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The Ramblers' Association is a democratic, voluntary organisation, registered as a charity in England & Wales No: 1093577
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Annual General Meeting

NEW FOREST GROUP ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

At Boldre Memorial Hall, Pilley - Saturday 24th November 2018

(Map OL22  grid  ref SZ 328982  Postcode SO41 5QG)


 13.00 - guest speaker Alison Barnes from the New Forest National Park Authority

 Followed by -  Annual General Meeting

 

AGENDA

 

1.   Apologies

2.  Minutes of  2017 AGM

3. Any Matters Arising

4.  Chairman’s Report

5.   Secretary’s Report

6.   Treasurer’s Report

7.   Membership Reports

8.   Footpath Report

9.   Access Report

10. Programme Secretaries & Web Site Reports

11.  Auditor’s Report

12. Election of Officers and Committee Members

13. New Walk Leaders

14. Walks Library

15  Footpath working parties - Coordinator and volunteers

16.  Any Other Business


We would welcome new members on the committee.  If you'd like to find out more about what's involved, have a chat with our chairman.  If you'd like to offer please contact our Secretary before the AGM.  

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RAMBLERS’ ASSOCIATION (NEW FOREST GROUP)    MINUTES OF ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING


HELD ON SATURDAY 11 NOVEMBER 2017 AT BOLDRE MEMORIAL HALL, PILLEY


Rambler’s central office’s recommendation is that because of changes in the law on data protection names of individuals should not be included in the AGM minutes published online.   The full version of the minutes held by the group secretary does include the names


1. Apologies


These were received from 8 members.


2. Minutes of Last Year’s Meeting


These were not approved for signature as a member felt that the matter he had raised with regard to cycling in the New Forest had not been recorded.  The minutes would therefore be amended and submitted for signature at the next Committee Meeting.


3. Matters Arising


It was noted that the coastal path, running between Keyhaven and Lymington, was regularly used by cyclists.  However, it was pointed out that cycling was actively being encouraged by Hampshire County Council.  The Access Secretary that the matter would be looked into.  


The Footpath Secretary said that there was currently a Ramblers initiative for allowing cyclists to use all footpaths, but he felt that this should be on a case by case basis as not all footpaths would, in any case, be suitable.  He again reiterated that Hampshire County Council were very pro cycling.  


The Access Secretary said that there was a cycling representative on the New Forest Access Forum under their recreation management strategy.  


4. Chairman’s Report


The Chairman was pleased to report that we had had a full programme of walks and social events throughout the year.  We had again contributed to the recent New Forest Walking Festival and he hoped that this would attract new members.  


He was sorry to report that we had lost quite a few of our walks leaders due to both ill health and walk leaders having passed away.  He said that we sometimes struggled to fill the programme and we therefore urgently needed new walks leaders.  He said that we could offer help and guidance to new leaders if required.  We also planned to organise another Map & Compass training day to help new leaders.  


The Walks Librarian continued in her role.  She was collecting walk details from former leaders who were now no longer able to lead in order to ensure that these walks were not lost.  The walks were also available for new leaders to use.  


We continued to arrange Group holidays and this year’s holiday had been to Ludlow.  Next year the Group holiday would be at Halsway Manor in Somerset.  He again apologised to any members who were unable to book a place on these holidays but said that they did get fully booked very quickly.  


Social events throughout the year had included the Christmas Lunch at Annie’s Tea Rooms, the New Year’s Day event, the New Year’s Dinner at Lanes in Lymington, a coach trip to Windsor, summer afternoon tea, a boat trip, the Fish & Chip Quiz night and a number of special walks.  A “Heartstart” First Aid Course, presented by Bransgore First Responders, had been held in March.  This had proved to be very interesting and useful.  We planned to arrange another such course next year.  The Chairman recorded his special thanks to the Social Secretary , together with her team of helpers who arranged our Social and other special events.  


Our Footpath Secretary, had this year started to organise Footpath Maintenance teams and he said that future dates for this maintenance would be published in the Walks Programme.  However, he said that the Footpath Secretary was always looking for more volunteers to help and asked anyone interested to contact the Footpath Secretary direct.  The chairman said that the Group hoped to take on more major work on footpaths, but were looking for someone to take on the task of organising/co-ordinating these projects.  


With regard to the Highcliffe to Calshot section of the English Coastal Path, the Chairman said that we were still awaiting publication of the proposals.  The proposals should have been published by Natural England earlier in the year, but he understood that that there had been problems with local landowners.  In any case, it was anticipated that we would be disappointed with some of the proposed route and we were likely to be making formal “representation”.  This representation would be led by the Hampshire Area Committee with input from our Group and support from Ramblers Central Office.  He explained that only landowners could make a formal “objection” to the route and we could only make “representation”.  


The Chairman concluded by saying that the Group Committee is still very short of Committee Members.  He said that it was essential that we recruited some new committee members or we would be unable to organise a full programme of walks and other events which were currently offered.  He said that we particularly needed volunteers for press/publicity, the footpath maintenance project and to produce a new walks book.  


5. Secretary’s Report

 The Secretary was pleased to say that there had been no accidents reported since the last AGM, which was good news.  


The Secretary informed members that the Area AGM would take place on Saturday 10 February 2018 from 14:00 to 16:30 at Kempshott Village Hall, Basingstoke.  


The Secretary said that it was encouraging that she had received a number of calls from prospective new members of the Ramblers who had asked how they could ensure that they were allocated to the New Forest Group.


6. Treasurer’s Report


The Treasurer started by saying that he would like to thank the Auditor for producing the balance sheet and auditing the accounts.  He explained that his report covered the period up to 30 September 2017.  


He was pleased to report that our assets had increased from £6,241 to £6,531.  This increase was mainly as a result of an increase in the Social Account, together with a reduction in our expenditure.  Our bank balance remained good at £7,828, but this had reduced from last year as at that time there had been several thousands of pounds of holiday money in the Social Account.  


We had £3,926 in the General Account and £3,901 in the Social Account.  However, the Social Account balance included £1,100 collected in advance for social events.  


With regard to our income, the allowance we received from Central Office had been reduced by £5 this year giving a total of £573.  However, the treasurer said that it would increase to £582 next year due to the fact that the Group now had more members.  He confirmed that Central Office had not increased the allocation rate and, in fact, it would appear that they were once again short of money.  Income from those taking Ramblers’ Holidays had reduced by £220 to £170, but he felt that this would increase next year.  We received £135 from advertising in our Walks Programme and £8 from Associate Members.  The bank now paid no interest.  Social events had made a profit of £159 and sale of books/maps amounted to £589.  


The Treasurer said that he was aware that some members felt that selling our walks books was a waste of time, but he told the meeting that without these sales the General Account would have been reduced by over £900.  


7. Membership Secretary’s Report


The Membership Secretary reported that as at 01 November 2017 we had 501 members.  This compared with 495 members on 01 November 2016, an increase of 6 members.  The number of new members this year totalled 85 and this was the highest number in the past four years.  The number of leavers totalled 79 and this was also the highest number of leavers in the past four years.  


He said that it was important to stress that the largest proportion of members who had resigned were new members.  38% of new members who had officially resigned in 2015/2016 had done so within the first two years of joining.  This excluded new members who had lapsed, rather than officially resigning.  


He was pleased to report that as at 01 November 2017 the New Forest Group had once again become the largest Group in the Hampshire Area.  The Winchester Group had had 558 members as at 01 October 2013 and, at that time, it was the largest group in the Hampshire Area, as compared to the New Forest Group which, at that time, had had 498 members.  However, unfortunately the Winchester Group’s membership had continually declined over the past four years and they now had a membership of 499.  The New Forest Group had remained relatively stable, with its current total of 501 members.  


He said that unfortunately this declining trend was common to the majority of the Groups in the Hampshire Area.  He said that only four out of a total of sixteen Groups in the Area had reported a membership increase over the past year.  The New Forest Group had successfully retained its overall membership numbers, but was finding that retaining a greater proportion of new members was a challenge.  


8. Footpath Secretary’s Report


The Footpath Secretary was pleased to report that Hampshire County Council now had a new improved website for Rights of Way which was www.hants.gov.uk.  This website also included land planning and the environment.  He said that this made access to the definitive footpath map easier and it also simplified footpath problem reporting which was now achieved by simple button clicks.  


Hampshire County Council had now started a survey of all “hardware” on footpaths, bridleways and byways open to all traffic (BOATs).  The term “hardware” included items such as stiles, bridges, fingerposts, kissing gates, etc.  He said that they had an automatic data entry system and when the project was extended to the New Forest he would be looking for two or three volunteers to help complete the project.  He said that in the meantime if anyone wished to help by recording this information manually and forwarding it to him it would be much appreciated.  


The Footpath Secretary welcomed three new Parish Representatives, who would cover Lymington/Pennington, Boldre  Milford-on-Sea.  Unfortunately our former secretary had resigned due to ill health and the Footpath Secretary would therefore take over the New Milton area.  However, this created a vacancy, for which he was seeking a volunteer.  There were fifteen paths in total in the area in question, including three bridleways and three BOATs.  


He said that members would have noticed that “volunteer mornings” were now included on the Walks Programme.  These mornings were scheduled to take place either on Tuesday or Thursday mornings every other month.  He was organising this project, the aim of which was footpath improvement.  He said that we would be performing vegetation clearance in the summer and hardware improvement/maintenance during the winter.  


He was pleased to report that with considerable help from another group member we had introduced to the public in Milford-on-Sea an “Adopt-a-Footpath” scheme on a trial basis.  He was pleased to say that all the footpaths in Milford-on-Sea had been allocated and she was co-ordinating any problems which were highlighted as a result.  He said that if this project proved successful we would be looking to introduce a similar project in other Parishes.


9. Access Report


The Access Secretary said that he had now spoken to John Truswell with regard to the coastal path section from Highcliffe to Calshot being delayed due to a request for legal clarification.  He said that the issue of coastal margins seemed to be the problem and that they were trying to resolve the legal issues before publishing their report, which he felt was a sensible approach.  However, he said that at present the report was due to be published before Christmas, following which there would be a 28-day period in which to make representations.  He said that when this report did eventually become available the Ramblers would publish it immediately.  He said that there was consideration being given to starting a water taxi service to operate across the Beaulieu River.  The Portsmouth to Hayling Island section report had been published and was available to view on Natural England’s website.  Work was currently taking place on the Calshot to Gosport section, and in particular the Calshot to Hythe section.  


In response to a query from the floor the chairman confirmed that there was a British Standard for gates and stiles, namely BS 5709.  However, this was only advisory and was not mandatory.  


With regard to the proposal to widen the A31 at Ringwood, The Access Secretary confirmed that the New Forest was represented on the consultation process but he understood that the whole project had been shelved.  He said that if the project were to be revived he would be monitoring it.  


He reported that Natural England were having a consultation on what they did.  The reason for this consultation is that they were generating a good deal of adverse criticism, in that they concentrated too much on conservation and not enough on leisure activities.  


He was pleased to report that improvements had been made to the footpaths in North Lymington and these improvements had been funded by developer contributions, although it would seem that a disproportionate amount of money had been spent on Lymington.  


A draft document had been produced regarding the question of cyclists being allowed to use footpaths.  He said that the Ramblers were trying to be proactive on this subject and at present there was a move nationally to convert as many footpaths as possible for use by cyclists.  He was asked by the floor to look into this matter further as it was generally felt that this was a matter of concern for the Ramblers.  It was generally agreed that the sensible approach would be for each path to be assessed on an individual basis as some paths would not be suitable for conversion.


10. Programme Secretary and Website Report


The Programme Secretary was pleased to report that during the last year we had led 260 walks, with only seven gaps during that year.  We now had thirteen new leaders, but we still needed more leaders.  He said that any new leaders could be provided with walks.  Training and help with walks was also available if required.  He then thanked the team who had helped to put the programmes together. He also thanked the Walks Librarian and had provided walks to new leaders.  However, he announced that there would be a slight change in the way the programme production was organised.  The treasurer was standing down from co-ordinating the long walks and the Walks Co-ordinator would, from now on, co-ordinate all walks, both long and short.  


He said that it was advisable for anyone planning to go on a walk to check the website for any late changes, cancellations, etc.  


The question of producing a paper programme was then discussed.  A member said that it was costing us considerably more than the funding we received from Central Office.  The shortfall was therefore obtained from book sale proceeds, but this source may not always be available.  He therefore wondered whether we could give members the option of either a paper programme or the electronic version on the website.  However, the Programme Distributor replied that when we had last given people this option, only one person had opted for the electronic version.  The Chairman also commented that members did not receive very much in return for their membership fee and this was the therefore the reason that the Committee felt we should continue to provide a printed programme.  


The matter of the Hampshire Rambler Magazine was raised and the Chairman said that a vote at the last two AGMs had resulted in a unanimous vote to discontinue publication.  


A committee member queried why it was felt that the Group’s finances would be severely affected if we discontinued the sale of books.  The Programme Secretary said that the past CEO of the Ramblers had said that if funding became a problem we could apply for an increased allocation.  After considerable discussion, it was felt that at present we should continue to provide a printed programme.


11. Auditor’s Report


Our Auditor was not present at the meeting but had signed off the accounts.


12. Election of Officers and Committee Members


The Chairman re-emphasised the need for new Committee Members to undertake specific roles, i.e. production of a new walks book.  


The re-election of the existing Officers was proposed, seconded and carried unanimously.  Similarly, the re-election of the existing Committee Members was proposed, seconded and, carried unanimously.


13. New Walk Leaders


This matter had already been discussed and the fact that we urgently needed new walk leaders.


14. Walks Library


The Chairman said that the Walks Liberian was doing an excellent job in collecting and distributing walks.  He recorded his thanks for her help on this matter.


15. Footpath Working Parties


The Chairman said that although the Footpath Secretary was currently organising these working parties we did need a volunteer to co-ordinate these activities.


16. Social Report


The Social Secretary said that we would be looking to organise both another Heartstart and Map & Compass Course next year.  Anyone interested in either or both of these courses should register their interest with her.


17. Any Other Business


The Chairman said that we would be moving the date of next year’s AGM to later in November.  This had been at the request of our Auditor.


The matter of benches was raised and it was agreed that the matter would be discussed at the next Committee Meeting.  


The “Donate-a-Gate” scheme was raised.  However, the Chairman explained that it was difficult finding suitable people to install the gates and we therefore needed a co-ordinator.  It was queried whether Hampshire County Council were no longer doing this work and  the Chairman replied that only a very restricted amount of work was now undertaken by them


There being no further business to discuss the meeting closed at 15:25.

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The AGM minutes from earlier years are no longer available on line.


This is in line with Rambler’s central office’s recommendation that because of changes in the law on data protection groups“only keep minutes from the last year online and take older ones down to keep as part of your group or area’s archive rather than publicly available.”