures were initially mixed up, the accounts were prepared on an accruals basis when they are usually done on an income and expenditure basis and the figures included in the narrative didn’t agree with the figures in the accounts. In view of these initial errors Chris has asked for a fee reduction and reassurance that these issues will not occur again. Mike asked the room if we could seek another accountant for next year if satisfactory answers were not forthcoming and this was agreed.
- Election of managing trustees.
Existing trustee, Diane Grayston, is up for re-election and therefore gave some information about herself and what she does for the commoners. Her re-election was proposed by Alison Pledger and seconded by Kev Driver.
Mike Shields nominated himself to become a trustee and told the meeting about himself, his background and what he could offer if he became a trustee. He explained that he has worked in public service and has been a commoner for most of his life. Mike Shields also stated that he has lots to offer the commoners and is keen to reverse the decline in habitats and appreciates the value of community. Mike was asked some questions about his opinions on some of the commoners current issues. As Mike’s previous work has required honesty, integrity and enthusiasm and he has the ability to do strategic planning, risk management etc. he was voted on to become a trustee. Proposed by Chris Dutton and seconded by Alan Roper.
- Any other business.
Meeting closed 8.30pm