Fourth Annual Report: December 2013.

This year has been dominated by two events. The first was the Tatton Park Flower Show. Then the proposed new leases for the council allotments in Skelmersdale finally arrived.
 
We have continued to attend meetings across the northwest throughout the year, some 44 ranging from Preston to Manchester, Winsford and Birmingham.
 
Most of the early part of the year was devoted to the Tatton Park Flower Show where in July we produced an allotment garden called ‘Recycle and Grow’.
Terry took on the task of project manager with the rest of us doing has he directed. For nearly six months his back garden was turned into a construction site. In support of Terry many allotmenteers throughout the borough joined with the rest of the exec to collect the bottles needed to construct the greenhouse, the old pallets and other containers, and then grow all the plants to fill them. All this effort resulted in a great prize winning exhibit that was visited by hundreds of people every day of the show. Special visitors were the Mayor of West Lancashire and wife, Cll. Iain and Beverly Ashcroft, and Rosie Cooper our M.P.
 
But before this, the first event of the year was our Potato Day held in February. This was in the atrium at the Concourse Shopping Centre in Skelmersdale. This event was a success all round with visitors from as far as Warrington and Nelson. So much so that the Concourse has invited us back next year. Plans for February 2014 are already in motion.
 
In July the CVS held a day at the West Lancashire College to celebrate their schools allotments initiative. Terry, Claire, Myra and myself attended as judges in various areas. Nine schools were represented by groups of children and their enthusiasm for growing is just amazing.
 
Also in July Myra and I went back to uni, to Central Lancashire at Preston where we attended a ‘Good Food For All’ symposium. This is to be coordinated in West Lancashire by the Community Food Growing initiative where WLAF are on the Steering Group.
 
As reported last year Richmond Avenue Burscough signed their self-managed land lease for one year.  This year West Lancs sent similar proposed leases to LRAS Skelmersdale and SHS Ashurst allotments. Neither group are very happy with the contents of these proposals. The Federation arranged for all groups to come together to discuss the proposals in November. Representative from the National Allotment Society came but WLBC refused to take part. Unfortunately LRAS Skelmersdale did not participate either.
 
We were advised to prepare our own version of a lease document and present it to WLBC as an alternative proposal. This was done and the finished document, accepted by SHS Ashurst as part of their strategy, was sent to WLBC. At the time of writing the outcome of this action is still waited.
 

At the end of 2013 I have to report that there has been no new allotment provision within the borough this year. Terry and myself had a meeting with Rosie Cooper asking for her support in persuading the borough council to increase the allotment provision in West Lancs. This has resulted in a correspondence wherein the council insist that they have trebled the allotment provision in the last few years. The only extra provision that we see has come from the private sector. We do not believe that this counts towards the local authority’s statutory duty to provide allotments. Yet it appears that they do and are claiming this increase as theirs.
 
Once again we must thank West Lancs Community Food Growing and West Lancs Council for Voluntary Service for their help and support during the year.
 
At this Annual General Meeting we can expect some changes to the executive line-up. It is with regret that we have to accept that Terry Lake must stand down. The strength of any organisation like ours is in the secretary and Terry has done a remarkable job for us in this role for the last four years. We are therefore looking for a new Secretary, initially for two years. It is also time for Susan our Treasurer to stand down at the end of the three-year cycle during which time she has held very tightly on to the purse strings.
 
So there it is, a challenge, two seriously important roles that need to be filled to enable the Federation to move forward. If you are able to give a few hours of your time let Terry or me know and we will work something out.
 
Finally a big thank you to all who have helped and supported WLAF throughout 2013.
I look forward to seeing you all again next year.
 
Ray Fowler
Chairman.