July 22, 2020
by Penny White
WESTMINSTER PARK RESIDENTS’ ASSOCIATION
Annual General Meeting held on 9 July 2020 on Zoom
1. Present: Jennifer Crew, Colin Dollimore, Penny White, Brian Westcott,
Richard Short, Sandra Magilton, David Craggs, Sue Britton, Annemarie Macfadyen, Neil Sullivan (Councillor), Razia Daniels (Councillor), Christine Westcott.
Apologies: Olwen Bellis, Susan Eva, Pauline Brown, Tracey Stacey, Carina Edwards.
2. Minutes of last AGM and any matters arising: Agreed as a true record by those who were present, Colin Dollimore was present despite not being listed.
3. Chairman’s Report: This time last year we could never have dreamt of the situation in which we now find ourselves. ‘Normal life’ seems to be becoming a distant memory and although the lockdown is easing, things are unlikely to return to ‘normal’ any time soon.
But that is not to say that we cannot continue to care for and improve our community and our surroundings as our constitution dictates. Before reviewing the past year, we should take this opportunity to remind ourselves how important our activities are to our community.
Looking back at 2019, we organised a number of successful community events:
• Our quizzes, held in May and October at the Community centre, were both sell-outs and full of friendly rivalry as befitted the occasions.
• We were blessed with beautiful weather for the Westminster Park Summer Fayre which we organised for the first time last June in conjunction with the Community Centre and the Belgrave School PTA. Saltney Gymnastics Club put on an astonishing display of skill to entertain the crowd and many of our local shops and clubs joined in to make it a truly memorable and enjoyable community gathering.
• Lampposts around the shops were decorated with giant poppies to commemorate Armistice Day in November.
• Christmas would not be Christmas without our Christmas Lights Switch-on at the WP shops. With generous funding from our Councillors, we were able to improve the lighting still further by decorating another tree – my thanks to Sandra Magilton for masterminding the funding and installation of our lighting over the last two years. Our display is now truly magical. Our Lord Mayor Mark Williams kindly officiated at the switch-on, Belgrave School choir entertained with Christmas songs and our local shop keepers very generously supported the event by providing refreshments along with WPRA. For the children, Santa appeared and distributed some early presents in the form of satsumas and sweets. It was a warm and friendly event enjoyed by about 200 of our residents.
Although we have had to cancel most of our planned events in 2020, we have still managed to organise one – the VE Day ‘socially distanced’ Street Party on 8 May. To engender a spirit of positivity in a time of lockdown, we encouraged our residents to picnic in their front gardens or on their drives. Thankfully the sun shone and large numbers of our residents embraced the spirit of the occasion, many joining in sing-alongs on their streets. We are grateful to Neil and Annemarie Macfadyen for touring the area on their tandem to create a photographic record for posterity.
Thank you to all residents who have contributed to the success of these events. We hope that, in the not too distant future, we may be able to plan occasions to bring our community together again.
We held a well-attended public meeting in November to provide residents with an update on the Wrexham Road Development and an opportunity to contribute ideas to the improvement of our neighbourhood.
It was noted that grounds maintenance in the area is poor. Suggestions for developing some open areas as wildflower meadows were well received.
Wrexham Road Development
Our sub-committee has continued to monitor activity on the Wrexham Road site and we have held meetings with our councillors, council officers and health officials to further the interests of our residents.
Construction started on Wrexham Road in November 2019 and a number of houses are now nearing completion. Work paused during lockdown, but has now resumed and sales offices are re-opening.
Permission was given last April for 1269 homes to be built on the site, but in January 2020 the developers applied to expand the number to 1400. Despite our objections and representations this was agreed.
We have been working with our councillors to bring about some improvements in the area around our shops.
An illegal clothes bank was dropped by the bottle banks which was removed in January after action by our councillors. We are monitoring the use of the bottle banks to see if they are still needed given that we all have street side collections. Their removal would give us more parking space and allow the area to be better maintained.
Large numbers of crocus and daffodil bulbs were planted in the autumn, at the shops and at the entrances to Westminster Park on Vincent Drive and Rowcliffe Avenue. Our thanks to Riverside Rotary Club for the crocuses, to our councillors for the daffodils and to the Gardening Club for organising the planting. They created a wonderful display in the spring.
We have recently taken receipt of two large planters at the WP shops on Castlecroft Road which should provide colour all year round. Our thanks to our Councillors for their funding of these planters. We hope to add a further one on Claypit Road in due course.
For the future, we also aim to plant a couple of trees on the grass bordering Castlecroft Road – a permanent Christmas tree near the Co-op and a deciduous tree near the Golden Dragon.
Our planned Community Action Day, a casualty of lockdown, was going to focus on improving some of our connecting pathways. Hopefully we can reinstate this later in the year.
In the meantime, we have enrolled to take part in the Great British Spring Clean scheduled for September. Many residents have been doing litter picks independently during lockdown. We are hopeful that council guidelines will soon change to allow us to organise similar events.
Local Support Network
When the full implications of coronavirus became clear, the committee of WPRA decided to set up a network to link volunteers with those who would require assistance to enable them to stay in isolation in their homes.
More than 200 volunteers came forward in our community to provide support to their neighbours – huge thanks to them. WPRA has aimed to ensure that all of its residents were informed of the support available and to maintain a stream of information about local services as they have evolved. Our website and Facebook pages continue this work.
Establishing this network has been a lot of effort and I would like to give my personal thanks to Dave Craggs for his sterling work in expanding our database to accommodate all the new information and to Sue Britton and Penny White for their administration expertise and encouragement. The network continues to function although the call on volunteers is reducing. We have to bear in mind that further lockdowns are possible and that we should be ready to respond again.
WP News has continued to be issued four times a year, with a bumper issue in June featuring photographs from the VE Day Street parties. As editor, I have welcomed the help of Adina Hilgard who has been working alongside me to put the last few issues together – many thanks. My thanks also to my husband Kevin who has taken over the organisation of the distribution of the newsletter and to all our volunteer deliverers who have not only delivered the newsletters this year, but also all of the letters sent out in connection with the Local Support Network.
As mentioned previously, our website and Facebook page have been well used in recent months with the number of Facebook members more than doubling. Thank you to Penny White who has taken on the role of admin on Facebook and recently published new guidelines for the use of the site.
Evergreen over 55s Club
With a membership of around 100, Evergreen has continued to provide a varied programme of speakers, activities and trips throughout 2019 and into early 2020. As the membership of Evergreen Club is over 55 and therefore more vulnerable to coronavirus, activities have been suspended for the time being.
The gardening club ran a full programme of speakers and garden visits in 2019 which were well attended, but has unfortunately not been able to start the 2020 programme. However, the committee have been busy during lockdown providing gardening advice to residents, organising a plant swap area by the shops, encouraging us all to grow sunflowers in our front gardens and compiling a virtual ‘Secret Gardens of Westminster Park’. This is a photographic record of all of the beautiful gardens that have resulted from all the time we have had to work on them over the past few months. Our thanks for their positive impact on our community in difficult times.
Our membership for 2019 was 365 residents and so far in 2020 we have 289 which is disappointing in view of the fact that we revised our subs leaflet to make it more explanatory and appealing. We continue to receive subs in dribs and drabs and the total will no doubt increase over the next 6 months.
It is interesting to note that we have 574 email addresses on our portal which includes members, volunteers and persons in need. We also have 658 members on our Facebook page. Perhaps more of these could be encouraged to join.
I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all of the members of the WPRA committee who work so hard to improve our community and to make the events that we hold a success. Without such dedication our community would be very much poorer. Thank you for your support and friendship throughout the year.
My personal thanks go to Lucy Grattan who is leaving the committee, in particular for helping to make the Summer Fayre such a successful event. I am grateful to her for offering continued assistance.
I would also like to welcome Colin, Carina and Tracey as new members of the committee and look forward to working with you to further our plans for our neighbourhood.
This has been a very busy and challenging year, but has produced some very heart-warming results. Our community has really come together, with residents offering each other help and encouragement in very uncertain times. We have come to treasure small acts of kindness and joined in appreciation of others’ sacrifices on our behalf. Long may this continue.
4. Treasurer’s Report: I would like to start by thanking Nick Ryan for continuing to give his time as our Independent Examiner for reviewing and approving the 2019 Annual Accounts.
INCOME & EXPENDITURE STATEMENT
Subscription fee was increased to £3 this year which has reflected a much higher income figure than last year. However, subscriptions of £1095 represents 365 households, which is almost on a par with last year. Donations increased to £258, the highest recorded. Thank you to all our members for your support.
• Our 2 Annual Quiz social evenings were well attended and gave us a surplus of £291.
• The Gardening Club continued with the annual bulb planting. This year the bulbs were donated by our Councillors, to which we give our thanks. Events and plant sales at the Summer Fayre yielded a surplus of £266, an increase of £224 on last year. Well done.
• The Summer Fayre was well attended and a lovely sunny afternoon was enjoyed by all. A donation to WPRA of £170 was made by stall holders, with our grateful thanks.
• The Christmas Lights Switch-on event was again well supported by Residents, Councillors, School and local shops. We received a generous grant of £1224 from our Councillors Members Budget, which enabled us to purchase and install an additional 1000 lights. Our grateful thanks and appreciation to Councillors Razia Daniels and Neil Sullivan for all the support they give to Westminster Park.
Printing costs for the Newsletter pushed up our expenditure again this year to £1894 an increase of £159 on last year.
Overall a healthy surplus of £1204 is transferred to Accumulated funds, with a total Bank & Cash balance of £3581 carried forward to 2020.
Evergreen 55+ Club continues to have a thriving membership and programme of events, which are well attended and supported by its 102 Membership. A balance of £1264 is held in WPRA bank account their future use.
5. Appointment of Committee Honorary Officers: The following were elected for 2020/21:
Chairman Jennifer Crew
Vice Chairman Colin Dollimore
Treasurer Sandra Magilton
Secretary Penny White
The following Committee Members were elected for 2020/21: (max 12)
6. Items for discussion/AOB: Richard expressed thanks to Jennifer for the enormous amount of work she and her family had done when the Covid-19 situation struck.
Razia Daniels also expressed her thanks for the hard work done in the crisis.
Annemarie Macfadyen expressed how impressed she was at the community feeling shown on VE Day. The photos she took will be passed to the Local History group as a record.
There was some discussion as to whether there will be anything to mark VJ Day, or something early September. People have been growing sunflowers, we will ask for photos to be posted onto Facebook.
The empty unit where the Beauty Lounge was is apparently reopening as another Beauty Salon.