Registered Charity No. 702429

DIRECTORS’ REPORT - A.G.M. 2011

2009 closed on an optimistic note and that mood continued through 2010, with the Trust making good progress towards achieving some significant milestones.

There were no changes of Directors at last year’s AGM although we are still seeking a successor to take on the Marketing portfolio. In August Peter Magee retired from the role of Vice-Chairman and was succeeded by David Dixon. Stefan Szulc our Magazine Editor, Mervyn Ainge Publicity Officer and Pat Ainge assistant to the Membership Secretary have all now completed their first year as Trust Officers.

David Dixon as Land Officer dealt with a number of issues. On the Hatherton Canal at Churchbridge developers Redrow submitted a series of planning applications for houses by the pylons south of the Toll Road most of which we objected to as intruding on land required for the canal or diverted Washbrook. This was unresolved at year-end. Negotiations with Staffs CC Estates to complete purchase of the “Black Triangle” land for the agreed £1 dragged on during the year. Contact was made or continued with landowners along the proposed new route to W&E via Lords Hayes branch.

On the Lichfield Canal the tenants at Ogley Cottage left in June, leaving the property empty for a time while a team of Trust volunteers led by Bob Williams carried out a thorough programme of cleaning and painting. Thieves broke in and stole the hot-water cylinder, later replaced at insurers’ expense. Sale of the house (our preferred way forward) was frustrated by low professional valuation; fortunately we found new tenants for 2 years lease from November.

We received written (email) confirmation from SCC that the “40m strip” along the Lichfield Southern Bypass is reserved for the canal.

In March negotiations began in earnest to purchase land around lock 30. Meetings are continuing to find a solution satisfactory to all parties.

The government published a proposed route for a high-speed railway which would cross our route just north of Darnford Lane; a high viaduct should present no problems, but the proposal will be watched as it unfolds.

The regular review meetings with officers of Lichfield District Council continued throughout the year.

On the Lichfield canal our own work parties and visiting water recovery groups from various parts of the country during the last 12 months have worked on completing the long brick wall to bottom of lock 26 to form pound 27. Bob Mullarkey, our Director with responsibility for Health & Safety, ensures that all risk and method statements are in place before work commences, with only two very minor accidents from all of the working sites being reported during the year.

At Hatherton the work is mainly keeping the grass and hedges cut and foot paths in a safe order for the public, all taken care of by Denis Cooper and his team.

During the last 12 months the mechanical plant has been regularly maintained by Peter Magee and training courses in working with chain saws and driving plant have been organised for our volunteers.

The environment team’s work over the past year has been focused on the Tamworth Road restoration site under the banner of the adopted name: “Borrowcop Locks Canal Park”.

Environmental work necessarily has to follow on after engineering and building is completed. However, those corners not under pressure from heavy machines have been planted, hedgerows restored and maintained and new grassed areas sown. Planting has followed the scheme proposed in the design donated by Birmingham based Landscape Architects, FIRA.

The woodland bulbs and flowers planted along the hedgerows and thinning of the coppices at the top and bottom of the site over previous years by the environment ‘Green Team’ gave a welcome relief from the wall to wall nettles and gloomy outlook of previous years.

Last year Great Barr School again visited the site to undertake scrub clearing and weed control. In spite of severe financial limitations they hope to continue to teach youngsters in a practical way the benefits to be enjoyed from involvement with canals. One small step to replace vandalism with responsibility?

Next year the prospect is in view to undertake work in the Boley Park margin along the A38 boundary in cooperation with both the Lichfield City and District Councils.

Membership records show that we ended the year with 1,727 members, a gain of 93 during the year.

With the recession biting, 2010 was not the best of years for the Marketing Group. However, just over £10,500 was passed to the Trust from their activities.

The Quiz & Supper evening in March proved very popular and raised £457. Good weather meant that the annual Easter event hosted by Eric & Doreen Wood raised £900. The Lichfield Canal Walk in April went well with around 350 people taking part compared with 800 walkers in 2007. In October we enjoyed a Black Country Night at Whittington Village Hall with comedy husband & wife duo Dandy. Once again the excellent hot supper was prepared by the ladies of the Marketing Team.

Crick Show only produced a profit because we received two large donations. Without these we would have barely broken even and that does not include the cost to the team in attending. It was therefore decided that is was not worthwhile to attend in 2011. Some new events helped our results; Lupin Farm Classic Car & Vehicle Gathering and Cars in the Park at Lichfield were both successful.

Bob Williams gave his ever-changing PowerPoint presentation on the work of the Trust to a wide variety of interested groups throughout the year.

The team attended over 20 events during 2010; four of these covering more than one day. Approximately 16 members manned the stand at these events, but the bulk of the work fell to about 12 people. It is clear that unless we can attract more volunteers we will have to curtail our activities, with the resultant loss in income. On the bright side, the ‘500 Club’ continued to flourish and provide a steady source of revenue for the Capital Fund.

The thanks of the Directors, the Marketing Group and all our committee members go to everyone who helped and supported us in any way throughout the year.

ON BEHALF OF THE BOARD:
Sue Williams
Secretary

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