Minutes of AGM – 7th June 2017

Egerton Park Residents’ Association

Minutes of Annual General Meeting

held at The Lauries, Birkenhead

at 7pm on 7th June 2017

 

Attendance:   A number of residents plus 5 committee members.

Apologies:      1 apology was received.

  1. Welcome and Introductions/Residents’ Concerns

Those present identified the following concerns:

  • Derelict properties
  • Blocked storm drains (resurfacing has created a problem outside 24 EP)
  • Fly tipping
  • Litter and weeds
  • Pigeons (derelict properties)
  • Lumpy road surface
  • Loss of sense of community
  • Bins and rubbish at 45
  • Timing of AGM to encourage greater attendance
  • Parking and traffic increase
  • Public bins at entrance – misuse and overflow
  • Could the committee prepare a handout (sheet of A4) with useful contacts – council, Streetscene, anti-social behaviour, etc. to assist residents to report problems themselves?
  • Others said they were happy to live in the park and mentioned the dawn chorus as one of the many positives.
  1. Derelict Properties

The majority of those residents present highlighted derelict properties as their major concern.   The chair summarised the current position and reflected the committees’ frustration at the lack of progress in this matter over the last 12 months and since our last AGM.   He then circulated an email regarding development plans for 42 & 44,(previously Englewood Residential Home), 46 & 48 and 77.   There followed a general discussion about what further action could be taken.   It was suggested that the committee organise a petition for residents to sign about derelict sites, including photos of properties, to forward to the council, media, and possible use of social media?   Two representatives from the council’s Empty Property team will be attending the next meeting of the committee who will continue to press for action.   It will continue to be the committee’s top priority for action for the next 12 months.

  1. Road Repairs and Funds

The committee will continue its proactive and persistent approach to non payers.   Contact is now being made by letter with absentee owners/landlords informing them about the association and requesting their contribution to the maintenance fund.   The increasing difficulties in getting the council to take action due to cutbacks and its claim that, as Egerton Park is unadopted, it is a private road rather than a public highway was noted.   The committee have challenged this.

  1. CCTV Proposal

The committee asked for residents’ views about the proposal to site CCTV cameras at the park entrances to act as a disincentive and provide evidence for prosecution of anti-social behaviour.   Reservations were expressed about the effectiveness of cameras, the need to monitor them continuously and that cameras were likely to be vandalised.   Other concerns related to privacy and opposition to the impact that installing CCTV would have on the character of the park – a community solution might be more effective such as Neighbourhood Watch.   It was suggested that those present were not representative of park residents, all of whom would need to be consulted on such a proposal.   The cost was likely to be in the region of £3000 per camera and such use of residents’ money would need to be discussed more widely.   It was suggested that dummy cameras might be equally effective and that the possibility of obtaining grant funding (crime prevention) would be worth exploring, as was the possibility of discussing the proposal with the local crime prevention officer.   There followed a general discussion about the loss of sense of community, and the lack of sense ownership of the park of some residents, including many who live in flats, and that this disinterest means they are less likely to contribute to our funds.

  1. Committee Membership

One resident has now become a full member of the committee and another was nominated at the meeting.   Agreed.

Sadly our current treasurer is resigning from the committee after 11 years.   Thanks were given to her for all her work for the park over this period.   We are anxious to recruit more members to the committee with fresh ideas, and particularly anyone with book keeping experience who would be prepared to take on the role of treasurer.

  1. Priorities for 2017/2018
  • Prioritise issues of empty and derelict properties in the park (petition, meeting with developer, council, media etc.)
  • Continue to pursue households that do not pay towards the residents’ association funds (including absentee owners and landlords)
  • Continue with road repair/resurfacing
  • Ongoing vigilance and surveillance of planning applications
  • Reporting of anti-social behaviour and other nuisance issues (wider consultation with residents re CCTV proposal – develop contact list for residents)
  • Keep residents informed via newsletters and occasional emails
  • Consider holding a ‘Clear up Egerton Park Day’ (fix date for litter and weed clearance)
  • Investigate storm drains and whether more clearing is needed
  1. AOB

Could a car boot sale be organised to raise funds?   The committee would provide support but would require additional volunteers to organise.

Speed bumps – could some of these be removed?   This is an ongoing issue with differing views about a solution.

 

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AGM 7th June 2017 – Chair’s Report

Egerton Park Residents’ Association

AGM     7th June 2017   –   Report of Committee Chair

At last year’s AGM you, as residents, set the following priorities for 2016/17.

  •       Develop a strategic approach to issues of empty & derelict properties in the park;
  •       Continue to pursue households that do not pay towards the residents’ association funds;
  •       Continue with road repair/resurfacing issues;
  •       Ongoing vigilance and surveillance of planning applications;
  •       Reporting of anti-social behaviour and other nuisance issues;
  •       Keep residents informed via newsletters and occasional emails;
  •       Consider holding a ‘Clear up Egerton Park Day’.

Derelict Properties & Sites

Throughout 2016 we met with Moira McLaughlin, Councillor for Rock Ferry ward; Councillor George Davies, Deputy Council Leader and Cabinet member for Housing & Community Safety; and David Ball, Head of Regeneration at Wirral Borough Council.   All 3 of these met with the committee and visited all of the derelict sites in the park on a number of occasions.   Because all the derelict sites are privately owned there is no “quick fix” and the council has to work with potential developers to encourage action rather than imposing it.   However, on balance the lack of any proactive steps by the local authority on our behalf has been the single most disappointing aspect of this year.   We have invited a member of the local authority to the AGM and will continue to “plug away” but at the time of writing sadly we have nothing positive to report.

The Residents’ Association Funds

We have (again) carried out a regular and consistent campaign throughout 2016/17 to encourage those households that do not pay towards the work of the residents’ association that they should do so.   Every non-paying household has received invoices and reminder letters and we have responded to a range of individual queries and complaints from those who do not wish to pay.   We have continued to develop an effective database of all households’ contribution history and can tell at a glance who has paid, who is in arrears and have a complete history of contributions back to 2005.   The percentage of households paying their fees has gradually increased again this year and the majority now pay but there is still more work to do.   We propose that this remains a priority for 2017/18.

Road Repairs/Resurfacing Issues

Once again we have carried out a significant number of road repairs to both the north and south drives in the park.   In particular you will know that we carried out a major repair at the Bebington Road entrance to the park at the end of last year which involved closing the entrance for 2 hours.   In the current year we have spent £4560 on road repairs and, at the time of writing, another set of road repairs is planned for the end of May 2017.

Ongoing Vigilance and Surveillance of Planning Applications

The committee has continued to monitor any and all planning applications throughout the year although they have been few and far between.   We currently know of no major plans affecting the park.

Reporting of Anti-Social Behaviour and Other Nuisance Issues

The committee remains vigilant about these issues and maintains regular contact with police community support officers and local councillors but there appears to have been a decrease in the amount of anti-social incidents this year.   Graffiti has remained a feature but is less prominent than last year.   Another nuisance has been some limited fly-tipping and a number of groups of young people entering derelict properties, especially number 77.   In addition, spring saw the temporary return of our occasional travelling French man complete with his tent.   Residents are reminded that local homeless charities have done their utmost to rehome him and that feeding him or offering him money etc. only encourages him to stay here and stay homeless.   Residents who occupy the flats at number 45 seem to think that the drive and the road outside that property is a rubbish dump and permanently leave overflowing bins on the road.   We have sought assistance from the council and have written to the property owner and will continue to pursue this.   Eventually we hope our pressure will lead to a prosecution.

We ask all residents to remain vigilant and to report any matters of concern to the relevant authorities as and when they arise including Wirral Council’s Street Scene department, your local councillors and the police.   As always, the committee is happy to be kept informed of any issues but we have no special influence and rely on residents themselves to take appropriate action with the relevant department when a concern arises.

One issue we are actively considering is whether or not to commission some CCTV cameras in the park to detect and deter anti-social and criminal behaviour as well as fly-tipping.   We have undertaken initial research and costings but need to discuss these at the AGM.

Keep Residents Informed via Newsletters and Occasional Emails

The committee has continued to produce newsletters 3 times a year and our website http://www.egertonpark.wordpress.com continues to have numerous visits throughout the year.   In addition to hand delivering the newsletters we have posted onto the site information about a whole host of issues as well as uploading items from our newsletters, articles and pictures about Egerton Park history.   This seems to be very popular and we will continue to do this.   Numerous residents have used the site to contact us to raise our awareness on everything from local crime concerns to nuisance issues and to ask general questions or make suggestions to the committee.   If we do not currently have your email address please send it to us with a note of what number you live at using the comment box below.

Consider Holding a ‘Clear Up Egerton Park Day’

I think this issue slipped down our 2016/17 agenda so let us know your views at the AGM about resurrecting it.

The Committee’s Planned Priorities for 2017/18          (subject to residents’ agreement)

We propose that these remain almost identical to the previous year’s priorities as follows:

  •       Prioritise issues of empty & derelict properties in the park;
  •      Continue to pursue households that do not pay towards the residents’ association funds;
  •       Continue with road repair/resurfacing;
  •       Ongoing vigilance and surveillance of planning applications;
  •       Reporting of anti-social behaviour and other nuisance issues – maybe install CCTV;
  •       Keep residents informed via quarterly newsletters and occasional emails;
  •       Consider holding a ‘Clear up Egerton Park Day’.

Once again we all owe a debt of gratitude to residents who pay towards the upkeep of the park and to the residents’ committee for their work throughout the year.   After this year’s AGM our treasurer will be stepping down.   She has served the committee for 10 years so I thank her on your behalf for her hard work and ask that other residents think about standing or nominating someone to take her place.   We would welcome any new committee members to be nominated at the AGM.   We currently hold meetings about 6 times a year and it is not too onerous or time-consuming so if you are interested in joining the committee please let us know.

Chair, Egerton Park Residents’ Association  –         May 2017

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Treewatch – Eg Pk News (Spring 2017)

Egerton Park became a Tree Preservation Area in 1970.   At our last AGM one resident asked whether it was possible to identify the trees in the park subject to this order and we are able to confirm that we do have a map with all areas with a preserved status identified.   If you are interested in identifying the trees in your garden, we found the following tips on the Woodland Trust website: www.woodlandtrust.org.uk

All trees have clues and features that can help with identification.   You just need to know what to look out for.   This quick guide to tree identification will give you a few basic hints and tips.

The UK has at least fifty species of native trees and shrubs, and many more species of introduced non-native trees.   Some can be easy to identify, but others can be more difficult depending on your experience.

There are many features, or parts of the tree, that give you clues to what species it is.

  •       Look at the leaves or needles. Is it a broadleaf (usually deciduous) or is it a conifer (usually with needles or scales)?
  •       Different features will be present through the seasons.   You can use twigs, leaf buds and bark on leafless winter broadleaf trees.
  •       Take notice of the surrounding area such as hedgerows, fields, parks, woodland or close to water.   Some species are more likely to grow near water, in scrubland, parkland or in woodland.
  •       Use as many features as you can, the more you use the more certain your identification will be.   Take into account the overall shape and size of the tree, bark, leaves or needles, flowers, fruits, leaf buds and twigs.

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Where Did Easter Eggs Originate? – Eg Pk News (Spring 2017)

Easter has a much older set of religious traditions than many of the Victorian Christmas traditions that we have come to know and love.   The custom of the Easter Egg as a gift can be traced to early Christians of Mesopotamia (now Iraq & Syria), and from there spread into Russia and Siberia through the Orthodox Churches, and later into Europe through the Catholic and Protestant Churches.   Eggs, in general, were a traditional Christian symbol of fertility and rebirth but they came to symbolise the empty tomb of Jesus after his resurrection, hence their connection with Easter.   The oldest tradition was to use dyed and painted chicken eggs (often red to symbolise the “blood of Christ”).   In the 17th and 18th centuries the idea of the egg-shaped toy emerged and these were given to children at Easter often filled with sweets.   Not surprisingly the chocolatiers began to exploit this tradition and the first chocolate egg in the UK is attributed to JS Fry of Bristol in 1873, shortly followed by John Cadbury who made a “Plush” Easter Egg in 1875 which cost 3 shillings and sixpence.

The origin of the Easter Bunny and Easter Egg Hunts are more difficult to establish but one theory we heard was that an egg hunt is a simple way of proving to your children that they can indeed find anything they look for if they really want to!   Let’s hope we all find what we are looking for this Easter whether it is a huge Easter Egg, a relaxing time with family, better health, new flowers and growth in our waterlogged gardens, warmer weather or a smooth Brexit!   One reassuring thing is that a holiday that starts with a “Good Friday” is probably going to be a great weekend – let’s hope so.

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Road Repairs – Eg Pk News (Spring 2017)

Thanks to our regular contributors, we have now accumulated sufficient funds to repair another patch of the road.   As most of the worst potholes have been fixed, we think it would make good sense to repair another large section like the patch at the top entrance.   We will take the advice of our regular contractor and make sure we get a good price.   In February, we also delivered reminder letters and invoices to those residents who do not currently contribute to the maintenance fund and are pleased to report that this has generated additional payers.   We continue to deliver Welcome Packs to new residents but are reliant on yourselves to let us know if you have a new neighbour.

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CCTV – Eg Pk News (Spring 2017)

Those of you who have lived in the park for some time will know that from time to time, like anywhere else, we suffer from spates of fly tipping, graffiti, and criminal damage.   Fortunately, most of the crime experienced by residents is relatively low level and a nuisance.   To the victim, however, (examples include thefts from vehicles and sheds) any anti-social behaviour is a serious matter.   This has led your committee to discuss the feasibility of erecting CCTV cameras at either one or both entrances to the park, in the hope that this would deter offenders.   There would obviously be a cost to this and some residents may feel this is a step too far.   As the installation of CCTV would enhance community safety and reduce fear of crime we would also look at whether we could apply for a grant towards this proposal.

The committee has decided that as this is an important issue and residents may have strong views either way, we would want to consult with you all before taking this forward.   A proposal to erect CCTV camera(s) will be an agenda item at our AGM in June of this year (see AGM details below) so come and have your say.   There may be residents who have some expertise in security/CCTV who can assist us?   If you have a view, please contact us.

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Fly Tipping – Eg Pk News (Spring 2017)

The easiest way to report this is to do it online and it only takes minutes.   Wirral Council will aim to take action within 3 working days, send you regular updates, and remove the items.   If you have internet access, go to www.wirral.gov.uk, search for fly tipping and use the link presented.   It asks for your name and address, what the items are, their location and whether there is anything there that could identify who has fly tipped it.   The sooner rubbish is removed the better as, once dumped, other rubbish tends to accumulate.   Please don’t wait for your committee to notice and report it – it is much better if it can be reported as soon as it appears.   Better still if you can take a photograph or car registration details as this will help with prosecution.   This is where CCTV might come in handy!   For those who do not have access to the internet you need to contact StreetScene on 0151 606 2004.   It is worth specifying that Egerton Park is NOT a private road but an unadopted road and a public highway.

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