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Annual General Meeting 2007

Friends of Brandy Hole Copse LogoTuesday 24th April 2007

Chichester Baptist Church
Sherborne Road
Chichester

Commencing at 7.30 pm (doors open from 7 pm)

The 17th AGM of our Group will be held on Tuesday 24th April 2007 at 7.30 pm at Chichester Baptist Church, Sherborne Road (doors open from 7 pm) and be followed by a talk from the Selsey Wildlife Project Group. Please note the change of venue from last year when over 50 members came along – a great encouragement. Your committee do their best to manage the Copse on your behalf during the year and we really appreciate the feedback, ideas and suggestions we get from you along the way – well most of them! We recognise that we won’t all agree on everything but hopefully we can get a consensus on the big issues such as the proposed housing development which threatens our Copse and its biodiversity. It is therefore particularly important that at least once a year we get as many members as possible together to ensure we are on the right track. So please do come if you can.

Tom Snow, Secretary

Footnote: At the AGM, only those who have paid the subscription (£2 per household) for the year ending 31 March 2007 are technically members and entitled to vote. So if you haven’t got around to it yet, now would be a good time to settle up! Subscriptions for next year are due 1st April 2007. Subscriptions for both years can be paid on the night.

Chairman’s Report to AGM, 2005/2006

Introduction

When I took up the role of Chairman in April last year, I believed I was facing a substantial challenge. I was right!!! Although the Conservation group was in many ways well-established and had been active and successful for some 18 years, there was a concern about the limited number of active members and the fact that some of those members who had contributed so much to establish the Copse as we know it today were reaching a stage of their lives where they were no longer able to make the same level of contribution. There had been discussions at two successive AGM’s about the possibility of winding down the group altogether due to a lack of volunteers..

My personal challenge as a new Chairman with, I must admit, very little experience within the Group, was to try to raise public awareness about the activities of the group, increase membership, especially active membership, and raise awareness in the local community of the value of Brandy Hole Copse, its environment and its wildlife. I hoped we could give the group a momentum that it was lacking to ensure it had a real future. That challenge would take some considerable time.

I wanted to strengthen the group through the involvement, not just of people wanting to do practical conservation work, which is so important in itself, but also people who could do administration, public relations, membership and related activities.

A year later I feel that the Group is substantially stronger, has a higher public profile, a stronger committee, an increase in membership and a positive future. This report summarises what has been a very successful year for us all.

Publicity

We have built some important links with the Chichester Observer. The aim is to have regular publicity of our activities so the local community are aware of what we are doing on their behalf. In May we had an item published about our urgent need for more volunteers and support. This produced a limited response but was still helpful publicity. In September we had a further item published about our success in obtaining a Woodland Trust grant (see below), and in April we had further publicity about the success of our first educational event (pond dipping).

We are doing further work on widening our scope for publicity through specific community groups, through giving illustrated talks about the Copse and the Group, guided walks in the Copse, and through involvement in future events including the Chichester Festivities in July, and Chichester in Bloom.

Woodland Trust Grant

This was perhaps the highlight of our year in that we succeeded in getting a grant of £2000 from the Woodland Trust. This followed a lengthy application process. We received the grant in September and then had the happy problem of having to spend the money by the end of December 2005. The Committee was fully challenged by this but rose to the occasion. The bulk of the money was spent on educational links, buying in consultancy support from the Sussex Wildlife Trust, raising public awareness and purchasing some new tools and equipment. (See accounts for further details).

A publicity leaflet was designed, printed and distributed with the local free paper in the Chichester and surrounding area. Many of you will have seen this leaflet and responded to it. The theme of the leaflet was to make people aware that the group was struggling for survival and was doing something very important in maintaining a wonderful local amenity for the people of Chichester. The response to the leaflet was excellent, producing a substantial boost in our membership and generating donations in excess of £600, which we will be using on a key project for the Copse in due course. The leaflet also brought us tremendous publicity value.

Educational Developments were the other key focus for the grant money. We have purchased help from the Sussex Wildlife Trust and we will use this material along with the valuable contributions of our own committee members and others (my thanks to Kate Sabin and Judi Darley) to develop discovery trails, tree trails, and a range of events focused on families and children. The first of these was a highly successful pond-dipping event on 1st April. We may eventually develop an education pack to use with local schools, but this will be a further significant challenge. Involving children in appreciating the Copse is a major focus for the Group. It is our future.

The web-site

Another huge step forward for the Group has been the establishment of www.brandyholecopse.org.uk. If you have not looked at it yet, please do. A web-site is fundamental to maintaining public contact and increasing awareness locally and nationally of what we are doing. Following discussion with the District Council, who could only offer us assistance on the longer-term, we decided to move ahead with setting up our own site. My thanks to Tom Broughton for designing, creating and developing the site. We will continue to develop this site, but I am delighted with the progress made on this so far.

LNR Management Board

Many Members may be unaware of the importance (or even existence!) of the Management Board for the Copse. The Board has overall responsibility for the Copse, its management and conservation as a local amenity. It includes representatives of the District Council, City Council, County Council, Natural History Society and other interested groups. It is an important and influential group because it includes both District and City Councillors. The Conservation group continues to have two seats on the Board, occupied by Jim Ayling and myself. Although the Board can sometimes be a frustrating experience, it is a valuable part of the management of the Copse and our views are certainly taken seriously by the Board. One of its major developments this year has been the production of a new project plan defining the activities that should be taking place in the Copse in 2006 to deliver the overall Management Plan (2002-2007). The Board will need to work on a new management plan from 2007.

Other important links

We have continued to develop our links with other interested bodies locally, many of which make a major contribution to our work. The Chichester Natural History Society continues to carry out significant survey work in the Copse and produce a detailed report of the species identified (no, it’s not all in Latin!). I have also recently joined the committee of CNHS, which will further strengthen the valuable links between the two organisations. I am grateful to Chairman Mike Perry and his committee for their continued support.

We have also maintained and developed links with local residents’ associations and we are beginning to build links with local youth organisations including guides and scouts.

Copse Maintenance

In a year of so many other developments, it would be easy to overlook the continuing basic role of the Group, which is to maintain and conserve the Copse. This work has continued regularly throughout the year, especially the ‘Wednesday afternoon’ group, led so ably by Jim Ayling, which has increased its numbers as a result of the awareness raising activities described above. They have continued with coppicing work, maintenance of paths, steps, gates, ponds etc. and removal of litter. This is all highly important and essential work that carries on and maintains the Copse in an excellent state. Jim is also our ‘storekeeper’ and guardian of all the tools and equipment in his garden shed, as well as our local pond and tree warden.. My thanks to Jim and to all who contribute to this, including the help we receive from ’The Crumblies’ on a regular basis.

Warden Scheme

It is important that we all keep an eye on the Copse, which remains vulnerable to vandalism and inappropriate use. We have started to establish a system of Voluntary Wardens who are accredited by the Group and who visit the Copse from time to time and keep their eyes open, reporting back to the committee where there are any problems. This also makes members of the public aware that someone is looking after the area. We have a few such wardens at present, and we are keen to hear from other members of the Group who might like to take up this occasional role which can be combined with their normal visits to the Copse. Details are on the website or available from me.

The future

I believe that the future of the Group is more positive now than it has been for some time. However, there is still much to do and we need the support and help of everyone to continue with our successes of this year. We face a minor crisis in needing a new Secretary of the Committee and new committee members to help us move forward. Please let me know if you are interested. We are fortunate in having some excellent supporters and committee members at present but we cannot expect people to give vast amounts of their own time to BHCCG. The more active supporters we have, the more we can spread the activities around.

We also face a major challenge in relation to possible housing development on White House Farm on the South side of the Copse. This would have a devastating impact on the wildlife of the Copse, which is substantially dependent on the interaction between the woods and the meadows. If this proposal becomes a reality we will need to be strong and active as a group in opposing it.

Thanks

This is always the most dangerous part of any report. Many people have made contributions to the Group this year, and I will apologise now in case I have forgotten anyone. I have mentioned a number of key individuals in the report already. In addition I would like to that Melvyn Holford for his sterling work as our Treasurer. Also:

  • John Herniman, who has withdrawn from the committee for understandable personal reasons, after many years of being a valued member of the Group.
  • Liz Sagues, for her work on the excellent Newsletter
  • All the committee members, whose efforts make the Group what it is.
  • And finally, but certainly not least, Jim Ayling who has decided to step down as Secretary of the Group after many years of tremendous contribution to BHCCG. It is difficult to summarise Jim’s huge contribution over the years. Fortunately he has agreed to remain on the Committee so we will retain the benefit of his knowledge, experience and enthusiasm.

Oh, yes, and all of you who support the Group, enjoy and value the Copse. Thank you.

Graham Ault
Chairman

Secretary’s report to AGM 2005/2006

Activities in year 2005-2006

  • BHCCG involved in C.D.C “Chichester in Bloom” scheme
  • Our “Queens Award for Volunteers” application was rejected
  • Attended two BTCV environmental training days
  • 300 more Booklets purchased for sale to the public
  • We gave 5 Guided walks and 4 slide talks to local groups
  • Organised a Pond Dipping event and hosted Moth & Bat survey evenings
  • System of Volunteer Wardens set up to monitor the Copse
  • Woodland Trust grant enabled us to purchase more tools & equipment
  • Two BHCCG Notice Boards installed in the Copse for information
  • 3 leaflet box posts installed to distribute BHCCG and Dog Control leaflets
  • Pond-dipping platform built at Cops Pond
  • 2 Rustic seats put up on top bank and refurbished access stiles.
  • Two Glades were cleared to encourage more Butterflies.
  • Hawthorn hedge planted along the boundary of Bridge abutment
  • Access path to Centurion Way from B.H.Lane resurfaced by WSCC.
  • C.D.C completed safety work on all dangerous trees throughout Copse.
  • Public liability Insurance for BHCCG renewed for 2006/7.
  • Contractor completed coppicing in the Copse for this year.
  • All mature trees tagged for identification mapping & a possible tree trail.
  • Tree Preservation Order obtained on some of the mature trees along the boundary.
  • The Wrenford Centre are producing Bird Boxes to replace those vandalised.
  • WSCC refused our request for a speed limit at the Parking area, but have agreed to our request to complete the footpath in the lane from Lavant Road.
  • Ponds look in good shape but there are no ducks on B.H.Pond this year.
  • Sunday work party was abandoned but maintenance work continues with Wednesday afternoon group every week throughout the year.

Jim Ayling 1/6/06.

Brandy Hole Copse Accounts 2005-2006

INCOME AND EXPENDITURE ACCOUNT 1/4/2005-31/3/2006
INCOME 2006 2005 EXPENDITURE 2006 2005
Subscriptions 292.00 164.00 Tools/Hardware 58.06 293.18
Donations 586.00 187.00 Insurance 311.88
B.S. Interest 23.00 12.36 Administration/Stationery 245.36 104.99
Grant Aid 311.88 Plants 15.00 29.40
Contribution to Gate Repair 269.03 Gate Repair 269.03
Sale of Booklets 105.00 120.50 Slide Films 25.77
Other 53.93 44.00 Other 100.33
Woodland Trust Grant 2000.00 Booklet Printing 59.50
3059.93 1108.77 Woodland Trust Grant 2000.00
Excess of Income over Expenditure 581.68 74.52 2478.25 1034.25
BALANCE SHEET AS AT 31.3.2006
2006 2005
Building Society Account 1542.90 1005.49
Treasurers Float 44.27
1587.17 1005.49
Reserves as at 31.3.05 1005.49 930.97
Add Surplus of Income over Expenditure 581.68 74.52
1587.17 1005.49
WOODLAND TRUST GRANT EXPENDITURE
Tools 399.45
Leaflet Printing 261.00
Leaflet Distribution 261.73
Sussex Wildlife Trust 400.00
Booklet Printing 489.00
Training and Training Aids 216.44
Administration and Stationery 31.88
2059.50
(£59.50 from normal funds for Booklet Printing)

Chairman’s Letter 2006

Friends of Brandy Hole Copse LogoDear Member,

I thought I would take this opportunity to write to you about some important forthcoming events organised by the Conservation Group.

The most important is the Annual General Meeting, which will be held on 4th May 2006 at St Michael’s Church Hall, Summersdale Road, Chichester, commencing at 7.30 pm. Further details are contained in the latest Newsletter which you will receive in due course.

I know that Annual General Meetings are not the most exciting ways of spending an evening. We do have to carry out the ritual of electing the committee and agreeing the accounts, of course. We try to keep this brief and move on to the more interesting parts. It is an important opportunity for the committee members to report back to our members on the progress that has been made since the last AGM, which this year has been substantial. There will also be one or more interesting talks related to the Copse and the chance to discuss issues of interest about the Copse and its conservation.

I was elected your Chairman at the AGM last year, and it was very disappointing to see so few members present to support us. I would urge you strongly to make every effort to come to the AGM on 4th May and show your support for the hard-working committee and to prove that the Conservation group is a dynamic and well supported organisation. There is a further complication that, technically, if we do not get sufficient members to attend, the meeting will not be ‘quorate’ and will therefore not be able to take any decisions, in accordance with the constitution.

Hence my genuine request to all of you to come and fill the Church Hall, give us your support, and let us know your views on the Copse and its future. I believe this is particularly important this year since, as many of you will know, the land adjacent to the Copse is the subject of possible housing development which could, in my opinion, destroy much of the wildlife and rural value of the Copse. If this threat develops further, we may well have to involve our members in a battle to protect this important area for wildlife, which is after all a designated Local Nature Reserve. At these times we must show that we are a strong and well-supported group, or our views will not be heard.

We have some other important events planned for this year. You will find more information in the newsletter. I will take this opportunity to mention one of these, which is our first involvement in the Chichester Festivities in July 2006. We are planning to present a talk about the Copse, its history and wildlife, at St Winifrid’s Church Hall, Sherborne Road, Chichester (7.30 pm) on 12th July followed by guided walks of the Copse on 15th July (pm). It would be great to see lots of our Members at both events.

Many thanks for taking the time to read this letter. I very much hope to see you at the AGM and other events this year. If you have any questions about the AGM or other activities at the Copse, please feel free to contact me. Evenings are the best time if you want to phone me.

Thank you so much for your support to date and I hope we can count on your further support at our key events this year.

With very best wishes

Graham Ault

Chairman

Friends of Brandy Hole Copse Annual General Meeting 2006

Friends of Brandy Hole Copse Logo4th May 2006

St Michael’s Church Hall
Summersdale Road
Chichester

Commencing at 7.30 pm

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