Notice of Annual General Meeting:
to be held at the Masonic Hall, 150 Cromwell Road,
Whitstable, CT5 1NA
on SUNDAY 26th November 2017 at 11.00 am
There is ample parking in the outside forecourt.
These are the draft minutes of the last AGM held on Sunday 16th October 2016, they await approval.
Of the Annual General Meeting
held on Sunday, 16th October 2016 at 11.00 am
at the Masonic Hall, Cromwell Road, Whitstable
Present: John Marsh Chairman
Keith Jones Vice Chairman
Anthony Ahern TW Representative
Michael Dakers TE Representative
Brian Forbes-Turner TE Representative
David Richards Beach Hut Watch Secretary
Marilyn Richards Association Secretary
Apologies: Mike Charlwood Membership Secretary
Yvonne Philbrick TE Representative
Gerry Smith TW Representative
Tony Weavers Website Co-ordinator
1. Chairman’s Introduction and Welcome
Mr. John Marsh, Chairman of the Association, welcomed everyone to this year’s Annual General Meeting, which was the thirteenth such meeting since the Association began. There were approximately 30 members in attendance, a similar number to last year.
There were apologies for absence received by members – Carol Boubess, Sue and Ray Langham, Hilary and Stuart Reynolds, and Mr. and Mrs. D. Wood.
Mr. Marsh introduced the members of the Committee by name, and gave thanks to the Association Secretary, Mrs. Richards, for her work during the year. Mr. Marsh also welcomed our guest speaker for this occasion, Mr. Gerry Skinner, of the R.L.N.I.
(i) Minutes of Last Year’s AGM, and Matters Arising
Mr. Marsh referred to the Minutes of last year’s AGM, of which each member had received a postal copy after that event, and which was also to be found on our website (www.tankertonbeachhuts.co.uk) He asked if any member present had any questions or concerns arising from those Minutes. None had. He therefore asked the members for a proposer and seconder to accept the Minutes of 2015, to which Mr. Larking and Ms. Harmer responded.
2. The Beach Hut Year
Mr. Marsh introduced Mrs. Richards, who said that she had been hoping to report that we had had another quiet year, with very little vandalism compared to past years, but of course we had recently endured the beach hut fires, which will be covered later in these Minutes under the “Security” heading.
Mrs. Richards reminded the members about the informal quarterly meetings that take place between the Foreshore Office, the Herne Bay Beach Hut Owners’ Association, and us. She said that our Committee member, Yvonne Philbrick, who attends these meetings, was currently on holiday, but had prepared some notes for the AGM.
Mrs. Philbrick’s notes said that the purpose of these meetings was to enable both Beach Hut Associations to meet with Canterbury City Council’s Foreshore Services in order to keep each other informed about matters of mutual interest. The items discussed usually ranged from services provided by the Council such as water, litter bin provision and collection, hut audits and sales, signage etc., to matters that impact on beach hut owners such as antisocial behaviour, concerns about the cycle route, and enforcement issues. All items discussed are reported back to the Committee for their comment.
Mrs. Richards added that large items such as broken deckchairs, and discarded barbecues, for instance, should not be left by the bins on the Promenade, as the Serco bin men were unable to pick these up. They should by disposed of at home. Likewise, any discarded roofing felt should not be left on the Slopes, not least because these were very unsightly, but also because they were a fire hazard.
With regard to items that had come up in these meetings, such as cyclists speeding on the Promenade, and dogs’ mess on the beach and around the huts, Mrs. Richards said that these items had been brought to the attention of Ms. Rebecca Booth from the Environment Department at the Council (via the Association and the newly-formed “Friends of Tankerton Bay”) and we were currently awaiting a report from Ms. Booth on these items and other matters that affected all beach-goers.
On another subject, Mrs. Richards said that, while she was drafting some thoughts about what to say at the AGM, a beach hut owner rang her to ask for some advice on selling her hut. She had owned it for around nine years, but the grandchildren no longer used it (this is by far the most often-cited reason for selling huts, by the way).
The lady informed us what she had done so far to sell her hut, and she reported that she had placed it for sale with a local estate agent, who planned to charge her £2,700 for the privilege! Mrs. Richards told her to ring the estate agent straight away to take it off the market, and to take a home-made “For Sale” sign (just with a phone number on it), encase it in a plastic sleeve, and thumb-tack it to the door. Mrs. Richards then said to ask a family member to go to the hut, take a good photo of it both inside and out, on a sunny day, and then send this to us to put (for free) on our website. The estate agent apparently had tried to soften the blow of their extortionate fees by suggesting that they charge our beach hut owner “only” £2,500, “as a favour”!
So, this would be the Association’s advice to you all – if you want to sell your hut, come to us first for advice!
Mrs. Richards said that another thought came to mind too, after meeting a lady at a party recently, who rather berated her about “beach huts not being for local people”. All of us have heard criticism like this over the years, but in fact many of our huts in Tankerton are owned by local people. We currently have 254 members (there are 394 huts in total).
We have 174 members at Tankerton West, 167 at Tankerton East, 42 at Marine Crescent, and 12 at Long Rock. Of our 254 members, 32% live in Whitstable, 10% live in Tankerton, 12% live in Canterbury, 2% live in Herne Bay, and 7% live in Faversham. Altogether, 63% of our members are “locals”.
To answer the criticism that we are all “rich” and somehow undeserving of our treasured huts, Mrs. Richards told the lady that many of our huts are owned by several families together, who all share them, or which are owned by three generations of families, or which are bought as long-wished-for presents for themselves out of Golden Handshake retirement funds, or which are given as thank-you’s to treasured members of the community, or which are bought with inheritances to remember the Mum or Dad who dearly wished for a beach hut in their lifetimes, or which are bought to help aged or infirm family members who were no longer able to travel abroad, so that they could still “go on holiday”. Not to mention those families who have owned their hut for several generations, long before Whitstable became the chic place it is today! All of these examples have been personally given to Mrs. Richards over the years.
So if anyone gives you a hard time about being a beach hut owner, do remember that!
3. The Website
In Mr. Tony Weavers’ absence on holiday, Mrs. Richards gave some very interesting statistics to the members present, including the fascinating fact that, over the past 18 months, our website has attracted 44,140 hits or viewings, the most popular areas being Beach Huts for Sale (12,008 hits), News (8,449 hits) and Beach Cleans (3,621 hits).
Mrs. Richards said that this was another reason to contact the Association if a member wished to sell a beach hut! She said that Mr. Weavers was also always looking to improve the site, and asked that, if any members had any suggestions, he would be pleased to hear them. When sending details to Mr. Weavers for inclusion on our “Beach Huts for Sale” section (remember, free to our members!) he asked that a maximum of three photographs be sent to him, in a JPEG format.
He also asked that if anyone had used a handyman or contractor as advertised on our website, could they let him know so that we could recommend them to other hut owners.
4. Treasurer’s Report
Mr. Marsh introduced Mr. David Richards, our Treasurer. Mr. Richards had provided each of the members present with a copy of the accounts for 2016, and said that, currently, we have £8,011 in our accounts. He said that our annual subscriptions bring in around £2,000 a year.
A questioner from the audience asked what we were doing with the capital that was accumulating. Mr. Richards said that he would be transferring half of the £8,000 sum into our building society “Fighting Fund” in case this might be needed when the Council reviewed our current lease arrangements in 2018. He said that 52 of our members had not paid the present subscription of £10 per annum, and 32 people had not paid for two years. Although he was still chasing these people, he expected to have to “write them off” as members of our Association, which would have an impact on our overall income.
He said that this was one reason why we did not expect to reduce the current subscription back to £5 per annum, as our income would plummet still further, and we never knew whether we would need the money.
Committee member Mr. Brian Forbes-Turner, said that, in 2018, when the Council will be in a position to review our rents, we would re-assess the situation then. He said that our last barristers’ bill was over £3,000 (with the same amount paid by the Herne Bay Beach Hut Owners’ Association) and we were anxious to keep some money in hand.
5. Our Guest Speaker – Mr. Gerry Skinner, from the R.N.L.I.
Mr. Marsh introduced our guest speaker, Mr. Gerry Skinner, from the R.N.LI. Mr. Skinner gave a very interesting talk, aided by some fascinating slides, showing how the R.N.L.I. had started in 1824 to the present day. Mr. Skinner said that the previous name for the organisation was “the National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck”, and had become the organisation that we know today with 230 lifeboat stations around the country, working up to 100 miles offshore. Mr. Skinner said that Whitstable had one of the very first pilot “rubber” boats, which could reach up to 40 m.p.h. on a decent sea. He said that our own lifeboat station was manned entirely by volunteers, who always endeavoured to reach the lifeboat station within 15 minutes of the pager sounding. Mr. Skinner gave a demonstration of the pager call, which was eerie and quite startling. 40% of our local R.N.L.I. funds come directly from the Whitstable shop in the Harbour (so do visit this shop to look at their excellent range of merchandise). This year the Lifeboat Station had so far seen 52 call-outs from Whitstable.
Mr. Marsh thanked Mr. Skinner for his excellent talk, and subsequently asked the members present whether they would agree to giving Mr. Skinner a cheque for £100 from the Association funds, to be given directly to the Whitstable Lifeboats. This was proposed by Mrs. Richards, and seconded by Mr. Larking.
At this point, Mr. Marsh introduced Committee member, Mr. Michael Dakers, who spoke about the Non-Domestic Business Rates paperwork that we had all recently received, but which seemed to puzzle most of us.
6. Non-Domestic Rates – what do they mean?
Mr. Dakers explained to the members how these had been derived from the old rating system, where every piece of property, including houses, factories, shops etc., had been given a Rateable Value, upon which was calculated the “local tax”. This effectively paid for local services such as the Police, street lighting, the Fire Service, local roads and footpaths etc.. Houses were extracted from this system after the introduction, first of the Poll Tax, and then Council Tax.
The Rates applied to every building, including such structures as sheds and telephone exchanges, so that when houses were removed, the old regime continued to apply to the rest. Certain buildings are specifically exempt, however, such as churches and allotment sheds!
The significance of the Rateable Value, which is to be reviewed in 2017 (see the notices that we have all received, asking us to register with the Council) is that it is supposed to represent the annual rent which our huts and the land they sit upon would normally reasonably attain in the year 2008 (at the last 2010 revaluation) between a willing renter and a willing landlord.
Against that would be charged a rate being whatever the Rateable Value was, multiplied by a figure set by the Government. This is shown on your rate demand as “SBR Gross Charge”, with another amount following. The next line on the letter you have received is largely academic, but the third line shows “SBR Relief” and is the same sum of money as the Gross Charge (so they cancel out). The significance of this is that there is a regular Small Business Relief, which the Council have confirmed that they will apply to all beach huts that we represent, even though it is by law strictly at present applicable to all properties having a Rateable Value of less than £12,000.
In the March 2016 Budget, the figure was raised to £15,000, subject to the detail of the Finance Bill for 2017. However, all that has happened since may change that. Be aware that there are certain conditions, particularly that it can only apply to one property. Therefore, owning two beach huts, if any of you do, could be problematic regarding the legal position.
We do not yet know what the parameters are for the 2017 valuation, or what is the relevant date. A look on the Government website on the Saturday evening before the AGM only displayed the current value of £600 for all Tankerton East and Tankerton West Huts.
However, a Committee member, Mr. Brian Forbes-Turner, had registered with the Council, upon receiving his paperwork from them, and he discovered a proposal value of £940, up from £600, although of course the payable rate was still currently “Nil”.
We need to watch this situation as the figure used in Rateable Valuations has some impact on Ground Rent values. They should be similarly treated in 2017 when the Council is considering the new rents en bloc for 2018.
There is a possibility that we could lodge an Appeal to give us some grounding for negotiations, as the Rateable Value reflected an annual rent (probably for 2017) for both land and hut, whilst the rent the Council were entitled to argue for was limited to the ground only, since we own our beach huts ourselves.
Mr. Dakers said that the Association will continue to monitor any developments that may affect beach hut owners. If necessary, we may lodge an Appeal against any increase from a “Nil” rate, but so far, it appeared that there was nothing to concern us at the moment.
7. Park Runs for Fitness!
Mr. Marsh then introduced Mr. Forbes-Turner to remind us all about the Park Runs that many of us may have seen on the Promenade on Saturday and Sunday mornings, as both adults and juniors run against the clock to get fit and to try and better their times each week. The events are run, for free by volunteers, by Park Runs UK, and more information may be gleaned from their website, www.parkrun.com
8. Membership & Renewals
Mr. Richards entreated the members to always update their email addresses and phone numbers with us, so that we may alert them to any urgent matters (such as the recent beach hut fires). Mr. Richards said that he now runs a system on Excel, which is as up-to-date as it can be. He asked that we all encourage our hut neighbours to be members.
Mr. Marsh said that, ultimately, when we know that our email data is fully complete, we will begin to update our members via email if we can, rather than the time-consuming and expensive post.
9. Security & Beach Hut Watch Scheme
Mr. Richards referred to the “crime report” paper that he had provided for each member at the AGM. He said that there had been 29 incidents; 16 burglaries, and 10 incidents of rough sleeping. He said that a recent problem had concerned the theft of kayaks, usually from understair lockers. He said that having locking hasps on their own were fairly useless – these needed to be attached to a metal plate. Ideally, don’t leave kayaks in your huts, or at least mark them or paint them (if you don’t intend to sell them in the future). Take pictures of them to be able to identify them.
Mr. Richards said that our crime statistics were lower last year than this, with the recent fire being a low point. He said that the fire (destroying one hut entirely, wrecking another, and scorching a third) is being treated by Margate Police as arson, and that it was likely a malicious and targeted attack at the owner.
A question from the audience at this point concerned beach hut insurance. Mrs. Richards said that beach hut insurance was compulsory (as laid down by our landlords, Canterbury City Council) as we were compelled to have £5 million-worth of Public Liability Insurance. She said that she always advised hut owners to shop around the three beach hut insurers in the market (LoveYourHut, Towergate, and Ryan Insurance) and to get quotes from each. Currently, a rebuild of a hut is around £4,500 (with no “extras” included) and Mr. Dakers reminded the members that other costs can be involved after a devastating fire, such as the removal of debris and the repair of the site, which must also be taken into account when considering the level of insurance to be taken. Any “contents” insurance would be on top of this.
Hut owners must also inform their chosen insurer that they are members of our Association, in order to obtain the discount that each insurer offers.
A member asked about the current situation with the burned-out and damaged huts. Mrs. Richards said that the owner of the destroyed hut was not a member of the Association, so we could not offer direct assistance, but that she would contact Matthew Young of the Foreshore Office to see what is to happen with regard to the removal of the debris. In past fires, we have been able to assist our members in encouraging the Foreshore Office to enlist Serco to dispose of the hut remains. (Update: on checking with the Council, the Foreshore Office is facilitating removal of the debris for the owners).
Mr. Richards reminded the members of his rather homespun method of a “sprinkler” system for beach huts – line the walls at the bottom with water-filled plastic milk bottles. In the event of a fire, these will melt and quench the fire before it can properly get under way!
10. Election/Re-election of Committee Membership
Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, Website Co-ordinator, Membership Secretary, Beach Hut Watch Secretary
Vice Chairman Mr. Keith Jones said that we had got to the point of the meeting whereby the Committee stood down, and offered themselves for re-election. Mr. Jones said that, of the eleven current members of the Committee, two were stepping down – Mr. Anthony Ahern, a valued Committee member since the very beginning of the Association, and Mr. Gerry Smith.
All remaining Committee members were willing to serve for a further year, and so Mr. Jones asked the members present to re-elect them, if they wished, on a block vote. Mr. Larking proposed that this be so, and Mrs. Gillian Dalton seconded this.
11. Any Other Business
At this point, Mr. Marsh asked if any members had any questions that had not already been covered, and a member asked about the Council’s “new” huts that had been built last year – were any more planned? Mrs. Richards said that the new “infill” huts followed a long process by the Council, and that all suitable spaces had now been filled – there would not be any more. She said that, as far as she knew, there were still two Council-owned huts that were still to be sold. (Update: all of the Council huts have now been sold).
A question was asked about several very dilapidated huts that had been an eyesore for some time, and also whether any huts were sub-let. Mrs. Richards said that she would enquire into both questions and would inform the members. (Update: the Foreshore Office has confirmed that all of the owners of the dilapidated huts are still paying their rents. The owners will be contacted by the start of the New Year regarding putting their huts into an acceptable condition. SUB-LET ITEM STILL TO BE CONFIRMED)
(Note: if any member not present at the AGM has a question or problem, then as always, do please contact the Secretary for any advice that you may need)
Mr. Marsh then declared the meeting closed for another year, and he thanked all those present for their attendance .
12. Date of Next AGM
This is likely to be mid-October 2017; the date will be announced nearer the time. If any business needs to be transacted or communicated before then, the Secretary will call for an Extraordinary General Meeting.
As always, thank you all for your support.
David & Marilyn Richards John Marsh
Treasurer & Secretary Chairman
27 Fitzroy Road, Tankerton Sycamore Lodge, Owens Court Road
Kent, CT5 2LG Gosmere, Sheldwich, ME13 9QR
firstname.lastname@example.org marsh J1@sky.com