ALRA AGM 2023
To be held on 24th July, 6.45pm, at Little Stoke Cricket Club (Uttoxeter Road, Stone ST15 8RZ).
Chair: Robert Townsend
Secretary: Helen Townsend
- Welcome, introductions and process
- Co-Chairs' Report
- Treasurer's Report
- Proposals for consideration and approval:
- To accept the Co-Chairs' and Treasurer's annual reports
- Election of ALRA committee officers ‑ Seeking re‑election are: Nigel Holmes, Robert Townsend, Helen Townsend and Lee Mountford
- Aston Lodge Volunteers
- Residents Q&A
ALRA Activity Since May 2022
- Aston Lodge Residents Association has continued to be a part of, and represent, the community since the last AGM held in May 2022.
- Covid-19 restrictions have been removed, which has enabled the association to meet more easily, host events and to hold its AGM indoors this year.
- The Blackies Lane planning application case, which was the impetus for ALRA to be formed, has not been a significant part of our activities since the last AGM. However, we have kept an eye out for any revised planning applications for the Grassy Patch. As we know, the Inspector ruled in favour of Fradley Developments, but also ruled that 50% of the site cannot be built on, due to flood risk.
Any planning application for social housing that uses C5A Rural Exception Policy must include an agreement with any Social Housing Provider, to own and manage the built properties. Fradley has not placed a revised application since.
Of concern, is that land adjacent to Lichfield Road and Watson's Scrapyard became open to development because of the Inspector's ruling. The developer has now made an agreement with a Social Housing Provider, and is therefore, more likely to get planning approval. At the date of writing, approval has not yet been given, but the developers have begun the earthworks.
- ALRA published details of the revised planning application for 5 business units and 20 affordable houses, on land adjacent to Lichfield Road and Watson's Scrapyard. Residents had an opportunity to submit comments to SBC, irrespective of their views. The development of this site may have an effect on the Grassy Patch at Blackies Lane, so it is important that Aston Lodge residents had an opportunity to comment.
- SBC announced a period for public consultation on the proposed Local Plan (Preferred Options) for Stafford Borough. ALRA circulated the consultation documents and provided a guidance document on completing the survey. The Local Plan has a bearing on Aston Lodge because it includes a proposal to develop two fields adjacent to Oakleigh Court and Aston Lodge. As such, ALRA encouraged residents to submit comments, irrespective of their views, on development and new housing. ALRA has also published information on the ‘Garden Village’ at Cold Meece that has been proposed in the Local Plan.
- Communication from ALRA, with Streetscene, led to the replacement of rotten posts and rails at the play park, as well as the felling of dangerous tree branches over the play area.
- The ALRA website is regularly developed and updated. In the past year it has developed an updated listing of businesses that are owned and operated by Aston Lodge residents, as well as publishing all the news from ALRA and bulletins from local authorities.
- In July 2022 ALRA hosted a Picnic in the Park event. With good weather, the event was very well attended. The attractions included a tombola, plant stall, cake stall, horse box bar, ice cream van and a quiz. The event is designed as a community fun day, as well as a fundraiser for ALRA. Over £400 was raised on this occasion. ALRA is very grateful to residents for attending, and to the numerous volunteers, who made the event a success.
- ALRA marked the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
- ALRA has been publishing Staffordshire Police Smart Alerts, that are relevant to Aston Lodge residents on our website's News page. This is an updated service from the Police and has some useful messages about crime prevention and incidents.
- ALRA distributed information from Staffordshire County Council regarding proposed changes to Parliamentary constituency boundaries. This will significantly change the constituency that includes Stone, and as such, residents were prompted to submit comments.
- ALRA also distributed the Staffs County Council, climate change consultation.
- ALRA has a seat on the Stone Police Liaison Group. The group provides useful information regarding crime in Stone and initiatives to combat it. ALRA is able to bring forward issues that affect Aston Lodge and has attended two meetings in recent months.
- ALRA hosted a Valentine's Quiz at Little Stoke Cricket Club. The event was well supported and raised £204 for ALRA funds. And recently, an additional £76 was raised at our ‘School's Out’ Disco.
- The Aston Lodge Residents Facebook Group continues to thrive and grow in membership. The group remains friendly and supportive, with residents helping each other, discussing topics and giving away surplus household items. It largely monitors itself, and most members seem to prefer the friendly, community minded nature of the group.
However, there have been a couple of incidents, where the two administrators had to step in, to remove posts that did not comply with the group rules, or potentially break the law, and some members have had to be banned. Administrators have also been harassed in private messages.
- Emerging from the Covid restrictions, the ALRA gardening volunteers have been doing sterling work all year round. The ‘little and often’ concept of short volunteer sessions has continued to be a successful model. They do great work, whilst also creating a forum for friendship, fresh air and exercise.
The majority of pathways on Aston Lodge remain unadopted and untended by the authorities. The efforts of the volunteers have therefore been essential. The committee would like to thank all the residents involved, and especially the lead volunteers, for their commitment and hard work.
The volunteers took on a special project this year, to reduce the number of self-set cherry saplings on a piece of land adjacent to the long path. They used the saplings to build a dead hedge. This has made the area more accessible and will create some biodiversity.
ALRA funds have been used to supply a few additional tools, as well as the necessary liability insurance for the volunteer group.
- ALRA renewed its Public Liability insurance, to cover our activities against accident and accidental damage. The premium is £159.
- ALRA has been exploring the potential to secure funding, to improve the play parks. Sadly, there is little hope of large-scale funding from SBC, but we will be revisiting this.
The better news is, that SBC have recently confirmed that they have taken legal ownership of the land where our play parks are sited, and are looking at the feasibility of leasing the land to ALRA. With a lease we can consider applying for large-scale grants, to improve the play areas.
If there is potential to apply for a grant, please be assured that there will be a consultation with residents, before taking any action.
- ALRA has circulated its first public survey. This was to evaluate the residents view of Pingle Lane and whether ALRA should be involved in attempting to get the lane improved. 112 residents responded and the overwhelming view was to seek improvements, including lighting and improved surface. The main issue for residents is to improve conditions for the safety and access of pedestrians, including those with pushchairs and residents with mobility issues. ALRA is liaising with Pingle Lane residents who initiated the discussion. They do not own the lane and are interested in getting the surface improved and lighting. Residents are also keen to retain the natural aspects of Pingle Lane.
- ALRA has continued to develop an excellent website, which can be viewed on desktop, tablet or phone. We know that a number of residents prefer not to use Facebook, and the website fills a very different function, by being a more permanent reference point.
The website has been regularly refined and updated. Thank you to Nigel and Edward Holmes, who manage it. Thank you also, to Dr. David Emley, for his content contributions to the Nature section.
- The ALRA committee held four committee meetings since the last AGM, all of which are minuted. The committee has numerous informal discussions via email, at which single issues are discussed and agreed in a fair and thorough manner.
- ALRA is a successful organisation, because of the amazing contribution made by the residents of Aston Lodge. We would like to say thank you to everyone for the many different ways in which they have supported the community of Aston Lodge.
Robert, Helen, Lee and Nigel
Co-Chairs of Aston Lodge Residents Association