AGM 2020

Brook Meadow Conservation Group  AGM
The AGM was held on Monday 30th November at 7.00 p.m. Due to the current restrictions in place for the C19 virus the AGM was conducted on-line using the Zoom video conference system.

1. Assemble meeting and take register of attendees (6.45 to 7.00p.m.)
2. Welcome and apologies for absence
3. Approval of the Minutes of the 2019 AGM
4. Matters arising from the 2019 AGM minutes
5. Chairman’s report for the year ending 31 August 2020 – Colin Brotherston
6. Treasurer’s report for the financial year ending 31 August 2020 – Pam Phillips
7. Approval of the annual accounts for the year ended 31 August 2020
8. Nomination and appointment of officers for the year 2020 to 2021
o Chair Colin Brotherston
o Vice Chair Maurice Lillie
o Secretary Debbie Robinson
o Treasurer Pam Phillips
9. Retiring committee members, nominations & appointment of committee members for the year
o Dan Mortimer
o Kathy Edwards
o Reg Newnham
o Terry Lay
10. Any other business and members questions: See below
Closure of the business of the meeting.

After the business meeting finished there was a short slide show featuring photographs a details of Wildlife on Brook Meadow as prepared by Brian Fellows.
For Brian’s full wildlife review please go to . . .

There were 31 attendees at the AGM and one apology in total including committee members.

Chair’s Report – 2020 AGM Summary of yearly activities
by Colin Brotherston – November 2020
To all members of Brook Meadow Conservation Group here follows a resume of activities and events during the last year. The last year has been unusual and I am sorry that you are having to hear this report virtually rather than hearing it at a real event. The meeting will be open for questions at the end of this report.

The year started well with a Christmas tree dressing event. This event involved 60 pupils from Emsworth Primary School year 2 who visited the meadow and hung decorations on the cherry trees. The decorations had been made by the pupils largely from natural materials found on the meadow. Dan and Kathy organised the event and the making of the decorations was supervised at the school with extra assistance from Linda Mills. The weather was dry for the meadow visit and along with a visit from the Mayor of Havant the event was deemed a great success.
The winter months were characterised by extremely wet weather. Most work sessions included activities to improve paths by laying gravel on previously hard paths and wood chippings on soft ground. Also clearing up fallen wood and preparing to burn or making habitats.
During March Mike Reed was hired for a day for various tree works. We also employed another contractor to saw up various large branches from fallen trees. These contractors accounted for the largest expense during this financial year. Maurice has established an excellent relationship with the new tree manager at Norse South East.
The start of the growing season coincided with the introduction of the lockdown in late March. Initially all working on the meadow ceased and nature could blossom without interference. After a few weeks certain tasks including the erection of a barrier to protect the wildflower area and re-aligning the river path in the north meadow were undertaken by small groups of volunteers on an ad hoc basis with strict adherence to social distancing. Many other tasks including mowing paths and clearing fallen branches were organised. We are grateful to Maurice who has been the prime organiser of most of these tasks.
Another significant task was an improvement to the new river banking in Palmers Road copse. It was necessary to remove blocks of concrete and brick from the river where they had been deposited by certain helpful members of the public. Tidying up the riverbank, getting debris out of the river and laying a layer of scalpings and topsoil to allow vegetation regrowth has addressed the problem.
On the subject of the river I would like to thank Dan and Terry for all their work in encouraging water voles. Improvements to planting at various places and the construction and installation of feeding stations have been undertaken. Despite evidence of their presence there has not been a water vole sighting this year in the meadow. An application has been made to Chichester council for funding to purchase two wildlife cameras to further assist in the understanding of what is happening at the feeding stations. If this application is unsuccessful we have agreed to fund one camera ourselves. It is hoped that video evidence will be available for members to watch in future wildlife updates on the website.
There is a considerable amount of work outstanding to maintain the riverbanks. This will be a priority for this winter when extra effort from volunteer sessions and possibly contractors will be arranged.
One on the concerns regarding the suitability of the river to host water voles is the reduced water flow in dry summers and the tendency for the stream to run dry in the late summer months. This is a frequent occurrence and is further occasioned by water extraction by Portsmouth Water at Walderton. This concern is shared by Westbourne Greening – a local organisation based in Westbourne. They are attempting to get a modification to the extraction licence to reduce the amount of water extracted. We totally support this initiative and encourage our members to get involved should they be moved so to do.
As always, we are indebted to Brian for his wildlife news, photographs and flower counts. We are also grateful to David Search who has conducted bat surveys. And of course, our thanks go to Pam for coffee and refreshments which is a most important part of our work sessions.
At the beginning of August our usual and reliable contractor carried out the annual cut in accordance with the management plan. This activity is often our largest expense and this year the cut was completed on one day thereby resulting in a substantially lower cost.
Volunteer sessions restarted with appropriate C19 precautions on July 5th and have continued at the usual scheduled times. Our usual procedure of volunteers signing in ensures an attendance record for track and trace purposes. There have been plenty of tasks including trimming and mowing paths, cutting, and clearing dead wood and litter picking. In parallel with the volunteer sessions Maurice has continued to organise smaller sessions to address specific issues.
During this year we have benefitted from both Reg and Kathy taking up work session leadership roles. There have been no training courses or first aid this year. This is an issue that will be addressed as we need all leaders to be familiar with safe working practices and basic first aid. Good practice with work sessions is a key objective for the committee.
This year marked the 20th anniversary of Brook Meadow Conservation Group. A large number of postcard sized fliers have been distributed to homes around the meadow and this has resulted in a number of new members some of whom are younger and some willing to volunteer. The committee knows the importance of maintaining public awareness of the meadow and of gaining and retaining members. This activity will be a major part of a strategy review which we hope to develop during the coming year. Without its members and their active involvement, the meadow is at risk of neglect. I and the committee would like to thank all members and particularly volunteers for their steadfast support throughout this rather difficult year.
A few words about budgets and funds. The cost of contractors is generally considerably greater than our membership income. We have been most fortunate to have benefitted from donations and re-location of reptile income over the last few years. The latter income stream has now come to an end. This will bring the Group into a period where costs regularly exceed income. There is no immediate problem as we have ample funds for the coming year. We are also fortunate to have received various donations, some with membership renewals and others as stand-alone gifts. The committee is extremely grateful for these contributions which allow us to operate with greater freedom in employing contractors and wildlife experts to improve the meadow.
Looking forward to next year:
Normally at the AGM there would be an opportunity for members of the committee to stand down and for new members to be appointed. For the time being the committee are prepared to continue to serve for a further year in their current positions. We welcome interest from members wishing to contribute and maybe join the committee. Currently we are looking for someone who would be prepared to help with publicity and to prepare the quarterly newsletter. The time required is about 2-3 hours per month. Should any member be interested in taking on this role please contact me.
As ever the management of the meadow would not be possible without our committed and enthusiastic band of volunteers. We are fortunate in having a number of regular helpers and I am hoping that once Covid restrictions ease we can further reduce the need for contractor assistance by starting a new volunteer session to concentrate wholly on the river and the banks. If anyone feels that they could volunteer but are not certain what to expect please get in contact with me or any member of the committee.
We know that the meadow is greatly appreciated and used by many people and it is thanks to our efforts as members to ensure that this will remain the case for the coming years.

Treasurer’s Report
Here is a link to Pam’s Treasurer’s Report for 2020 . . . Treasurer’s report 2019-20

Nomination and appointment of officers for the year 2020 to 2021
All existing and retiring members of the current committee agreed to remain in office, so there was no need for any elections. 

Any other business and members questions:
a. Question from David Minns:
What is the group’s policy on retention of dead wood (on the reserve, not the committee!).
Maurice Lillie commented that the group does not have a policy as such. In the past we have placed piles of logs near the Seagull Lane Gate and Lumley Gate, with notices offering the wood to all and sundry.    The confusion that has arisen is that sometimes, volunteers and others have seen piles of wood and with unofficial permission have removed it from
places other than the two gates. This year a further confusion arose because the tree surgeon contracted by Norse, sawed up the felled wood into small, very easily handled pieces, in several places around NM and it was freely taken by visitors. Personally, I cannot see a way of stopping this. After all, we volunteers  would have to gather the logs and place them beside the gates, so, effectively we are being saved a most tedious job.
Maurice concluded that we need to discuss this to make it simple and clear to everyone.

b. Question from Brian Fellows:
Last evening I was watching the BBC Countryfile programme highlighting the ‘Plant Britain’ campaign. This is a campaign to encourage children to plant 750,000 trees – one for every child in the UK who’s starting primary school this year. The Countryfile programme showed lots of projects around the country with children planting and enjoying trees on local green spaces.
I thought – what a nice idea it would be if we could get involved in this campaign and offer space on Brook Meadow for our local school children to plant trees. Not big trees, but maybe small fruit trees in an orchard, a bit like they have done on the Hampshire Farm site.
I haven’t given any thought to the logistics of such an enterprise, what to plant, where to get the trees from and who pays. But I thought it seemed such a good opportunity for us to get children and their families onto and involved with Brook Meadow in a way we have not been able to before. And, you never know, while they are here they may even get interested in real wildlife!
This suggestion was generally well received, but it will need to be discussed in committee to decide on how it is to be achieved.

Wildlife Review
After the business meeting finished there was a short slide show featuring photographs a details of Wildlife on Brook Meadow as prepared by Brian Fellows.
For Brian’s full wildlife review please go to . . .

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