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Board Meetings

Board Meeting October 2012

Minutes of Assynt Foundation Board Meeting
11 October 2012
Glencanisp Office, Lochinver


Present: Helen Steven (Chair), Patricia Robertson, Fergus Stewart, Stephen Smith, Clive Sheppard, Andy Summers, Stewart Hill (Co-opted director – non voting)
In attendance: Jane Tulloch, Adam Pellant, Sarah Corkish

1. Apologies: none

In camera meeting took place in advance of board meeting, which then began 4.20pm.

The Board and staff welcome Sarah Corkish, new housekeeper for Glencanisp Lodge, who has a wealth of experience in hospitality management.

2. Declarations of interest: Fergus Stewart, Clive Sheppard – both left meeting at appropriate point in agenda.

3. Minutes of last meeting: Patricia proposed, Clive seconded. Minutes adopted.

4. Matters arising:
• CALL: Stephen Smith felt that too much staff time is spent on ‘periphery’ type meetings/activities, i.e. CALL and Forest Plan, and that this is not best use of time. It is noted that CALL is of huge importance to AF.
Action: Andy Summers to be CALL link. Staff will still require to attend meetings periodically.
• Forest Plan/Woodland Grant Schemes: Adam and Helen took photos of trees in exclosure alongside Loch Assynt in order to prove existence and therefore hopefully not lose £4k of WGS funding. Final Forest Plan invoice from Robin Noble will come later.
• Hydro: Maldie Burn visit took place 11 October 2012. Stewart Hill had attended and commented on the huge scale of the engineering works – a very sophisticated programme, the technology of which we do not yet have a full understanding of. It is needed to be very clear on what AF would be getting into. It may be wise to consider partnerships with experts and/or electricity companies. See Biz report.
Action: Russell, Stuart and Adam to attend meeting with CES and others on 24 October to progress position on possible LEADER funding.
• Newsletter: contributions requested.
• Ledbeg/Crofting: Helen and Stewart to attend meeting with HIE on 23 October re: Ledbeg House/crofting etc to take advice on issues including mapping, grazing (tenancy) rights for surrounding areas, etc.

Focus Item: Recent Directors Meeting: Held on 20 September. This was an all-day meeting with full discussion about the aims and objectives of AF, and forward plans unanimously approved. Minutes distributed separately.

5. Financial report: Most stag stalking income now received. All CRESP grant for costs of hydro flow monitoring and grid connection studies now received.

6. Staff and Subgroup reports:
Jane: Assynt Festival 2012 was a modest success, with over 1,000 participants across 22 events in 14 locations. Glencanisp open day was also a success, in particular the falconry display by John and the fire-pit-cooked venison by Stuart Belshaw. Proposed to have as annual event. Thanks to all that helped.
Jane talking to NorthColour Ltd who have produced Suilven film, potential to show in lodge with orchestral accompaniment. Costs awaited from NorthColour.
Lodge pricing: Jane and Sarah to implement new pricing scale.
Forward plan for next 12 months: distributed separately.
Adam: Log Building Project – BLF grant extension request letter sent.
SRDP Deer Management Proposal - map of extra grant area for cull concentration on Glencanisp has been accepted by SNH so should be able to commit the proposal any day now, then hopefully an approval and contract will follow. We won’t actually claim grant until after the hind season has finished.
SRDP Forest Plan & WGS contract closure - to send FCS text and photos following visit to Coille na Moine WGS exclosure. We may get a total of around £12,500 in final payments for the Woodland Grant Schemes.
FCS will change our Forest Plan contract so we can start claiming the Forest Plan SRDP grant towards Robin’s Forest Plan work.

Meeting on 24th Oct with LEADER etc in Inverness, to discuss possible grant etc.
Hopefully very soon after that we can work towards advertising for staff post and tendering for EIA production.
Valuation of Ledbeg House – neither us nor HIE have yet appointed a valuer.
ERDF – another grant audit visit is happening 23/24 November.
Stalking Sub Group: Current stalking activities ahead of schedule. Jeff and George arrive mid-October to assist with cull. It is noted that Jeff has given AF the use of his Argo free of charge for this season. Stephen to host end-of-season get-together for stalking staff.
Focus Item: Lodge Sub Group: Meeting to be held on 18th October – open to public – to brainstorm courses for the lodge.
Action: Adam to produce 3 year business plan for AF and lodge. Outline to be ready for next board meeting, with full draft complete by end of year. Business plan not wish list or ideas – must be timescales and costing.

10. A Biz Report: Board met and discussed finances. Business opportunity has arisen which will be considered. The extensive work on the hydro project by Biz is noted.
Action: Biz meeting 2 November.

11. AOCB: Proposal to take on the walled garden as a commercial enterprise, setting up an organic nursery and garden. Proposal is that tenant would invest own capital, but AF be responsible for wall and gates. Benefits would include ecotourism opportunities, fresh produce for lodge and community, guests can purchase. Opportunities for vulnerable adults to work, courses to take place, etc.
Action: Board request sight of 3 year business plan including exit strategy and notice period.

Date of next meeting: 8 November, 4pm, Glencanisp Office.
Meeting ended: 6.50pm.

A further ‘in camera’ meeting was held by directors to discuss Clive’s proposal and AF rental policy. Clive and Fergus left prior to discussion.