Abbots Park, St Albans, Hertfordshire
info@abbotspark.net

The Home of Abbots Park St Albans

A Community that cares

  
   
 

We are putting out this post-AGM newsletter to explain what was discussed and to invite feedback from the residents who were not able to attend. You can get in contact with us by phoning or emailing any member of the Committee or by leaving a comment on our facebook group.

The AGM was held on Thursday 6th October 2011 at the Quality Hotel. There was a good turnout and the meeting lasted about an hour and a half, which was an improvement from last year. We were very happy to welcome Philip Simmons, the managing agent and freeholder’s representative.

The first item discussed was the issue of eligibility for joining the Committee – it was decided not to alter the constitution at this time. Therefore it is still the case that only homeowners can be full members of the Committee, but tenants can be co-opted on as and when necessary. Other items discussed included the hard fixtures projects carried out, including the repair of the corner by number 83; an overview of how the new gardeners were doing; and a round-up of the tree work. Maintenance for the apartments was also discussed, including skylights, refuse collection, the cleaners, parking, and painting for the inside and outside of the apartments. There was a report on the budget for apartments. There was a report on the budget for the past financial year, concluding that the garden fees might be raised by £20 per household next year. 

Committee roles An overview of the available roles in the Committee and what is involved in each. Chair Runs the meetings – makes sure everything on the Agenda is covered; moves on the discussions and helps to agree action points; provides a casting vote when there is not a majority decision. Acts as spokesperson for the Committee, and opens and runs the AGM. Treasurer Keeps an overview of the finances; keeps Committee up to date on financial situation at each meeting; prepares and presents budget for AGM; makes sure we have the right financial policies and procedures in place. Secretary Sets an Agenda for each meeting; takes minutes at meetings and distributes to other Committee members; organises when and where the meetings take place; deals with all admin and paperwork; helps to organise APRA events and AGM. Organises all necessary paperwork for AGM. Tree Rep Responsible for the well being and maintenance of all the trees in Abbots Park. Organises work on trees in liaison with tree surgeon and council, since many trees are protected. Reports on the trees at meetings. Garden Rep Responsible for the maintenance of the grounds of Abbots Park. Meets regularly with the gardeners to brief them on any work we’d like carried out. Organises any big gardening projects, such as building new leaf pens.Hard Fixtures Rep Responsible for the pavements, roads, signs, garages, etc. Organises any repair work to damaged hard fixtures in liaison with the managing agent, and the council, if necessary. North and South Apartments Rep Looks after the interests of the residents living in the apartments. Reports any maintenance issues to the managing agent and arranges repairs. Social Secretary Responsible for any social activities in Abbots Park, especially organising the summer BBQ. Ordinary Committee Member General representative for all residents; usually a long-term resident of Abbots Park. Contributes knowledge and wisdom gleaned from many years living on the park. 

Appeal for new Committee members The APRA Committee is made up entirely by volunteers and it’s what keeps Abbots Park running without having to pay an outside body to manage it. It also means that the residents themselves make the decisions about what happens on the park. Should we have to employ an outside body to manage Abbots Park, your garden maintenance fees are likely to rise substantially. We would like to make an appeal for new members to join. We require a Hard Fixtures Representative and an Administrator (to look after the website). If you would like to help out, please do get in touch. 



Verges and parking We are delighted to report that the corner of the pavement by number 83 has been repaired. The road has been widened by moving the pavement, which was previously unsightly and dangerous because of the cracked paving slabs. There should now be enough space for the delivery vans and bin lorries to go round the corner without mounting the pavement. The work was carried out by APRA and comes out of the hard fixtures budget. We are currently holding a discussion with the council about any other dangerous verges or broken pavements or roads within Abbots Park, and will be reporting on the outcome of this presently. To resolve the issue of the south entrance roundabout frequently being blocked, we have installed a sign limiting parking opposite the roundabout. We would like to thank all residents for their cooperation in keeping this area clear in the interests of safety around the roundabout. 

Garden and tree news We are pleased to announce that we have employed a new gardening firm: AG Treecare Ltd, headed up by Andy Gardner (yes, really!). They are organic and do not use pesticides. We look forward to an improvement in the state of the gardens once they have settled into their new role. One of their first tasks will be dealing with the moss that adversely affects the lawns. The gardeners will also be continuing with our leaf pen project, which involves maintaining the pens and turning the mulch. We will soon have enough mulch to be self-sufficient (ie we won’t need to buy any), creating a significant saving. All current tree work has been completed and no more will be done until later this year. It would be appreciated if those residents adjoining the newly planted fruit trees could give them a soaking from time to time in this dry weather. Tree planting for the current schedule has been done. Future work has yet to be finalised and depends on what is available in the budget. To some degree, this is still “catch-up” work, as trees have died or been felled because of disease or irreparable damage. Of great advantage to the estate is that our new gardeners are part of a qualified team of tree surgeons. This means that problems can be identified and rectified at an early stage. 



Come along to our (almost) annual summer barbeque!  It’s a great way to meet your neighbours, relax in the sunshine (we hope) and enjoy some al fresco indulgence and merriment.  All welcome, bring your family and friends too.  The BBQ is self-funding and no food or drink will be provided.  Please prepare your own picnic and drinks and come along with a few chairs, table or picnic blanket.  If you have a barbeque, please bring it along (note that barbeques with stands are good.  If you have no stand they will need to be placed on a man-hole cover or one of the foot paths to avoid burning the grass).  We will mark the meeting location with coloured bunting – usually positioned between the two apartment blocks on the south lawn – a day or so in advance.  In previous years, some people have brought a game or two (e.g. swing ball, croquet), and some have turned up with BBQs big enough to share… so hopefully we can all muck in together as in previous years.  The Abbots Park Committee will be there as always and we very much look forward to seeing as many of you as possible.

Tree work in Abbots Park has been completed for the last financial year.  The major work that has been done includes the large sycamore, which has had considerable weight taken out and the tree has been trimmed to give a more pleasing shape.  This has been a major task involving thermal imaging to ascertain the integrity of the tree prior to the work taking place.  The large silver birch has been trimmed with large dead branches being removed.  Both the above trees are very old and we should expect perhaps fifty years more life from them.

A substantial part of last year’s budget was spent on remedial work in the shelter belt beside London Road.  This involved removal of dead branches, cutting back ivy and thinning.  Overhanging branches have been removed where appropriate and the shrubbery by the Cain Close entry has been pruned back.  Fruit trees in the old orchard have been cleared of dead wood and trimmed as necessary.  The rowens by the old air raid shelter have been thinned and cut back.  Eight trees have been planted.  The lime and rowen on the South lawn have been felled because of disease.  These will be replaced in the Autumn.  The yew by the south block flats has been trimmed back.  You may have noticed some stumps have been left in situ – these prodive a habitat for a variety of wildlife, in perticular the woodpecker who has already made his presence felt.
  

Treework for 2010 to 2011 is being assessed at present.  It will certainly entail replanting the two felled trees mentioned above and we intend to plant fruit trees along the original line of the old orchard.  Residents have suggested plums, pears, greengages, cherries and apples.  This will be done in September or October this year.  No major expenditure on trees is envisaged for the current financial year.  Apart from the costs of young trees, hire of a mini-digger and tree mulch, the rest of the work is done by volunteers.  If you want to help, please do contact APRA.  There is nothing better than helping plant a tree and watching it grow!

We would like to remind all dog owners that they are responsible for the removal of any dog mess left by their dogs here in Abbots Park.  We have received a number of complaints both from residents and especially from the gardeners who have noticed a big drop in standards these past 12 months.  It is in all our interests to maintain Abbots Park to a high degree, not to mention the health hazard it poses to any passing children.  That said, we hope that all residents enjoy and spend more time in the gardens now the days are getting longer.

Join the Abbots Park group to be kept up to date with news and social events on the estate, make new friends (who will also be your neighbours – very convenient for dropping in for coffee!), and have your say in issues that affect you as a resident.  Join us now on www.facebook.com – just search for the “Abbots Park” group.  Don’t worry, only members can see the group and it is limited from the general public.

Recycling advice and information

St Albans County Council would like to encourage everyone to recycle, with the aim of signficantly reducing the waste that goes to landfill (taking up space and damaging the places it is buried).  Therefore a “twin bin” system has been instigated; all the townhouses have been provided with a green wheeled bin for compostable rubbish, and two boxes, either green or black, for glass, newspapers and plastic bottles.  Everyone also has a black wheeled bin for any un-recyclable rubbish (“household refuse”).  The household refuse (black wheeled bin) is collected on alternative weeks to the green wheeled bin and boxes.  If you are missing any of these bins, please do get in contact with the council at clientservices@stalbans.gov.uk or 01727 819 285, or go to the website: http://www.stalbans.gov.uk.  The refuse collection for the flats has a different system: household waste is put into black sacks, which can be stored in the rubbish area on the ground floor.  These are collected every week on a Wednesday (except for bank holidays).  Any recycleable rubbish can be taken to a nearby recycling site.  The closest of these to Abbots Park are the Morrisons or Homebase on the Hatfield Road.  You can get more details on what to recycle and the collection days for your area by going to www.recyclingforapremier.com.

On the lawn in front of town houses 96 & 97, some ground work was done several weeks ago to prepare the earth for planting new trees in the autumn.  It has left a semi circle of upturned earth, where some organic matter was added.  Concern has been expressed by some residents that it now looks unsightly.  We hope you will be patient, as when the new trees come in the autumn, the area will hopefully look more pleasing.

I am pleased to inform you that work has begun on building leaf pens around Abbots Park.  The leaf pens are being built by the gardeners.  They are fitting this work in around the routine work that needs to be carried out in the park.  

The hope is that we should be able to build eight leaf pens by the autumn.  At that time, when the leaves begin to fall, the leaves will be gathered and dumped into the nearest leaf pen, where they will be left for 18 months to 2 years, to reduce.  By regularly turning the leaves, we hope in time that we will have our own mulch available to use around trees in the park.



Daffodils
The daffodils are out and looking lovely.  Hopefully many of you have the pleasure of looking out of your window at some of them.  A big thank you to the APRA Committee Chair for coordinating the planting of all the bulbs and to all those who volunteered to help plant them.  It was great to see the neighbours of Abbots Park working cheerfully together to improve the appearance of our delightful shared garden.

Easter Sunday!

DAFFODIL PLANTING
Just under 1,000 daffodil bulbs were planted around Abbots Park on 14th October – a lovely sunny day.  Many thanks to all those residents who donated bulbs and helped with the planting. Next spring, and hopefully for many springs in the future, the paths and verges should have a splendid show of yellow daffodils.

Daffodil planting October 2007





The summer picnic went ahead on Sunday 29 July, and we were blessed with glorious sunshine once again.  We had a very enjoyable afternoon, with a fantastic selection of food, good company and creative face painting by Sandra Steel.  Thank you to all those that came along and contributed so much.







TREE GUARDIANS
A significant tree replanting programme will take place later this year. The project forms part of a significant regeneration plan for trees in Abbots Park, and the Committee asks for your support in this regard.  Once the new trees are planted later this year, they will need regular watering and we are therefore asking you to volunteer to become a Tree Guardian.  If you would like to help out, please contact the Garden Representative.

MESSAGE FROM THE GARDEN REPRESENTATIVE
Managing the garden contract is a big task.  We are fortunate in Abbots Park to have such lovely gardens.  Any help and support any residents are able to offer would be much appreciated.  If you have any suggestions or any time to spare, please contact the Garden Representative at gardens@abbotspark.net


WATER BUTTS
The committee is considering initiating a project to introduce water butts to Abbots Park.  


Whilst your new Committee has been voted in for the next 12 months, we are always looking for new members!

It is likely that a new committee will need to be formed next October as existing members will have served for three years and will probably want to step down.  Therefore, we would ask you to think very seriously about joining the committee sooner rather than later in order that projects and information can be handed over gradually.  It doesn’t matter if you lived at Abbots Park for a long time or just a few weeks.  All you need is a few hours a month to spare.  Meetings are held every 6-8 weeks.  The AGM is held every October.

Good progres is being made with the planned planting of new trees to replace ones we have lost, and with the removel of old dead tree stumps which have caused unwanted problems with fungi.

NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH
The Abbots park Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) scheme is up and running.  By now you should have received an information pack through your door and you may well have seen new NHW signs on lamp posts around the estate.  Whether or not you want to get directly involved in NHW, the scheme will give real benefit to all Abbots Park residents.
Please go to Neighbourhood watch page for more details.

SUMMER PICNIC
The picnic went ahead on Sunday 17th September 2006 as planned and the weather was glorious.  Thanks to all those residents that attended and supported the event.



We all enjoyed a few hours out in the sunshine barbequing, drinking and catching up.  Your committee welcomes any ideas or suggestions you may have for another event.

Excerpts from the March 2006 Newsletter

Abbots Park is built on seven acres of mature gardens, and it takes a phenomenal amount of monitoring and organisation to keep the grounds in good condition.

As the gardens are such a key part of the estate, your committee would like to reintroduce the concept of “garden guardians”.  This scheme encourages residents to volunteer to keep a watch on a certain part of the estate, and report back to the Garden representative.  This not only helps the Garden Representative with his responsibilities, but also enables the committee to act quickly if urgent remedial action is required for any reason.

Your committee invite you to “adopt a plot” of the gardens on the estate where work is needed to bring the area back into good condition.  If there is a patch of overgrown garden near you, or a flower bed in ugrent need of some TLC, we would ask you to please volunteer to “adopt a plot” and take the initiative in resurrecting that area.  Where major work is needed, e.g. where ground needs to be cleared, the garden representative would be happy to organise a working party.  The more of us get our hands dirty, the quicker we will all see the benefits.

Please contact the Garden representative either by phone of e-mail if you are interested in either of these schemes.