|Posted on 21 January, 2019 at 5:40|
Minutes of a meeting of the Board of Directors of Assynt Foundation on 12th November 2018 at the Arts Studio, Glencanisp
Present: Claire Belshaw, Nigel Goldie, Simon Jeffreys, Lewis MacAskill (Chair).
In Attendance: Gordon Robertson (Executive Officer); Elaine MacAskill (Woodland Adviser) part only.
Apologies: Alex Murray, Jane Tulloch.
Opening the Chair opened the meeting at 3pm, noting the meeting was quorate. It was agreed the Chair could take items outside the order of the Agenda circulated by GR. SJ would be taking the Minute.
1. Declarations of Interest - SJ declared an interest as a member of Assynt Angling Club.
2. Ledbeg Woodland Project.
EM made a verbal report on progress. She reported that the planting plan (shown to the Board) had been agreed with the Woodland Trust and lodged, with the emergency agreement of the Chair in order to remain on schedule. She explained that AF might have got a higher grant if lodging had been delayed for a month or two, but this would have delayed the project and prejudiced the income flow to AF. However, she now expected that income to AF in 2019 would be £80,000 next summer (with £20,000 held back for maintenance in the first year) and between £200-250,000 later in that summer when planting is complete and the Forest Carbon Sale was completed with the help of the Woodland Trust who have considerable experience in this field. In the following 5 years, there would be income of £20,000 a year from the Forestry Commission for maintenance.
The Board unanimously agreed that the Chair had been right to authorise submission, rather than wait.
EM produced a formal agreement between Woodland Trust and AF, which had already been signed on behalf of the Woodland Trust, for the Project, which also gave WT the option to buy the resulting timber, which option was essential to enable VAT recovery for the project. This was approved by the Board and CB was authorised to sign on AF’s behalf, which she did, and the signature was witnessed by SJ.
The Board expressed its thanks to EM for seeing the project through in such a professional and thorough manner.
EM then left the meeting.
3. Whole estate Valuation
GR reported that Galbraiths had promised this by the end of the week. GR did not now expect the value to be around £6/7 million, and more like c£2.7/3 million, given valuation constraints. The Valuation would be based on the RICS Red Book Valuations which would not include the income from the Native Woodland Plantings, Hutting Income or any projects not already in place.
4. Glencanisp B & B
The Chair reported that the value of owning the Hilux vehicle would be evaluated. This vehicle has previously been used by the Keeper. It is important to ensure the economic implications and these will be assessed on how much business use is needed for such a vehicle. It is currently used to take the bins down to the end of the access track and for occasional deliveries and collections.
It was agreed that ABiz needed to be carefully prepared for the planned review meeting with Sam & Rachael.
The Board noted the terms of the 12th March 2018 engagement letter we sent to them for this season. Further Hospitality advice will be sought.
It was also agreed that we would need to take a view on how we wanted to operate the B & B next season, as the current model needed refining. A Biz Board will be actively looking in to the detail.
Action – ABiz board/GR
5. Stalking Lease
GR reported that he would know by close of tomorrow what our deer cull requirements would be as part of our deer management obligations under the DMG. This would enable us to lay down our requirements for a contractor.
The Board agreed that we would want to lease out the stalking/deer management for a fixed fee, with the contractor providing everything required viz Argos/ponies and having freedom to sell the stalking days to individual hunters, under his supervision. This year’s contractor had offered an indicative fee to us a year for a 5-year agreement with annual review. This compared with our previous arrangements where we had made no profit at all on deer stalking when everything was considered, like wages and cost of equipment provision. The Board also agreed that we would only want a single contractor for the entire Glencanisp and Drumrunie estates, given our lack of management resource.
It was agreed that between them GR and SJ would produce a tender specification which would be sent to current interested parties and advertised on the AF website and Assynt News, with a 2-week deadline for responses and that AF would not be bound to accept the highest offer but would be free to accept what the Board considered best met its objectives. There are also opportunities to extend the current Moorland Deer Management Agreement with SNH which fits in well with improving the habitats, encouraging natural generation and opening the way for educational wildlife tours.
SJ was instructed to submit to the Board for approval a schedule of rates for daily, weekly and season permits for trout fishing on the waters we owned and for daily permits for salmon fishing on the burn and lochs in that system, bearing in mind they were Class 3 on ScotGov’s conservation scale and therefore catch and release only. It was noted we had 3 boats currently we could put out for let, and that any fishing on Loch Druim Suardalain would be subject to other water sports usage.
AF staff will liaise closely with Assynt Angling to ensure that any future changes involved the Community and enabled continued involvement of local participants.
It was agreed that if SJ was satisfied that Ibookfishing would be a satisfactory web-based system for selling permits, we would go ahead with that as the platform for selling permits, to save management time and make permits available 24/7/365.
It was also agreed that SJ would be authorised to act as Chief Fishery Ranger on a voluntary, part-time basis for 2019.
7. Johnston Carmichael
The Board considered the latest version of the JV projections for AF and AB which had been received on 9th November.
Regarding JC’s notes: -
GR stated 2 schemes were under consideration. The enablement grant was not repayable if we decided not to go ahead.
The Board noted that JC were putting forward a figure of £350,000 now, as a loan. This was based on the positive plans for the Native Woodland Expansion over the coming years, and the increased turnover of Glencanisp Lodge. Furthermore, the potential for further income from Shepherds Huts and the proposed establishment of a Hutting Community offered the Foundation a sustainable future, for the first time. The substantial increase in the Capital Value of the Foundation’s assets also gave reassurances to any Working Capital Business lenders.
It was also noted that HIE had hinted it might still be willing to fund the conversion of the 3 extra letting rooms for the B & b and that RBS might be willing to increase the overdraft limit to an extent that would enable this to be done as an alternative. Either way, the Board considered that taking this development in time for next season would be a good idea if money was available.
1 GR to follow up with JC to update detailed matters.
2 Whole Board to digest the figures and get comfortable with them ASAP.
3 GR to ensure that JC aware of comments made by HIE and to incorporate agreed changes.
4 Current drafts to be shared with HIE and our bankers to keep them informed.
5 When reports are finalised, they will be shared with HIE, OSCR, our bankers RBS, and BOS and other potential funders.
1 Management Accounts for [month]
These as circulated by Rebecca yesterday with her covering email were carefully considered by the Board. The extra stalking income was noted as a welcome bonus.
The requirement for this was noted and that the FY year accounts were progressing and that the accounts needed to be filed at Companies House by 31st December.
The Chair reported that CALL had yet to circulate the outcome from the all parties meeting recently and that this could be important for the future funding of AF. There was the prospect of funding for croft development and/or a land manager post. There was also the possibility of a venison project at CALL level.
SJ reported that he would finalise drafts for a Code for Directors, a Conflict of Interest Policy and new Articles of Association for ABiz, which HIE had indicated were needed by AF, and circulate them to Board members with cc to HIE with a view to adoption soon.
There being no other business the Chair declared the meeting closed at 5pm.
[Draft by S. Jeffreys 13 Nov. 18, 2018]