It is a great honour to be invited by my committee colleagues to chair the Federation.
The much discussed hot topic of self-management is not an easy task, and of course occasionally societies or individual committee members make mistakes. We at BAF strive to assist society committees with optimising how they work together, with sharing the load to avoid individuals at particular sites becoming the target for plotholder complaints. Here, BAF fulfils an important function. All of our support and advice services are available only to site committees. However, if called upon in assessing complaints we do carefully consider the behaviour and politeness of all parties throughout the process.
We take a very firm view in opposing any form of abuse or rudeness towards committee members, and will if necessary seek to engage police support. It is vital that we do our utmost to ensure that all committee members of every society feel safe to continue to discharge their duties, and that other qualified plotholders feel encouraged and motivated to volunteer for self-management responsibilities.
The support and advice material displayed on our new website is intended to assist committees of the 37 individual societies who were more or less compelled to take over management of our 44 allotment sites in Barnet in the first part of the 2010s. We seek to update this frequently and welcome offers of assistance from any of you in updating the documentation as you go through complex processes such as changing trustees, handling tenancy issues and all matters of compliance.
In the light of present GDPR rules, data management is an increasingly sensitive area for societies. We have recently encountered one or two problems caused by loss of historical data, or (bizarrely) excessive delays in the handing over of data stored by previous committee members to new ones. We at BAF have excellent knowledge of the GDPR rules and seek to build and maintain our own database of contacts and documents for individual societies to assist here as much as possible.
We appreciate the trouble taken to complete our very comprehensive survey questionnaire. We await just two or three societies who have yet to return their questionnaires. Once received, we can move forward to produce what will be an interesting and valuable report for all.
Another important function we undertake is to organise and manage the annual site and plot competitions; for 2021 as last year we have decided only to run a ‘best plot’ competition by photographs, but of course hope that in 2022 we can revert to the full suite of competitions; best site, best plot, the Ted Green Memorial prize for community payback and annual show. These competitions afford an opportunity for discourse between sites and the sharing of experiences, which in all matters can only help us all learn from each other.
Wishing you all a harmonious and successful administrative and growing season.
Gordon Kerr – BAF Chair