Last week we welcomed 21 members to Aldeburgh Parish Church for the ABA AGM. Usually scheduled in May it was great to see everyone and we are hugely grateful to The Revd. Mark Lowther and his team for making us feel safe in our first gathering since the lockdown.
Treasurer, Gary Thompson reported on the finances for 2019-2020. In summary:
The ABA currently has £14,500 in the Bank.
The Membership rose from 59 to 64 paid up members in 2020. Given the healthy state of the ABA’s funding it was decided to give members the option of a ‘membership fees holiday’ for 2021 in light of the costs suffered as result of Coronavirus.
In the financial year to 31 March 2020 there was a small net deficit of £1,400 which was driven by the one-off purchase and installation of additional Christmas lighting in the year (c. £8,000). The new lights are expected to last at least 5 years whilst the old lighting is nearing the end of its life.
There were record contributions from the businesses of £5,000 for Christmas expenditure in 2020 and together with generous donations from the Town and County Councils as well as the Community Association this brought the total to over £9,000.
Apart from Christmas funding and internet and incidental costs (totalling less than £1,000) there were no other expenditures in 2020 or 2021 so far.
The Chair’s reports covers the possibilities for Christmas 2021.
Sally Ogden then gave her final Chair report:
“It’s difficult to know where to begin with this year’s report...
At last Mays AGM we welcomed Gary and Ella to the committee and have both been a huge support, and working as a committee of four has been fantastic for Sarah and myself.
Summer 2019 saw the usual influx of visitors to the town and we hope business was good for all our members. Festival, Carnival and the Triathlon kept Aldeburgh in the public eye along with all the other events that happen annually plus the new Siren Festival which was a great addition to the calendar.
Christmas saw a town-wide effort to start the festive season. We invested in some new lights with the help of a capital grant from the county council, fundraising from local businesses, the town council and the newly formed community fund meant all the bills could be paid! It was felt that the day was a huge success, many thanks to all involved.
And so to 2020!
We held a very enjoyable meeting in January at Sea Spice, where we learnt about the RNLI and their quest for new volunteers.
In March we met at the new Fishers Gin distillery followed by breakfast in the Brudenell. We talked about setting up a survey to see what members wanted from the ABA etc.
Then the Coronavirus kicked in!
Aldeburgh virtually became a ghost town overnight. I fully expected to see tumbleweed blowing round the streets when I biked around.
As a committee we made the decision to not charge any membership fees for the current year (if you have paid by standing order and would like a refund please contact us) and to go further by also promoting business who haven’t been members in the past, though the newsletters only go to those who have. We hope that this small gesture will go some way towards helping the town rebuild. I have heard many comments about how well the businesses are doing now, and this may well be the case, but we mustn’t forget that we all lost a vital trading period over Easter and the Bank Holidays and none of us know what winter will hold. The orange barriers on the High Street seem to be working well, unlike other towns, we do not have to restrict traffic flow due the street being extremely wide!
Looking forward to Christmas this year, it is unlikely there will be an event of any sort though we will endeavour to have the lights and trees up. Approaches have been made to the Town Council and the Community fund to help with the costs involved, estimated to be around £8 to £9K. We do not feel it is appropriate to chase businesses for donations as in the past BUT if anyone feels they would like to contribute to this cost please do contact us. We would also like to participate in Small Business Saturday so watch the newsletters for details.
Finally this is the last meeting for Sarah as secretary and myself as chairman... we have held the positions for over four years now and it is time to step back and let new members take on the roles. It has been a pleasure to work with and get to know such a great team of people. Neither of us are disappearing, Sarah will continue to attend the Wind Farm and Sizewell C meetings and I will continue to promote businesses via Facebook. We wish the new committee well and look forward to seeing the ABA flourish under their leadership.”
And so with an outgoing Chair and Secretary, Gina Gow (Incredible Oceans) and Richard Howard (Brudenell Hotel) were voted into the committee. Gary will continue his role as the Treasurer and other duties will be shared across the group. More information about them can be found here.
Gary, Ella, Gina and Richard would like to extend their thanks to Sally and Sarah for their sterling work for the Aldeburgh Business over the past four years and we are hugely grateful for their continued help and support as the new committee settles in.