Fifth Annual Report: December 2014  


From the Chairman.

Today I returned from a visit to my sister in Australia. Whilst there I saw some wonderful examples of communities working together,  including a couple of Community Gardens - but in a country with a huge amount of land I never came across any allotments.

The allotment scene in this corner of the world is part of a good strong national movement and organisations like the West Lancs Allotment Federation help to make it so. Members of the WLAF's Executive Committee, particularly Ray and Myra Fowler and Steve Martin, try to keep abreast of developments at Regional and National level by representing the WLAF at meetings of the National Allotment Society and the North West Counties Allotments Committee.

During the twelve months since I took on this role from Ray I have got to know quite a bit more about the various allotment groups that make up the WLAF, through the quarterly meetings we have held and also via a number of visits to some of our member allotment sites. Coming from an allotment site in Hesketh Bank, where we have been extremely fortunate to get all the support we have had in developing it to where it is now, I have been inspired by the enthusiasm and resolve of members from other Allotment sites who have had to overcome some far more considerable challenges to get where they are now. I was particularly impressed by the achievements at Burscough Richmond Road and Skelmersdale Ashurst.

Also during this last twelve months the WLAF was represented at the Green Fayre, where volunteers set up and manned a stand for the weekend and, although this was a wash out on Saturday it was very well attended on Sunday. Well done to all who volunteered. Last July I attended a wonderful Show What You Grow event for primary schools in West Lancashire to showcase their growing skills. Ray and Myra were among the judges and there were some fantastic entries. More recently WLAF hosted another very successful Potato Day on 31st January at Skelmersdale Concourse.

Notable developments on the allotment front include, on the downside, the potential shrinkage of the Digas site due to the sale of the Church. On the up side, the proposed Yew Tree Farm Development at Burscough includes provision for some new allotments and further plots may become available for rent on farmland at Haskayne. Also, although not yet signed up with the WLAF, it is pleasing to note the progress of the Community Supported Agriculture scheme, Organic Veg Club at Burscough.

My thanks are due to the members of the Executive Committee for all their hard work throughout the year and in particular to Ray Fowler for his dedication to the cause and to Martin Trengove and Debbie Shepton for the valuable support and advice that they always give. Finally my thanks also go to all the representatives of the various member groups of the WLAF who give their time to attend our meetings and support the various events throughout the year.

Steve Kirby,
Chair WLAF.

From the Secretary.

After the hectic activities of 2013, we had planned that this would be much slower year. And that is how things turned out. At the last AGM Terry Lake our then Secretary had to resign due to family commitments and change was forced upon us. I took on the role of Secretary and passed the Chair over to Steve Kirby.

But not too slowly as we have continued to attend many meetings across the northwest region throughout the year taking in Liverpool, Manchester, Blackpool and quite a few
places in between.

The first event of the year was our annual Potato Day. Once again held in the Concourse Shopping Centre in Skelmersdale but this year in the warmer climes of West Square. This
year proved an even bigger success than previous years. Skelmersdale library supported the event with their stall and a week later we reciprocated at an event in the library. Then in July we had a successful Green Fayre in Beacon Park. We hope to promote and support all of these events again in 2015 and would welcome other members along to help man the stands for a few hours.

In July the CVS held their second schools ‘Show what you Grow’ day at the West Lancashire College in Skelmersdale. Steve Kirby attended along with Myra and myself who were two of the many judges for the many various disciplines. Nine schools were again represented by groups of children and their enthusiasm for growing is just amazing. There are plans for this event to be repeated again this year.

As reported last year we were advised to prepare our own version of a lease document and present it to WLBC as an alternative to their document which was not liked by some the societies involved. This was done and it was sent off to WLBC. And here we are one year later and the only reaction from the Borough Council is to acknowledge that they have got it.
There has been no new allotment provision again this year although there are a number of possibilities that could bear fruit during 2015. Unfortunately the reverse is happening. The tenants of one site have already been given twelve months notice to quit as the owners plan to sell the land. In Skelmersdale another group of allotments are under threat and the sale is already with the estate agents. 

North West Counties had a very successful Southport Flower Show and are planning to show again in 2015. WLAF can participate in this if there is someone or two out there who
would like to have a go.

At this AGM we should be electing a Chairman for the following three years. However the changes that occurred at the last AGM resulted in me taking over the role of Secretary for
the required two years and Steve Kirby the Chair for the same period. The ballot can therefore be held over until next year when the positions of Chair (for 2 years) and Secretary (for 3 years) will become available. It is up to you, the members, to decide which way to go when the item comes up.

Once again we must thank West Lancs Borough Council and West Lancs Council for Voluntary Service for their help and support during 2014. Finally a big thanks to all the other individuals who have helped and supported WLAF throughout the year.  I look forward to seeing you all again in 2015.

Ray Fowler, Secretary.