Present:

  • John Hayward (Chair)
  • Barbro Fitzjohn
  • Gordon Gillies
  • Andy Haslehurst
  • Hilary Jackson
  • T Jacobs (Minutes)
  • Barbara Matcham (Host)
  • Sue Swallow

Apologies:

  • Phine Dahle
  • Rosy Maguire
  • Chris Jackson

1. Introduction

John opened the meeting by welcoming the attendees. The apologies were given.

2. Planning Matters

2.1 Planning hearing

The formal hearing re 111 Alma Road took place on 20th November 14. The appeal by the landlord, Jas Rai, has been dismissed and the Enforcement Notice applies. The property will return to a C3 (non-HMO dwelling) when the current tenants’ contracts expire in June 2015. Costs were denied to both sides. The Planning Inspector gave much evidential weight to the testimony of local residents.

3. OARA Governance

3.1 Financial overview

Andy had circulated the Financial Statement by email prior to the meeting. He explained that it reflected the position at 10 December 14, but further membership fees had been received after this date. We have a good financial balance helped by the monies received from the Bin Buddy pilot landlord.

3.1.1 SCC Grant for the History Day

Andy informed John that he (John) would have to complete the SCC Grant Monitoring Form (which John had applied for to fund the History Day on 18th October 14) to demonstrate exactly what the Community Chest grant of £280 had been spent on.
Action: John

3.1.2 History Group Calendars

Andy explained that because the grant had been applied for under the OARA banner, the History Group is part of OARA, rather than being a separate entity. The income from the sale of the calendars and the printing company’s expenses in producing them will be included in the OARA accounts. John responded that about 200 calendars had been sold in a number of different locations.

Andy asked John to provide details of what the printing company had spent in producing the calendars and what funds their sale had generated as soon as they are available.

We agreed that History calendar receipts would be kept in a separate fund as we do for the Greening group.

3.1.3 Allocation of the General Fund

Andy reported that we will have to decide what we would like to spend the General Fund on. Ideas would need to be approved by Committee and the membership. He explained that we may want to apply for match funding for future projects, where OARA would cover half the cost and whoever was providing the grant the other half.

3.1.4 Community Grant issues

Gordon then raised a number of questions about the Community Chest grant which John had applied for to fund the History Day, and the production of the calendars. He was concerned that the Committee had not been informed of the full details of the History Day before it took place, including the costs associated with it.

A discussion took place on how we apply for grants as an organisation, as some Committee members had been unaware of the grant for the History Day. We agreed that in future, the Committee should approve any grant that we may apply for, and that such approval is minuted.

Andy explained that expenditure of all public money, whether it comes from grants or fund raising, has to be accounted for and be approved. The Committee has a Trustee role in this respect and would normally be consulted. However, the procedures for this were not clear at the time, although the Treasurer was aware that a grant was being applied for.

It was noted that the History Day had been well attended and that there was absolutely no question of anything improper having happened in relation to the grant for it.

John also noted that no OARA funds had been used to supplement the cost of the History Day and that the grant applied for had been spent exactly as stated on the application.

3.2 Meeting dates for 2015

The Committee agreed that we need to hold more Committee meetings outside of the Ordinary General Meetings to ensure that everyone is aware of what is going on at all times. T explained that it is easier to set the OGM dates and then the Committee dates around them. The following dates were proposed:

3.2.1 AGMs and OGMs

  • AGM – Monday 19th January 2015 (already agreed)
  • OGM – Monday 20th April 2015
  • OGM – Monday 6th July 2015
  • OGM – Tuesday 6th October 2015
  • AGM – Tuesday 26th January 2016

3.2.2 Committee meetings

  • Monday 9th February 2015
  • Monday 30th March 2015 (to be confirmed)
  • Monday 18th May 2015
  • Monday 15th June 2015
  • Tuesday 22nd September 2015
  • Monday 19th October 2015
  • Tuesday 8th December 2015 (AGM preparation)

T agreed to circulate the proposed dates to all Committee members for comment.
Action: T

3.3 Agreeing actions outside of Committee meetings

We agreed that if a decision by the Committee was needed outside of the Committee meeting cycle, details were to be circulated by email. This applies in particular for any expenditure or proposed course of action which has not been discussed before.

3.4 The Communications Officer role

This is an issue that has been raised before but after the July OGM, it has become apparent that the Committee needs to consider the use of social media as a way of engaging with all of our residents, particularly the younger generation.

Gordon suggested that the Communications Officer role would cover the use of Twitter and Facebook and would cover all communications with other Residents’ Associations, the Council, students and other stakeholders. We agreed that we would explore the need for the role in more detail at a future Committee meeting. Gordon agreed to show Committee members how Facebook and Twitter work.

Action: Gordon

4. Preparation for the AGM

4.1 Chairman’s Report

John was tasked with writing the Chairman’s Report, and he asked Committee members to feed in their ideas. Gordon is to send last year’s report to John.

Action: All and Gordon

4.2 Financial Report

Andy will produce a financial report for the year with the accounts on one side, and a review of how we plan to use our reserves on the other. He explained that the accounts will have to be inspected by someone with financial training and will ask his work colleagues to assist in this respect.

Action: Andy

4.3 Priorities for 2015

John stated that the priority for 2015 must be to define our next steps for Common Ground. Andy added that we will need support from the AGM to determine how we can meet the Charter. A debate followed on how we can measure ourselves against it; some Committee members felt that it was difficult to do this as the principles defined in the Charter, which we all support, do not easily lend themselves to actions to achieve it. John commented that we need more involvement from the membership and Barbro supported this.

Hilary volunteered to propose some actions that would enable us to measure ourselves against the Charter.

Action: Hilary to share this with the Committee

Gordon questioned whether what we are doing now is any different to what we were doing before; he felt that current activities have occurred alongside Common Ground rather than because of it. T expressed concern that our current activities may be subsumed by Common Ground and that once clear priorities may become less clear. It is hoped that Hilary’s action above will lead to clarity.

4.4 Setting budgets

In addition to the ring-fencing of History Calendar monies for History Group purposes, the Committee agreed that we should also ring-fence the monies generated by the Bin Buddy Scheme so that we can number more bins.

4.5 Who is standing for Committee positions

Chris Jackson has already stated that he is to stand down at the AGM. Time did not permit individual Committee members to say whether they were intending to stand again.

Gordon then announced that he intends to stand down.

The Committee felt another meeting prior to the AGM would be useful.

Action: Committee to arrange this

5. Dates for the 2015 Meetings

OARA General Meetings

  • AGM – Monday 19th January 2015
  • OGM – Monday 20th April 2015
  • OGM – Monday 6th July 2015
  • OGM – Tuesday 6th October 2015
  • AGM – Tuesday 26th January 2016

OARA Committee Meetings

  • Monday 9th February 2015
  • Monday 30th March 2015 (TBC)
  • Monday 18th May 2015
  • Monday 15th June 2015
  • Tuesday 22nd September 2015
  • Monday 19th October 2015
  • Tuesday 8th December 2015 (AGM preparation)