Minutes of the GPRA AGM 14 August 2015 at the Chapel, Graylingwell Park
Committee members: Richard Shord, Susan Shord, Sue Cressey, Chris Waller, Sarah Langmead, Barbara Howden-Richards, Grace Taylor.
Invited guests: Trudie Hudson Grange Management, Jane Haskins CCDT, Tim Lawrance-Owen Community Garden.
Apologies: Committee members Irela Strachan, Emma Ainsworth, Lesley Atchison, Paula Miller.
42 residents: 8 from Lloyd Road, 23 from Longley Road, 4 from Homestead Road and 7 from Penny Acre.
Richard introduced members of the committee, each of whom spoke briefly about activities of the GPRA.
Sue Cressey outlined the purpose and benefits of quarterly round table meetings with representatives of Linden Homes, Grange Management and Affinity Sutton.
Chris Waller gave a brief report on the current financial position of the GPRA and also introduced himself as the man responsible for replacing the dog waste bags on the waste bin by the sales office.
Sarah Langmead spoke about the GPRA Saturday Café, held on the third Saturday of each month, which acts as both a social event and an opportunity for residents to discuss issues with members of the committee in an informal situation.
Grace Taylor, also a leading member of the Chichester Society, explained her role in sharing information with other local residents’ groups through regular meetings.
Barbara Howden-Richards outlined the work of the tree task group to date and some of the difficulties encountered in trying to develop a cooperative and coordinated approach.
Susan Shord spoke briefly about communicating with residents through the web site as well as the monthly e-newsletters (and hard copy digest to be found on the notice boards for those without internet access). She also invited residents to contribute to these.
Richard outlined the difficulties of working with both Linden Homes and Affinity Sutton in getting resolution of residents’ issues and problems.
Although there appeared to be some improvement in the responsiveness of customer services and a reduction in quality issues, Linden still were slow off the mark in meeting customer needs. The GPRA had driven resolution in many cases but it had taken an unnecessary amount of time and effort — as highlighted by the slow and inadequate provision of refuse collection bins in Longley Road. Offers of help to improve Linden’s business processes had been turned down.
Both the continued delay in the provision of community facilities and the persistent attempts to shoehorn in extra housing (on the grounds of the development’s supposed marginal profitability) were set against a background of Galliford Try’s record profitability, increased dividends for investors and tax breaks from government.
Affinity Sutton was also remiss in providing adequate services for residents. They are contracted by the S106 agreements to maintain the social housing at Graylingwell in a manner which makes it indistinguishable from private housing. The GPRA has asked continuously over the last two years for a maintenance regime to paint front doors and fix letterboxes without success. It had to fight for a group of shared-ownership tenants who were erroneously given bills of up to £1k for estate management charges (just before Christmas) and now it is fighting for the regular servicing of HRV units in tenanted properties as a health and safety issue. Communication from Affinity Sutton was particularly poor and would be a focus for escalated action going forward.
These difficulties notwithstanding, the Graylingwell community was going from strength to strength. There were regular meetings to ensure our voice gets heard, successful fund raising for future projects, the Saturday cafe/clinic, an open and transparent website (we’ve even had prospective purchasers contact us to get the inside story), strong communications to all, and efforts to maintain the heritage of the park.
Furthermore, this year we have really seen the further development of a community pulling together. In addition to the work of the committee, over 50 residents have come forward to work on car parking at the garden party, painting and decorating The Lodge, doing litter-picking duties, organising events, and working with the trees group to get the best results. We’ve had welcome barbecues, neighbourhood watch bulletins and road safety days.
Richard suggested a community is a group of unrelated people with shared values, and those shared values bring a sense of belonging. The design of Graylingwell prevents isolation and promotes a sense of belonging. We all step out to meet our neighbours. Stagecoach employees even say the sales suite bus stop is the most sociable in Chichester. The work of the GPRA and CCDT, along with the pioneering community garden when it reopens, was indeed building a successful community from scratch.
In recognition of their energetic and dedicated support for community development the committee then presented ‘Extra Mile’ awards to Tim Lawrance-Owen and Jane Haskins. Awards for excellence in customer service to the community were presented to Trudie Hudson and Alan Wyper (Graylingwell Energy).
Current funds stood at £776.50 (up from £381.45 in prior year) due to grants and donations. Expenditure in the year was tightly controlled at £35.49. There was expenditure still to come in support of LodgeFest but the association was in an improved financial position and able to support future projects.
Election of Officers and Committee
Richard stated that although he was retiring as chairman he would still be involved with the community and promoting its interests through his membership of the Board of CCDT.
Despite multiple appeals to all households, however, no residents had come forward to join the work of the GPRA and serve as officers or committee members. Consequently he suggested a motion to agree to Sue Cressey and Susan Shord serving as co-chairmen and re-election of all serving committee members, including current officers. The motion was then proposed and seconded from the floor and carried unanimously.
Open forum on issues and the way ahead
Rozanne Evans (Lloyd Road): Disappointed with gardening in Lloyd Road including poor pruning and insufficient mulching. Julian of SCS claims that the budget did not stretch, although it is clear that he is not shopping around for the best prices. Rozanne had also been told by the gardeners that they are paid for travelling time (3 hrs per day). Trudie reassured residents that this is not the case and that they are paid for the job and not by the hour. Susan will pass Rozanne’s notes to Trudie.
Antony Waller (Longley Road): What does it involve being on the committee? Richard responded that, apart from the regular meetings (currently one per month but possibly less frequent in future) involvement could be as little as occasional help with one off events (e.g. litter pick or Saturday Café) to taking on a major role such as being part of a working party such as the tree group.
Cherrill West (Longley Road) needed reassurance that Graylingwell was a good place to live. Since moving in only 5 weeks ago, hot water and heating were off until 3.00pm one day, a neighbour had had a cycle stolen and the TV signal had gone down. Her concern was echoed by Sue and Pat Berry (Penny Acre), who had experienced similar problems. Richard acknowledged that Switch2 have caused problems, but front line fixing of problems is being transferred to another company in the future. For the time being, if there is no solution from customer service, residents should contact a member of the committee. Pat was concerned about the attitude of customer services at Graylingwell Energy although Rob Holmes was helpful. It seems the warning system wasn’t working. The GPRA will discuss this outage with Graylingwell Energy and arrange for appropriate compensation for interruption of supply.
Richard explained that Linden have said that bike stores are not secure stores – they are simply to provide protection from the elements. Residents should ensure that locks are suitable for insurance purposes. Refer to newsletter for suggested locking system which might deter opportunistic theft.
Jane Haskins referred to the Road safety day where bikes were security marked for free. Sadly, in spite of the free fish and chip lunch, few people turned up.
Dennis Mossman (Longley Road): Thanks to Richard for support with major building problems in his house. Paul Chiltern (customer services manager for Graylingwell) is a great improvement and Steve Middleton (Linden) is also excellent.
Alan Hodges (Longley Road): Given the number of homes, are we not eligible for a post box? Paula Miller had already contacted Royal Mail who said that there is no chance of a post box as there are two within statutory distance.
Graham Ellis (Longley Road): The bin store, which should serve his home, is built between F and G blocks, but there are no dumpsters in it. The distance involved in carrying rubbish to the nearest bins is lengthy and the dumpsters are full and overflowing by Sunday each week – two days before bin emptying. Richard confirmed that this is an on-going issue and explained action taken so far.
Dave Evans: A no through road sign would be helpful at section of Longley Road leading from the Milne houses to Clock House. Delivery drivers persistently use the road expecting egress and then have to turn round in the limited space available by the clock house and No 41 Longley Road. This is a Linden issue rather than a Grange issue.
Sheba Kazaure offered thanks to Richard for his help with Affinity Sutton service charge.
Resident (Longley Road): Car park issue. Someone without either a resident or visitor permit has been using a numbered resident’s space on a regular basis. The resident concerned has spoken with her solicitor who has confirmed her right to the space and she has also contacted CPM. She will contact Susan, who will take this up with CPM.
Jane Haskins (CCDT), asked for volunteers to join a focus group of representative residents to suggest activities to suit them. CCDT are also looking for a resident to join the management group.
Activities of CCDT published. Contact Jane to sign up for e-mail version.
Number 50 Bus: Jane stressed the value of the bus in this low carbon development, encouraging residents to use it to ensure its long-term future. Timetables were made available.
Reminder about LodgeFest on 22nd August which is an event from 2.00-9.00pm on Chapel Green for all residents, including activities for children, a barbecue and a live group in the evening.
The meeting then closed with a vote of thanks to Richard for his service to the GPRA and a commitment from the committee to further the issues raised.