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Welcome to the Glencanisp and Assynt Foundation blog. Here you can read what we have been up to at the Lodge and what we have planned for the future. The minutes of the board meetings are also available to read. If you would like any that are not here please contact us and we can email them out to you.

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Minutes of June 2017 Meeting

Posted on 15 August, 2017 at 8:10

Minutes of Board Meeting of Assynt Foundation, 6pm Thursday 15th June 2017

1. Present: Brendan O’Hanrahan, Nigel Goldie, Helen Simpson, Mandy Haggith, Claire Belshaw, Alex Murray (as a director from item 6) – Quorate.

In attendance: Gordon Robertson, Adam Pellant.

Apologies: Lewis MacAskill, Ken Hamilton.

2. Declarations of Interest: None.

3. Minutes of 22nd May 2017: approved.

4. Actions & Matters Arising –

Woodland Creation – Action: GR to circulate update.

AGM actions – all done.

Glebe – Action: GR/AP to begin business plan for purchase/management of Glebe, and to circulate report on timetable of key actions, likely costs etc.

Wider AF Business Plan – Discussion on updating of Business Plan. Action: AP to circulate key documents including old Business Plan to new directors.

Studio upkeep & management – to be put on next AB agenda. Action: NG to update on wider matters including ongoing possibility of arts bothy. Action: HS to report to Jorine who had raised issue of studio management.

5. Appointment of office-bearers – Agreed BOH to continue as chair, MH and CB to be vice-chairs.

6. Co-option of Alex Murray – Agreed to co-opt AM as director with immediate effect.

7. Finances – GR reported. KH’s P&Ls and cashflow were examined.

8. CALL update – Action: MH to pass on ideas for events etc to tie in with the completion of the Suilven path next year. Action: GR/AP to invite Boyd Alexander to report to a future board meeting.

9. Woodland Creation – Agreed to extend crofting working group into wider land use working group, in order to ensure croft creation and woodland creation progress complementary with each other. Action: (MH) Terms of reference for working group to be written up and group to meet before next board meeting.

10. AGM matters arising – any further matters arising to be put on next meeting’s agenda / discussed by email.

11. EO Report – See written report.

Walled Garden – Climate Challenge Fund has reopened. Agreed staff time be put to CCF Application for Walled Garden development. Action: GR/AP progress towards an application and look into possible CCF funding to assist in working up the proposal for the application.

12. Governance – Suggested that an extra board meeting be held soon to tackle issues including board development, new directors for AB and relationship of AF & AB. [Action: all directors consider dates]

Agreed to keep meetings to Thursdays and to have draft minutes circulated within 1 week.

13. AOB

Xmas Lights Appeal – Agreed to donate to Lochinver xmas lights fund.

14. Next Meeting: 6pm Thursday 20th July.

 

Minutes of May 2017 meeting

Posted on 12 July, 2017 at 6:05

Minutes of Meeting of Assynt Foundation Board of Directors

5.30pm Thursday 22nd May 2017, Glencanisp Arts Studio

Present: Nigel Goldie (Chair to item 3, present until 4), Helen Simpson, Brendan O’Hanrahan (chair from item 4), Mandy Haggith, David Slator (co-opted from item 2) – Quorate throughout.

In Attendance: Gordon Robertson, Adam Pellant (from item 4), Jorine van Delft (from item 4).

Apologies: None.

No declarations of interest.

Before standard agenda items:

1. Resignations of Directors – The recent resignations of Stewart Hill and Jeanette McCarthy from both Assynt Foundation and Assynt.Biz were noted. It was noted that in the case of Assynt Foundation, this left the number of directors at 4, and that given the minimum of 5 directors stated in AF’s constitution, the only AF business that could be conducted was to appoint new directors.

 

2. Co-option of Directors – David Slator and Claire Belshaw have both expressed willingness to become co-opted directors of AF. It was agreed to co-opt both on an immediate basis. Co-option will last until the coming AGM, but any co-opted directors may be re-co-opted at the AGM or by the board thereafter.

 

3. Role of Chairperson – Nigel Goldie notified the board of his decision to step down as chairperson of Assynt Foundation (and of Assynt.Biz). He expressed willingness to continue to serve as a director of both companies. Nigel was thanked for his tireless work as chairperson of both companies, helping to make significant progress for both.

 

Nigel Goldie then left the meeting.

 

Those present appointed Brendan as interim chairperson of Assynt Foundation. Brendan agreed, at least up to and including the AGM. (For information to AF, Brendan also confirmed his willingness to be interim chair of Assynt.Biz.)

 

There then followed standard agenda items:

4. The Minutes of 20th April2017 - to be approved by email, given that no director currently present today was present at that meeting.

 

5. Matters arising:

 

CALLP launch – Poster circulated. Noted importance of this event given key AF projects.

 

Low Carbon Infrastructure Programme – Lewis MacAskill progressed, but thought more appropriate for other local group/s.

 

September Away Day – Date tbc. Gordon noted an independent chair for this meeting may be possible if considered sensible.

6. Financial Report – Noted that reports were circulated by Ken in advance.

 

7. Lodge Management & Partnership Agreement – in progress through Assynt.Biz. Agreement to be finalised.

 

8. New Directors – Noted that new directors of Assynt.Biz would be appointed by Assynt Foundation as sole shareholder of Assynt.Biz.

 

9. Communications – Agreed that any written communication about changes in directors and chairperson, in eg. Assynt News, would be put by Brendan to the Board before submission.

 

10. Croft Creation – It was agreed not to make any decision. Current position is that general views of AF members and community members will be sought at the AGM, although no formal resolutions are proposed on the matter at that AGM.

 

Agreed that sufficient time and effort need to be devoted to items required for general financial sustainability, including the lodge, hydro and woodland creation for profit.

 

11. Proposed Woodland Development – Agreed that woodland development and croft creation be planned simultaneously so as to be mutually compatible/beneficial. Mandy asked to be copied into woodland-related communications. Action: Gordon to send update to all directors on progress to date.

 

12. AGM – Action: Adam to check requirements for retirals etc given recent changes of directors.

 

EO Report:

 

Glebe – Valued at £75k. Resolution for board to organise purchase, subject to community support and feasibility, is to be considered at AGM. Wider community also to be consulted.

Action: Gordon/Adam/others to begin compiling business plan for purchase and management of Glebe; also to confirm SLF grant would not constitute state aid.

 

13. AOCB:

 

Walled Garden – Ursina given 1 year’s use in exchange for some veg supply to lodge.

 

14. Glencanisp Studio – Discussion of possible improvements for user groups. Action: Assynt.Biz to be asked to consider and act on this.

 

Meeting ended 8pm. Next meeting: 15th June

Minutes of April 2017 Meeting

Posted on 12 July, 2017 at 6:00

Minutes of Meeting of Assynt Foundation Board of Directors

6.15pm, Thursday 20th April 2017, Glencanisp Arts Studio

Present: Nigel Goldie (Chair), Jeanette McCarthy, Stewart Hill – Quorate.

In Attendance: Gordon Robertson, John Venters, Ken Hamilton, Lewis MacAskill

Apologies: Brendan O’Hanrahan, Mandy Haggith, Helen Simpson.

No declarations of interest.

1. The Minutes of the Board meeting held on the 16th March 2017 were approved, following the insertion of a previously circulated additional comment relating to the Board’s away day.

2. Matters Arising: All matters that required further discussion will come up under the Agenda.

 

3. Financial Report. KH referred to the Draft accounts.  SH asked for clarity on how grants were handled within the accounts and KH undertook to circulate all the relevant information. 

4. Glencanisp Lodge: Sam and Rachael Kelly Hawkins were now in place and had made an immediate impact. Most of April had been previously let for weekly lets, so the B&B enterprise would not really start until the beginning of May. The advance bookings looked very encouraging.

5. CALLP Update: The work to improve the Suilven path had commenced. Notices were in place to advise visitors. Helicopters will be operating on the 1st and 2nd May to transport rocks to the site. A Blog and photographic record were both underway, to enable the public to be kept updated and to record the work. The Glencanisp Footpath work still required a deer gate, two benches and a Notice Board. GR was liaising with CALLP as it was proposed by the latter to have a CALLP Scheme launch on Saturday 3rd of June. This would be based at Glencanisp and details will be circulated as soon as they are to hand. Circulate details. Action GR

 

6. AGM: The date had not been finalised but was now likely to be in June and held in the Village Hall. NG will discuss date with AP on his return from leave and this will be agreed and advertised in the normal way. NG stated that the Agenda was still to be agreed. The issue of Crofting, the possible purchase of the Glebe Land and reports on Native Woodland Creation, Hydro development and the operation of the Lodge will all be presented. Furthermore there may need to be resolutions on the ability of AF to let land for grazing for periods in excess of 5 years. It was agreed that the detailed Agenda will be decided at the next Board Meeting.

 

7. Executive Officer’s Report:

 

GR reported that nearly 2000 hectares of potential Native Woodland Planting were being evaluated. This involved land running from near Ledmore junction all the way towards Lochinver. The planting may assist with general deer management. Close liaison with FCS, SNH, Historic Assynt and neighbours will take place. Elaine MacAskill has been permitted by the Woodland Trust for Scotland to deliver the Scheme for AF. Progress is being made over securing financial backing and there will be a further opportunity to sell the Carbon Credits to enhance the returns to AF.

 

The work on Hydro development continues. The firms tendering for the Feasibility Studies have been delving into issues relating to SSE and connectivity. This will continue to be of high priority.

 

GR will be attending a Seminar on Hutting next week and will report back on the potential. Much work relating to leases, hut styles, planning, and administration has already been undertaken and this will stand AF in good stead if it is decided to move matters on.

 

8. Low Carbon Infrastructure Programme (LCITP)

 

This was a Government initiative for Communities to explore imaginative ideas for Low Carbon energy solutions. It was generally felt that this grant may be more suited to the Assynt Community Development group.

 

Lewis MacAskill (LM) suggested that he might speak to SSE to find out more and which organisation would be best suited to apply. Action GR/LM

 

9. Crofts.

 

NG introduced the subject of the Creation of new Crofts on land owned by AF. Expectations had been raised and clarity was required on the way forward. The uncertainty that currently pervaded should not continue, and he felt that whilst this venture was unlikely to proceed in the near future, the door had not been closed. It would be prudent for the Board to await the results of the Government’s Crofting Review and to also proceed with the Native Woodland Grant Application as this could transform the fortunes of AF as a whole. These two matters were related closely to each other and justified proper appraisal.

 

SH agreed confirming his view that the timing was not right to proceed.

 

Clarity is required and the matter will be fully discussed when MH is present at the next Board Meeting.

 

10. The Assynt Foundation. Wider Community Development

 

NG stated that he felt that it was important for AF to be represented on the Board of The Assynt Community Association. This will enable AF, as the biggest Community Landowner, to promote many issues such as tourism, the arts, camping, and events and to ensure that AF’s vision is clearly understood. It is Important for AF to be engaged. SH stressed his view that AF should always use its assets for the socio-economic benefit of the Community.

 

11. Board Development. Away day September

 

NG agreed to circulate Board members with a proposed date in September for an away day. This will be held in the Lodge and HIE will be asked whether they will support this event financially.

 

Action NG (date for Away Day) GR Check availability of Lodge

 

Meeting closed at 8.15pm. Date of next meeting TBC.

 

 

Minutes of March 2017 Meeting

Posted on 25 May, 2017 at 9:30

Minutes of Meeting of Assynt Foundation Board of Directors

6pm, Thursday 16 March 2017, Glencanisp Arts Studio

Draft 17.3.17, revised 19.317

 

Present: Nigel Goldie (chair), Helen Simpson, Jeanette McCarthy, Mandy Haggith (notes) – quorate.

In Attendance: Gordon Robertson, Adam Pellant, John Venters, Ken Hamilton

Apologies: Brendan O’Hanrahan, Stewart Hill

No declarations of interest.

 

1. Minutes of the January meeting were accepted. There were no minutes of the February away day meeting.

 

2. Matters Arising:

• Actions outstanding from previous minutes. Action: Nigel to circulate skills audit.

• The Friends of Assynt leaflet is in the Honesty Shop. Action: Jeanette to produce questionnaire for B&B guests

 

3. Finances: Ken reported that AF is on budget.

Action: Ken to circulate 2017-18 budget.

 

4. Away day (February 16): [Assynt.Biz trading company items discussed here only.]

 

5. Glencanisp Lodge: [Assynt.Biz trading company items discussed here only.]

 

6. Land Management: Footpath development and woodland planting is underway. An out-of-season and night licence is granted for deer management in the exclosure. An opportunity has arisen for new woodland scheme/s due to increased grant rates, and Gordon and Adam have begun mapping, with CALLP staff, how to use it to increase implementation of the AF forest plan. It was agreed to consult the members at the AGM on the plan.

Action: Gordon to circulate details of the plan so far (map, timetable and finances)

 

7. Wild Land: It was agreed not to make a formal AF response to the SNH consultation on wild land procedures.

Action: Gordon to circulate a map of designated land on AF’s estates.

 

8. Croft Creation: It was agreed to consult the membership at the AGM about the proposal for new crofts, and to send information about the proposal to the membership with the AGM papers.

Action: Gordon, Mandy and Brendan to continue discussing which land is suitable for crofts, consider potential overlap with new fenced areas for woodland, and prepare information for members.

 

9. AGM: (see above) We agreed the AGM would be in Lochinver village hall in early May [now to be 14th June, AP].

Action: Nigel to set the date and timetable for papers and organise publicity.

 

10. AOB: It was noted that interpretation of the Suilven path will include a display in the Honesty Shop and paid opportunities for artist/photographer/writers and bloggers.

A request for short-term use of part of the walled garden was approved in principal, although more detail is needed from the interested party about how long they would intend to use the garden for and in what way. It was noted that the new Lodge business partners are also interested in the garden.

Action: Gordon and Adam to discuss with all interested parties and come to a short-term arrangement, ask CALLP if there is potential for support for wall repair, and propose a long-term planning process for the walled garden.

 

Minutes of January 2017 Meeting

Posted on 25 May, 2017 at 9:20

Minutes of Board Meeting of Assynt Foundation, 19th January 2017, Glencanisp Office, Lochinver

Meeting began 6pm

1. Present/In Attendance /Apologies

Present – Nigel Goldie (Chair) (NG), Stewart Hill (SH), Helen Simpson (HS), Jeanette McCarthy (JM)

In Attendance – Gordon Robertson (GR), Adam Pellant (AP), John Venters (JV), Rebecca Macleod (RM)

Apologies –Brendan O’Hanrahan (BOH), Mandy Haggith (MH)

Declarations of Interest: None

Minutes of Last meeting - were approved, NH asked that, in future, the Action List should be circulated as soon as possible after the meeting in order to give Directors and staff plenty of time to undertake the identified tasks. Action GR

 

2. Actions and Matters Arising

• Croft Creation – Timescales. NG advised the Board that this matter was to be discussed in depth at the away day. As MH and BOH were unable to attend this meeting, it was vital to have their input during a full Board discussion. This will clarify the technical and legal procedures and also the financial implications, in order to ensure that the agreed outcomes are finalised. Thereafter, communication with AF members will take place in an agreed form, as their approval will be required. GR undertook to ascertain budget costs for the legal work involved with township creation. Action GR

• West Sutherland Deer Management Group. GR reported that he was to be put forward as the future Chairman of this group at their next meeting. The current Chairman wished to stand down. With the topic of the management of the red deer population in Scotland high on the Government’s agenda, it will be important that this group sends out a clear message of how it aims to achieve the objectives of its overall Plan.

• Funding under the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS) – JV reported that the Foundation’s application under the Moorland Option for Open Range Deer Management had been successful. AF will receive a grant of approx £5000 a year. Thanks were expressed to BOH for all the work that he had put into this application.

• Skills Audit - NG will send round his paper ahead of the planned Board Away Day meeting on the 16th February 2017. Action NG

• Organogram – AP reported that he had sent a copy of this document to MH, and undertook to send to all other Board members. Action AP

• Drumrunie Track – GR, BOH, and JV had planned a meeting with SNH for Friday the 20th January. Unfortunately, this had just been postponed due to an injury to the path contractor who was also to attend the meeting. To be rearranged.

3. Financial

The forthcoming meeting with HIE on the 8th February will be the opportunity to spell out in detail the difficulties experienced in opening the B&B business during the winter months and to prepare a streamlined plan for its future management. The EO’s position will be confirmed for a second year but with the HIE contribution reduced to 65% of this year’s grant. Numerous options to ensure the long term future sustainability of the Foundation have been, and continue to be explored with the hydro schemes being the most obvious solution. The summer prospects for the B&B business in Glencanisp Lodge look good, with advance bookings coming in steadily. GR and JT will meet to discuss administration costs. Action GR/JT

 

4. Governance

NG advised the board he had recently met with a Mr Simon Jeffreys (SJ) who might potentially offer services in complimentary ways.  He is a retired lawyer with considerable experience of charities & company law including the roles of a Company Secretary and other business administration skills. He has been interested in the Foundation for a number of years and NG will continue discussions to find the best form of contribution. All agreed that SJ would bring very useful skills. Action NG

5. Executive officer Report

• Lodge Report – The winter months had been a struggle with poor visitor uptake in a building that is very expensive to heat. A full analysis of the Lodge administration, staffing and future operation is underway. No further new B&B bookings will be taken until the end of March. Existing bookings will be honoured and whole lodge lets will be considered.

• Hydro – Green Hydro Renewables are undertaking their second site appraisal on the 8th of Feb. In addition to the 2 MW scheme, four other potential schemes are being evaluated with individual Feasibility Study Grants available from Local Energy Scotland for each one.

6. Friends of Assynt Foundation

This will be discussed at the Board Away Day in detail and will lead to the production of a final document that sends out the desired message and promotes the Foundation widely. JM also recommended the production of a simple questionnaire to be presented to B&B guests offering opportunities to revisit, and also explaining the role of the Foundation. This could well encourage them to become Members. Action JM

 

7. Croft Creation

NG had circulated a document highlighting a number of important procedural issues that required resolution prior to the next stage in the process of croft creations. There are many challenges and potential financial implications for the Foundation. There is a need to clarify the legal rights of a community landowner to actually create crofts, and AF needs to receive clearance from the Charities Commission. The costs are a major concern. As an example the bridge at Ledbeg is in poor condition with doubts as to the repairing obligations and who will be responsible in the future for these costs. The PR issues are really important and the Board need to clarify matters at the away day so that there is no confusion.

It was agreed that the board needs to swiftly come together, reach agreement and then put the final proposals to the members for approval. SH stressed the importance of this matter and the need to be absolutely clear on the detail. He also expressed his view that existing grazing tenants should be properly looked after during the process.

The financial implications are evident. Entrance fees for new crofters will be significant and this needs to be clearly explained. Numerous applicants have applied from outwith the local area and the Board needs to be absolutely clear as to its selection criteria in order to be fair to all those who have made the effort to register their interest. HS expressed her concerns that the Board was under considerable pressure and that there should be no question of being pushed into a corner. We all need to be sure that we are ready to commit to the project before a final decision is reached. SH said if the Board ultimately decided that it was not in a position to proceed, then a very clear statement needs to be issued explaining that, following detailed appraisal, the financial position of the Board meant that it could not move forward immediately, but that the topic of croft creation will be taken forward when funds permit. NG asked GR to identify the full financial and opportunity costs prior to the away day meeting of the Board. Action GR SH asked if the maps showing potential croft areas could be circulated. Action AP

8. Board Away Day

The away day will be held in the Lodge Thursday 16th February. NG highlighted that this was a very important opportunity to spend time developing ideas and clarifying the way forward. The afternoon session will focus on Croft creation. Governance will be an important topic – identifying the best ways of conducting our business more efficiently. The Board will be able to really look at the use of the Lodge and its administration. Directors will have the opportunity to spend time inspecting every room in the Lodge. The Business Plan will also be revisited and focus will be put on those items that should receive the highest priority in order to be clear of the direction of travel. If the weather permits, it is intended that Board members spend some time walking around the grounds to help clarify how future developments can be assimilated into a master lay-out plan. NG will produce an agenda and circulate it before the day. Action NG.

 

9. AOB- None

10. Date of next Meeting

Thursday 16th February- Glencanisp Lodge

 

December 2016 minutes

Posted on 25 January, 2017 at 5:35

Minutes of Board Meeting of Assynt Foundation, 15th December 2016, Glencanisp Office, Lochinver

Meeting began 6pm

1. Present/In Attendance /Apologies

Present – Nigel Goldie (Chair) (NG), Brendan O’Hanrahan (BOH), Helen Simpson (HS), Mandy Haggith (MH)

In Attendance – Gordon Robertson (GR), Adam Pellant (AP), Alex Dickson, John Venters (JV), Rebecca Macleod (RM)

Apologies – Stewart Hill (SH), Jeanette McCarthy (JM)

Declarations of Interest: None

Minutes of Last meeting - were approved.

2. Actions and Matters Arising

• AGM - Waiting to see about croft creation and timescale for any related resolutions needed at a general meeting, before a decision is made on AGM date.

• Challenge Event - North Light Events visited the site, and have made a date for the 8/9th April next year. There will be a 12-mile trial run to start with.  HS reported that Vanessa Ling will get back to her with further information relating to her previous research.

• Inverpolly Section 7 Deer Management Plan - BOH stated it may be a few months until the new section 7 DMP to include Drumrunie Estate is finalised.

• SRDP Funding - BH told the board he hopes application for reduction cull funding on part of Glencanisp may be approved, but still awaiting official confirmation.

• Eagle Hide - JV/SB hope to complete the eagle hide tomorrow, and the hide should be ready to use next year. SNH have approved change of site from Drumrunie to near Ledbeg.

• Drumrunie Track - BH, GR and JV to meet with Tamara.

• Skills Audit - NG to send round his paper ahead of the planned Board Away Day on the 16th February 2017. Action NG.

3. Financial Report

NG summarised the Financial Report from KH. This report had been considered at the Assynt Biz Meeting held prior to the Foundation’s Board Meeting. The closure of the coastal road to Achmelvich for water mains replacement is thought to have discouraged a number of users of the NC500.

4. Governance

In a drive to find new board members, it was agreed that we need to be pro-active, and seek to find a balance of skills on the board. HS suggested that it may be possible to find ‘seasonal directors’. These might be people who have visited the area in the summer months on a regular basis. 

5. Executive Officer Report

• Hydro - Green Highland Renewables are coming on the 22nd for a site visit, in advance of appointing a company to carry out 100kW scheme feasibility study.

• Glebe – Action GR to speak with local Church Of Scotland representative to try to resolve the problem with Church of Scotland progress.

6. Friends of Assynt Foundation

AP reported that OSCR suggested we ask CVS North in Durness for advice re legality of offering direct benefits such as price discounts to our members.

7. Croft creation

The meeting held on Saturday the 3rd was a success. MH told the board how helpful it had been. Issues were clarified. Specific questions had been identified for presentation to a lawyer with specific experience in Croft creation and registration. The process for the selection of future croft tenants is being further refined following consultation. Other issues relating to identifying croft boundaries, access, planning and advertising were all being actively considered by the working group. The timescale is estimated to run into 2018. It was good to see the potential crofter’s ideas. The notes of the Meeting held at Glencanisp Lodge will be circulated. (Action GR)

A meeting with a lawyer had been held earlier in the day, to receive informal but specialist advice. Estimated legal costs were given for the creation of crofts. The costs may be up to £30,000 for all three townships. The tenancy contracts will need to be prepared carefully and terms approved. MH will write notes of meeting and circulate. (Action MH)

Criteria for Selection: This topic will undoubtedly be controversial, but a clear process will be essential. The Board will need to be aware of the requirements of OSCR when considering the granting of benefits to a number of private individuals by croft assignation. NG suggested that changing our M&As could be considered if there is any suggestion that OSCR will not allow allocation of crofting tenancies, as we need to be very clear.

NG advised that the Board could consider other land use options for the ground planned to be brought into crofting tenancy/common grazing, as part of a full options appraisal. BH suggested a half day meeting to look at these issues with the board.

MH will draft a list of selection criteria for future circulation to Members once agreed by the Board.

BH will seek cost estimates from other lawyers for their professional fees. (Action BOH)

8. AOB

BOH – Boyd Alexander is leaving CALL as his contract has ended. It’s expected that the draft revised CALL Plan will be circulated soon.

MH – Asked about staffing set-up.  Action AP to send on the organogram recently produced for HIE showing staff set-up.

Assynt News – recent editorial about beavers, deer and woodland management, mentioning JMT and AF – agreed that there was no need for AF to respond.

Crofting P&J Article – P&J report of crofting meeting by Lisa MacDonald has been passed onto Ullapool News and Assynt News.

9. Date of Next Meeting – Thursday 19th January 2017

 

November 2016 minutes

Posted on 25 January, 2017 at 5:30

Draft Minutes of Board Meeting of Assynt Foundation, 15th November 2016, Glencanisp Office, Lochinver

Meeting began 6pm

1. Present/In Attendance /Apologies

Present – Nigel Goldie (Chair), Stewart Hill (by conference-call), Jeanette McCarthy, Brendan O’Hanrahan, Helen Simpson, Mandy Haggith

In Attendance – Gordon Robertson, Adam Pellant, Ken Hamilton, Alex Dickson, John Venters

Apologies – none

Declarations of Interest: None

Minutes of Last meeting - were approved. Noted that Sept minutes were amended as proposed and will be made public. Action GR to pass Sept mins to AP to circulate.

2. Actions and Matters Arising

Action rolled over, AP to seek advice from OSCR on acceptability of offering discounts to AF members. Action AP

3. Financial Report & Annual Accounts year ending Mar 16

Ken presented P&L and Cash flow to end October. Agreed to approve accounts for year ending March 2016 by email.

4. Governance / Away Day – Noted that A.Biz now has an independent director (Jane Tulloch), giving some separation between the two companies. NG suggested further separation would be good practice.

Discussion of Director training and skills audit. All in favour of further Director training event, so long as confident in those running it, given some disappointing experiences in past. Action NG to circulate skills audit produced at time of Business Plan creation.

Areas of responsibility for directors to be revisited in future.

A walkaround at Glencanisp is suggested for the away day, to cover issues of land use and management.  

5. AGM – Action NG to seek views on AGM date by email – maybe between February and April. MH suggested an ‘AGM day’ for multiple local organisations with a high overlap of membership.

Noted that there is a row in budget for staff training, which could be widened to include Director training and other similar Governance costs.

6. Challenge Event – Meeting this Tuesday with North Lights Events regarding hosting a challenge event this spring.  All in favour in principle.

7. Croft Creation

General Board agreement was reiterated for the principle of croft creation. 3 issues raised in need of addressing –

1. Permission being sought and granted from BLF, HIE, SIS and possibly Scottish Govt. (Action AP seek in-principle support and info on process for formal approval from all four.)

2. Current grazing tenants - issues of whether they should be offered tenancy of crofts on their leased ground, or whether others should be given opportunity to be considered for croft tenancies there.

3. Potential of extra liability for AF for bridge upkeep. It was noted that we already have responsibility for the upkeep of the bridge at Ledbeg, as owner of that bridge, and that the bridge to Cnocnaneach is essentially a footbridge only, with potential for some vehicles to ford the river beside it.

Meeting is to go ahead on 3rd December. Mandy detailed plans for this.

Discussion of draft new croft boundary maps. BOH has produced two plans for crofts at Ledbeg – one for 6 crofts, 3 larger and 3 smaller, one for 4 larger crofts. An area is identified for housing etc associated with the crofts, nearer the road. Draft plans for 2 or 4 crofts at Cnocnaneach. Area at Druim Suardalain itself likely not to be followed up as that area is considered too valuable for future AF trading activities. Possibility of 3 crofts at Tiliathdoire. Noted that all our ground immediately north of the Glencanisp road is already part of existing common grazings, so is not being proposed for new croft creation. Glebe land may also be suitable for croft creation if purchased. Croft creation in new woodlands may be possible in future but may meet with SNH resistance.

Funding – Discussion of whether funding should be sought for infrastructure, like tracks and fencing by AF in advance of assigning tenancies to new crofts, or else sought after by crofting tenants, either individually or jointly. It is thought that grant funding would likely be more easily raised by crofting tenants.

Planning – Issues of planning consents for any tracks, housing or other infrastructure – GR has spoken with HC head planner about broad crofting plans, and will go back once plans are more detailed.

Deer Management – JV raised issue of potential for crofters to shoot deer attracted to their improved ground, and also issue of responsibility for any control of foxes around new croft land.

Staging of croft creation – Discussion of pros and cons of whether croft creation should be done on all 3 main areas at same time or whether better to do one area first. Will seek professional opinions on this at meeting on 3rd Dec.

8. EO Report – As per written report. GR reiterated the importance of creating a hydro scheme for substantial income generation.

Glebe – Still awaiting further response from Church of Scotland on potential sale.

9. AOB

MH noted upcoming visit by orchard surveyors to Glencanisp, as part of a wider orchard project.

BOH reported that a new Section 7 Deer Management Agreement for Inverpolly SAC (which includes Drumrunie) is currently being drafted.

We expect to hear back in next month or so about the recent SRDP funding application towards cost of reduction culling on parts of Glencanisp.

Uncertainty was noted over means of deer estates funding costs of future deer counts.

Some thoughts on alternatives to helicopter counting.

Eagle hide – will be constructed in due course.

Glen Laoigh ATV track into Drumrunie – issues over scarring of ground. To be discussed.

Insurance of new Druim Suardalain woodland block to pay for replanting in event of loss from fire etc – we have quote from insurer – The Woodland Trust for Scotland has committed to pay this annual cost.

Meeting closed. Next meeting 5pm 15th December.

 

October 2016 Minutes

Posted on 25 January, 2017 at 5:20

Board Meeting of Assynt Foundation, 6pm 20th October 2016, Glencanisp Office

 

4. Present – Nigel Goldie (Chair), Stewart Hill, Mandy Haggith, Jeanette McCarthy (to item 6), Helen Simpson (to item 6).

 

Attending – Gordon Robertson, Adam Pellant, John Venters, Richard Williams (CALLP), Rebecca Macleod.

 

Apologies – Ken Hamilton, Brendan O’ Hanrahan.

 

5. The Minutes of the last meeting. The Minutes were reviewed.  Suggested amendments to some parts would be circulated by MH, who also agreed to circulate an update on the progress made by the Crofting Sub Committee. ACTION MH

 

Richard Williams, the Scheme Manager for the CALL project, gave the Board an update on the progress of projects being undertaken on Assynt Foundation land.

 

• Contractors had been appointed for the work to upgrade 2.5 kilometres of the Suilven Path.

 

• Contractors had been appointed for the creation of the new Nature Trail at Glencanisp.

 

• The fencing and planting preparation work had commenced for the Druim Suardalain Native woodland Project. Contractors were on site. Work on scrub clearance will begin shortly.

 

• RW will be attending the West Sutherland Deer Management Group’s November meeting and will outline the funding and grant arrangements for future helicopter counts, habitat assessment, staff training and the marketing of local venison under the heading ‘Hill to grill’.

 

• RW stressed that CALLP and the AF will work closely on the PR and interpretation opportunities in the coming months to ensure that the best message is conveyed. A formal launch of the CALLP project is planned for early April 2017 and it is anticipated that this will be centred at Glencanisp and may involve either the First Minister or Roseanna Cunningham MSP Cabinet Secretary

 

• Part B of SWT / AF partnership agreement had been drafted. MH asked for directors to be sent the WTS / AF agreement which has been signed by NG recently. Action GR/AP

 

• It was noted that any surplus that may possibly have come from grants towards AF projects, such as from SRDP grant towards woodland creation, will disappear due to reduction of HLF grant put towards the same project. In effect that surplus would go elsewhere within CALLP, as an increase in HLF funding towards other costs such as core SWT staffing.

 

6. Finance Report – SH and KH will analyse past costs and income from whole Lodge lettings, compared to the new B&B enterprise. Action SH/KH/NG/GR

 

7. Governance/New Directors – Jane Tulloch has offered to stand as a director. It is suggested that she be asked to join Assynt.Biz, so as to give the trading company an independent director not also serving for AF. Agreed to appoint JT as director of Assynt.Biz, subject to her willingness. Action AP to check M&As of both companies to confirm process for A.Biz appointment.

 

8. Foundation Board Away Day – NG put forward a proposal. In order to really find the time to explore the many issues relating to governance, membership, community involvement, board recruitment and operation, it would be helpful to set aside time through an away day for the board to really make the progress needed. The idea was supported and NG and GR will discuss ideas and circulate them. Action NG/GR

 

(JM and HS left the meeting.)

 

9. Executive Officer’s Report- GR presented his written report.

 

Hydro feasibility study. The application for the 100% grant from Local Energy Scotland had been submitted for initial assessment. LES have confirmed that funds are available, but we are awaiting written confirmation from them prior to NG signing the final application. Action GR

 

Walled Garden restoration grant application to the Climate Challenge Fund - AF and GR will progress. Action GR/AP

 

Planning matters

 

The formal process for Planning Permission for the construction of the kiln building is underway.

 

Eagle photography – The licence from SNH is expected within a few days.

 

Friends of Assynt Foundation – All present supported the principle of developing this idea. It was however agreed that advice from OSCR should be sought, in order to clarify exactly what benefits could be offered and to whom. Action AP

 

10. Review of progress on the Creation of new Crofts.

 

MH outlined plans to hold an open meeting in early December, with attendees including those with specialist knowledge and professional expertise. Details will be circulated. Action MH

 

Following a wide-ranging discussion it was agreed that the provision of maps showing the extent of potential new crofts was a priority. Between the office staff and BOH, these will be produced as a matter of priority. Action AP/GR/JV/BOH

 

11. Date and Place of next Meeting: 17th November 2016 at Glencanisp Office

 

AOCB:

 

Discussion of relocating deer larder in future.

September 2016 Minutes

Posted on 25 January, 2017 at 5:15

Board Meeting of Assynt Foundation, 6pm 15th September 2016, Glencanisp Office

1. Present – Nigel Goldie (Chair), Stewart Hill, Mandy Haggith (via Skype), Brendan O’ Hanrahan.

Attending – Gordon Robertson, Alex Dickson.

Apologies – Vanessa Ling, Jeanette McCarthy, Helen Simpson, Ken Hamilton.

2. There were no Minutes of the last meeting, as it had been postponed.

3. Presentation by Boyd Alexander. CALLP

The Chair welcomed Boyd Alexander (BA) to the meeting.

BA thanked the Chairman and the Board members for the opportunity to discuss the CALL project and to exchange ideas on the way forward. BA was engaged with meeting all members in order to seek feedback.

The general feedback had been positive but efforts were being made to provide succinct and clear messages relating to the CALL objectives.

Most Consultees were happy with the vision, but BA was keen to seek views on the general impression of CALL, its future needs, vision and its structure.

BOH raised the following points that, in his opinion, needed addressing.

1. He felt that ‘Community Development’ should be highlighted as a unique objective.

2. Job creation: This element appears to have been left behind.

3. The nature of the landscape: There is a strong focus on native woodland. CALL should include wider areas such as marine/peat land/and mountain habitats. Specific species should also be highlighted.

4. Could more be done to develop and demonstrate a closer partnership with the crofting community?

AD commented that the community had seen a lot of money coming into the area, but that this was still not keeping the younger generation in the area. Jobs and affordable houses were required.

Discussion ensued on the possible creation of a Community Development Company. All agreed that if such a company were to be created that it would be beneficial for CALL to be invited to be part of the set-up.

NG stressed the importance of the ongoing collaborative approach, working together on footpaths, cycle routes, and joint ventures, all of which CALL are currently engaged with.

MH stated that it was important for CALL to recognise the huge economic contribution that artists, crofters and other local residents made to the area. This is a significant element within the current plan and one with the potential to grow.

BA highlighted Historic Assynt’s involvement, particularly through archaeology, and confirmed CALL’s desire to be part of all aspects of Community Development.

BA went through a number of the headings on the refocused CALL plan for the future. Further updates will be circulated.

5. Financial Report

The notes on the Finances, along with the schedules had been examined during the Assynt Biz meeting, earlier in the evening. In general, the accounts were looking better than the predicted budget, but careful control will continue to be exercised.

The income for the Foundation had significantly increased on the previous year due to increased grant income. Costs were being closely monitored.

The Honesty Shop continued to prove popular. The Chair requested up to date figures for stalking. These would be provided and circulated. Action. AP

There were still a number of ‘unknowns’ associated with the B&B enterprise. Laundry and staffing costs were being refined, and the occupancy during the winter months remained uncertain. There was a general feeling that this enterprise should contribute a substantial amount of income to the Foundation, once all the rooms were en suite, repairs and remedial works were complete and staffing levels finalised. There were still a number of weeks pre-booked under the ‘old regime’ and these will be honoured, despite the disruption they will cause to the B&B business and resident staff who will have to move out.

The B&B enterprise opens up opportunities for events linked to the Artist’s studio and other specialist visits. It will be possible to accommodate stalking clients who have previously found accommodation ‘off the estate’. Full costed budgets will be prepared as a priority. Action GR/AP

5. Governance

NG spoke to his paper that had previously been circulated in August. There was currently a shortage of board members, and as part of the attempt to reach a wider audience, NG will set out the key responsibilities of being a board member and also the varying types of expertise required. Options for co-option will be set out. The Articles will be revisited as potential applicants are limited by the postcode restrictions. During the recruitment process, applicants will be asked to highlight their past experience on the Application Form. An AF sub group will then carefully assess the applicants before reporting in confidence to the Board. If suitable candidates are approved, they will then be co-opted on to the Board until full election at the next AGM. It was agreed to move this item forward. Action NG.

Annualised Agenda.

The principle of an annualised agenda was accepted by all, whilst accepting that many of the topics could still be looked at on a monthly basis when required. Setting out such an agenda, gave a clear focus and an opportunity to look at items in depth in a planned manner.

It was accepted that a degree of slippage had occurred (for example with the Membership and Crofting Reviews). SH pointed out that the Business Plan should ideally be reviewed in October, rather than June. MH suggested that individual Directors should be allocated to specific disciplines. The Chair and GR will meet to refine this document and re-circulate to Board members for final approval. Action NG/GR

6. Executive Officer’s Monthly Report.

GR went through his written report.

MH asked for a list of all staff, their Job Titles, their Job Descriptions and details of their Contracts. Action GR

7. Proposal for Friends of Assynt Foundation

The proposal by MH was adopted by the Board. 

AP to check the Articles of Association and position relating to Associate Members. Action AP

8. Review of progress on the Creation of new Crofts

MH reported that 27 expressions of interest had been received, 15 of which had come from local residents. The recommendation was to create three new Townships at,

• Cnocnaneach and Druim Suardalain

• Ledbeg

• Tileathdoire

 

The initial thoughts had been to create 5 new crofts in each location. BOH reported that following discussions with SNH, it may only be possible to let 3 crofts at Tileathdoire. His preference, having spoken to the Elphin Community, was for the creation of smaller units. Suggested mapped areas would be provided shortly.

 

It was agreed that the dilapidated old croft building at Cnocnaneach would be excluded from the letting process in the first instance.

There was a proposal at the end of the meeting to organise a meeting at Glencanisp to discuss more deeply our process for creating new crofts, including taking advice from some experts with experience of croft establishment, and holding a public session to get feedback from the Community on the proposal so far. Saturday 3rd December was proposed as a possible date for this. MH offered to take this matter forward. Action MH

In order that the Board should be in a position to decide how to move forward in the best interests of the AF, it was agreed that BOH should produce maps of all the potential land available for croft creation, so that the true scale of what was available is clear.

As soon as this was done, the Crofting Sub Committee would meet again in order to put their recommendations to the Board. Action BOH

9. Discussion of Administration of Glencanisp Lodge during weddings and large events, and staff being present to ensure no damage.

10. Glebe land. Possible acquisition.

Pressure is continuing to be exerted on the Church of Scotland officials, in order to finalise discussions. The sale of the Glebe land to the AF has been approved by the Edinburgh Trustees of the COS, but requires the final approval of the local Church Officials. Indications that funds will be made available from the Scottish Land Fund have been received.

11. AOB

AD commented on the much improved AF Website, but asked that the more recent pictures of weddings, taken by professional photographers, should be added to the site. In future, he also recommended having a video of the Lodge and its facilities added to the site. This will be done when the internal improvements are complete.

 


 

September 2016 Minutes

Posted on 25 January, 2017 at 4:45

Board Meeting of Assynt Foundation, 6pm 15th September 2016, Glencanisp Office, Draft Minutes

1. Present – Nigel Goldie (Chair), Stewart Hill, Mandy Haggith (via Skype), Brendan O’ Hanrahan.

Attending – Gordon Robertson, Alex Dickson.

Apologies – Vanessa Ling, Jeanette McCarthy, Helen Simpson, Ken Hamilton.

2. Noted that August meeting was postponed.

3. Presentation by Boyd Alexander of CALL.

 

The Chair welcomed Boyd Alexander (BA) to the meeting.

BA thanked the Chairman and the Board members for the opportunity to discuss the CALL project and to exchange ideas on the way forward.

The general feedback on draft new CALL plan document had been positive but efforts were being made to provide succinct and clear messages relating to the CALL objectives.  Most consultees were happy with the vision, but BA was keen to seek more views on the general impression of CALL, its future needs, vision and structure.

BOH raised the following points that, in his opinion, needed addressing.

1. He felt that community development should be highlighted as a unique objective.

2. Job creation: This element appears in his opinion to have been largely left behind.

3. The nature of the landscape: There is a strong focus on native woodland. He felt CALL should include wider areas such as marine, peat land and mountain habitats. Specific species should also be highlighted.

4. Could more be done to develop and demonstrate a closer partnership with the crofting community?

Alex Dickson (AD) commented that the community had seen a lot of money coming into the area, but that this was still not keeping the younger generation in the area. Jobs and affordable housing were required.

 

Discussion ensued on the possible creation of a Community Development Company. All agreed that if such a company were to be created that it would be beneficial for CALL to be invited to be part of the set-up.

The Chair stressed the importance of the ongoing collaborative approach, working together on eg. footpaths & cycle routes, and other joint ventures, all of which CALL are currently engaged with.

MH stated that it was important for CALL to recognise the huge economic contribution that artists, crofters and other local residents made to the area. This is a significant element within the current plan and one with the potential to grow.

BA highlighted Historic Assynt’s involvement, particularly through archaeology, and confirmed CALL’s desire to be part of all aspects of community development.

BA went through a number of the headings on the refocused CALL plan for the future. Further updates will be circulated.

5. Financial Report

The notes on the finances, along with the schedules, had been examined during the Assynt Biz meeting, earlier in the evening. In general, the accounts were looking better than the predicted budget, but careful control will continue to be exercised.

The income for the Foundation had significantly increased on the previous year due to increased grant income. Costs were being closely monitored.

The Honesty Shop continued to prove popular. The Chair requested up-to-date figures for stalking. These would be provided and circulated. Action AP.

There were still a number of unknowns associated with the B&B enterprise. Laundry and staffing costs were being refined, and the occupancy during the winter months remains uncertain. There was a general feeling that this enterprise should contribute a substantial amount of income to the Foundation, once all the rooms were en suite, repairs and remedial works were complete and staffing levels finalised. There were still a number of weeks pre-booked under the old whole-lodge business model and these will of course be honoured, despite the disruption they will cause to the B&B business and resident staff who will have to move out.

 

The B&B enterprise opens up opportunities for events linked to the art studio and other specialist visits. It will be possible to accommodate stalking clients who have previously found accommodation elsewhere in Assynt. Full costed budgets will be prepared as a priority. Action GR/AP.

5. Governance

The Chair spoke to his paper that had previously been circulated in August. There was currently a shortage of board members, and as part of the attempt to reach a wider audience, the Chair will set out the key responsibilities of being a board member and also the varying types of expertise required. Options for co-option will be set out. The Articles will be revisited as elected directors are limited by the postcode restrictions. During the recruitment process, applicants will be asked to highlight their past experience on the application form. An AF subgroup will then carefully assess the applicants before reporting in confidence to the board. If suitable candidates are approved, they will then be co-opted on to the board until full election at the next AGM. It was agreed to move this item forward. Action Chair.

Annualised Agenda.

The principle of an annualised agenda was accepted by all, whilst accepting that many of the topics could still be looked at on a monthly basis when required. Setting out such an agenda gave a clear focus and an opportunity to look at items in depth in a planned manner.

It was accepted that a degree of slippage had occurred (for example with the Membership and Crofting Reviews). SH pointed out that the Business Plan should ideally be reviewed in October, rather than June. MH suggested that individual Directors should be allocated to specific disciplines. The Chair and GR will meet to refine this document and re-circulate to Board members for final approval. Action Chair/GR.

 

6. Executive Officer’s Monthly Report.

GR went through his written report. 

The Board discussed the situation regarding the Planning Application for the Kiln Building submitted via E Planning by GR on behalf of Fergus Stewart (FS).  It was accepted that the matter was being resolved to the satisfaction of the Planners .

MH asked for a list of all staff, their job titles, their job descriptions and details of their contracts. Action GR

 

7. Proposal for Friends of Assynt Foundation

The proposal by MH was adopted by the Board. AD urged that this was now widely promoted through the normal local channels including self-catering cottages and B&Bs.

AP to check the Articles of Association and position relating to Associate Members.

Action AP

8. Review of progress on the Creation of new Crofts

 

 

MH reported that 27 expressions of interest had been received, 15 of which had come from local residents. The recommendation was to create three new Townships at:

• Cnocnaneach and Druim Suardalain

• Ledbeg

• Tileathdoire

 

The initial thoughts had been to create 5 new crofts in each location. BOH reported that following discussions with SNH, it may only be possible to let 3 crofts at Tileathdoire. His preference, having spoken to the Elphin Community, was for the creation of smaller units. Suggested mapped areas would be provided shortly.

 

It was agreed that the dilapidated old croft building at Cnocnaneach would be excluded from the letting process in the first instance.

There was a proposal at the end of the meeting to organise a meeting at Glencanisp to discuss more deeply our process for creating new crofts, including taking advice from some experts with experience of croft establishment, and holding a public session to get feedback from the Community on the proposal so far. Saturday 3rd December was proposed as a possible date for this. MH offered to take this matter forward. Action MH

In order that the Board should be in a position to decide how to move forward in the best interests of the AF, it was agreed that BOH should produce maps of all the potential land available for croft creation, so that the true scale of what was available is clear.

As soon as this was done, the Crofting Sub Committee would meet again in order to put their recommendations to the Board. Action BOH


 

9. Administration of Glencanisp Lodge during weddings and large events

 

It was agreed that all weddings and large events at Glencanisp Lodge booked in future would only proceed with AF staff resident in the building to oversee proceedings. 

10.  Glebe land & possible acquisition

Pressure is continuing to be exerted on the Church of Scotland officials, in order to finalise discussions. A willingness to sell the Glebe land to AF is understood to have been agreed in principle by the Edinburgh Trustees of the COS, but requires the final approval of the local Church Officials. Indications that funds will be made available from the Scottish Land Fund have been received.

11. AOB

AD commented on the much improved AF website, but asked that the more recent pictures of weddings, taken by professional photographers, should be added to the site. In future, he also recommended having a video of the Lodge and its facilities added to the site. This will be done when the internal improvements are complete.

 

Date of next meeting

Thursday 20th October 2016


 

 

 


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