1. Chairman’s Introduction John Marsh
(i) Minutes of last year’s AGM
(ii) Matters arising
2. The Beach Hut Year Marilyn Richards
3. Treasurer’s Report David Richards
As always, the Chairman and Committee of the Tankerton Bay Beach Hut Owners’ Association thank you for your continued support.
Marilyn Richards 27 Fitzroy Road
Secretary Tankerton, Kent, CT5 2LG
The Tankerton Bay Beach Hut Owners’ Association www.tankertonbeachhuts.co.uk
Of the Annual General Meeting
held on Sunday, 7th June 2015 at 11.00 am
at the Masonic Hall, Cromwell Road, Whitstable
Present: John Marsh Chairman
Keith Jones Deputy Chairman
Anthony Ahern TW Representative
Michael Dakers TE Representative
Brian Forbes-Turner TE Representative
David Richards Beach Hut Watch Secretary
Marilyn Richards Association Secretary
Gerry Smith Committee member
Tony Weavers Website Co-ordinator
Apologies: Mike Charlwood Membership Secretary
Yvonne Philbrick TE Representative
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 twelfth such meeting since the Association began. There were approximately 30 members in attendance, quite markedly lower than last year’s record attendance of over 100, but of course this has been a much quieter year for us.
Mr. Marsh introduced the Committee by name, indicating each person’s responsibilities, and gave thanks to the Association Secretary, Mrs. Richards, for her work during the year. Mr. Marsh also welcomed the two guest speakers for the event, Mr. Tom Hawkins of the Council’s Foreshore Office in Harbour Street, and Mr. Matthew Briggs from the insurance company “LoveYourHut”.
Mr. Marsh read out a list of apologies received from members who were unable to attend the meeting, and these were Elizabeth Birmingham, Carol Boubess, Mandy Broughton, Gillian Dalton, Philippa Davies, Jennifer Llewellyn, Ann Mansfield, Stuart Reynolds, Aileen Smith, Gill Smyth, and Mike & Karen Wellden.
Mr. Marsh said that members who regularly attended the Association’s AGMs will have noted that we had changed the timing of our meeting once again this year – we used to hold AGMs in September/October, but then of course, in 2013, at the height of our negotiations with the Council, the proposed meeting was delayed and delayed, hoping for good news to report. The AGM was finally held in April last year (2014).
This year, so as not to have another 18-month period between AGMs, we set the date for June, thinking that attending members may welcome the better weather to also fit in a trip to their huts, and because members may have questions and worries that they wished to have answered, now that the rental bills from the Council have been received (in most cases).
At this point, Mr. Marsh asked for a show of hands to indicate a preference for a Spring or Autumn AGM, and it seemed that members had a slight preference for a Spring meeting. (However, later discussions during the AGM had a bearing on this too, so do please read on).
2. A Quiet Year – What’s been happening?
Mr. Marsh then introduced Mrs. Richards, the Association Secretary, to speak about the rather peaceful year that hut owners have enjoyed. Mrs. Richards said that the only (rather considerable) disappointment in the year had been the arrival of the Council’s rent bills, which of course reflected the relative “spike” in our payments this year. Mrs. Richards said that, in the next couple of years, the rents will “only” go up by small percentage points – 2015 was the year that the Council decreed that everyone, both local and otherwise, should pay the same, resulting in the seemingly disproportionate rise for local people this year.
Mrs. Richards reminded members that everything pertaining to our rents was contained in the two “packs” that the Council had now sent to most of us – there were still several members in the Hall (including a Committee member) who had still not received the final letter from the Council, which included the actual rent bill and the hut site plan. (Do contact Mrs. Richards on 01227 262066 if you have any particular queries on this topic).
Mrs. Richards also reminded members that the Council now provided for payment of rents via Standing Order payments, which spread the cost over 10 months. (She also reminded members that Standing Orders, unlike Direct Debits, needed to be renewed each year, so if anyone had set up this method of payment last year, they needed to renew for this year).
Mrs. Richards asked the members present whether anyone was contemplating selling their hut this year, in the light of the higher rent, and one member raised her hand.
Mrs. Richards said that the Council “packs” also contained information needed on the extra rent payable for any so-called “adaptations” and the now-permitted subletting option (which could possibly help to offset the cost of the annual rents for anyone else who might feel that they had to sell their hut). It was known that this was not a welcome opportunity for most of us, who like to enjoy our huts with our own family and friends.
Finally, Mrs. Richards said that, from time-to-time, she was approached by TV companies and magazines, asking if any hut owners might be interested in showcasing their huts. Usually, only a day or so notice is given for this, and Mrs. Richards so struggled to get anyone interested within the time frame, she therefore volunteered herself twice over the years – once for “Prima” magazine, where the blurb used (although, admittedly, partially truthful) was made to make her sound rather sad and weird!) and once for a German TV programme, the producer of which swore that she would send a videotape of the resulting show. Despite a reminding email, the videotape never arrived, so there is the suspicion that the programme was angled at “those crazy Brits and their sheds on the beach”! ( Seriously, if anyone is interested in any future requests from media companies, please contact Mrs. Richards, who will log your contact details for future reference).
In the absence of Mrs. Yvonne Philbrick, the Committee member who now attends the regular Operational meetings with Matthew Young of the Foreshore Office, along with Mr. Alan Ratford from the Herne Bay Beach Hut Owners’ Association, Mrs. Richards read out some interesting snippets from Mrs. Philbrick’s notes from the last such meeting, on the 28th May:-
“The next beach hut condition audit will be started within the next two weeks, and the Condition Notices will be issued after the audit has been carried out. The issues about cyclists and dogs on the beach are covered in the Foreshore Coastal Guide, which is available from the Foreshore Office and the Lifeguard Huts. It is also available as a PDF from the Foreshore Office (01227 266719).
There are currently no huts being rented out. With regard to sales, the transfer system is working well, with most being completed within 6 weeks. There were a total of 48 sales in the last financial year – 22 in Tankerton and 26 in Herne Bay; a slight increase over previous years. The Council has sold 3 of its 19 huts.
With regard to Tenancy Returns, there are 4 outstanding in Tankerton West, 6 at Tankerton East, 2 at Marine Crescent, and 4 in Herne Bay.
The Council now has a different structure (see also the magazine “District Life” which is delivered to local households) and there are no longer Portfolio Holders – issues are now dealt with by committee. Larissa Reed will continue in post (replacing Suzi Wakeham and Richard Griffiths).
Tankerton Beach has been awarded a Blue Flag.
Matthew Young will speak to the Community Safety Unit to ensure that patrols are stepped up to deter anti-social behaviour.
Next Operational Meeting at the Foreshore Office – 6th August.”
There were some questions raised at this point, one of which concerned the “Business Rates” (which Committee member Mr. Dakers correctly referred to as the Non-Domestic Rate. This Government-imposed rate allows for some exemptions, such as allotments, but not for beach huts, which is why the Council levies the rate upon those hut owners who also run businesses from their home. The Council must issue a rate demand, but essentially, if you do not run such a business, then you need not worry about this levy. If you do, you should contact Mr. Steve Haddock at the Council (01227 862293). A member remarked that Mr. Haddock is an extremely helpful and knowledgeable man, and that he would always try to help with any question put to him. Mrs. Richards concurred with this view.
At this point, Mr. Marsh introduced the first guest speaker, Mr. Tom Hawkins from the Foreshore Office (a completely different office to that which imposed our rents, Mr. Marsh was at pains to say!)
3. The work of the Foreshore Office and the Adopt-A-Beach Scheme
Mr. Hawkins explained that his professional background was as a marine biologist, and he had worked in coastal areas all over the world. There were just two full-time officers in the Foreshore Office in Harbour Street, where he had now worked for 9 years. The Lifeguard Service was also administered by him, and his remit covered the 14 miles of our coastline. Mr. Hawkins said that he regularly took groups of school children on to the beaches (some of whom had never been on a beach before) to look at and study marine life. A surprising comment was that our muddy Estuary waters are very much richer than clear tropical seas!
Mr. Hawkins said that his office was also the first port of call for sea mammal strandings and injuries, and for drifting wood and general flotsam that washed on to our shore (01227 266719). The Foreshore Office also contacts coastal engineers where necessary for sea defences. Mr. Hawkins was proud to say that TankertonBeach has again been awarded Blue Flag status, and he said that our seas were particularly clean and safe. He said that the only time that our seas could be contaminated would be after a period of heavy rain, and consequent possible “run-off” from Swalecliffe sewage works. Our water quality is regularly tested, and the posting of the results can be seen on the notice board on the Lifeguard Hut. There is a forecasting system in place too, where problems can be foreseen, and, if necessary, our beaches will be closed for bathers. However, Mr. Hawkins said that this risk was “tiny”.
Mr. Hawkins said that his office was engaged with marine charities, and was sponsored by the Vattenfall wind farm.
With regard to the Adopt-A-Beach scheme, Mr. Hawkins explained that many groups (even small family groups) regularly attended their own patch of beach, and anyone may get involved if they contact him. Mr. Hawkins said that he can provide all the necessary equipment (gloves, “pickers”, and hooped bags) and an interesting hour or so can be had in picking up all manner of plastic bits and pieces, which were the most regular find, together with cotton-bud sticks (please don’t flush these down the loo!) The resultant haul is then weighed and investigated.
The Association’s own patch of beach is the stretch from the eastern end of Tankerton East, by the Sailing Club, although Mr. Hawkins’ easily identifiable red truck will always be on hand to indicate where to meet. He said that there are now two dates for a possible Beach Clean by Association members (picked for the right level of tides) and these are:-
27th June or 12th July
If any members are interested in joining a Beach Clean on either or both of these dates, then do please contact Secretary Mrs. Richards at the usual contact numbers, shown again at the end of these Minutes.
Mr. Hawkins said that our beaches are especially clean, compared with other national beaches, even though a recent haul picked up 4 tonnes of litter over the 14 mile stretch.
A nice touch was news that pupils at WestmeadsInfant School in Whitstable recently drew pictures of whales and sea mammals, which were printed onto jute bags and sold for charity.
Finally, Mr. Hawkins said by all means ring him or Matthew Young at the Foreshore Office (01227 266719) but if they don’t answer, they are out on the beach! He also said that if any volunteers wished to help with such tasks as hauling buoys into the correct positions from time-to-time (along with their 30 ft. chains!) they would be more than welcome…..
Mr. Hawkins brought along a box of Coastal Guides for those members present, and said that copies of these may be readily picked up from the Foreshore Office in Harbour Street. There is a great deal of information in the Guide, including tide tables, information about our coastal environment and wildlife, the Vattenfall wind farm, the coastal parks, dogs on beaches, the emergency services, and much besides.
Questions for Mr. Hawkins included the procedure required regarding derelict beach huts (of which there are around 6 in the Tankerton area). Mr. Hawkins said “Ring Matthew!” to some amusement. (01227 266719).
There was a question about the new rubbish bins, and the taps and showers, and Mr. Hawkins said that the plan was to extend all of these along the complete Promenade, where they weren’t already in existence. Any delay with regard to taps and showers was because the marine engineers had to drill under the beach, and this took some planning and time.
Another questioner asked why, after our rents had been increased, that services (such as the above) had not been improved. Mr. Hawkins said that our rents went into a general Council “pot”, and was not ring-fenced in any way to provide services for beach huts and the surrounding areas, even though he and Matthew Young had argued for years that some money should be diverted into the Foreshore Office and coastline facilities.
A final question concerned a recycling bin on the Promenade, and Mr. Hawkins confirmed that this was due to be replaced, possibly by a wheelie-type bin. There will also be some bins especially for fishing tackle (although this was mainly a problem in the HerneBay area) to keep this dangerous material away from marine life.
A Committee member asked about the JubileeParks, designated seating, and the bandstand, all promised last year by the Council. Mr. Hawkins replied that they were waiting on a management plan (and funding) for the coastal area. He suggested looking at the HerneBay interactive website for examples. This sounded very interesting, including 100-year-old photographs alongside current photographs, showing how the area had changed (or otherwise!) over the years.
A final question for Mr. Hawkins was about the number of lifeguards in our Tankerton area, and the reply was that there are 2 on duty at any one time (during school holidays and Bank Holidays during the summer months) with 16 members in entirety (all volunteers). Mr. Hawkins also said that the Foreshore Office is looking to replace the Tankerton Lifeguard Hut with a better structure on stilts (Ed. Very Miami Beach!)
Mr. Marsh thanked Mr. Hawkins for his interesting talk, and then introduced Mr. Matthew Briggs from “LoveYourHut”.
4. Beach Hut Insurance
Mr. Briggs explained that his firm was one of the three beach hut insurance providers, and that “LoveYourHut” was a spin-off from Towergate Insurance. It had now had been trading for 2 years. Towergate itself had been bought out, Mr. Briggs understood, by an American company. He said that “LoveYourHut” has a market-leading policy, covering major beach hut perils, including the now-compulsory £5 million public liability cover. The firm also had a policy which covered hut owners in the event that they wished to sub-let their hut. He said that members of the Association enjoyed a 10% discount from the standard rate.
There were some questions from the audience, including whether “LoveYourHut” was cheaper than its rivals, and Mr. Briggs confirmed that his policies were very competitive, and always tried to be the best, also aiming for hut neighbours to pay identical rates for identical cover. Another question concerned possible under-valuation of a hut, in the event of a claim, and Mr. Briggs confirmed that “full value” of the amount the hut is insured for would be received. (Current replacements costs of a hut are around £4,200 in this area, and hut owners may also wish to insure contents on top of this.)
At a question from a Committee member, Mr. Briggs said that his firm’s underwriter was a company called Arch Underwriting, and that “LoveYourHut” also provided general buildings/contents/fire insurance, in the usual way, for domestic homes.
Beach hut insurance with “LoveYourHut” generally started at £75.13 per annum, and can be bought online, or by phone. The policies were based on rebuilding costs from scratch, in the event of total ruination of the hut by fire, flood, or storm.
Mr. Briggs said that he would be pleased to answer any further queries on insurance, and that he and his colleagues, Clare and Jonathan, could be reached on 01924 580 992 and 01924 580 991 respectively.
Mr. Marsh thanked Mr. Briggs for his useful talk, and then reverted back to the agenda for the usual AGM proceedings, starting with Mr. David Richards, who took over from Mr. Marsh as Treasurer after the last AGM.
5. Treasurer’s Report
Mr. Richards began his report by saying “We’re recovering!” He said that members’ subscriptions, increased last year from £5 per annum to £10 per annum, were now beginning to replenish our depleted coffers. However, he said that some members had still not paid the “extra” £5 from last year, and so may also now be £10 adrift, since the April 2015 subscription date.
He reiterated Mrs. Richards’ entreaty in the AGM Notice, asking members to let us know of any change of hut ownership, change of address, phone, or email, and said that, where we have little or no contact information, he might have to leave a note under the door of some huts!
Mr. Richards indicated the printed Financial Accounts, which were left on seats for the members (and which are attached to these Minutes) and said that the bank balance indicated at £1,474 as at the 31st December 2014 had since increased to £3,500. He said that this figure will continue to increase as subscriptions continue to arrive, and should remain healthy now that we no longer have to pay for legal advice and are no longer skirmishing with the Council.
Questions to Mr. Richards included whether expenditure would be at the indicated level every year. Mr. Richards replied that, as well as not having to fund legal costs, our website service cost should be better controlled this year, and that the laptop computer (bought for the use of the Treasurer and Secretary) was a one-off payment, and remained the property of the Association. Postage, another large cost, may be controlled if we are able to obtain up-to-date email addresses from our members. This is an ongoing plea – our service to our members can only be as good as the information and support that we receive from you all.
A further question asked whether, when the accounts were fully replenished, the subscription fee could revert back to £5.00 per annum. At this point, Chairman Mr. Marsh interjected by saying that the Committee would revert to the membership again on this point in the future, and it could well be that a healthy bank balance could indicate a lower subscription fee.
Mr. Richards reflected at this point (referred to also at the start of these Minutes) that an Autumn AGM could make the accounts easier to prepare, bearing in mind that the subscription “year” begins in April, and we always had the difficulties of ensuring that our membership contact details were as up-to-date as they could be. Reminder notes to members were useless if sent to old addresses, or to addresses where hut owners had long since left. Another point was that, by April or thereabouts, we would also have received the £750 due each year to us from our insurer advertisers, at £250 each.
Mrs. Richards asked the members present at this point whether future AGMs might then be better held in early September, to give the Treasurer time to fully include regular subscriptions and payments-in, and this was generally agreed to by the members present.
A further question from a member asked whether future accounts for 2014/15 could include last year’s figures and possibly a rough budget for 2016, and Mr. Richards said that he would be happy to do this, now that his first set of financial reports had been completed.
Mr. Marsh thanked Mr. Richards for his report, and, in the absence of Mr. Mike Charlwood, the Association’s Membership Secretary, called upon Mr. Richards again to stand in for Mr. Charlwood.
6. Membership & Renewals
Mr. Richards said that we currently had 8 pages of membership details on an Excel spreadsheet, and these were continually updated as information was received by us. It was intended that future correspondence with our members would be via email, wherever possible, and that an email section on the spreadsheet is being created as a separate filter. It was hoped that, as well as the usual Notices of Meetings and Newsletters, we would be able to relay urgent notices from the Kent Community Messaging Service to our members. These carry useful information about local police issues, stolen property, local “scams” and the like.
A member queried whether the Association considered Facebook as a way of communicating with members, but Mr. Richards gave a rather withering look, indicating his venerable age, saying “We don’t do Facebook!”
Mrs. Richards interjected at this point by saying that a Facebook presence would take up even more time than our current workload, but that if anyone wished to volunteer to monitor such a service, do let us know!
Another member asked whether the Council could help with up-to-date contact details for hut owners, but of course this falls foul of the Data Protection Act, and is a difficult area.
Mr. Marsh thanked Mr. Richards for his report, and introduced Mr. Tony Weavers, our Website Co-ordinator.
7. The Website
Mr. Weavers asked the members present if many of them looked regularly at our website, and several people indicated that they did, and thought it “quite good”. Mr. Weavers said that, at present, the website licence (entered into some time ago) was restricting in some ways, necessitating simple changes having to be carried out by the licence holder, which caused larger bills than we would like. However, this was being looked into.
He asked that, whenever we were asked to put an item on the website (usually a hut “For Sale”) that we be informed when the hut was sold, so as to keep the site up-to-date. Also, if any member used a tradesperson who advertised on the website and could recommend him or her (or otherwise!) that they also let us know.
As always, if anyone has any ideas or topics for our website, do let the Secretary know, and this will be passed on to Mr. Weavers.
Mr. Marsh thanked Mr. Weavers for his report, and introduced Deputy Chairman Mr. Keith Jones, for the annual election item.
8. Election/Re-election of Committee Membership
Chairman, Deputy Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, Website Co-ordinator, Membership Secretary, Beach Hut Watch Secretary
Mr. Jones said that the current Committee had indicated their joint wish to serve again for another year, and that if the membership present agreed to their being re-elected as a group, he would ask for a show of hands to show their approval (or otherwise!)
In the event, those members present in the Hall indicated by an overwhelming show of hands that each Committee member be re-elected to serve until the date of the next Association AGM. Mr. Jones also said that we always welcomed “new blood”, and anyone wishing to help the Committee was always encouraged to do so.
Mr. Marsh thanked Mr. Jones, and again re-introduced the hard-working Mr. Richards for his report on beach hut security, in his other guise as Beach Hut Watch Secretary:-
9. Beach Hut Watch Scheme
Mr. Richards said that this year was “all good news”. Last year, we had 22 incidents in 12 months. This year, June to June, we had 8 incidents – a 30% decrease in beach hut crime. Last year, we did have a problem with rough sleepers using our huts, but this year we have had just one such incident.
Mr. Richards said that the Foreshore Office had a “duty of care” to do something about this problem, and the police must also step in where necessary. Mr. Richards said that the police were rather lacking regarding the latest incident of rough sleeping, where the “suspect” was actually known by the hut owner – however, the police did nothing.
Each year, Mr. Richards stresses the importance of contacting the police in every instance of beach hut crime, and the importance of obtaining a “crime number” in each case. He said that the police must be held to account, and that they must not be allowed to downgrade beach hut incidents – at the very least because it often results in further incidents elsewhere in the community.
In a recent case, when two PCSOs (Police Community Officers) attended a break-in at a beach hut, it was Mr. Richards himself who climbed through the broken shiplap to ascertain whether anything had been stolen. (Nothing had; the likely rough sleeper again).
Although this has been a light year for beach hut crime, Mr. Richards indicated that there still might be recourse to buying battery-driven cameras, which film for 2 to 3 days if problems are foreseen or indicated. He said that the hiring of a security patrol was not cost-effective, at around £15 per hour, and only useful if a particular event (end of school term, for instance) was ongoing.
Mr. Richards said, as he always does, that good beach hut security is best, using the best locks, bars, and padlocks.
Mr. Richards’ own crime number statistics remained better than Kent Police’s own – they remain not too happy about it. He asked whether any member had seen police patrols by the beach huts, and the collective answer to this was “No”.
(Note: on the same afternoon as the AGM, Secretary Mrs. Richards, enjoying her beach hut, noted two separate police patrols along the Promenade in a 3 hour period; a policeman and a PCSO on bicycles in each case - perhaps their ears had been burning!)
Mr. Richards said that double (or treble) shiplap boarding was a very good deterrent, along with the very good idea of chicken-wire between each wall, if anyone is contemplating a full refurbishment this year. Those huts with covered-in verandas fared better than those with open verandas, and the use of creosote on floor decking in the winter deterred many would-be intruders.
Ever the maverick, Mr. Richards also suggested that dog mess around beach huts in the winter also deterred intruders, but he was likely the only advocate of this! (At this point, Mrs. Richards referred members to her letter published in the Whitstable Times that week, remonstrating with dog owners to pick up! Many members had seen this letter – which, for balance, also praised Serco for their sterling work in trying (against increasing odds) to keep our Promenade and surroundings free of litter).
At this point, Mr. Marsh asked if members had any further questions under the “Any Other Business” section, but, the meeting having taken an hour or so to complete, it appeared that all questions had been answered.
(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.
10. Date of Next AGM
Early September 2016 (date to 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).
David & Marilyn Richards John Marsh
Treasurer & Secretary Chairman
27 Fitzroy Road, Tankerton Sycamore Lodge
Kent, CT5 2LG Gosmere, Sheldwich, ME13 9QR
Click below for previous AGM meetings (PDFs).