Board Meetings

Board Meeting 10 September 2009

Minute of meeting of Directors of Assynt Foundation held in the office at Glencanisp on Thursday 10th September 2009

Present: Don Campbell (Chair), Alastair MacAskill, Davy Robb, Tony Usher, Stephen Smith, Patricia Robertson (from item 5 onwards.

In Attendance: Mark Lazzeri (DM), Adam Pellant (PO), Alec Dickson.

1. Apologies: Fergus Stewart, Patricia Robertson (for items 1 to 4)

2. Minute of 30th July 09 Proposed Davy, seconded Alastair.

3. Matters arising
Elphin School: Alastair is investigating various options for possible usage of the building, which may cover costs associated with taking on a lease of the building. Ongoing.
Housing: Patricia attended meeting on 13 August with Rural Design, who are carrying out the affordable housing feasibility study. It is planned that a public meeting be held in late October / early November at which Rural Design will present and seek opinions on their ideas so far.

4. Redevelopment Project
4.1 After successful negotiations, contract has now been signed with Rok. Pre-start meeting is to occur on 11th September.
4.2 Some furniture no longer required has been donated to Homeaid. More furniture is to be taken out for storage on Saturday morning. There are various options for storage space locally.
4.3 Rok expect to take on some local labour. They have asked AF to put up a notice regarding this.
4.4 An application for funding towards additional water storage/treatment is pending. Action: Mark.
4.5 Log Construction/Training: Agreed to wait until further into the main lodge works (when it will be clearer what contingency amount is required towards lodge costs) before moving this forward.
4.6 Agreed that a strict chain of communication must be adhered to throughout the project, between contractor, design team, Mark, and the board.
5. Stalking
Stalking subgroup met on 4th September. Stephen presented the subgroup’s recommendations to the board. Don thanked Stephen, Mark and the rest of the subgroup for their work.
The following items (5.1 – 5.3) were agreed by the board:
5.1 Unaccompanied Shooting & Stalking
There is to be no unaccompanied shooting or stalking on the Estate except with prior written permission of the Development Manager or Head Stalker. Such permission is to be specific to place, date and quarry species, and to be limited to named individual/s.
Any such permission would only be granted in such instances that compliment the estate’s shooting or culling policies. For example permission to shoot stags would not normally be granted when this conflicts with the Estate’s need to maximise income from sporting lets. Stag stalking surplus to the sporting requirements of Assynt.Biz may be made available at a cost of £100 per stag. There would normally be no charge where a permission is granted for hind stalking.
Permission would only be granted to competent individuals as demonstrated by their holding of DMQ Level 1, DCS Approved Register Status, or an equivalent qualification. It will also be an essential requirement that any individual will provide evidence of being covered by appropriate insurance (full 3rd party liability of £5,000,000 is usual). This is in accordance with pending recommended legislation and FCS policy, and recognised industry best practice.
An individual may be deemed unsuitable for permission by virtue of inappropriate behaviour or conduct, particularly with reference to alcohol or drug use and activities such as poaching or firearms offences.
Any permission will be dependent upon the individual/s following all best practice guidelines – in relation to deer stalking specifically, DCS Best Practice Guidance. It will also be dependent upon the individual/s collecting and recording such data and statistics as desired by the Estate to satisfy its own or others’ monitoring and research interests.
Unless otherwise stated in the permission, carcases will remain the property of the Estate, however for locals granted a permission, the first carcase would be made available to them for a £30 admin charge. Further carcases would be available for purchase not greater than the current Game Dealer price.
5.2 Accompanied shooting & stalking for locals
A local person not necessarily able to demonstrate competence to shoot unaccompanied may stalk or shoot on the Estate whilst accompanied by a person approved by the AF Board (usually the Estate’s Head Stalker). There would be a reduced charge for the provision of this service to locals, which for hind stalking would be not less than £50 per outing, and for stag stalking £100 per beast.
As for unaccompanied stalking, any carcase would remain the property of the Estate, but would be available for purchase not greater than the current Game Dealer price.
Provision of any such service would depend upon the availability of an approved person and it being compatible with the Estate’s shooting and culling policies.
5.3 Organised shooting for members of the Assynt Foundation:
A limited number of days of mixed shooting may be made available to AF members (and offspring of suitable age) towards the end of the game shooting season. Such shooting would be organised and supervised by Stephen in conjunction with John Alex and others as appropriate. This activity would also be dependent upon appropriate conditions and estate workload.
5.4 Tony requested costings for various stalking equipment prior to purchase.

6. Walled Garden
Two local people are to be approached in future for stone walling work.

7. Ledmore Forest
Ballot result: There was a 40% return from those balloted. 52% of the returns were in favour of attempting to purchase Ledmore Forest. This equates to a 21% minority in favour, of all those balloted.
It would in principle still be possible to complete the National Forest Land Scheme application. There would then be 21 further days in which to demonstrate a very significant increase in community support.
The board agreed to accept the ballot result received, and not complete a NFLS application.
The District Valuer had been jointly requested by AF and the Forestry Commission to produce a valuation by the end of August. However we have recently been informed that the valuation has been delayed and would not be available for a further fortnight (2 days before what would have been the NFLS application deadline). As it is no longer required, the valuation has now been cancelled.

For public ballots relating to possible community purchases under conventional Community Right to Buy legislation, the full electoral role would have been used. However, for this ballot relating to the National Forest Land Scheme, the Highland Council were legally unable to use the full electoral role. Instead, only the edited list was able to be used. (We were advised that addition of further registered voters of which we were aware would not be all-inclusive and so would be open to bias, affecting the integrity of the ballot.)
As such, around 25% of those on the full electoral role were not given an opportunity to vote in this ballot. The board expressed their dissatisfaction concerning this.

8. Development manager’s report
New trainee stalker Jay arrived today.

9. Project Officer’s report
Nothing to add.

10. Finance
Situation will continue to be tight due to lack of income from lodge over the coming months.
Patricia raised the matter of provision of laptop for lodge bookings/marketing staff.
Davy offered to donate a laptop for this.

11. Newsletter/communications
Agreed to put up displays on AF projects at the Affordable Housing public meeting. A newsletter will also be produced soon.
Mark reiterated his offer to hold monthly ‘surgeries’ in the village if someone will organise this.

12. AOCB
Suggested that signing of contract for lodge be noted in the Assynt News.
Meeting closed 8.30pm.

Next meeting Thursday 8th October.