Wandsworth aerial view

 

Trees Wandsworth common

 

reflections

AGM Minutes

 

2nd Annual General Meeting of the Toastrack Residents Association,Wednesday 18 November 2009 at 7:30 pm; The Common Ground Cafe

Those present: George Meakin (Chairman) , Dobson, O’Gorman, Harris, Steidl (x2), Parry, Thomas (x2), Walker, Wallace, Alexander (x2) Atkinson, George, Dighero, Barber, Powell (x2), Amlot, Howard, Henderson (x2), Warren, Garrett, Skelley, Heathcote, Busa, Bannerman, Tracey, Amigo and Ostrowski.

1. Opening of the meeting

George Meakin (Chairman) welcomed everyone especially to Cllr Kathy Tracey whose constant support was greatly valued by residents of the Toastrack. He also thanked John Bannerman from the Parks Police, Al Busa from Wandsworth Community Safety Division of the Council, and Sgt Jerry Ostrowski from the Metropolitan Police and leader of the local Safer Neighbourhood team.

He also thanked Paul and the staff of The Common Ground for making it possible to hold the AGM at the Common Ground and hoped that attendees would do their best to support his turnover.

2. Apologies for absence

Many apologies for absence had been received but since all Toastrack residents were automatically members, the Chairman assumed that all households not represented would have sent their apologies in spirit if not in writing.

3. Minutes of last meeting

The Chairman was sure that everyone had studied the minutes of the last AGM on the website. He said that the last AGM had been held on nearly the same day in November 2007 but before anyone could remind him that the “A” in AGM stood for “annual”, he pointed out that people were so busy it was difficult to get a meeting of the Committee together never mind an AGM. However, there had been little need for an AGM and the delay had been intentional. Later he would be proposing an amendment to the constitution to the effect that an AGM should be held at least every 2 years. There were no comments or objections to the minutes of the last AGM and they were agreed.

4. Chairman’s report

- Background

For the benefit of newcomers, the Chairman said that the Toastrack Residents Association (TRA) had started when Tony O’Gorman (Committee Member) was mugged on the Common in July 2004. Tony had assembled a group of Toastrack residents to discuss security in the area and that group gradually formed itself into a de facto residents' association. There followed a meeting of residents in The Common Ground Café in July 2005 which formalised the situation and on a show of hands the association came into being. Once the controlled parking issue had been put to bed, the first AGM in November 2007 adopted the present constitution. So the TRA was 5 years old.

The Chairman drew attention to the website where there was a two-year Calendar of Events listing most of the things done by the TRA. He said that the complete Calendar of Events since 2004 ran to 10 pages (not including the regular meetings with the police and Neighbourhood Watch) and was available from the Secretary by email to anyone that wanted it. He pointed out that the TRA had been active on all sorts of issues, always behalf and in the interests of the Toastrack as a whole.

- Activities of the Association

The Chairman said that the main achievement was to have kept the Association going and made good use of the network it had created – a mechanism for distributing information, collecting views, lobbying and making views heard. He said that the system relied largely on email (although for very important matters, a hard copy would be distributed). For example significant crime reports were sent to everyone by email. But the system also worked on a street-by-street basis; for example, in Henderson Rd someone had a piano going free; the street rep put the message around; and lo and behold it was wheeled across the road to a new owner. The Chairman said that all this was useful in itself, but it also helped create a sense of community and made the Toastrack a better place to live in.

- Security, crime, relations with the police, local authorities, etc.

The Chairman welcomed the fact that the TRA had excellent relations with the Metropolitan Police and the Parks Police. He thanked Sgt Jerry Ostrowski and his Safer Neighbourhood team and John Bannerman and his team of Parks Police and expressed appreciation on behalf of all Toastrack residents for their work on behalf of the community.

Jill Parry(Committee member) said that security was a core activity for the TRA. The main development was that the TRA had taken over the role of Neighbourhood Watch (NW) and that in each street the committee had one member also accredited as a “NW Coordinator”. That meant at least one member of the Toastrack committee was present at police meetings with NW and it was in this way that we received up-to-date information about crime and other developments affecting the Toastrack.

Sgt Jerry Ostrowski said that his Safer Neighbourhood team was up to strength and welcomed the opportunity that the TRA and other associations offered in sharing information. He called on all residents not to hesitate to call 999 or the Trinity Rd police station (020 8247 8383) if the need arose. One resident asked about the effectiveness of CCTV coverage of the Toastrack. Sgt Ostrowski said that these cameras were not manned all the time but had proved to be a deterrent to criminal activity. Another resident asked if CCTV cameras would ever be used to enforce parking restrictions. Some residents said that in the original consultation about CCTV it had been stated that these machines would only be used for crime prevention and detection. Many residents had strong objections to the cameras being used to control parking ie to raise money.

The Chairman proposed a resolution: “That the TRA urged the Council and the Police to use the CCTV cameras covering the Toastrack only for crime detection and not for the enforcement of parking controls.” The resolution was carried unanimously. The Committee would take the matter up with the Council.

John Bannerman (Head of Wandsworth Parks Police) said that all his staff were police officers but were employed by the Council. They had 57 open spaces to look after in the borough and had powers of arrest. He said that residents should ring 999 if the mater concerned a serious crime, otherwise they should ring the Parks Police direct (0208 871 7532). He said that there were never enough officers to do the job as well as they would like eg stop illegal and speeding cycling, make sure that dogs were under control (“it is generally the owners who are the problem, not the dogs”), protect all the cemeteries, etc, etc. The recent dog-chipping exercise had been a success: 1000 dogs chipped in the previous eight months.

- Post Office,

The Chairman said the Association had made a major effort to save the Post Office – to no avail – and thanked everybody for joining in and signing petitions. Mr Patel had done his very best to keep the Post Office open even to the extent of offering to staff it for free.

- Springfield

Jill Parry (Committee member) said that the Association had put in much time on the proposed Springfield Hospital development. She urged people to take a walk around the site (just down Burntwood Lane) which was a most interesting place with a large park. ‘She said that the proposed development would not only take away a big part of green London, but also create a minor town right on our doorstep. The implications for transport, roads, schools and so on were horrendous for the whole area. The developers had replaced their original application to build some 1,500 new dwellings and buildings up to 12 stories high, along with a mass of small industrial units, with an application for 1,200 dwellings and blocks 8 stories high. This application had been rejected by the Council but the proposal would not go away and the Toastrack Committee would continue to join others in opposing it and/or lobbying for something of a reasonable size.

Cllr Tracey said that the Council had rejected the first proposal and asked the developers to do a better job. The NHS Trust had got the message that they would have to reduce the size of the project and do more work on its impact on the surrounding area. She expected that the proposal would resurface before the summer of 2010.

One resident said that it was not true that the NHS Trust had to develop the land in order to fund renovation of Springfield Hospital; the NHS was not funded like that. Another suggested that the developers had been verging on the dishonest when they did their impact study because they had limited the impact area to 1 mile around the site thereby excluding the likes of Wandsworth Common station and Tooting Bec underground station which were already running at full capacity. One resident was sceptical about the Association getting involved in this matter; it was nothing to do with the Toastrack. In response the Chairman said that the junction at Bellevue/Trinity Rd/ Burntwood Lane was already well over capacity; if the Springfield site was developed on its original scale, the junction would come to a complete standstill which would affect us all. He concluded that Springfield would remain a regular item on the Committee’s agenda.

- Parking

The Chairman said that there could hardly be a Toastrack meeting without the issue of parking, but only wished to note that in mid-2008 the Council had done its final survey which showed an overwhelming majority in favour of the present system; 87% of people were happy that the controls were in place and 72% were happy with the existing times of 1-hour a day/six days a week.

- Conservation

The Chairman said that the issue of conservation and planning had suddenly come to prominence at the end of 2008 – relating to the building of a new house in Patten Rd in the garden of the corner-house on Trinity Rd. He said that the original proposal was to build a very modern glass and concrete dwelling right next to the Edwardian houses. Apart from looking ghastly, it would have stuck out like a sore thumb in the street. It was the unanimous view of the Committee that the Edwardian face of the Toastrack shuold be protected, so the TRA Committee had taken on the developers and the Planning Department, and with the help of our Councillors, the modern design had been rejected in favour of an Edwardian replica. The Chairman said that the whole story was on the website including pictures of the old and new designs.

On the general subject of the conservation, the Chairman said that the question had arisen in the TRA Committee: how would residents view a (theoretical) replacement for the three blocks of flats in Henderson and Baskerville Rds? Would they accept a modern, bold and contrasting design of glass, steel and concrete, or would they want the houses put back to their pre-Luftwaffe (ie pre-16 September 1940) style even though they would (at least at the front) be a fake Edwardian. He said that the Committee had been certain that most residents would vote for replica/fake Edwardian or Victorian houses. All present agreed that this was the case. One resident said that nobody would want to follow the example of Lyford Rd where some real sore thumbs had been built which were totally out of character with the rest of the street. A show of hands indicated that this was a unanimous view.

The Chairman said that the question of conservation would doubtless stay on the agenda in one form or another and Committee might have to take a more active role in the future. He said that the TRA did not want to stop people developing and improving their properties, but all residents had bought houses in the Toastrack because they liked it as it was and would want to keep it that way.

- Future Events and New Initatives

The Chairman said that the only new proposal was for a 20-mph speed limit in the Toastrack - on the grounds that it was a residential area where no one had any business going faster than that. Cllr Kathy Tracey had doubts about this as it could only be enforced with speed bumps which nobody wanted. There was a discussion about whether a speed limit was really but the majority thought it was. On a show of hands (with no one against) the Committee was given a mandate to pursue this.

5. Secretary’s report

Roger Thomas (Secretary) urged residents to take a look at the website www.toastrack.org.uk even though it needed updating. He appealed to anyone who had website skills to get in touch with him to help update it. He said that the TRA car windscreen stickers had proved useful in identifying Toasties (eg when car lights had been left on or when parking wardens were about to issue a ticket). He asked if residents could tell newcomers of the existence of the Toastrack email system; now and again there was important news which people might not want to miss.

6. Report by the Treasurer

Tony O’Gorman (Treasurer) said that very little money came in, so very little went out. In the petty cash there was £xxx which was enough to be getting on with as the Association was designed to run for the most part on fresh air. If there was a need for more money, the Committee would come round to houses with a hat.

7. Election of Committee: Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, members.

In accordance with the constitution, the Chairman stood down and the Secretary presided over the election of a new committee. Roger Thomas said that on the Committee there were generally two people per street which was about right, but three, especially for Baskerville, was also ok. All the existing members had agreed to stand again but equally all were happy to stand down if a new group wanted to take over. He said that one member (Alan Chance (Nicosia) was standing down, and would be replaced by Helen McPhail. A third representative for Baskerville Rd had agreed to join the Committee – Liney Cumberledge. The new committee would therefore be:

  • George Meakin (Dorlcote) (Chairman)
  • Helen McPhail (Nicosia)
  • Liney Cumberledge (Baskerville)
  • Janet Dobson (Nicosia)
  • Jenny Edwards (Patten)
  • Justin Harris (Dorlcote)
  • Tony O’Gorman (Henderson) (Treasurer)
  • Jill Parry (Routh)
  • Louise Steidl (Baskerville)
  • Roger Thomas (Henderson) (Secretary)
  • Stephanie Walker (Baskerville)
  • Heather Wallace (Patten)

The new committee was accepted on a show of hands and the Secretary handed over the the Chairman.

8. Amendment to the Constitution

The Chairman said that in the constitution an AGM should be held at least every 15 months. He suggested that an AGM every year was not necessary and proposed that the maximum time between AGMs be extended to 2 years, still allowing an AGM to be held at any time, but avoiding unnecessary ones. The amendment was agreed on a show of hands.

9. Any other business

Under any other business, one resident raised the lamentable state of the roads in the Toastrack; would the Association be doing something about this? The Chairman said that this had already been raised with the Council and a rolling programme of repairs was always under way. Henderson Rd was the only street to have been resurfaced so far (the fact that the Secretary lived there was coincidence) and other would follow. There was no other business and, with thanks again to the Common Ground Café staff, the Chairman closed the meeting at 9pm.