WHITELEAF AND CADSDEN RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION (WCRA) Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held at Whiteleaf Golf Club on Wednesday 27th March 2019.
Present: – Kate Symons (Chairman), Andy Vere (Hon. Secretary) Simon Clark (Hon. Treasurer) Sue Robinson, Peter Miles, Dom Larose, Robbie Francis and 35 members.
The Chairman welcomed everyone, especially new residents and Councillor Matthew Walsh (MW), Chairman and Mayor of Princes Risborough Town Council (PRTC).
1. Apologies: were received from Andy & Sarah Quigley, Chris & Dena Ford, Richard & Paula Clayton, Andy & Sarah Giles, Mike and Jacki Fox, Angeline Vere and David Robinson.
2. Minutes: There being no comments, the minutes of the AGM held on 21st March 2018 were approved.
3. Matters arising.
a) Traffic issues: The Secretary reported that working with our County Councillor Bill Bendyshe Brown, we have submitted a formal brief to Transport for Bucks for a 20mph zone in the hamlets, who will consider this once the new financial year starts in April. The survey of residents last summer produced very useful evidence that went into the proposal. The dangers of the junctions of the Upper Icknield Way with Peters Lane and Cadsden Road were highlighted. It was noted that a further speed survey in the Cadsden Road had demonstrated that a considerable proportion of vehicles were exceeding the 40-mph limit; we had requested that the limit be reduced to 30mph. The secretary thanked Dick Shaw for his help throughout the year.
b) Fire damaged cottages: The Chairman reported that the owners had been in contact. The Conservation Officer (CO) at Wycombe District Council (WDC) had also made contact and had indicated that if necessary, they will take further steps to use their legislative powers to safeguard the buildings. WDC had also advised that they were keeping the situation under review and were considering other options to expedite the repairs. Given that it is nearly three years since the fire, the Chairman asked residents for a vote to write to the CO requesting the timeline for such action and to report back asap to residents. The action was agreed by a unanimous show of hands from all attendees.
c) Monks Risborough Parochial Charity (MRPC): The Chairman explained that the MRPC manage plots of land in the hamlets. Members of WCRA had recently met with MRPC Trustees at the request of residents in order to clarify MRPC’s remit and seek transparency and equality, in the context of their modus operandum. WCRA/MRPC dialogue was ongoing. In addition, PRTC were currently looking into land ownership matters connected with MRPC.
4. Chairman’s report. The Chairman thanked everyone involved for helping to make community events successful. WCRA had continued to keep members informed of the progress of the Local Plan. Committee members had also attended PRTC meetings and reported back on local matters. The formal brief to TfB for improving road safety in the hamlets had been submitted. She went on to say that the new noticeboard had been installed and thanked PRTC for providing a grant of £250 towards the cost, which had been generously matched with donations from residents John Biggs, Linda Clegg and David Robinson. There were no further questions from the floor regarding the report.
5. Annual accounts. The Treasurer reported that thanks to generous donations and surpluses from events, the balance was still healthy. However, ongoing annual running costs continued to rise. There were no questions from the floor and the Accounts were approved.
6. Election of Officers. Robbie Francis and Dom Larose were standing for re-election to the Committee, Peter Miles was stepping down from the Committee, and Kate Symons was standing for re-election as Chairman. The Chairman thanked Peter Miles for his help. One candidate had come forward to join the Committee, in his place. Robbie Francis was re-elected, as proposed by John Gould and seconded by Fionnulla McKibben. Dom Larose was re-elected, as proposed by Sue Robinson and seconded by Giles Le Manquais. Fionnulla McKibbin was elected, as proposed by Peter Miles and seconded by Keith Muras. Kate Symons was reelected Chairman as proposed by John McKay and seconded by Linda Clegg.
7. Funding and Community Interest Company status. The Chairman referred to the paper included with the meeting agenda. The committee proposed that:
i) WCRA should request annual subscriptions collected through the WCRA website. The Chairman said that the likely annual subscription per household, should be less than £5.00.
ii) A Community Interest Company (CIC) should be incorporated as the operating vehicle for WCRA. The effect of this would be to protect WCRA officers from personal liability for legal claims made against them. Current unincorporated arrangements left WCRA officers at risk, in the event of any claim against the WCRA Committee. The new CIC would be a company limited by guarantee with no share capital, mirroring the basis of charitable companies. This means that there could never be dividends payable so any net funds generated would only be applied for the benefit of the hamlets. Any surplus made after deducting costs from subscriptions would not be liable to Corporation Tax because it was a mutual trading activity and income was provided by members’ subscriptions. John Gould provided helpful clarification in response to some questions from the floor regarding liability; he said that there would be no shareholders and liability of individual members would be limited to £1.00 each. Gwen Miles recommended having a CIC based on her previous experience with a similar entity that was adversely so affected.
Both proposals were approved by a unanimous show of hands from attendees.
8. Any other business.
a) The Chairman reminded everyone that the Treasurer should be notified of any changes of email address. He would also be pleased to receive any unpaid subscriptions.
b) Philip Masterton-Smith mentioned the possibly of the Community Bus serving the hamlets. He suggested that if enough support existed, it might run three times a week through the hamlets on a hail and ride basis. The Chairman agreed to consider canvassing residents to see what and where demand existed, and confirmed that the results would be made known to all, when available.
c) Linda Clegg spoke about RARA and the local plan. She believed that Risborough could expect 3000 new homes in the period 2022-2033, with 8000 new residents and 5000 additional vehicles. RARA had continued to challenge the plan, with the final consultation deadline ending that evening. The modifications made by the planning inspector were very superficial, she felt it was “light touch”. RARA would be considering whether to take the case to judicial review.
d) Colin Wright asked a further question about the Monks Risborough Parochial Charity (MRPC) and enquired if MRPC would 1. Follow its own procedures 2. Operate within Charity Commission guidelines and 3. Focus on the net benefit for all. His overarching question was: “Will WCRA make a representation to PRTC to ensure that their nominated Trustees insist that MRPC adhere to their Governing Document and maximise the benefits to the community?” The Chairman said that whilst WCRA had no influence, WCRA would continue to inform PRTC, to ask questions and to ensure that proper procedures were met to further enquiries and that this action would continue, until the various outstanding issues were resolved satisfactorily.
The formal meeting closed at 8:30pm. Matthew Walsh (MW) updated the meeting on several issues affecting the hamlets as follows: 1. Local Plan. MW said that the local plan was now subject to modifications from the inspector, who he noted was independent. There were positives in the plan such as the retention of the former Molins Sports Ground as a sports facility, and the buffer zone. He believed that there would be 1700 houses up to 2033. There would be Community Infrastructure Levy funding available and he believed that we should now all work together to deliver the best result for Risborough within the framework of the plan. 2. Unitary Authority. There would be a single Unitary Authority for Bucks in 2020, replacing the existing County and District councils. There would be no elections this year for PRTC or Wycombe District Council. 3. Ragpit. This was now under the direct control of the council. There were no immediate plans for it, and PRTC would liaise with WCRA over its future. It was a beautiful asset and he hoped people might be able to visit it. 4. Nat West Bank building and Community Centre. PRTC had acquired the old Nat West Bank building and were looking for a new function for it. He commented that Risborough High Street did not need more charity shops or hairdressers! PRTC would be investing £600k to refurbish the Community Centre. 5. High Street – MW urged people to try to shop locally and support the High Street. PRTC was looking at the potential to redevelop the site of the Horns Lane Car Park and the Fire Station.
Tony Hibbert asked about the Molins site. He wanted better facilities for the local rugby club and questioned why it was taking so long to make progress. MW responded that the value of the site for building land was around £15M but if the local plan was implemented, this would fall to £400k. PRTC would then be in a position to purchase the site. MW said that the rugby club should contact PRTC directly about their need for facilities.
Mark Sanger asked for clarification about the future use of the Ragpit. MW said PRTC had no plans to develop the site. However, they did have potential plans to allow people to look around the site under supervision, and he reassured the meeting that only escorted visits would be allowed and that WCRA would be kept informed.
Linda Clegg commented further about the local plan. There would be additional homes after 2033 if not before, and she felt that the buffer would not be a true buffer as there were developments within it such as sports facilities. She reiterated that RARA was not against all development, but it did not support the scale of development.
MW spoke further about the High Street. He said that retailers looked for areas with around 20,000 homes when deciding where to site new outlets. As Risborough expanded, it should become more attractive to retailers. Currently, Risborough High Street suffers from having small units with fragmented ownerships. He hoped that redevelopment of the Horns Lane site might help to improve matters.
After the formal meeting, local resident Quentin Cooper gave a very entertaining and thought-provoking talk about the image of scientists.
The Chairman thanked and congratulated Quentin for his presentation and thanked everyone for attending.
The meeting closed at 10:00pm.