Fringe Box



Unhappy AGM Discusses Running of Effingham Amenities

Published on: 29 Jun, 2017
Updated on: 5 Jul, 2017

The Effingham Village Recreational Trust (EVRT) committee: Bob Austin (KGV manager – not a trustee), Sue Morris, Liz Hogger, Gill Bowerman, Chris Iles, Chris Hogger

By Chris Dick

Some trustees of Effingham’s recreational amenities are believed to be considering their positions following their recent bad tempered annual general meeting.

The meeting of the Effingham Village Recreational Trust, held on June 13 (2017), got off to a bad start when chairman Gill Bowerman announced it would be audio recorded because there was no one to take minutes.

Some in the audience were clearly unhappy at being recorded this way, without consultation, and it was not long before the first of several in the audience walked out.

Nearly 50 Effingham residents attended the EVRT AGM.

There was also discontent that the trustees appeared to wish to sideline issues not on their preferred agenda. Question opportunities offered after various items on the agenda were deferred to the end.

This was particularly apparent when Norma Miller, vice-president EPFA (Effingham Playing Fields Association) tried to discuss her association’s concerns about recent correspondence from EVRT.

The chairman tried, in vain, to prevent Miller from speaking, pointing out that it was after 10 o’clock and that it had been decided before the meeting that it would end at 10pm.

Despite this Miller continued, saying the trust had issued the association with a final warning to the effect that one more infringement of their agreement will result in termination and eviction.

The warning letter was based on a number of complaints going back to 2015 but trustees had then, she claimed, ignored EPFA’s detailed explanations.

Miller said; “The way things stand at the moment is, one more breach and we are out… We are living with a hatchet over our head at the moment”.

At one point Gill Bowerman threatened to read out the list of over 30 claimed grievances against EPFA but, when encouraged by the audience to do so, said there was insufficient time.

The EVRT playing fields

Graham Fawcett, president of the Effingham Rugby Club, claimed that the trustees had failed to communicate development plans even though they directly affected the club. This provoked an argument, the trustees claiming that they had spoken to the rugby club, albeit after the plans had been drawn up and submitted.

Fawcett also drew attention to the fact that the trustees had changed the name of the rugby clubroom without reference to the club members who had been there for around fifty years.

Louise Wishart owner of the café wagon Loolabelle’s

Louise Wishart, the owner of the café wagon Loolabelle’s, raised concerns about the trustee’s plans for another café indoors. But chairman Gill Bowerman said that Wishart had been given the opportunity to run the prospective indoor café herself.

The trustees dismissed suggestions that funding might be directed towards providing a covered area by the popular outdoors café as the funds had already been allocated.

Complaints about the cancelled fireworks event were resurrected by John Dicks who gave a short presentation on how he had started the fireworks event.

Dicks said: “I started the fireworks 24 years ago. It took us three years to get it going before the parish council and the management would let us do it. The only way we could do it was to fund it ourselves. They weren’t interested. And it was a great success…

“We made a small profit and the management decided to take over because they knew it was a good money spinner. Then what happened? They turned it down because they don’t want the village to have a firework display.”

Trustees initially claimed the decision had been taken because of: the lack of volunteers, health and safety issues, insurance problems, police concerns, firework provider’s concerns and risks to the grounds and users with metal sparklers’ debris.

But then, in a surprise move, the chairman said that if a committee could run a well-organised Village Day event the trustees would revisit the fireworks event. Mr Dicks offered to take back the responsibility for running future firework parties.

The accounts item drew some criticism over apparent inaccuracies but showed that the trust was in credit holding funds of £17k.

The chairman, Bowerman, in common with her fellow trustees a volunteer, complained several times during the meeting about being interrupted, the bad atmosphere and the hostility of the audience.

She said: “…accusations are laid at us… I find it very offensive. In fact, I’m very demoralised after tonight. We worked so hard for this and everyone… I am just saying to myself what’s the point?”

The Guildford Dragon has seen correspondence between the parties and can confirm that the trustees have so far refused to investigate concerns and complaints raised by the EPFA committee.

Witnessing the meeting was Karen Holdsworth-Smith of Surrey Community Action (SCA) who had been invited to attend the meeting by EPFA vice-president Miller.

The SCA provides advice, services and support to voluntary and community groups such as parish councils and social enterprises like EPFA. Judging by the tenor of this meeting their assistance may be required.

The KCV Hall which could be redeveloped if a controversial building development succeeds with its appeal for planning permission

Plans for a partial rebuild of the KGV hall were again on display at the meeting but drew little interest.

These plans include new sports facilities but realisation of the plans is dependent on planning permission being granted to the construction of over 290 new homes in Effingham and the enlargement of a local school.

The proposal, recently subject to a public appeal hearing, has drawn considerable opposition from local residents.

See also: Letter: ‘Unhappy’ Effingham Meeting Was Not Reported Accurately

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Responses to Unhappy AGM Discusses Running of Effingham Amenities

  1. Des Tanner Reply

    June 30, 2017 at 1:29 am

    I took the decision not to attend the EVRT AGM as I am not a resident of Effingham, although I have worked and run my business here for the last 40 years.

    I left my concerns with regard to the EPFA with my vice president, Norma Miller.

    What concerns me is why the EVRT think that if a sum of money is gained from the local planning for Howard school etc, it should all be spent on the KGV. How aloof are they?

    There are a host of other groups within Effingham who could do with a little injection of money to enhance their own future. £2 million+ is a lot of money to be spent on one item when it`s barely used by 10% of the parish. A lively meeting means people are not happy. I think fresh blood is needed. Perhaps some should fall on their swords?

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