The 2022 AGM of the Test and Itchen Association was held on Friday 18 March from 1000-1025 using the Zoom virtual meeting App.

Present. Clay Brendish (Chairman) , Robert Miles (Vice-Chairman), Neil Freeman (Board Director), Vicky Reed (Board Director), Jonathan Durrant (Board Director), Mike Winter (Board Director), Jeremy Legge (Executive Director), Ingrid Burt (Administrator), Ron Dadswell, Nigel de Foubert, Keith Fisher, Des McCarthy, George Seligman, Hugh Savill, Brian Harris, James Gaggero, James Mitchell, Paula Eddy, Joseph Edwards, Lord Ribeiro, Mike Harrison, Ian Beacham.

Observing. Jonny Rees-Davies (Executive Director-designate).

The Chairman opened the meeting at 1000, thanking Members for participating.

  1. Apologies for absence.

The following Apologies for Absence had been received: Andrew Hoad (Board Director), Nick Parkhouse (Board Director), Roger Henderson, Will Liddell, Beverley Fairey, John Holt, Christophe Ellerington, Bill Tyrwhitt-Drake.

  1. The Minutes of the 2021 AGM.

There were no questions on the Minutes of the 2021 AGM.

Resolution 1. Jonathan Durrant proposed that the Minutes be agreed. Vicky Reed seconded the proposal which was passed unanimously.

  1. Re-election of Directors.

The Executive Director explained that each year one third of the Board’s Directors offered themselves for re-election if they were not standing down. The Directors offering themselves for re-election this year were Clay Brendish, Jonathan Durrant and Vicky Reed.

  1. Robert Miles, vice Chairman, took the chair. Resolution 2 to re-elect Clay Brendish was proposed by Robert Miles and seconded by Mike Winter. The resolution was passed unanimously.
  2. Clay Brendish reassumed the Chair. Resolution 3 to re-elect Jonathan Durrant was proposed by Neil Freeman and seconded by Vicky Reed. The resolution was passed unanimously.
  3. Resolution 4 to re-elect Vicky Reed was proposed by Clay Brendish and seconded by Jonathan Durrant. The resolution was passed unanimously.
  1. The Report of the Directors and the Financial Statements for the year ending 31 December 2021.

The Executive Director commented that the Association’s income in 2021 was a little under £55,000. Expenditure was £43, 650. The resulting surplus of £11, 730 had been transferred to reserves. There were no questions from Members.

Resolution 5 to agree the Report of the Directors and the Financial Statements for the year ended 31 December 2021 was proposed by Neil Freeman, seconded by Robert Miles and was passed unanimously.

  1. Chairman’s Statement.

Clay Brendish said that his Statement had been circulated to the Membership in advance of the AGM. He did not propose to read it. But we wanted to thank all those who devoted their time to the work of the Association for their efforts.

Clay noted that the Executive Director and Administrator were both moving on. He was sure the membership would join him in thanking Jeremy Legge and Ingrid Burt for all the work they had done. Clay introduced the new Executive Director, Jonny Rees-Davies, to the membership and noted that Monica Howard had already taken over the financial aspects of the Administrator role.

Resolution 6 to take note of the Chairman’s Statement was proposed by Neil Freeman, seconded by Jonathan Durant and was passed unanimously.

  1. Executive Director’s Report.

Jeremy Legge noted that he had been introduced to the membership at Sparsholt College almost exactly six years ago. One of the first things he had done had been to conduct a Membership Survey to determine what the members’ concerns were and what could be done to address those concerns. The Survey had clearly shown that the members’ priorities had been a range of river management issues, water quantity and water quality.

On river management, ever since the Association was founded over 100 years ago, the coordination and supervision of the weed cuts had been a core function. What had once been an ill-tempered and mildly chaotic business, now ran much more smoothly. The introduction of the weed cut wardening system more than 20 years ago had been a real success. With adjustments to the timings and sector boundaries, we had got to a position where the weed cuts took place each year without any significant problems. On the Test, the whole process was dependent on the weed boom at Timsbury. The Association had worked hard to ensure that the Environment Agency continued to fulfil its responsibility to manage and fund the operation of the boom.

Another river management issue highlighted by the Survey had been the damage done to river weed by excessive numbers of swans. Management of swans required consensus amongst all riparian owners. On the Upper Itchen, we had established there was such a consensus and had acquired and operated for the last four years a Swan Control Licence. This was clearly having the desired effect. There was not a similar consensus on the Test.

On Water Quantity, the Test and Itchen were at risk of over-abstraction by the water companies. The Association had supported the Environment Agency during a Public Inquiry in 2018, the result of which had been to reduce significantly the main public water supply abstraction licences. The challenge now was to hold the water companies to their commitment to invest in the new sources of water which were required to ensure they would not be dependent on Drought Orders allowing them to abstract more than they were licenced to at times of low river flows.

Poor water quality, as reflected in declining numbers of river invertebrates, was the membership’s key concern. The Association had invested heavily in invertebrate monitoring and in investigating the causes of poor water quality. Our work with Salmon and Trout Conservation on seeking to understand the impact of the discharge of excessive amounts of phosphate into the Upper Test by the Portals paper plant at Overton was the most recent example of this kind of work. But river invertebrates, in terms of species diversity and abundance, continued to bump along the bottom. There were no simple answers. The solution was a combination of more ambitious water quality standards, more monitoring and investigation, more and better enforcement and reducing the impact on water quality of those businesses based in the chalkstream catchments.

As important as these issues were, Jeremy said that his abiding memories of six years in the role of Executive Director would be the people he had met. He had been fortunate to have a supportive Chairman and Board of Directors. He was deeply appreciative of the role Ingrid Burt had played as the Association’s Administrator. But it was the riverbank conversations with the Association’s members, whether they be owners, keepers or anglers, which he would look back on most fondly. He was grateful for being given the opportunity to be the Association’s Executive Director. It had been a privilege to do what he could to help conserve Hampshire’s chalkstreams.

Resolution 7 to take note of the Executive Director’s Report was proposed by Neil Freeman, seconded by Jonathan Durrant and passed unanimously.

  1. Any Other Business.

There was no other business.

The Chairman drew the meeting to a close at 10.25.

Jeremy Legge, Executive Director.