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The 47th Annual General Meeting held online
A very different Annual General Meeting was held on Saturday April 25th. Coronavirus restrictions meant the meeting was held via Zoom, with attendance limited to directors only.
All formal business was carried out according to the Trust's constitution with proxy votes submitted prior to the meeting.
Apologies for absence were made, and the Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on April 27th 2019 received and adopted.
Directors accepted the Accounts and Balance Sheet for the year ended December 31st 2019, together with the Directors’ and Independent Examiner’s Reports, and appointed the Independent Examiners for 2020. Copies of the Summary of Financial Position can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chairman Sally Schupke also presented the Chairman's report for 2019 (see below).
Directors Tony Ford and Tony Coles stood for re-election and were duly re-elected.
Following the formal business the meeting was adjourned until the Autumn Meeting on October 31st at Bramley Village Hall, where members will receive updates on ongoing restoration projects and hear about plans for the future.
Chairman's report for 2019:
First of all, may I take this opportunity to thank all our members, donors, sponsors and volunteers for the contribution they have made to the Canal Trust in 2019. I would like to pay tribute to our members who have died during the past year, mentioning in particular: Peter Beresford, Kevin Crawley and Fanny Lines. Peter Beresford steered the Trust through a momentous period of growth as Chairman from between 1975 and 1997. Kevin Crawley trained boat crew and led the team when choosing a new electric trip boat. Fanny Lines was an active volunteer for 43 years and her enthusiasm inspired hundreds of others. Peter Beresford was one of our Vice-Presidents and during 2019 we also had to mark the passing of another Vice-President, Paul (PAL) Vine, author of ‘London’s Lost Route to the Sea’, a work that greatly influenced the movement to restore the Wey & Arun Canal. The year also saw the passing of Robin Higgs (awarded the OBE for canal and railway preservation) and John Russell-Hayes (who used his artistic skills to paint the canal and raise funds).
As is our tradition, this summary starts at the north at Shalford near Guildford. We achieved planning consent for the proposed Shalford Visitor Centre. We are now working through the planning conditions which include the need to obtain an EPS (Great Crested Newt) Licence. We are moving towards work on the ground.
Our main activity last summer was at Birtley (south of Bramley) where the first of two bridges was started. The first bridge, a lift bridge, saw major construction entirely by volunteers who went above and beyond during searing heat to finish each week’s planned work. As a result of all this activity south of Bramley our achievement was recognised by Surrey Hills Enterprises, who invited directors Margaret Darvill and Sally Schupke to meet HRH The Earl of Wessex during his visit to Bramley. Behind the scenes plans for the second bridge are being developed.
At Rushett Farm (near Shamley Green) we have submitted a planning application to Waverley Borough Council. Our thanks to Gary Courtnadge for steering this project and for the hard work it has involved to get to this stage.
The public consultation day for the Elmbridge road crossing project was successful with a large majority in favour of the development which includes road widening and a new canal bridge with sufficient height for navigation. We are now close to submitting a planning application and this project will be in partnership with Surrey County Council who want to see a road improvement scheme alongside the canal restoration. Our thanks to the neighbouring landowners for their co-operation.
Desilting has been a major operation on the summit level at Dunsfold. As most of you will know, we had hoped to host the Inland Waterways Association’s National Trailboat Festival in 2020 and the waterway would have been ready, but sadly the Covid-19 emergency led to cancellation of the 2020 event. However, I can announce that we have a new date for the Festival in May 2021.
Planning consent has been granted for the next major road crossing, at Tickner’s Heath between Alfold and Dunsfold. This scheme needs Common Land consent and we are waiting for the Secretary of State to determine the application which we hope will be done by late summer. That will be the trigger to establish a works compound in the area next to the canal which is now owned by the Trust. We thank the landowners for their support. Also at Tickner’s Heath, our depot has seen a major revamp last year with new storage facilities, electricity and water supply.
The canal section at Gennets Farm near Loxwood (south of Gennets Bridge Lock) has now been cleared with the permission of the landowners and the route of the canal can at last be clearly seen from the bridleway. Maintenance continues along the Loxwood Link length. Trading activities (boat trips and merchandise sales) contributed about £36,000 to the Trust in 2019, a significant proportion of our income for the year. On the other hand we have extensive repairs to do on the Loxwood section in 2020 including bank repairs and work to repair Drungewick Lock. Desilting of the Drungewick Pound by Land & Water was completed in 2019. At Drungewick Lock we obtained formal landowner permission to proceed and tests of the proposed solution have been successful. It is now a question of when we can restart work after the Covid-19 restrictions.
At Harsfold (near Wisborough Green) great progress has been made in the construction of a new canal bridge to replace an existing causeway blocking the route. The bridge deck is in place and again we are waiting for work to be resumed after restrictions.
Our financial report will echo these remarks, in that last year was a period of spending and although we expect our revenue to be down during 2020, I can assure you that we have 2-3 years of reserves so that restoration work can continue at its current rate. In the previous two years we accumulated funds while mainly working on planning applications and land purchase agreements. In 2019 were have seen several significant activities kick-off. We are very fortunate to have money in reserves because undoubtedly the Covid-19 emergency will have an impact on us from the loss of fundraising activities and maybe our sponsors and donors will feel the pinch as well. A legacy of about £73,000 from the late Peter Anderson received in early 2020 arrived at exactly the right time and will help us through this difficult period and we are grateful for the bequest.
Monday, April 27, 2020