Fern Avenue Residents Group

Minutes of the AGM held at Jesmond Cricket Club on 22nd November 2007


Present.   Members of the FAR Group: Calum Bennett, Noel Burton-Roberts, Tessa Burton-Roberts, Barrie Craven, Mike de la Hunt, Meg de la Hunt, Ross Drummond, Suky Drummond, Grace Hodge, John Hodge, Les Hodgson, Mary Hodgson, Mike Jellema, Morag Kerry, Chris Priestley, Michael Priestley, Pam Ranson, Richard Short,  Lucy Wareing, Rex Winter, Lesley Withers.   Guests: Cllrs. Ron Armstrong, Lucy Keating; Paul McKinnell Ward Co-ordinator; Sarah Haswell, Private Rented Accommodation Project Officer; John Towns, community police; Diana Torode, JRA.   

1.  Introduction and welcome by the Chairman


2.  Apologies for absence. Paul Cooper, Alex & Michele Cowan, Amanda Davidson, Anna Jellema, Peter & Janet Nichols, Nicky & Storm Smith. Cllrs: Chris Boyle & Tony Rounthwaite. Student Liaison: Alison Clemet & Colin Bradley.


3.  Adoption of the minutes of the last AGM 23rd November 2006. The minutes were       



4.  Election of officers and committee members

It was suggested that the committee should be voted for en mass, this was proposed by Mary Hodgson, seconded by Mike de la Hunt and voted for unanimously.

Chair: Rex Winter is standing down as Chair. Barrie Craven was proposed by John Hodge, seconded by Suky Drummond and voted in unanimously.

This leaves one vacancy on the committee.


5.   Reports from officers

       Treasurer: Main actions in year:

1               Change of Treasurer from Pam Ranson to Mike Jellema

2               Lloyds-TSB.

a.     New signatories to FARG Current Account (currently Rex Winter, Mike Jellema, Grace Hodge for cheques. Single signature required.) 

b.     Setting up of monthly printed reports to Treasurer (Available to view).

3               Preparation of 2 Grant applications with assistance of Grace Hodge.

4               General financial administration and reports to Committee meetings.

Tables showing income and expenditure were presented to the meeting. See Appendix A.

The Treasurer thanked both wards for the grants.

Lucy Keating encouraged the FAR Group to apply again this year.


     Website: The website is supported by a grant from the Local Council. It is currently updated with FAR items and other information I think relevant and of interest that I receive from the HMO lobby (http://www.hmolobby.org) and some other general information relevant to Fern Avenue residents.

The website has been used to facilitate the on line ordering of tickets for FAR events.

I also have the ability to add a variety of other functions e.g. discussion forums, photo albums but as yet there seems to be little demand for these.

I am happy to add whatever functionality people feel would be helpful.

Paul Cooper, website officer.


Paul McKinnell brought attention to the City Council website and suggested that the FAR website could be added as a link in the Jesmond section.


6.  Chairman’s report

Over the past year the committee has met 5 times and discussed a variety of topics. We have aimed to respond to any arising issues that might affect Fern Avenue and also to create some projects of our own.

Planning. There have been a number of planning applications put in throughout the year that could have an impact on residents of Fern Avenue. We have aimed to keep our members informed of these and have, in some cases, liaised with councillors to present the residents’ views. It is not currently in our constitution to present a collective view on issues, more to facilitate residents to present their own.

Ron Armstrong suggested that for key issues a collective view could have more impact. It was suggested that it may be possible to conduct a poll on important issues and report a majority view.

Environment. a) Back Lanes. Over the year the committee has looked at the possibility of greening the back lanes. We visited two lanes that have been “greened”, made a display for residents at the summer barbeque and invited Paul McKinnell, our ward co-ordinator, to make a presentation to a committee meeting re the feasibility of transforming Fern Avenue back lanes. Sadly it appears that the cost is prohibitive – a similar project in Heaton cost £19,000 – and that our chances of getting a grant are minimal.

b) Front Gardens. Paul McKinnell has suggested a project that will involve student and other volunteers having a garden tidy up day initially aimed to help elderly residents with their front gardens. Any residents who wish to either help or be helped will be welcomed into the scheme.

c) Other issues. Throughout the year various issues such as bins, litter, disturbances etc. have been picked up by individual members of the committee and dealt with in conjunction with the relevant authorities.

Social Events. A summer barbeque was held at the Cricket Club in July and attended by around 50 adults and 30 children. Feedback from the event was positive and it is suggested that this may become an annual event.

Students/New residents. A welcome notice, explaining who we are, combined with notice of the AGM was delivered to all houses not on our member list. An information leaflet for students will be delivered to the relevant households in January.

Covenants. Over the year the committee has been investigating the possibility of covenants that would prevent more properties becoming HMOs or flats. A draft of a restrictive covenant has been drawn up by Samuel Phillips, solicitors, and was presented to the committee for discussion. The main problem encountered is establishing the wording which needs to be fair, manageable and enforceable. Some examples of possibilities are in Appendix B. It has been established that all were in favour of clause 1 but a 2nd clause would need some revision. It has been agreed that the covenants need to be with a separate entity, e.g. a company, as there is no real control if it is just with a neighbour. The sanction for breaking the covenant would then be being sued by the company and the covenant would, in theory, last for ever. The creation of the covenants is seen as a long term project but if it can be made feasible it could work all over Jesmond and possibly nationally. Putting a covenant on a property would clearly be entirely at the discretion of the current owners. An estate agent has presented the view that there should be no adverse affect on the property prices and potentially a positive one.

Ron Armstrong agreed that the first suggested clause is the best and most manageable, others agreed. Sarah Haswell asked how we intended to get existing landlords to covenant properties – we don’t! The project is seen as one to prevent any more properties becoming HMOs not trying to change the present state of the street.


7.  Re-evaluation of major concerns of members/residents. An open discussion was held and various issues arose:

Traffic: It was brought up that Fern Avenue and the back lanes are very busy, this is largely due to Holly Avenue and Queens Road being blocked off. Residents also have concerns re the signage and markings at the Fern Avenue junctions with Grosvenor Place and Gowan Terrace. There is also concern re speed in back lanes and the deterioration of road surfaces.

It was agreed that the committee should look into possibilities re traffic calming, etc. Paul McKinnell and Lucy Keating also agreed to raise the issues.

Osborne Road: a) Whites Hotel. It was noted that there is positive dialogue between residents and the proprietor of Whites Hotel, Mrs Puri, and that as a result of this there has been some improvement in the noise. However this could be because it is winter. Also the bottle collection is often at unreasonably early hours. It was agreed that this is something we should keep an eye on and that the relationship with Mrs Puri should be kept alive.

b) Taxis. The taxis waiting illegally outside Whites were mentioned and John Towns reported that this issue was raised recently by another residents group and is being looked into.

c) Hotel frontage. It was noted that the hotels do not always clean up the pavement in front of their bars; glass, litter and vomit are often in evidence.

Parking: This is an issue that many residents feel strongly about. At present the future of the scheme is under discussion and a separate council committee is considering the number of permits that might be issued per household if the scheme goes ahead. It was agreed that when the results of these hearings are announced the committee will put parking back on the agenda.


8.  Future social events. It was suggested that, while both social events have so far been a success, one event a year is probably enough. It was agreed that the barbeque should become an annual event.


9. Any other business

Bell’s Yard: Ron Armstrong reported that there is funding available for redeveloping Bell’s Yard to meet with Health & Safety regulations and that 3 schemes are being displayed in the library. All of these suggest some type of ball court. It was mentioned that the Bell’s Yard committee are not in favour of having a ball court and it was also brought up that perhaps the basketball hoop could have been left as it did not face the metro line.

Paul McKinnell reported that there will soon be opportunities for ball games in an upstairs hall at the pool and also at Northumberland Tennis Club.

Recycling: It was brought up that putting the black boxes out in the street instead of the back lane is unsatisfactory. Lucy Keating reported that as from spring next year the system will be changing and will become wheelie bins that will be collected from the back.

Lucy Keating asked the meeting whether there was any obvious improvement in student behaviour this term. Views were mixed but shouting in the street and litter were mentioned and also that specific residents have had a very bad year so far due to noisy neighbours.

A resident brought up the issue of noisy dogs in back yards. Lucy Keating mentioned that there is a designated person at the council who will deal with this kind of problem.

Rex Winter was thanked for all his hard work as Chair over the past 2 years.


Appendix A

Balance of Account (Monthly opening balances)


November 2006               496.60

December 2006               398.18

April 2007                        319.61

May 2007                        299.61

July 2007                        621.39

August 2007                    519.10

October 2007                  950.59

October 2007 close at    904.61


Main income through year







N Jesmond Grant*



S Jesmond Grant*



June BBQ Ticket Sales


112.50 cheques, rest cash

Meat sales after BBQ



Childrens Tombola  at BBQ










* Grants from N Jesmond Ward Committee & from S Jesmond Ward Committee were provided to cover expenses for 2 events – a BBQ and a “winter event” in 2007/08.










Cricket Club Hire



Cricket Club gratuity



Plastic Cutlery



Hire BBQ Equipment












Meat (Nat Trust Shop)






Misc food, soft drink


Including childrens drinks



£ 519.46






NORA membership 18/4/07



Paper 4/5/07



Printing, stamps 22/7/2007



Print cartridges 8/10/07



Website registration 1/11/07












Mike Jellema



Appendix B

Restrictive Covenant


Suggestions for wording of the covenant:

1.     Not to cause or allow the premises to be used as a house requiring a license for a House in Multiple occupation as defined by the Housing Act 2004.

2.     Not to let the property to tenants, where all the tenants or occupiers of the property under the actual or implied tenancy agreement are less than 25 years old.


     3.   Not to let the property to tenants, where all the tenants or occupiers of the property under the actual or implied tenancy agreement are in full time education.


     4.   Not to let the property to tenants, where none of the tenants or occupiers of the property under the actual or implied tenancy agreement are in full time employment.


     5.   Not to let the property to tenants, where 2 or more of the tenants or occupiers of the property under the actual or implied tenancy agreement are unrelated to each other.