Eighth Annual Report: December 2017.


From the Chairman.

Once again this year as produced the usual mix of meetings, although a lot fewer than past years. Those that I could not attend were covered by Steve and JD. 

Our first event of the year was the annual Potato Day. Once again held in the Concourse Shopping Centre in Skelmersdale. This year we were back to the atrium and the coldest spot in town. The day started briskly and continued with a steady flow of buyers for the rest of the day. This resulted in the best year to date for income. So last year's warning was heeded and we look forward to a repeat next year. It continues to amaze me just how far some people will travel to visit our potato day.

The North West Region AGM was held in Blackpool during March when I was awarded a trophy. The Chairman's Award for my 'years supporting the Federation and NWCAA'. As I made clear on the day; I could do nothing without the support of the Federation members. So this one is for all who have backed me over the years. Thank you.

In July there was the Green Fayre held in Beacon Park. As an event it was marred by our position at the bottom of the hill in the Active West Lancs tent. It was in the wrong place resulting in a low foot fall. On the bright side we held our first 'Best Allotment Plot in West Lancs' which was a success. Not as many entries as we would have liked but enough entries to make it competitive. Our thanks to all those who did take part. 

Also in July was the CVS fifth primary schools ‘Show what you Grow’ day. Once again held at the West Lancashire College in Skelmersdale.  JD, Myra and myself  plus Andrea from NWCAA were some of the many judges for the many various disciplines. Nine schools were again represented by groups of children and staff. The enthusiasm for growing shown by these young people is just amazing. We hope to support both of these events again in the coming year.

I can at last report that some of the societies have now signed their new leases with West Lancs Borough Council. The new Tawd Vale allotments continues to grow and I understand has a waiting list.

Last year I noted that the federation had applied to WLBC for 'Asset of Community Value' on behalf of Tower Hill Allotments Ormskirk. The expected response to the application finally arrived, late, and was a big 'no'. Unfortunately the law does not allow us a right of appeal. But it does allow re-application, which we are looking to pursue during the coming year. 

At this time last year JD agreed to take on the work of Secretary. I have to say that he has had a remarkable first year in post. With a lot of new ideas. Although he may not agree, I have lent on him heavily this year. I hope you will all join me in thanking JD for his efforts this year and long may he continue. 

At this AGM we will be electing a Chairman for a three year period.  I am now finding it difficult to 'keep up', that means it is now time for me to stand down.

Once again we must thank West Lancs Borough Council and West Lancs Council for Voluntary Service for their help and support during 2017. Finally a big thanks to all the other individuals who have helped and supported WLAF throughout the year.

Ray Fowler, Chairman.

From the Secretary.

We have had the normal Federation meetings through the year with the previous AGM in Ormskirk this time last year. I could not attend but was pleased to be elected as Secretary for 2 years. The usual other Federation meetings have been held with a range of attendees, including some members of Roby Mill allotments at the last two meetings.

Representatives attended most of the North West Counties meetings including the AGM in Blackpool where Ray was presented with the Chairman’s award and prize cup in recognition of all his (continuing) work for the Federation.

Our first event of last year was the annual Potato Day, and was held in the Concourse Shopping Centre in Skelmersdale. We were downstairs which made a difference as it was our best year yet in terms of takings, which was an upturn after thinking it may have been the last time we held it.

The Show what you Grow Day took place in early July following a great deal of planning. It was the fifth annual event. It was held at West Lancashire College in Skelmersdale. Judges included Ray & Myra and JD presented some of the prizes, kindly sponsored by the Tawd Vale Lions and All About Food – a local company who specialize in chilli growing. A total of 9 schools took part, and the Federation noted that it would be good if more schools could get involved, as the children enjoyed the day and the build up to it. We would be hoping to support the event again this coming year.

The Green Fayre was also held in July. We were in the Active West Lancs marquee and had a display of our Best Plot Competition which was judged by Steve Kent from West Lancashire Council and was also sponsored by the Council. We also had a free prize draw, a sow a seed in a paper pot activity for children and a wonderful display of allotment produce which was picked in the rain by Steve. On the positive side we had interest in the Best Plot Competition, inspired a number of children and over a hundred entries for the free prize draw. However, more people came to the stall on the Saturday than the Sunday, and the set up and location of the marquee was felt to be poor. Something to think about carefully if we attend this year.

Probably the most important part of our regular meetings is the Around the Sites Members Updates. A range of issues arose during 2017, including the arson attacks at Skelmersdale Horticultural and Tawd Vale Allotments; break ins at DIGAS; unfortunate issues at Liverpool Road where the Secretary has been replaced, and continuing vacancies at STAG. Skelmersdale Horticultural did themselves proud raising funds to help compensate for the damage suffered. It has been good to see that Roby Mill has emerged again after being under threat. The Tawd Vale site remains full, and a Community Garden in Tanhouse has been set up. There is also the potential that the Council may look to set up further new allotments in Old Skelmersdale and Ormskirk.

Another area of work that Ray & I have been involved with is attending meetings to discuss actions following the refusal of the application for Tower Hill Allotments to be listed as an Asset of Community Value. It is likely that further work will follow in coming months.

Another important issue that arose was the Secretary for the North West Counties resigned with little warning and little notice to Federations. However, thankfully this has not caused us major problems.

Ray has done a brilliant job as Chairman, and it would be difficult for me to undertake my role without being able to call on him for his knowledge and advice. However, he has previously said that he is looking to take more of a back seat in the Federation. Being Chairman is not particularly demanding – it is about being the face of the Federation and being able to keep meetings running smoothly. So we hope that a willing volunteer would take over the role and give Ray a well earned break.

Once again we thank West Lancs Borough Council and West Lancs Council for Voluntary Service for their help and support during 2017 and their continuing support during this year. Finally a big thank you to all the other individuals who have helped and supported WLAF throughout the year.

Johndaniel Jaques, Secretary