Chairperson's Report 2020
Our Annual General Meeting (AGM) takes place on Zoom on Wednesday 21st October 2020. This the chair's report for the AGM. All residents are welcome to join the meeting; please email firstname.lastname@example.org for details of how to connect.
Our community continues to flourish in spite of the obvious challenges we have faced this year and, as always, there is a huge amount for us to celebrate.
Of course this year has been shaped in a way that none of us could have imagined by the coronavirus pandemic. For a couple of months from March we put our usual meetings on hold and focused solely on how we, as a community, should respond to the situation, and what we needed to put in place to ensure that everyone in our community has what they need.
We set up a helpline number and email address, and devised a scheme through which we could link those in need with those who were able to help. The community response to this was heartwarming and we had numerous volunteers offering their time and expertise to help anyone who might be in need. In reality the demand never materialised - we believe this was due a combination of a broadly young and fit population and the fact that our community is already well connected with families having their own support networks via wider family, neighbours and friends. We’re very grateful to Ben Pitt who did much of the coordination, and glad that he has been able to use the experience gained to support other local groups.
It was no surprise to see our community responding in force, and numerous community initiatives sprang up - the rock snake at the Pirate Ship (which featured on BBC News), the little lockdown library, fairies in the woods, to name a few. Established groups found new ways to meet and engage with each other.
We also made good use of our newsletter, Love’s Farm News, website and social media channels to ensure that residents were aware of other local organisations offering support.
Our monthly meetings have successfully moved online for the time being, but we hope to be back at Love’s Farm House at some point next year.
Neighbourhood Watch and Street Reps
Neighbourhood Watch has been growing slowly but surely and I would love to encourage more residents to sign up to the scheme. Lockdown has slowed our efforts to get signage installed but we hope to get the first of the signs up around Love’s Farm in the near future.
Our Street Reps continue to support residents across Love’s Farm, providing a link between individual streets and LFCA. We are aiming to give a boost to Street Reps in the coming months by providing more resources and support.
We continue to work with the police to ensure that crime and anti-social behaviour is tackled but lack of police resources remains a problem
Love’s Farm Community Garden, Love’s Farm Blooms and SMART
The community garden at Love’s Farm House has been impacted by lack of access these last few months, but we have a wonderful new garden space, open to everyone, at 76 Stone Hill, thanks to Helene Tame.
We continue to be indebted to Phyllis Hooper who keeps a watchful eye on so much of our outdoor space - from pruning, weeding and tidying, to planting under the banner of ‘Love’s Farm Blooms’.
We are trying to work with Huntingdonshire District Council to get some improvements made to Station Square where the trees continue to struggle in the poorly designed planting pits there. We had planned the memorial tree for Marissa Aldrich to be planted there, but in spite of HDC’s best efforts, the designated tree pit could not be made suitable for planting - and so a new location was chosen on the green space next to Hull Way.
SMART - our regular tidy-up and litter picking days - have been brilliantly supported in recent months and our thanks again to Helene for continuing to facilitate these.
Sadly, we had to cancel our Big Lunch this year but we hope to return bigger and better next year! We had a fabulous day of celebration with individual street events taking place across Love’s Farm on V.E. Day. Emma Lovelock has continued with some of our regular virtual or community-wide events such as the Easter egg hunt, virtual pumpkin festival and witch hunt, and two yard sales in the summer. Our monthly quiz was a regular fixture until lockdown.
Parking and Highway Improvements
We have continued to campaign for improvements to our roads, and this year has seen the removal of some of the most dangerous traffic islands, on Dramsell Rise, Great High Ground and Hogsden Leys. A further small stretch of double yellow lines has been added to make safe the crossing point to the Village Green on Hogsden Leys; this has been jointly funded by St Neots Town Council and LFCA.
We have made a significant improvement to the numbers of broken street lights across the community through regular auditing and contacting and chasing responsible councils and developers. This is still a complex process due to the numbers of different organisations involved and is ongoing as lights continue to fail, but overall Love’s Farm is much brighter at night than it has been. In particular, we have pushed for resolution of a dispute over ownership of the lights on Priory Hill railway bridge which had left that spot in darkness for some time
Funding has been secured for additional lighting on the bridge across Fox Brook, we understand from Hunts District Council that this will be installed in January.
Love’s Farm East, Wintringham and Hooper’s Green
We have continued to engage with the developers of all three of these sites and to help manage their impact on existing Love’s Farm residents as well as contribute our local knowledge and experience to help make them great places to live.
Development at Wintringham continues apace after a brief hiatus during lockdown and the new school is due to open after half term. Representatives of the developer, Urban & Civic, periodically attend meetings and keep us up to date with significant happenings, particularly when they impact existing residents.
Several changes were made to the Hooper’s Green plans in response to their meeting with us, but the start of construction was delayed due to Covid-19 and is now not expected to commence until next year.
Shortly after last year’s AGM we had a positive meeting with the developers of Love’s Farm East but it’s currently unclear when work will start.
Our newsletter, website and social media presence has been more important than ever this year as we have aimed to support the community during a difficult period. Emma Lovelock does an extraordinary job managing our Facebook page. Love’s Farm News has been published 5 times this year and we are once again grateful to Ben Pitt for producing an amazingly professional publication, and to bpha for their financial support.
A personal note...
I’m really grateful to those who turn out each month for committee meetings - a small number of people make a huge difference to the lives of many people who live here. Particular thanks to Becky Fowler - who took on the vacant secretary role this year, and to Cameron Paul - who looks after our finances.
2019/20 has been my seventh year as chairperson of LFCA and I intend to put my name forward one more time. Whilst serving in this way has been an enormous privilege, I have felt strongly for some time that the Association would benefit from a fresh perspective and some new energy in the chairperson’s role and so, if elected, 2020/1 will be my final year. This means that over the course of the next year, we do need to find someone who will be willing to step up. I would be really happy to work with anyone this year who would like to find out more about what might be involved.
Even if you don’t see yourself as a potential chairperson, we’d love to have some more people coming along each month to share in discussions and decision making. If you could spare just a couple of hours each month to come along it would make a huge difference - we need as many voices as possible representing our diverse and wonderful community. If you’re not a ‘meetings’ person, there are plenty of other ways to get involved - on SMART days (indoors at the Farm House or outdoors around our community), planting bulbs, looking after our community garden, helping at events, engaging with councils and developers, raising funds. If you have a skill, an idea, or some time, please get in touch!
Marcus Pickering - email@example.com - October 2020