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Minutes of Virtual AGM 2022

Virtual Annual General Meeting, March 22, 2022


Rex Shayler, Liz Hinkley, Chris Kinsey, Jonathon Bufton, Paula Scott, Mike Davies

Apologies for absence

Ruth Bemment, Janet Lewis, Judi Deakin and Kath Wigley who had to withdraw from the meeting at the last minute.  Peter Harris tried to attend but was unable to join the online meeting.

Message from the Chair                                         Kath Wigley

I'd like to say firstly that I'm sorry we can't have an actual AGM, but under the present circumstances with Covid numbers on the increase once again, the Trustees thought it safer to avoid unnecessary meetings.

The River Custodians has had a relatively quiet year but we can still see evidence along the river bank of the improvements which have been made to its ecology and general tidiness as a result of our work over the last few years. I would like to give a heartfelt thankyou to my fellow Trustees, particularly Mike, Paula and Rex, without whose great efforts the organization wouldn't function. Even in the present climate they have managed to sell off the inflatable boat (for a net amount of £105.75) and the aquarium (for a net amount of £23.37) which has all helped to swell the coffers!

I am hoping that this year things will return to some semblance of normality and allow us to get back on track doing the work we know needs to be done. I wish all of you the best of health and look forward to seeing you in person soon!

Minutes of previous AGM

The minutes from the previous virtual AGM 2021 can be reviewed on the RSC web site or sent by email if requested.  Their approval was proposed by Paula, seconded by Rex and approved.

Presentation of accounts                                        Rex Shayler

The accounts have been prepared by Rex and are Appendix 1.  Rex explained the way that some of the items seem to be dated strangely.  He also expressed the need to increase our funds to cover ongoing costs such as insurance, web site charges and replacement of equipment.  The acceptance of the accounts was proposed by Chris, seconded by Paula and approved.

Annual report                                                           Mike Davies

Our current membership is 40, up from last year.  One of our newest members, Jonathon, attended this meeting and described his background in river restoration and interest in becoming involved with our activities.

Invasive species monitor and control.  We have been unable to take teams out to control Giant Hogweed along the river banks this year due to Covid restrictions.  Some of the Custodians have, however, gone out to the various hot spots and kept these plants under control.  During April and May various members spent a total of 8 hours on this.
Areas of Japanese Knotweed are reported to Natural Resources Wales who chemically treat it to protect flood defenses.  We encourage people to eat Himalayan Balsam and we only remove it to provide access to the river. 

Similarly, crayfish monitoring has also not been possible so far this year.  During river fly larvae monitoring none have been seen, which is unusual.

This year we changed our web host from Host Papa to Hostinger in a cost saving move.  So far, the site is working well.

Parson’s Bridge replacement. The approaches to this new footbridge were prepared and the bridge was scheduled to be built last summer.  It is now going through the planning process with PCC and we hope that it will be approved and built this year. The Custodians and Walking Newtown have both registered support for the project with PCC.   

Walking Newtown’s Walk #6, Waterways and Town was updated last year to include the route changes caused by the bypass.  This walk is 5.3 miles long and takes you from the town centre, upstream along the Severn then along the Mochdre Brook. The directions and map are available to download free of charge from the Town Council web site at www.newtown.org.uk/walks

Facebook page and blog                                       Russ Edwards

Sadly, there has been very little wildlife on and around the river during the past 12 months, with only the appearance of a family of Mute Swans and a Great White Egret, creating any amount of interest. The Kingfisher, Dipper and Goosander populations have virtually dwindled to nil.

Throughout the past 12 months, the river has seen dramatic changes, from being extremely low and then virtual flood levels, which obviously has an effect on the wildlife.
As a result, there has been little to post on the Facebook pages.
The posts that have been made, appear to have quite a few viewings, but there is hardly any feedback from the viewers in the form of 'likes' or comments.

Hopefully, the inactivity caused by the Covid pandemic will now be a thing of the past and allow more posts to be made on our Facebook blog, creating greater public interaction.
The opening of the riverside cafe may inspire people to take a greater interest in our river and perhaps we can obtain some exposure in Facebook related posts (e.g. Open Newtown).

Liz commented on the recent obvious changes in the river in which stonework and rubble has been producing islands in the middle of the river downstream of the Dolerw footbridge.  She also reported the changes in the appearance of the river in flood, from brown to greenish.  Paula said that there is a national move to improve the quality of water in all UK rivers. Mike suggested that perhaps it is time to repeat our river survey, carried out originally in 2016.

Fly Larvae monitoring                                              Paula Scott

After a long hiatus when, first river levels were too high, then we were not allowed to go out and survey, we resumed monitoring at our sample location downstream of the Halfpenny Bridge.  Results are updated regularly on the RSC web site and fed into the national monitoring system, Anglers’ Riverfly Monitoring Initiative.  Training courses are still occasionally available for anyone wishing to participate in other locations, details will be emailed to members.

Two months ago our sampling equipment failed and fell apart from age and overuse so we are currently unable to do any more samples.  Free equipment has now stopped but we can purchase the needed equipment if trustees agree so sampling can resume.  This will cost about £40.  The trustees have agreed to this purchase but we will wait for the new grant application.

Open Newtown’s Riverside Building is due to open shortly.  This will be a useful facility for river users, walkers and cyclists as well as an information hub for the general public.  Liz reported that the canoe launch platforms are working well and are being used regularly.  Liz also said that it would be useful to erect a sign on the river bank upstream of the Penarth Weir warning canoeists of the approach to the weir and recommending they get out and walk.  We’ll investigate who would have to install and approve such as sign, perhaps the water authority Hafren Dyfrdwy?

Planned activities for 2022

Recruitment, involvement of young people.  We would like to encourage more young people to get involved in our activities and will continue to offer presentations to schools and community groups.  If any members have contacts in local youth organizations or schools please spread the word.  The Air Cadets would like to help with some of our activities but need at least 2 to 3 weeks’ notice.  The meeting suggested approaching youth and church groups to see if there is any interest.

The Giant Hogweed plants have now started to grow again, some are around 6 to 9 inches high.  This is still too small for tackling areas of infestation but work will be needed probably in the next few weeks. Please keep your eyes open and report any infestations near public areas.  We will try to make arrangements for a coordinated attack as and when areas needing treatment are identified.  Members at this meeting supported this approach and are willing to take part when available.

Newtown Food Festival.  Unfortunately, this popular event was cancelled in 2021 but is scheduled to take place on September 3rd and 4th.  We discussed taking part in it, as in previous years, by manning our gazebo with information for the public. It was suggested that perhaps a joint stand with the canoe club might be the best approach, as also previously.  Chris will talk with the canoe club committee.

Newtown Outdoor Festival.  This festival organized by Walking Newtown was cancelled in 2020 and 2021.  Walking Newtown now plan to finally hold this event on June 4th and 5th.  Details of the Festival can be found on the web site at www.newtownoutdoorfestival.uk and the WN Facebook page.  One of our new members, Paul West, will give fly casting demonstrations morning and afternoon on both days of the Festival.  This will take place on the green space in front of Oriel Davies and Paul will provide all equipment with barriers/boundaries provided by Open Newtown.

Disposal of assets.  During last year we disposed of the unwanted assets of an inflatable boat and an aquarium, both still unused in their boxes.  These were sold on EBay and the modest income deposited to the RSC bank account.

Funds needed

We need replacements for the fly larvae sampling tray and sampling basters, about £40 and a grappling hook and line to remove shopping trolleys, bikes, etc from the river, about £15.   The grappling hook will enable us to more safely carry out in-river clean ups, which should begin again soon.  We also need to cover our ongoing costs for web site and group insurance.   Rex will draft out grant applications shortly.

Any other business

Rex mentioned that the Town Council election will take place in May and the councilors that we currently deal with may changes.

Election of committee/trustees

The current list of trustees is:
Kath Wigley– Chair
Charles Rex Shayler - Treasurer
Mike Davies – Secretary
Paula Scott – Scientific Officer
Peter Harris
Liz Hinkley
Chris Kinsey
John Wigley
These trustees have all confirmed their willingness to continue.  Jonathon Bufton accepted the invitation to become a trustee and was unanimously accepted.  A copy of the RSC Constitution will be provided to him.

The meeting closed at 8pm.  

Mike Davies
22th March, 2022

APPENDIX 1 Financial accounts 2021-2022

Virtual Annual General Meeting
Tuesday March 22nd  2022 on Zoom
Accounts  for year 2021 to 2022

 Note:      Due to the problems with the pandemic a number of account items in some detail were delayed and therefore out of postal date order which require an amendment to the 2020  
remaining balance of £236.30which should read now for March 10th 2021 = £269.46.

This discrepancy of £30.00 was a donation made earlier in 2020. A further complication was due to the insurance late payment in May 2021. I have added a list of all transactions as per the actual bank statements for the past year which I will not from now on prejudge their arrival to me on the correct date.

The Accounts for10th March 2021 to 16th March 2022
Balance bought forward                                                  £269.46
cheque number 000046 for Insurance Policy                     £75.85

Balance on 16th March 2022                                             £193.61

Revised bank transactions to be inline with actual bank statements.

Balance bought forward        £ 326,54 as of 5th March 2021
Boat sale        £ 115.00
Balance         £442.29
Cheque No 000041 2021  Insurance          £75.85
Balance         £366.44
Cheque No 000042  Waders           £49.98
Balance         £316.46
Cheque No 000043  Website          £59.57
Balance         £256.89
Fishtank Sale           £23.37
Balance         £280.26
Cheque No 000044  Domain           £10.80
Balance        £269.46
Cheque No  000046 2022 Insurance          £75.85
Balance       £193.61