Board Meetings

Board Meeting April 2012

Minutes of Assynt Foundation Board Meeting held 12th April 2012, Glencanisp Office, Lochinver.

Present: Pat Robertson, Fergus Stewart, Bill Badger, Helen Steven, Clive Sheppard, Adam Pellant, George Farlow (councillor), John Cullen

1) Apologies: Stephen Smith, Andy Summers, Russell Robertson, Jane Tulloch.
2) Declarations of Interest: None
3) Minutes of Last Meeting: It was noted that under minutes of previous meeting on item concerning treasurer the word “nominal” be changed to “overview”.
On the item concerning the Ledbeg dig the word “underneath” be changed to “around”.
With these amendments the minutes were accepted as a true and accurate record.
4) Matters Arising:
Sheep at Ledbeg – Bill noted that they were still present.
Action: Pat agreed to follow up with owner of sheep.
Peat cutting at Elphin – It was noted that the issue had thrown up an awareness of the water pipe being laid along this site at present and there was no recollection among Board members that permissions had been sought or granted.
Action: Adam to investigate. The issue of peatcutting is to be discussed at a further Board meeting.
5) Financial Report:
Concerning requests from HIE to adopt a new accounting system; it was noted that Pat has asked Neil Gerrard and Tim Wright to give an opinion on the best system to adopt which fulfils the Board's needs. It may well be that the system we use at present satisfies all the Board's needs.
Adam presented an extensive and full report of the present finances and future projections and the Board wished it to be noted that they appreciated the clear and precise presentation.
Clive noted the inclusion of Council Tax in the expenditure and informed the Board that more often than not the Highland Council granted a Zero rating for charities and trading social enterprises.
Councillor George Farlow acknowledged that this was true and offered to make a representation on the Foundation's behalf. The Board expressed surprise that this issue had not been flagged up before.
Action: Adam to make formal request to Highland Council and Clive to offer support.
Adam raised the need to consult with the Charities Commission about the timescale allowed for repayment of the loan made to Assynt Biz.
Action: Adam to follow up.
The Board welcomed Adam's suggestion that he might present monthly targets and results for the Board's monitoring purposes at future meetings.
Adam brought to the Board's attention the challenging financial forecast and the need to think radically about future potential income streams as well as monitoring closely monthly performance.

6) Ledbeg House – There was a detailed discussion regarding Ledbeg House and the need to get it re-roofed and weather tight before discussing potential future uses.
Action: Stephen to be asked if there has been progress on a roofer's report. Bill to obtain a key and inspect the house.
7) New Directors: The Board was asked to actively try to recruit new directors from the community and especially to find those with business experience to assist Russell on Assynt Biz. The Board was also asked to introduce ideas which would increase potential for more activity using the resources of the Estate.
8) Forest Plan: Noted that Robin Noble is putting the final touches to the Plan and that the Plan did not include the environs around the Lodge. Bill mentioned that the John Muir Trust may be interested in grant aiding tree planting around the Lodge's environs. Action: Bill and Andy to investigate.
Hydro Project: Previous e-mail from Adam noted the costings for grid connection feasibility studies for both potential sites. It was noted that flow monitoring of the sites has begun. Sites are to be prioritised once flow monitoring was completed. There was much discussion concerning the possible effects caused if the projects were to proceed but the Board finally Agreed to wait until full information was available before making a decision on which project to progress or indeed if either project should proceed. Also Agreed that a public meeting would be held once all information was in place.

9) Strategic Aims Meeting for Directors: No date convenient for a majority of directors has yet been found therefore no date has been fixed. All directors present agreed that this opportunity was important however. Possible venue suggested was Elphin Community Hall.
10) Lodge Defects/ Retention: Pat and Adam to progress.
11) Subgroups: It was agreed that subgroups should be formed and regular reports presented at Board meetings. Sub groups formed:
? Stalking - Stephen, Russell and John.
? Lodge - Helen and Pat.
? Garden - Jane, Fergus and Clive.
It was agreed that Stuart be engaged to finish repairs to walled garden perimeter and the polytunnel frame donated from Raffin be uplifted as soon as possible. John and Stuart to be asked to pick up when time permits.
? Eco tourism - George Farlow, Bill. Jane to be asked to progress input from eco tourism expert known by Helen.
? Ecology - Andy, Bill, Mandy, Bill Ritchie, Ian Evans, Viv and Claire.
Bill reported that the group was formed and working well. £5,000 grant had been applied for from John Muir Trust for Phase 1 of Habitat Survey on the Glencanisp Estate. The group was keen to conduct a water vole survey and funding was being sought.
? Housing - Pat and Clive.
12) Stalking Report: John reported that all stags had been sold for next season and bookings for hinds were up on last year. Hamish and Jeff have been engaged for the new season. Board wished it to be recorded that they appreciated the good work John and his occasional team were carrying out.
13) A.O.C.B. George informed the meeting that the N.W. GeoPark has moved to become a Social Enterprise and is seeking charitable status in its own right. He asked the Foundation to become a signed up “interested party”. The Board Agreed.
George, John and Adam then left the meeting at 17.55 to allow the Board to discuss staffing issues.

An In Camera minute of this meeting is available separately.