Minutes of the GPRA AGM held on 11th October 2019
Rob Norris (Chair); Sue Cressey (Vice Chair); Sue James (Secretary); Chris Waller; (Treasurer); Brian Baker; Alan Bradbury; Barbara Howden Richards; Jack Wingfield
Attendance – not including the committee:
Lloyd Road: 1
Longley Road: 12
Homestead Road: 2
Penny Acre: 5
North Mead: 4
Clare de Bathe – Director, CCDT
Jeremy Hunt – Councillor, West Sussex County Council
Rob Norris welcomed residents to the AGM, particularly people who had moved in since our last meeting.
Changes to the GPRA Constitution
Sue James reported that the Constitution had been revised to update it following a Committee workshop in February 2019. Members were given a copy of the updated Constitution. The changes were:
- Updating the objectives of the GPRA
- Inclusion of a Child Protection Policy
- An increase in the number of committee members from 8 to 12 to reflect the growth in the size of the development
- Reference to minutes of meetings being available via the GPRA website
- Requirement for Officers of the Association to stand down after a period of 5 years in office
- Requirement for Committee members usually to attend at least 50% of the meetings in any one year
- Provision for a Special General Meeting of the Association to be called to amend the Constitution in addition to amendments being considered at the AGM where necessary
- Provision for the Association to raise funds by both grant applications and fund raising schemes
After debate the changes were approved by 31 to 1.
The amended Constitution will be posted on the GPRA website.
Annual Report (Chair):
In this year’s report, I’d like to say something about how the committee operates and organises its work as well as about the substantive issues we’ve been dealing with in another very busy year.
There’s certainly been no reduction in the number of issues we’ve had to deal with: parking, street lighting, the condition and future of Havenstoke Park and its trees, the fences at North Mead, the completion of ground works, dealing with anti-social behaviour or the fortunately not too common acts of theft or vandalism, ensuring the application of the restricted covenants that protect us all, as well as keeping a watchful eye on planning applications such as those for the Lower Graylingwell development, the Redrow development to the north of the farm house and the proposed North Chichester sewage pipeline. We have also had a number of meetings with local councillors to make sure that they understand the needs and wishes of residents as well as the impact that council decisions can have despite ours being a private development.
These issues and others are dealt with on a daily basis by members of the committee, by frequent contact with Grange Management and Linden Homes and through our Quarterly Meeting with Linden, Grange, and Clarion. Maintaining these relationships and pushing for action when necessary is a key part of our role and one that, as for everyone, can at times be very frustrating. However, I do need to say that that frustration is often shared by the staff we work with at Grange and here on site at Linden Homes. Getting the lighting completed is one good example of this – it’s not through any lack of commitment by site management staff and members of the Customer Services team. This is where our interaction with senior staff at Linden Homes South becomes very important not only through the Quarterly Meeting but also through direct contact. I’m pleased to say that we do generally get there in the end – we’re a persistent lot – but we’re not always successful, try as we may, and we know we depend on your patience more often than we would like. So, if you find you can’t resolve any issues by direct contact with Linden, Grange or whoever, do let us know but please also recognise that sometimes it takes time even when we’re on the case and pushing hard. One area for which we have had much more positive responses has been in relation to response times and action from Customer Services so, again, please let us have the good news as well if that’s your experience.
Getting the street lighting completed is just one example of unnecessary delay and, we hope, imminent results. We understand that that will be completed in the very near future thanks to constant pressure.
That, I hope, gives a flavour of the kinds of substantive issues we’ve been dealing with over the year. We’ve also dedicated time to examine the role of the Residents’ Association itself – hence the revised constitution we’ve brought forward this evening for your approval. How do we operate as a committee, what are the responsibilities of particular members for various areas of work and how do we communicate with everyone? For example, in addition to the roles of Treasurer and Secretary individual members of the committee represent the roads and phases of the development or have responsibilities for liaising with CCDT and Clarion, for planning and covenants, for issues of anti-social behaviour including liaison with the police force, for liaison with council staff and local experts concerning the Havenstoke trees, or for liaising with the Hill development at Lower Graylingwell.
Given the amount of work that needs to be done, this aspect of shared working is one that we want to strengthen with the new committee over the coming year. We’ve already taken some actions to do this by holding a special workshop to look at the constitution and how we operate and also by agreeing a number of policies on key issues. This is particularly important when it comes to discussing frequently raised issues at committee and to communicating with external bodies like the district and county councils as well as with everyone here at Graylingwell. The website, frequently updated, is our main source of communication with residents. It includes minutes of the committee meetings and the Quarterly Meetings, immediate updates under the heading of ‘Hot Topics’ and a huge range of other information including who to contact within the Association but also externally for all kinds of issues and services. We also do mail drops when needed and we hope that people will come to the Saturday café on the third week of the month or contact our street representatives directly. We recognise, however, that there are other potential options concerning how we communicate so this will be one of the items on the committee’s agenda early in the coming year.
As ever, then, it’s been a year of successes, of some failures and of the need for continuing pressure. It’s been a year when there have been split opinions to manage and complaints still to be resolved but it’s also been a year when so many people have said how much they enjoy living here at Graylingwell and, as just a small example, how pleased they are with the landscaping that’s been completed recently.
As a committee we will do everything we can to represent your interests and that’s something we couldn’t do without the invaluable work and support of so many people. In particular I’d like to thank Sue James who has done a tremendous job as Secretary and who is standing down at this AGM to concentrate on her work with CCDT. Thank you, Sue. I’d also like to thank the other members of the committee for their time and work and in particular Sue Cressey as Vice Chair and Chris Waller as Treasurer. One only needs to look at the number of emails members get everyday to know how much they do on our behalf. Thank you all. Behind the scenes, Susan Shord and Paul Thompson have continued to do their hugely valuable work in keeping the website up-to-date and sending out newsletters and e-flyers to maintain communications. Thank you both.
A number of key partners also support us all, not least Trudie Hudson from Grange and Clare and her team at CCDT. We are very grateful to them and look forward to what we hope will be a very constructive new year working together.
Annual Accounts (Treasurer):
The balance sheet and income and expenditure statement were presented. There is over £1000 in the bank at present, and a surplus of £129 in the income and expenditure account. Approval was given on the draft accounts which will be posted on the website.
Election of officers: (this part of the meeting was conducted by Sue James)
Rob Norris – chair
Sue Cressey – vice chair
Susan Shord – secretary
Chris Waller – treasurer
All were duly elected by a large majority.
Election of Committee:
There were 10 candidates, these were as follows:
Barbara Howden Richards
All were duly elected by a large majority.
Presentation by CCDT Director
Clare de Bathe gave a detailed presentation about what Graylingwell Park residents get for their annual contribution to the CCDT. In addition to the benefit of having an organisation that is dedicated to the development of a great community in the north west of Chichester, and to owning and running assets such as Havenstoke Park, the Chapel, the Lodge, the Water Tower and, eventually, The Pavilion in Havenstoke Park and The Studios, residents of Graylingwell, who pay an annual subscription to the CCDT, exclusively receive
- free hire of all the community assets for community activities such as the Quiz night and internet cafe
- half-price hire of all the community assets for private functions
- membership of the Community garden
- priority places at the Graylingwell nursery and youth club
- support for GPRA (free meetings rooms, printing etc)
In addition to the provision of reduced or free of charge activities, Graylingwell residents are also supported on community development issues such as the redevelopment of the Chapel and the Studios. Although these facilities will be open to a wider community than just the residents of Graylingwell Park, their location within the park means that they will be of particular significance for Graylingwell residents.
Additional item: Questions for the County Councillor
Jeremy Hunt invited questions from the floor. He was asked about plans for access to Graylingwell from the north east of the development. He confirmed that whilst the planned new development to the north east of Graylingwell Park will share the use of Graylingwell Drive for access, there are no plans for any other vehicular access to the north east of the development.
Residents expressed their continued concern about significant reduction of bus services, particularly in light of the Council’s stated objectives to reduce reliance on private cars. Mr Hunt explained that the subsidy on bus services which Linden Homes had paid as part of their S106 requirements was designed to support the service until it had developed sufficient support to be self-financing. Unfortunately, the subsidy had run out, but bus utilisation had remained very low, and the County Council could not afford to fund the subsidy itself, so the bus company had been forced to reduce the service. Residents asked for his support to persuade the bus company to reroute eastern buses – particularly the route 55 – to run through the eastern part of Graylingwell Park.