Minutes from General Meeting 18th August 2019



Date of meeting: 18 August 2019


Joe Taylor, Peter Goodwin, Pat Bray, Joan Melling, Mandy Wellens-Bray, Rhiannon Jones, Alan Kehoe, Ian Bowyer, Ann Bowyer, Clive Pitts, Paul Heywood, Su Crosland, Eve Whitehead, Beth Hollihead, Charles Toman, Donald McQueen, Nick Ashcroft, Roger Buckner, Geoff Nicholson, Dave Fairhurst, Jane Fairhurst, Cliff Oakley, Alan Woods, Julie Woods



Joe Taylor


to agenda

Minute Action
1 Introduction by Chair

Joe Taylor (JT) opened the meeting.  He explained that a consultation with members had shown that they’d like more opportunity to contribute to the farm through meetings, so this was the first of what he expected would be regular General Meetings for members of Greenslate Community Farm.

2 Farm Accounts – update by Treasurer

Alan Kehoe (AK) gave an update on progress he has made in gaining an understanding of our financial position and presented a comparative analysis of profits and losses since the farm was established.  He also addressed concerns that had arisen at the last AGM regarding “cost of sales” issues. A number of questions and comments came from the floor regarding cost of sales, previous years’ accounts, grants as a source of income and external audit arrangements.  Regarding the latter, Alan said that he should soon have all the information needed to be able to give his considered advice.

Mandy Wellens-Bray (MW-B) offered her expertise in financial analysis to support Allan’s work if he needed it.

3 Proxy voting

Dave Fairhurst (DF)gave a brief presentation on the Board’s proposals for the establishment of supplementary rules covering proxy voting, following issues that had been raised regarding the use of this procedure at the last AGM.  He thanked Nick Ashcroft for bringing his concerns to the attention of the Board.

A discussion and subsequent vote took place on three issues:

  1. Whether any proxy appointed by a member should be mandated to vote a certain way or whether the proxy should be given discretion to vote however they saw fit.  There was an overwhelming majority in favour of not allowing discretionary votes by a proxy.
  2. Whether or not the Chair should be limited in the number of proxies he/she can hold.  The meeting agreed there should not be a limit on the number of proxies that the Chair can hold.
  3. After a discussion on the number of proxies that any ordinary Member can hold a vote was taken and by a narrow majority the meeting agreed that the number should be 5.

MW-B pointed out that any change to our rules should be agreed by the members before being implemented.  

Proposals to be revised in the light of the views clearly expressed today and taken back to the Board for consideration before revised proposals are presented to a future General Meeting.

4 Mission statement, aims and objectives

JT and DF spoke on the Board’s aim to establish a clear mission statement and aims for the Farm. This was the start of an important process and the Board wanted to hear members’ views on how we should go forward. A note of a meeting between board members setting out their first thoughts had been circulated to start the discussion.

A number of comments and suggestions were made by members   There was general agreement on the need for clear aims and number of specific points were made about the language that we use in our aims, underlying ethical considerations and the need to emphasise growing activities. MW-B made the point that our “aims” are what we want to achieve rather than a statement of where we are now. D McQueen (DMc) suggested that a practical way forward may be to establish a group of members to work on this issue.  There was general agreement with this suggestion and the following members put themselves forward:

Julie Woods, Nick Ashcroft, Paul Heywood, Allan Woods, Ian Bowyer, Donald McQueen, Eve Whitehead, Rhiannon Jones, Joan Melling, Dave Fairhurst.  

A meeting to be arrange for the above group to develop recommendations.

5 Should the Board consist entirely of members of the Community?

JT introduced this subject, saying he’d like to know what members thought of the idea.

After a brief discussion on the definition of local community in our rules (“Billinge and Orrell in Greater Manchester”) a number of members commented that we shouldn’t exclude talent and we should be welcoming to people from outside the community. 

The meeting decided unanimously to leave the rules as they are.

6 Involvement of Allotment Society

JT spoke on the issue of whether members of the Allotment Society should have a position on the Board allocated to them. On behalf of the Allotment Society D Mc reminded members that subscriptions from the allotments supported the farm. Members’ comments included that this was a potentially divisive suggestion, establishing the idea if a special group and that there was no reason why allotment society members couldn’t support a candidate through the standard election of board members. The point was made that there had always been at least one allotment holder on the Board. 

The general feeling of the members was that there should be no change to the rules regarding election to the Board. 

However, concern was expressed that some allotment holders may feel unsupported or under-represented and a discussion took place. AK suggested that the Allotment Society could regularly report to the Board. MW-B said that used to be the case and suggested that a board member could be designated as a liaison person for the Allotment society. It was agreed that the Board should look at how it can improve how it receives information from the Allotment Society and how it maintains good liaison.

7 Any other business

Su Crosland asked about possible plans for selling chickens for back yard poultry keeping and whether the Board had considered a letter that she and three other members had written regarding this issue.  JT confirmed that this issue had not been discussed at the last Board meeting, though all board members had received a copy of the letter and would be able to take it into account as and when any detailed proposals are put to the Board.  Rhiannon Jones (RJ) explained the background to the proposals, which would not entail chicken rearing. The proposal would be part of a broader educational package, promoting good practice and could provide an income stream. It has never been on the agenda for the farm to raise chickens for sale.

8 Meeting closed

The Chairman thanked everybody for their attendance at and contributions to the farm’s first General Meeting between AGMs and reiterated the Board’s intention to hold a further General Meeting in a few months time.


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