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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 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


 

 

 

July Board Meeting Minutes

Posted on 6 October, 2016 at 6:25

Board Meeting of Assynt Foundation, 6pm 21st July 2016, Glencanisp Office, Draft Minutes

1. Present – Nigel Goldie (Chair), Stewart Hill (Via Skype), Helen Simpson, Mandy Haggith, Jeanette McCarthy, Brendan o’ Hanrahan.

Attending – Gordon Robertson, Rebecca Macleod, Adam Pellant, John Venters

Apologies – Vanessa Ling, Ken Hamilton

2. The Minutes of the last meeting were proposed by HS and seconded by JM, and approved.

3. The Meeting was to be a brief one, followed by a site visit to the walkers’ Car Park. This will give the opportunity to Board Members to evaluate the need for more parking spaces and to view the area adjacent to the Loch where further recreational opportunities may be developed.

4. Actions and Matters Arising

• Crofting – The request for Applications of Interest in the creation of new crofts on land owned by the Foundation has been well received. We have had around 30 applications. The deadline has been extended till Mid-August.

• New Directors – Action NG to circulate paper next month.

• Zoning in Glencanisp policies/grounds area – Map still to be drawn up and circulated. Action BH

• Possible housing plot on Drumrunie – Ongoing. Action BH

• Draft Forest Carbon Contract (Circulated) – The Board considered this contract and approved in principle its signing. By doing so, match funding for the establishment of the new woodland creation scheme at Druim Suardalain could become available. BH emphasised the complexities of the current scheme and the uncertainties over the timing of the work, grants and other future payments. SH stressed the need for more detail on the actual figures involved but agreed with NG that AF should sign when satisfied. This contract will be a vital element in the implementation of the scheme. All were aware of the need for the project to be professionally implemented, as there could be penalties if the trees fail to become established, and areas of replanting become necessary.

• Potential acquisition of Glebe Land – A Surveyor appointed by the Church of Scotland (COS) has been seen on the land. A valuation figure is expected shortly. GR will contact the COS to enquire about the status of the old Manse itself. Suggested also that GR begin initial work towards SLF application in advance to save time later. Action GR

• CALLP – NG suggested, and it was agreed, that GR should be the Representative for the Foundation. BH and NG will also attend meetings when they are able to do so. BH will be meeting with Boyd Alexander for a general update on a number of matters.

• Departmental Budgets – KH will prepare these for all departments, based on the one currently being circulated for the Stalking Department. Action KH

• Lodge – A full Financial Appraisal of the new developments and current urgent upgrades within Glencanisp Lodge will be presented to HIE in September. Action GR/AP

• Health & Safety and Renewable Energy – These two items were deferred until next month’s Board Meeting when further data will be presented. Action GR

Date of next meeting

Thursday 18th August

 

June Board Meeting Minutes

Posted on 4 August, 2016 at 11:50

Minutes Board Meeting of Assynt Foundation, 16th June 2016 at Glencanisp Art Studio

 

1. Present – Nigel Goldie (Chairman), Stewart Hill (Via Skype), Helen Simpson, Mandy Haggith.

Attending – Ken Hamilton, Gordon Robertson, Rebecca Macleod, John Venters, Agnes Dickson, Alex Dickson.

Apologies – Vanessa Ling, Jeanette McCarthy, Brendan O’ Hanrahan.

2. The minutes of the last meeting were proposed by NG and seconded by SH. Alex suggested that a summary of the Minutes should be published in the Assynt News, in order to update the Community on the work of the Foundation. It was noted that the position of Vice Chairperson had not been filled.

3. Matters Arising

• Woodland Creation adjacent to Glencanisp Lodge, within the CALLP Project – This has been a long-running and complicated scheme which has changed in ‘extent’ and has required imaginative means to provide the funding required. The Woodland Trust will take the lead in the implementation of the approved Forestry Commission Scheme, and a Draft Management Agreement is expected from CALLP soon. This will be inspected by BOH and GR before circulation and a recommendation to the Board. Background information to be sent to MH. Item for inclusion on next month’s Board Meeting Agenda. (Action AP/GR)

• Suilven Path Construction and Interpretation – This scheme is also part of the CALLP and funding for the path improvements has been secured. Chris Goodman has confirmed £8,000 is available for interpretation of this project and a meeting within the CALL Offices is to be arranged shortly. Details will be circulated. (Action GR)

• Challenge Event – VL, BOH and GR had been looking at a number of options. VL had developed initial thoughts of using locally based organisations and volunteers. These ideas were being developed. GR had received a contact list from Amanda Bryan and was evaluating feedback from private event organisers as to their costs, margins, and recommended types of events that would deliver worthwhile returns. A further more detailed report will be delivered at the next Board Meeting. (Action GR/VL/BOH)

• Drumrunie plot – Planning Applications for plots in the initially proposed area will be opposed by Highland Council’s Planning Department. BH is looking at other potential sites in the area and will report back. (Action BH)

• Budgets – KH continues to work on the production of departmental budgets, but there are a number of practical details with the new accountancy package that require resolution. (Action KH)

• New Directors – NG is developing a briefing document setting out what the Board is looking for in new Directors. This will be designed to encourage people to join the Board and to attract the skills required. Action NG.

• Zoning of Glencanisp Policies – BOH, GR and NG to complete their initial report. This plan will include recommendations for a new site for the existing rifle range.

• Financial Report – The combined profit/loss of Assynt Foundation and Assynt Biz is up on budget, primarily due to the recent income generated from the filming of Edie. NG reported that he will be meeting with the producer of the film when next in London to pursue an offer by the production company to provide promotional material for AF. All agreed that it is vital to maximise the benefit of this film to AF and the area as a whole.

• Governance – NG had previously circulated a paper highlighting the recurring nature of a number of important governance disciplines. It is important that a system is implemented to ensure that these are regularly reviewed and that reports are made to the board, who are ultimately responsible for ensuring best practice within the current management structure. NG and GR will develop this list further. Much of the routine professional administration will be the responsibility of the office staff, who are responsible for record keeping. However, there are certain specialist areas (crofting, PR, arts and crafts, stalking, renewable energy, housing, membership, health and safety, risk management etc) where staff will work closely with a designated board member to deliver agreed targets. SH stressed that matters relating to Policy and Strategy are the responsibility of the Board. The job of implementation was down to the Executive Officer. (Action GR and NG will report back to the next board meeting.)

• Reaching out to the community – JV had written a paper which highlighted the importance for AF to offer opportunities for business development on its land. These could be joint ventures or private enterprise opportunities. The spirit behind this suggestion was welcomed and is enshrined within the Business Plan. All proposals will be evaluated by the board.

• Board Member Recruitment – There is a need to be pro-active. NG is working on a written specification for potential new members, setting out the role and the requirements. MH suggested we speak to other organisations and see how they do things. Agnes suggested that a group of ex directors could be set up as an advisory board, thus offering help and guidance to new Directors. Agnes also reminded the meeting that, in the past, Board members used to have days out upon the estate for management and social reasons. It was agreed that these ideas should be taken further. JV offered the opportunity for Directors to have a day on the hill with him in order to gain a better understanding of the stalking duties within the business. (Action NG)

4. Executive Officer’s Report

• Honesty Shop. The shop had been opened and was trading ahead of the budgeted figures. It had been very well received with a number of goodwill donations received along with payment for produce bought. The profile will be raised with wider publicity.

• Glencanisp Lodge. GR has been looking into options for more flexible occupancy of the Lodge. A trial run for offering B&B will be carried out next week, given that other local B&Bs are generally fully booked over the summer. Christine has agreed to move into the Lodge whilst guests are present, in order to meet and greet and take the money due. Costs and income will be carefully monitored, but a real opportunity exists, particularly following on from the success of the North Coast 500 promotion.

• Woodchip boiler – GR still trying to find the best solution for this facility.

• Hydro – GR stated that he regarded the delivery of a successful hydro scheme as his number one priority. There has been a change of Energy Minister. GR had been working closely with the previous minister to continue urging the Government to put in place the best support schemes for community renewables. Further calls to the Glencanisp Office from the Scottish Government have given cause for reassurance that the matter is being taken very seriously.

• Bird hides – No Red Throated or Black Throated Divers have nested near hides. Issues relating to Planning and Licensing consents for photographing Golden Eagles are being resolved. Alternative wildlife tours are being discussed within the Estate Office and with Northshots. JV and GR will be meeting with Tamara Lawton of SNH shortly.

• The Walker’s Car Park – JV and GR are looking at the practical issues for extending the existing car park, which is now often full. Recent requests from visitors to allow overnight campervan parking give encouragement that there is an income earning opportunity. It will be important to liaise with the Common Grazings Committee. (Action GR/ JV to take matters forward.)

• Big Lottery Fund Webinar and Glebe Land. GR and AP had taken part in an online Webinar designed to explain opportunities and funding procedures. Funds, including those for legal costs, could be available towards the purchase of the Glebe Land, currently under discussion with the Church of Scotland (COS). GR should hear from the COS shortly before moving forward with community consultation, preparation of a business case for acquisition, and applications to grant-giving bodies.

• Business opportunities. Having been unable to reach agreement for the positioning and funding of a new purpose-built building, GR suggested Chris Goodman’s woodworking business could be relocated to the garages next to the honesty shop. The floor could be simply concreted, a wood burning stove installed and suitable lighting and windows installed. It was noted that others have previously asked about unit lease opportunities, and as such it was agreed that we must advertise this opportunity to the wider community. Highland Council has indicated that improvement grants would be available for a future tenant. Issues relating to the Council Tax/rates for the new proposal and the existing Tin Bothy used by Chris will be resolved by GR. MH suggested advertising the Tin Bothy as a new opportunity but its present condition mitigates against this. GR will investigate grants for improving the latter and report back to the Board. (Action GR to report)

 

• Signage- GR stressed the importance of finding distinctive signage for the Foundation. This will raise the profile, provide clarity and convey the numerous positive messages that we wish to convey. MH suggested that if the signs were also in Gaelic, we could apply for grant funding. Ongoing.

• Website and Marketing – To be revisited and clarified. A wide-ranging discussion highlighted the importance of having an effective vehicle for promotion, information dissemination, commerce and administration. Many options and ideas were aired and Alex advised that a young local IT expert could be worth asking for advice. The importance of having a ‘content management system’ was stressed by MH. NG stated that the Foundation needs to be absolutely clear on what it is we are trying to say, and we need to find the best way to say it.

This matter will be re-presented at the next Board meeting in much greater detail to enable directors to approve or amend the ‘direction of travel’. The general feedback from the wider public is that the new website (a work in progress) is a vast improvement on what was there before. (Action GR/RP)

• Crofting – MH reported that the Crofting Working Group had been formed and had met. The Group comprised Mandy Haggith, Brendan O’Hanrahan, Helen Simpson, Ray Mackay, Claire Belshaw, Kirsty Macleod, and Gordon Robertson. MH had consulted with neighbouring crofting officials, Donald Strathan, Tim Wright and Ray Strang. Following a review of the Foundation’s landholdings, sites for potential crofts existed at Ledbeg, Tiliathdoire, Cnocnaneach, Glencanisp, and potentially on the land currently owned by the Church of Scotland, which may be acquired in the future. It was agreed to identify the need, and as a result the wording of a formal call for interest was agreed. This will be published in the Assynt News, The Northern Times and the West Highland Free Press as well as on AF’s website. Applicants will be asked to submit a brief summary of themselves and what particular aims and objectives they have for any croft land let to them. Applications will be submitted to the Estate Office, and this will be the point of contact. The details of the terms and conditions attached to any future lettings will be the subject of careful analysis by the Crofting Working Group, in consultation with others, and brought to a future meeting of the AF Board. Any lettings will be under the terms of the Crofting (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2013 (which consolidates numerous previous Acts) and will not include an automatic right to buy. The Board approved the principles set out above and the process recommended. (Action GR to publish and advertise the call for interest as agreed.)

5 A.O.B. NG reported on the possibility of funding for an Arts Bothy Project. This positive news was still being refined, but there was a clear message that things were happening, and this boded well for future opportunities of joint working with the Arts Studio at Glencanisp.

6 Date of Next meeting - Thursday 21st July 6PM

 

 

May Board Meeting Minutes

Posted on 4 August, 2016 at 11:50

Minutes of Board Meeting of Assynt Foundation, 6pm 19th May 2016, Glencanisp Office

1. Present – Nigel Goldie (Chairman from item 2 onwards), Stewart Hill, Helen Simpson, Brendan O’Hanrahan, Mandy Haggith (as director from item 6).

Attending – Ken Hamilton (to item 5), Gordon Robertson, Rebecca Macleod (to mid item 7), Adam Pellant, John Venters, Agnes Dickson.

Apologies – Vanessa Ling, Jeanette McCarthy.

2. Appointment of office-bearers – Nigel Goldie was appointed as Chairperson. Proposed by SH, seconded by BH. No vice-chair or treasurer appointed at this stage. NG thanked everyone.

3. The minutes of the last meeting were proposed by NG and seconded by SH, approved, subject to amendment on social media item to include wider communication management besides marketing.

4. Matters Arising

• Challenge Event

VL has researched the topic, speaking to people locally and other communities that have held similar events. GR stressed the need to evaluate the true costs of holding such an event balanced against the potential income and community involvement. A small committee will observe and report. VL has recommended starting modestly and engaging with local businesses. NG said we need more advice and feedback, as £15,000 income has been written into the Business Plan for the challenge in 2017/18. JV raised the issue of the timing, suggesting that Oct-Feb would not be ideal because of the estate’s stalking commitments. Furthermore BH pointed out the May-Aug bird nesting period may be unsuitable. AP questioned whether the challenge should stick to main access routes. NG asked GR to work with VL to produce a report, ready for the next meeting. (Action GR & VL.)

Agnes talked about the fun day the Foundation held a few years ago and how it was a success, made money, and had the community involved, highlighting that events can be run without costing a lot of money.

5. Financial Report

Ken went over April budget vs. actual and the cash flow. Issue raised of Deer Management Group fees, and likelihood that these will increase in coming years.

Department budgets – Ken will provide more detailed breakdown of stalking budget having spoken with John. (Action KH) [Ken left meeting.]

6. New Directors

The Directors had a private meeting before the Foundation meeting to discuss new directors. As part of that discussion, it was agreed to co-opt Mandy Haggith onto the board. Mandy was welcomed and thanked. NG stressed the need to find more directors, and produced a paper about elections of directors. HS suggested a mentoring programme for new directors. NG and SH suggested re-running advertising in Assynt News for directors. HS volunteered to put something in. (Action: NG to circulate paper.)

• MH suggested that staff may have a roll in picking potential directors. JV also pointed out that the community needs to know that they can come and ask questions at any time.

• GR raised the need to have important paperwork in the office on file, such as insurance papers. NG wants to see all files sorted out, and transferred onto central electronic files for easier access.

7. E.O. Report

• Honesty Shop

GR talked about progress to date. Stuart will be making new shelves for the display of merchandise and has painted the interior. It is hoped that the shop can be open shortly. The Northern Times are keen to run an article on this development when appropriate.

• Croft Creation

GR recommended allowing the current grazing tenants of the area of land let at Drumrunie to work with the Foundation in creating a croft on this land. This would be a quick fix whilst the Foundation also worked on creating new crofts for others at Ledbeg. BH and MH were in favour of an open allocation process for all new crofts including at Drumrunie, in which case there would be no guarantee that the current grazing tenants there would get the crofting tenancy. MH suggested a working group, with someone from the Assynt Crofters Trust invited to join. It was decided that MH, GR, BH &HS would be on the working group. (Action: working group to produce a report.)

• Deer Management

The required Deer Management Plan is being produced by BH as an independent contractor. BH reported that the recent Section 7 meeting resulted in our cull numbers being reduced at Drumrunie, which should be favourable with our neighbours at Inverpolly and Eisg Brachaidh. There has been an increase in deer numbers at the eastern end of Glencanisp Estate near Ledbeg. BH has submitted an SRDP application for reducing deer density from 9 to 7 deer /km2 on that area.

 

• CALLP Druim Suardalain Woodland Scheme

Recent progress towards a management agreement with The Woodland Trust for Scotland (WTS) has been made. The WTS would be paid our SRDP grant directly, in order for them to bankroll this and other future CALLP woodland projects on our ground. Action: GR will circulate email about this. Helen asked about social and economic outcomes and risks from our woodland creation schemes. We will know more detail on risks once management agreement with WTS is drafted.

[Rebecca left meeting.]

• Film Crew etc.

The filming of “Edie” had created much hard work for the Estate and Lodge staff but the long term benefits will hopefully reap dividends for the Foundation and the community at large.

“How Scotland Works” programme featuring John with Andy Summers undertaking ‘eagle photography’ had been aired and was very well received.

 

• Premises Licence – now obtained. Thanks to Jeanette.

• Hydro

Gordon is hopeful that hydro development may be possible within the 5 year timescale of the Business Plan. We will know in two weeks if a grant from Local Energy Scotland of up to £40,000 is approved for a Feasibility Study for a 100kW scheme. GR to meet with Dr Paul Monaghan MP and SSE to discuss grid issues and alternative outlets for future electricity generation.

• Angling – Shona Marshall of the West Sutherland Fisheries Trust will send her report from recent electro-fishing to GR.

8. Website

Draft new website, combining both AF and Assynt.Biz trading activities, has been set up by Richard. It is ready to make live and is intended to replace both assyntfoundation.org and glencanisp-lodge.co.uk existing websites with one co-ordinated site.

Agreed GR to authorise content of blog posts and if unsure may check anything contentious with NG.

NG asked for photo requests to be more specific.

 

9. Glebe

Agreed to progress discussions with Church of Scotland Trustees towards possible low-cost acquisition of the Glebe land. (Action: GR)

 

10. AOCB

Reports/Reviews at board meetings – Action: NG to plan in advance for various specific topics to be covered at different board meetings alongside normal business.

 

NG suggested that there may be an opportunity for the Board to undertake an ‘away day’ event in order to develop skills and learn about relevant enterprises of value to the Foundation and the Community. Action. NG to provide further info at next Board Meeting.

 

Date of next meeting – Thursday 16th June.

 

 


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