Fern Avenue Residents Group

Minutes of the AGM held at Jesmond Cricket Club on 23 November 2006

Present.   Members of the FAR Group: Paul Cooper, Barrie Craven, Mick Crossthwaite, Ross Drummond, Suky Drummond, Grace Hodge, John Hodge, Les Hodgson, Mary Hodgson, Peter Nichols, Karen Pasley, Pam Ranson, Lucy Wareing, Finn Willcock, Rex Winter.   Guests: Cllrs. Ron Armstrong, Chris Boyle, Lucy McKeever; Elizabeth Grace, Co-ordinator South Ward; Ian Teasdale, Private Rented Accommodation Project Officer; Claire Hall, Student Liaison Officer.

1.   Apologies for absence. Rob and Amanda Davidson, Mike and Anna Jellema, Nina Lightfoot, Janet Nichols.

2.   Introduction

Members and guests from the Council were welcomed by Rex Winter (Chair).

Rex reminded the meeting that the FAR Group came into existence on the initiative of Pam Ranson and Grace Hodge. The street was leafleted in October 2005, following which a meeting attended by 31 residents was held on 24 November, and at which it was agreed to form a residents` group.

The present membership of the group is 51 households including the two on Gowan Terrace.

3.  Adoption of the minutes of the inaugural meeting.

It was agreed that the report of the inaugural meeting was circulated to members on 26 November was correct.

4.   Reports from Officers

      Secretary`s Report

John Hodge reported that:

Whole group meetings. We have had two whole group meetings since the first meeting last November: on 1st March, to discuss the proposals for restricted parking in this area, and on 26th April, at which our Way of Working was adopted.

The committee.

a)  Composition of the committee. Following the formation of the committee at our first meeting, roles were allocated among its members as follows: Chair, Rex Winter (No.44); Secretary, John Hodge (No.43); Website Manager, Paul Cooper (No.66). Subsequently, Pam Ranson (No.42), agreed to act as Treasurer until this AGM, and Grace Hodge was co-opted as a member of the committee.

b)  Number of committee meetings. The committee has met eight times over the past year.

c)  Actions of the committee on behalf of residents.

       Meeting with councillors. In January, councillors from both Wards met the committee for a mutual discussion of problems and issues affecting Fern Avenue and for the committee to explain the aims of the FAR Group.

Parking. In relation to the proposals for restricted parking in the Holly Avenue area, our own questionnaire was produced in March, the results of which were passed to back to residents, to councillors, and to local authority officers

Fern Avenue garages. There were problems in this area with wheelie bin collections and with access for the emergency services to the rear Nos.96-112, both problems being caused by the parking of vehicles awaiting repair. After taking soundings from the residents, we wrote to Engineering Services in March, with photographs, urging the painting of double yellow lines at the sides and rear of the Fern Avenue garages. We believe that this request has been received sympathetically but a final decision is awaited.

The Gresham Hotel application. As well as circulating information to residents from the Jesmond Network and JRA about the application to re-open the Gresham Hotel we also sent an objection on behalf of us all to the proposal.

      76 Fern Avenue. An exchange of information between residents about the proposal to convert No.76 Fern Avenue into an HMO with 9 bedrooms was facilitated. We wrote comprehensive letters to the planning authorities and to the Ward councillors (who were themselves concerned about the proposal) setting out the negative consequences for the street if the plan were to be approved. The response from all concerned proved to be a very effective, and led to the withdrawal of the application.

The back of Nos. 3-25 Fern Avenue.

1.  The state of the roadway. Representations have been made to the Council about the state of the roadway and of the pavements between Osborne Road and Grosvenor Place, the blocking of access to garages by parked cars, and the danger to pedestrians forced to walk in the roadway. Following this, some remedial work has been done on part of the pavement, and subject to the approval of the relevant committee, we understand that money will be allocated to repairing both footways and to resurfacing the road in the next financial year. It is hoped that there will be agreement to humps being installed at both ends of the roadway

       A further problem, the positioning of wheelie bins against the wall of White`s hotel remains to be resolved.

2.   White`s Hotel.

       Following the reporting by the committee to the licensing authority of complaints about noise at night, the owner and the manager of White`s Horel have twice met a deputation of some residents and some members of the committee. We are pleased to report that the owner has been most co-operative and has implemented a number of measures to reduce nuisance caused by the activities of the Hotel. We are in the process of exploring what action can be taken in relation to one of the main causes of noise at night, i.e., revellers using the taxis parked illegally at the bus stop.


Cars. With the JRA, the issue of students bringing their cars to Jesmond has been discussed with representatives from the two universities. There is some reason to believe that an initial reluctance to discourage students from bringing cars to Newcastle is softening.

Leaflet. Mike Jellema has produced a leaflet specifically for students in Fern Avenue, containing local information and advice about the services available.

Communications. Our main methods of communicating with residents are by   e-mail, and via the FAR Group website. Hard copies of information are passed to those members who do not use a computer. Leaflets, however, are used when information is to be passed to all members of the street. We have permission from both the JRA and the Jesmond Network to pass on material to the FAR Group members

Relations with other groups. The FAR Group has links with the JRA in that both Pam Ranson and Grace Hodge are members of the JRA committee. We have joined the Jesmond Forum.

Social events. A social including a ceilidh performed by Michael Sutton`s group,N.E.One, was attended by up to 80 people on 29 September. Feedback indicated that this was event was much appreciated and it is hoped that a similar function may be held in 2007. Also mooted is a barbeque at the Cricket Club.

Treasurer`s Report

For Pam Ranson, Rex reported that:

At the beginning of our year, it was agreed that residents who signed up as members of the FAR Group should not be asked to pay a subscription for membership as any benefits arising from the actions of the group would be for the whole street, not just for the membership. Therefore, initially, minor expenses were borne by committee members while photocopying, which would have been the main expense was very kindly undertaken by Samuel Phillips and Co.,Solicitors. Later, a bank account was opened and, as set out in the attached     statement, we received donations from members, a surplus from the social evening, and awards of £150 each for start-up expenses from the two Ward Sub-Committees. This award is much appreciated.

Website Manager`s Report

Paul Cooper reported that:

A website was established even before the group had begun using a
temporary dynamic domain name. With the funding from the Council
www.fernavenue.org.uk has been registered and a web hosting package for
12 months has been purchased.


5.   Election of Committee

Rex Winter reported that Mary Haworth is standing down from the committee and that, as reported, above, Pam Ranson had agreed to be Treasurer only until this AGM. Rex thanked Mary and Pam for their services to the committee. Elections and re-elections then took place as follows:


Rex Winter, Chair (44 Fern): proposed by Karen Pasley, seconded by Barrie Craven.

John Hodge, Secretary (43 Fern): proposed by Rex Winter, seconded by Pam Ranson.

Mike Jellema, Treasurer (47 Fern) proposed by Rex Winter, seconded by Grace Hodge.

Paul Cooper, Website (66 Fern): proposed by Lucy Wareing, seconded by Karen Pasley.


Barrie Craven, new member (No.28 Fern): proposed by Pam Ranson, seconded by Paul Cooper.

Grace Hodge (43 Fern), Les Hodgson (11 Gowan), and Pam Ranson (42 Fern): were elected unanimously.

This leaves vacancies on the committee for two residents.

6.   Resolutions

Proposed by Grace Hodge and seconded by Tricia McGraddie.

That the membership of the FAR Group be open to the occupants of the first three houses on the west side of Grosvenor Place, the first two houses on the east side, and the upper flat on the corner of Fern Avenue and Grosvenor Place, the front door of which faces Grosvenor Place, George House on Osborne Road, the reason being that all of these properties share a back lane with Fern Avenue.


7.  Chair`s remarks.

Rex spoke about the coming year: the group is likely to be concerned with the proposals for residents` parking permits, with HMOs, with the development of packs for students, with liaison with other residents associations. There is scope for being imaginative, for improving the environment that we live in. Rex concluded his remarks with thanks to the committee; to the councillors for their interest in, and support of the Group; to the council officers who have been of assistance during the year, including the staff of Envirocall who have always responded promptly to our requests. Finally, Rex expressed the thanks of the group to Mike Randell, Chairman of the Cricket Club, and to Alan Knaggs, Steward, for making the Club available as a venue for our meetings.


8.   AOB

John passed on a request by Cllr.Tony Rpunthwaite for an opinion from the meeting as to whether the back lane by White`s should be narrowed. The consensus was, “No”.



The meeting concluded with a useful exchange of views and information about HMO licenses, covenants, and parking. Cllr.McKeever informed the Group that there is a budget for environmental improvement.


John Hodge





Fern Avenue Residents Group

Income and Expenditure

24 November 2005 – 23 November 2006


Income                                                   Expenditure 


Donations           £  40.00             Social evening           £245.40

Social evening    £402.00             Office                          £  29.04

LA start-up grant £300.00            Website                      £  78.57

                            £742.00            AGM (room hire

and sundry expenses) £ 69.38


Balance            £319.61