Annual General Meeting 2009 

The Annual General Meeting was held in the Orangery on 1st April 2009 chaired by The Friends' President, Sir Angus Stirling, who welcomed all present.

The Chairman, Nicholas Hopkins, presented his report for 2008. He said that despite great efforts the new lighting system for the tiles in the arcade beside the cafeteria was not yet in place and little progress had been made on wall hangings for the cafeteria. The Friends' website had been totally revamped and was now a much more useful reference and communication source. A section of the One O'Clock Club's play area had been annexed to the Adventure Playground with new equipment for younger children, but there were no toilets yet.

Mr Hopkins commended the Borough's work in conserving Holland House which would be complete for the opera season, but plans for landscaping the terrace were on hold for a lack of funds. Proposals for the future of the Commonwealth Institute were still far from certain. The Friends had responded to the Borough's revised Draft Supplementary Planning Document and a planning application was expected shortly. The Friends' main objections related to the proposed greater permeability between the site and the Park, and the height of the three proposed residential blocks, which would spoil the skyline views over the 'tent' from the Park. The Trustees had voted £1,000 towards a conservation assessment commissioned on behalf of ESSA and other local groups, and supported by such organisations as English Heritage and the Kensington Society. Planning consent had been granted for the rebuilding of Holland Park School; a final decision was expected later in the year.

A Report of the Trustees incorporating the accounts and the Report of the Independent Examiner had been circulated. Mr David Jeffreys, the Acting Treasurer, commented on some of the figures.

The Secretary, Mrs Rhoddy Wood, reported that there were at present 750 members; 150 more were still due to pay their subscriptions. Two-thirds paid by banker's order and two-thirds used Gift Aid. Over half the new members in 2008 were due to leaflet drops, and some now joined through the website. Mrs Wood thanked all volunteers. She was most grateful to Andy Walker for taking on the organisation of the Art Exhibition this year.

Roger Foreman had resigned as Treasurer and Trustee, but was remaining as The Friends' accountant. Anne Musso and Philippa Kennard-Bent retired as Trustees. All remaining Trustees were re-elected, and David Jeffreys was elected as Treasurer. Joy Puritz had taken on the role of editor of the newsletter. Mr Leslie Du Cane was re-elected Independent Examiner.

Looking ahead, the Chairman said the lighting system for the tiles would be installed shortly at a cost of about £20,000. As Holland Park School was not able to make the wall hangings other plans for this would be pursued. £2,000 had recently been donated to the Ecology Centre for new equipment. Work by Carrie Starren on a booklet on the social history of Holland House was underway again. Norman Cook, Hamish Pringle, Adrian Paterson and Paul Richards, who were among senior staff responsible for the Park, were leaving their jobs. Now that Holland House had been so well conserved it was hoped that the Borough would be persuaded to fund landscaping of the forecourt. The Friends had offered to donate movable items such as planters, fountains and shrubs, which could be in place both during and outside the opera season. The Friends would continue to respond as necessary to any developments affecting the Park. Friends had enjoyed a talk on birds of prey at the Winter Warmer. There would be a concert during the art exhibition and in the summer a Park Open Day and a "Pimm's in the Park" party. The autumn event was not yet fixed, but The Tallis Chamber Choir was booked for the Christmas Concert. Mr Hopkins invited Friends to recruit new members. The Trustees were thanked by name for their work and Sir Angus closed the Meeting at 8.30pm with thanks to the Chairman. [Spring 2009] 

Report of the Trustees for 2008
Legal Structure

The Friends of Holland Park ("The Friends") is a registered charity (registration number 281348) governed by its constitution and rules. The constitution (with the exception of the clauses relating to Objects, Dissolution and Amendments) can be amended (a) in relation to the charity's name and application of income and property only by the assent of not less than two thirds of the members present at a general meeting and (b) in relation to the remainder of the constitution by the assent of a majority of members present at a general meeting.

The president is Sir Angus Stirling.

The trustees who held office since 1 January 2008 were:

R D N Hopkins (chairman)
N J W Brockmann (from 12 March 2008)
R A Foreman FCA (treasurer) (to 6 October 2008)
K E Hall
D A Jeffreys
P Kennard-Bent
R McManus (to 12 March 2008)
A Musso
J E Puritz
A M Walker (from 12 March 2008)
R M Wood (secretary)
C L Wynne

Objects and Policies

The objects of the Charity are for the public benefit to secure the preservation, protection and improvement of Holland Park as a place of historical and ecological interest and beauty; to promote the conservation of the natural plant, animal and bird life of the Park and, in particular, its retention as a natural woodland habitat for wildlife; and to educate the public in the history, natural history and other aspects of the Park.

Management and Organisation

The officers of the charity are the Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer. The officers and committee are elected by members at the AGM. The trustees do not receive any remuneration or benefits from and no staff are employed by the charity.

Review of Activities and Achievements during the Year

The Friends' aspiration of seeing the forecourt of Holland House opened to the public moved a little closer. Following their structural survey of the remains of the House, The Royal Borough's work to conserve the building will be completed in spring 2009. Sadly, however, no progress has been made on landscaping the terraced area through a lack of funding. An application made by The Friends for an environmental grant was unsuccessful and no capital funding has yet been agreed by The Royal Borough. The total cost is too great for The Friends to contemplate.

Studies to find the most appropriate lighting system to illuminate the restored ceramic tiles under the cafeteria arches are still on-going, but extremely slowly. Also, discussions have been held with Holland Park School for the design and production of wall hangings for use in the cafeteria to reduce noise levels, but again, progress has been very slow. Both of these projects were expected to come to fruition during the year and would have greatly increased The Friends' expenditure on its aims.

Towards the end of the year the trustees voted to procure various items of equipment and educational aids for The Royal Borough's Ecology Centre in the Park, but the expenditure will fall into 2009.

The Friends' website was taken 'in house' and with external support was totally revamped to make it more topical, informative and effective.

A section of the One O'Clock Club's outside play area was annexed to the adjacent Adventure Playground and suitably equipped for younger children, but the provision of toilets for the children is still an unresolved issue.

The long-term use and redevelopment of the Commonwealth Institute site on the Park's southern boundary remains uncertain. The Friends and other local community groups have been consulted by the developers and The Friends have made further representations to The Royal Borough in response to its revised Draft Supplementary Planning Document for the site and its buildings.

The Council's revised plans to rebuild Holland Park School were granted planning consent. Their final decision on whether to proceed with the new school is expected later this year. The Friends will seek to obtain improvements to the residential block once a developer has been named.

The twenty-sixth Annual Art Exhibition in March was supported by 78 artists, whose sales' commission and entry fees raised £568 for the Friends. This was a disappointing result by comparison with previous years. Other fundraising and social events for members included two illustrated talks, 'Mistress of the House - Lady Caroline Lennox, Baroness Holland, and her life at Holland House' in February and 'The Countess's Tangerines' in October. For the second year the Friends and Park management co-operated to run a Holland Park Open Day during the summer. The annual Christmas Concert was again a full house for the Tallis Chamber Choir.

The Friends' AGM was held on 12 March. A Special General Meeting on the same day adopted a revised constitution for The Friends. The Friends' Committee met on four occasions and four issues of the newsletter were produced during the year. The Friends were represented at each of the bi-monthly Holland Park Liaison Committee meetings and at The

Royal Borough's three Holland Park Advisory Group meetings. The chairman was also invited by the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Environmental Management and Leisure to attend one of his regular meetings with Officers. Good relations are maintained between the Council and The Friends and both sides are in general agreement over their aspirations for the Park.

Future Developments in 2009

The Friends will continue to monitor the Royal Borough's plans for the Park and any planning proposals, which in the opinion of the Trustees may adversely affect the Park and the public's enjoyment of it. In particular, proposals for the redevelopment of the Commonwealth Institute building and the site will be closely monitored and representations made to both the developer and The Royal Borough as necessary. A planning application for the site is to be expected during the first half of the year.

It is very much hoped that a satisfactory solution to the problem of lighting the ceramic tiles will be found and installed. Also, providing the necessary approvals can be obtained, it is hoped that the proposed wall hangings for the cafeteria will be completed and hung in 2009. Both of these items will entail considerable expenditure on the part of The Friends.

The agreed donation of equipment and educational aids to The Ecology Centre will be made early this year.

The annual Art Exhibition is scheduled to run as usual and in addition to the February and October events for members there will be a concert during the time of the art exhibition and an added summer social event. There will also be the annual Christmas Concert. The now annual Open Day in the Park will take place in June.

The Trustees consider that the present resources of the Charity are adequate to meet its obligations.

Risk Management

A comprehensive review of the risks faced by the Charity was undertaken and the trustees believe that, where possible, measures are in place to reduce or mitigate the risks identified.

Reserves Policy

The trustees consider that the Charity should hold a minimum reserve equivalent to 50% of annual expenditure to ensure that the quarterly newsletter can continue and other necessary expenditure paid if due to unforeseen circumstances the projected income is not received. Any reserves in excess of this are held pending expenditure on, or donations towards, projects related to the Park in accordance with the Charity's objects.

The Charity currently has substantial reserves because:

• Park projects, which the Charity has indicated a willingness to support, have not yet received final approval from The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.
• Projects, which the Charity has definitely committed to fund, have not yet been completed.

If all these commitments and indications are fulfilled, a substantial proportion of the reserves would be expended.

Trustees' Responsibilities

Charity Law requires the trustees to prepare financial statements for each financial year. In preparing those financial statements, the trustees are required to:
• select suitable accounting policies and then apply them consistently;
• make judgements and estimates that are reasonable and prudent;
• state whether applicable accounting standards have been followed, subject to any material departures disclosed and explained in the financial statements;
• prepare the financial statements on the going concern basis unless it is inappropriate to presume that the Charity will continue in business.

The trustees are responsible for keeping proper accounting records which disclose with reasonable accuracy at any time the financial position of the Charity and enable them to ensure that the financial statements comply with the Charities Act 1993. They are also responsible for safeguarding the assets of the Charity and hence for taking reasonable steps for the prevention and detection of fraud and other irregularities.

R D N Hopkins (chairman)

4 March 2009