Present: Simon Lang (President), 22 members and one visitor.
The Secretary proposed accepting the minutes of the previous AGM, with John Tennant seconding. The meeting agreed with no votes against. The minutes were signed by the President as a correct record.
The President thanked the Council for their contributions over the last year and the speakers at our talks. He was looking forward to next year's programme which was already arranged.
The Secretary explained that as for last year, the Council's separate reports would be collated into a Trustees' Annual Report as recommended by the Charity Commission. Therefore she would present the main body, the other reports would be presented separately as usual, and there would be a separate agenda item to formally accept the report.
She presented the main body of the Trustees' report.
Melvyn Reiss asked why the British Science Association (BSA) had decided to disaffiliate the Society. The Secretary said that the BSA had a new strategy which concentrated its efforts on engaging disadvantaged communities and those less likely to be engaged by the events that the Society and some of their own branches hold. John Tennant also suggested that Government policy to encourage science in groups would influence that strategy, and also their funding opportunities. The Secretary pointed out that the Society caters for those with an interest in science but also brings in visitors and the Society's aims do not stop us reaching out more widely as well.
The Treasurer, John Tennant presented his report as contained in Annex 1 of the Trustees' Report.
Julie Atkinson asked what the effect of claiming gift aid would have on the loss made this year. The Treasurer said that it would compensate for the loss.
Jim Brightwell asked how the value of the observatory had been obtained. John Tennant responded that it was his opinion on what could be achieved if it were sold.
Kevin Devine commented that the observatory site rent is low. John Tennant replied that we are a quiet tenant, and that a few years ago Thames Water had requested an increase over £192, but we had negotiated the lower figure. They are keen to keep us as tenants, as we are a community based charitable organisation. Martin Williams said it would be a loss of face for them to lose us.
Doug Daniels pointed out that the insurance cost is steep. He suggested negotiating or looking further afield, when it comes to renewal time.
The Secretary announced that Council had elected Simon Lang as President at the Council meeting on 4th April 2019.
The Secretary said that Council had announced its nominations for officers in the April newsletter. As there were no further nominations, the following officers were declared as elected:
|Hon. Secretary||Julie Atkinson||Hon. Treasurer||John Tennant|
|Hon. Programme Secretary||Jim Brightwell||Hon. Membership Secretary||John Tennant|
The constitution requires at least one ordinary Council member to resign at the AGM. The Secretary reported that this year, David Markham was resigning, having served for 4 years. She thanked him for his service.
The following nominations were received for the 5 ordinary members of Council:
|Nominee||Kevin Devine||David Brandt||Anne Watson||Jonquil Florentin||Martin Williams|
As there were no further nominations, these nominees were declared as elected to Council.
Jim Brightwell asked what holds members back from making further nominations. Council do not know but wonder if it was the significant commitment of time required.
Julie Atkinson proposed Leo McLaughlin and Dave Woolley as independent checkers, with John Tennant seconding. The meeting agreed with no votes against, and so the nominees were duly elected as independent checkers.
The Joint Astronomical Section Secretary, Doug Daniels, presented his report, as contained in the Trustees' report at Annex 2.
The Joint Astronomical Section Secretary, Simon Lang, added further information about the state of the observatory.
The BBC had come to film at the observatory for broadcast in January 2019. The Section managed to get the observatory floor ready for their visit. 15 individuals had helped in the observatory work. Philip Roger had donated his time. Trevor Law had spent significant time helping out.
We have permission to lay down paving, and need approval for the technical details. Simon Lang was meeting the representative of Thames Water the next week and hoped to sort that out. If there were problems, another member of the Section was willing to strongly assert our case to the company. However, legally we have no security in our tenure. This also affects our ability to raise donations from local companies, who usually require such security.
Simon Lang had liaised with Thames Water, who understood the need to get at the base timbers of the observatory annex, and that they needed to barrier off the whole site to give access for the work and for future maintenance. This was feasible but the barriers needed to be obtained from a different department from the one liaising. He commented that their insurers were wary of people who were not Thames Water employees working on the site.
The building was functional, and we could open in September irrespective of repairs. However, the rot could progress and would need more drastic repairs if not addressed soon.
The last few things that need doing are technical and need professional expertise. Simon Lang hoped to have a professional colleague to help in the work as well as a contingent of volunteers. He intended to call an Astronomy Section meeting to arrange it. The observatory was online to re-open in September.
Martin Williams queried the legal position for right of tenure, but Simon Lang pointed out that as a utility Thames Water have rights of precedence.
Jim Brightwell asked if the membrane goes under the observatory. Simon Lang confirmed it does not, it just goes up to the observatory.
David Brandt asked what made the membrane smart. Simon Lang said that it had sensors that would recognise if and where it was holed, so that it could be repaired, and the cause investigated. The membrane itself keeps out such things as e. coli.
Trevor Law asked about a 16" Dobsonian and asked if it was practical to keep it in the observatory. Simon Lang explained that Dougie Burgess had donated it, as he cannot use it any more. It can be taken in and out of the observatory if carried carefully.
The Astronomy Section Treasurer, Julia Daniels, presented the Astronomy Section accounts as contained in the Trustees' report at Annex 3.
Julia Daniels pointed out that the closure of the observatory had meant three years with no donations box.
She pointed out that the two years' interest from National Savings was because she had not found the certificate in time for last year's accounts and so it was included this year.
The Meteorological Section Secretary presented his report as contained in the Trustees' report at Annex 4
He concluded with his resignation.
The General Secretary thanked Trevor Law for his service and investigation of options for obtaining a good quality meteorological station for the Society.
Martin Williams said that his friend Adrian Larkman, had been giving away possessions and had donated a weather station, on view at the AGM, to the Society. He proposed to use amateur radio (APRS) to transmit the data from the weather station and put it on the internet.
The meeting expressed its thanks to the donor, and the society will write to thank him.
Melvyn Reiss asked if it was worth sending the data to Weather Underground. Trevor Law said that was what he had had in mind. Simon Lang said that the Society is liaising with the Met. Office for putting back the old equipment, and were looking into finding another Met. Section Secretary.
The Secretary called on the 2018-19 members of Council, as Trustees of the Society, to vote on accepting the Trustees' Report. The Trustees present voted unanimously in favour, and so the President signed the report on behalf of the Trustees.
The Secretary then proposed that the members accept the Trustees' report. The vote was carried with no opposition.
The Programme Secretary gave a brief indication of next year's programme so far, from Fish Oil in Plants to Pyrotechnics.
Kevin Devine gave a brief on the proposed visit to the Royal Institution. The secretary reminded members that an email for contacting him about the visit had been circulated in the newsletter.
Simon Lang said that Kevin McNulty has fund raising ideas for the observatory to allow for people to donate without cash.
Leo McLaughlin said that there is to be a Stargazing Live event at the Apollo Moon Landing anniversary. Simon Lang said that the Society would not be taking part, as we do not have the space to cater for very large numbers of visitors such as we had after BBC publicity. Then visitors would have very little time each at the telescope.
The Secretary announced that The British Science Festival in Warwick 10 - 13 September
Martin Williams announced that the Royal Society Summer Exhibition would be Monday 1 July - Sunday 7 July. He also said that there would be a group waiting to celebrate the summer solstice sunrise at Parliament Hill at 3:55am the next morning.
Lester Hillman announced that the Heath and Hampstead Society were organising a daylight Astronomical walk on the Heath in July, with details on their web site.
Martin Gough said that Pub Sci held scientific talks with a good range of speakers, on the first Wednesday of the month from 7pm at the Old King's Head, London Bridge.
The President announced the conclusion of the AGM, and since it was past 10pm, there was no time for a scientific entertainment.
Julie Atkinson, Hon. Secretary, 0118 977 5192
Last updated 10–Dec–2020