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Board Meetings

Board Meeting August 2014

Assynt Foundation
Minutes of Meeting of the Board of Directors
6th August 2014

1. Present: Stewart Hill, Chair, Nigel Goldie, Brendan O’Hanrahan, Jeanette McCarthy, Helen Steven, Andy Summers.
In attendance: Jane Tulloch, Adam Pellant, Ken Hamilton, Rich Williams (for item 7)
2. Apologies: None.
Meeting started 5.15pm.
3. Declarations of Interest: None
4. Minutes of 11th June Meeting – Proposed Nigel, seconded Helen.
Minutes of 10th July meeting – Proposed Jeanette, seconded Nigel.
5. Actions and Matters Arising
5.1 Ted’s tree: Potential dates to be suggested for planting. Action: Helen.
5.2 Card payments: Worldpay terminal system working with test payment made.
5.3 Log building: Final works ongoing.
Movement of useable stacked wood to pole barn for storage – very little of the stack is remaining.
6. Financial Report
Ken Hamilton is contracted through part-funding from HIE to review AF/A.Biz’s finances and determine actions. He presented his report to the board and made recommendations including:
- Efforts should be made to increase Lodge bookings this year. Action: A.Biz board and Jane.
Ken agreed that the decision taken in A.Biz meeting to invest around 2k in extra advertising was wise. He also recommended website improvement work. Action: A.Biz board and Jane.

- A ‘loan holiday’ should be sought from Social Investment Scotland.
(Recent discussions Stewart had with SIS suggest a loan capital payment holiday may be possible for 6+ months but that a period of non-payment of both interest and loan repayments in unlikely to be possible.) Action: Stewart.

- Sage 50, which has already been bought and partly used, should be used in future for bookkeeping and as a basis for financial reporting for both companies. Action: Ken / Adam

Ken will work with office staff on cash management for coming months.

6.4 Ledbeg House: Agreed that sale of Ledbeg House should be pursue, to pay off a proportion of SIS loan to reduce ongoing annual debt burden thereafter.
6.5 Seeking Grant Funding towards ongoing costs: Agreed that an application be made for grant funding towards staff salaries and possibly some other costs. Approaches to other potential funders should also be made, if staff time allows. Action: Adam.

7. CALL / HLF Landscape Partnership Project
Rich gave update and went over timeframes, key dates, financial options, and AF projects.
7.1 Financial Options:
One option for financial management of projects is for Scottish Wildlife Trust to act as banker, such that project expenditure and main HLF grant income would pass to/from SWT’s accounts, not affecting AF financially. (Match funding, however may need to come to AF. Exact details would need working out, and may differ from project to project.)
Alternatively, AF could financially manage their projects, paying project costs and receiving HLF grant and match funding directly. This may require financing through substantial interest-bearing loan, to allow cost payments well in advance of grant receipts.
7.2 Timeframes / key dates:
Mid August 2014 – decision in principle to be made by AF as to whether Scottish Wildlife Trust are to be requested to be banker for some or all of AF’s projects. Initial steer is that AF will want to take up this offer. A meeting is requested with relevant people within SWT to discuss details of this. w/c 3rd Sept suggested for meeting. Otherwise, Steve Gardiner, SWT funding officer, is in the area in October for next steering group meeting. Action: Rich to arrange.
End of August 2014 – community consultation meetings – Andy, Brendan, Nigel and Stewart are attending Assynt meetings. (Also CALL and AF tables at games day, Brendan to be at AF table.)
End of Sept 2014 - deadline for final project list (with title, focus, broad detail and rough budget for each project)
May 2015 - Second round application planned to be submitted.
October 2015 – Decision from HLF.
Five years of project delivery after that, 2016 to 2020.
7.3 AF Projects:
Woodland Expansion – It’s expected that woodland creation on AF ground will cost around £600k.
Suilven Path improvement/repair work – £120k or thereabouts.
Waymarked Nature Trail at Glencanisp, and leaflet – £17k.
Wildlife Hide at Glencanisp – £5-10k.
Riparian Management of Culag river system – around £5k. (West Sutherland Fisheries Trust may be lead partner, but project on AF ground)
Venison Development – this may be added to the project list, intending to result in a venison processing facility, likely to be located on AF ground, at a cost of around £20k.
Other possibilities:
ATV track creation / improvement on Drumrunie, in particular Gleann Laoigh. (Previously removed before Stage 1 application, but may be able to put it back in, with SNH support, given the national importance of protecting the Special Area of Conservation.)
Demonstration Croft Creation – may be sought in partnership with Scottish Crofting Federation, and could potentially be sited at Ledbeg.
7.4 Discussion of staffing:
A limit on staff posts within the whole Landscape Partnership project is understood to have been imposed by HLF. 5 posts within the whole project –
1 x Development Manager (already in post - Rich, SWT),
1 x Assistant Development Manager (already in post - Fiona and Elaine jobshare, employed by SWT),
1 x Community Forester/Woodland Manager(?) (to be employed by SWT probably),
1.5 x Outdoor Woodland Learning Officers Posts (a CCWT project),
0.5 x Broch Officer post (Historic Assynt project)
(2 posts removed in advance of stage 1 application were crofting post and events/marketing type post.)
Rich meets with HLF advisor quarterly. He was asked to check if a proportion of costs could be added to individual projects to cover costs of project management by AF staff. He was also asked to raise with HLF the general concerns regarding our limited staff time and limited financial resources for funding staff time in managing the projects. Action: Rich.
In terms of general AF staffing, it was noted that HIE are thought to be willing to fund 90% of cost of further contracted financial work such as currently being done by Ken.
8. Ledbeg House
8.1 Potential buyers: So far 3 new interested parties have been in touch since the notice of intention to sell.
8.2 Funder’s permissions: SIS, HIE and BLF have a standard security over our assets. Permission to sell Ledbeg House has been granted by SIS. We awaiting a decision from HIE. Yet to approach BLF. Action: Adam to pass on BLF contact details to Stewart.
8.3 Resolution by AF members: An EGM is planned to occur in October, likely late in the month, which will include a half-year financial review and a resolution being put forward to sell Ledbeg House. [Now set for early November. AP.] Need to check venue availability (possibly Assynt Centre or Leisure Centre, as Village Hall expected to be closed for redevelopment). Action: Jane or Adam. Need to check and work round staff holiday dates and school holiday dates. Action: Adam to pass on his holiday dates in October to Stewart.
8.4 Agreed to create a basic GANTT chart to plan and monitor progress of actions towards sale, given the level of urgency. Action: Adam.
9. Crofts
Brendan reported. HC pre-planning advice obtained regarding potential croft housing. It’s unlikely croft housing there would be put into the local plan, but it could still go ahead. A high standard of design would be sought to fit the landscape. Political support is thought to exist, including within HC. CALL may be able to support planning towards crofts, but HLF may refuse to include it as part of the Stage 2 application. Scottish Crofting Federation are interested in establishing a number of demonstration crofts and Ledbeg is possible for this. This may better fit HLF’s objectives. Agreed to contact Planning Aid Scotland for advice. Action: Brendan.
10. Tin Bothy
People have stated interest in use of Tin Bothy as a workshop.
Action: Jane to give Stewart HC contact details for advice on reclassifying Tin Bothy as not being a dwelling house, to stop paying council tax on the uninhabitable building.
11. Actions Lists from Away Day
(Most action updates recorded for this month are noted elsewhere in minutes.)
11.1 IT report: Agreed, with some reservation, not to progress recommended and mainly-HIE-fundable IT systems improvements due to the cost, given the dire cash situation.
12. General planning for Glencanisp policies area
There are many potential proposed developments relating to the Glencanisp policies area. These include:
- the planned HLF Landscape Partnership project to create a waymarked nature trail
- a request for a near-roadside site for a bothy for a climbing group
- a proposal raised by a director for various small accommodation units as an AF income stream
- a recent request for lease of a site for a workshop, possibly along with a lease of ground for coppice woodland creation
- the proposed siting of the Arts Bothy from Edinburgh National Modern Art Gallery (outwith the immediate policies area but relatively nearby)
- the proposals for woodland creation and deerfencing in the Glencanisp policies area as part of the Strategic Forest Plan
Anything taken forward will need to fit with ongoing activities including deerstalking (zeroing target range, deer larder access, vehicle repairing, etc), lodge guests, use of new studio building, pole barn access/use, lodge fuel supply (fuel deliveries, possible future woodfuel processing), Gardener’s Cottage residents, walled garden acces/use, ceramics studio, gallery and new woodfired kiln site recently agreed, any future use of the Tin Bothy and Old Boathouse, etc.
12.1 Planning Exercise: Agreed to use maps to plan different development areas including for local enterprise units. Following this process, decisions on specific requests/proposals can be made. Action: Brendan to purchase large scale digital map tiles for the area.
12.2 Arts Bothy: Agreed to the proposed siting of the Arts Bothy to the north of policies area, near the ridge of Druim Suardalain.
13. Studio Report
Nigel presented report.
13.1 Lease: Agreed to creating a lease document for the studio to detail the paid lease of the studio by A.Biz from AF. Action: Nigel to suggest lease value.
13.2 Management: Agreed to establish a new subgroup, with A.Biz director leading but with subgroup membership to be approved by AF board. There is hoped to be paid admin staff time to come as part of Creative Scotland Arts Bothy funding, in maybe 6 months’ time. In meantime, agreed that Nigel will manage studio use. With agreement from the Chairperson, Nigel has applied for £1,800 of Creative Scotland Professional Development funding, to cover travel costs for him to visit and learn from other arts facilities. Agreed Nigel would personally fund the £200 of match funding, if the application is successful. Action: Nigel to give list of proposed subgroup members by next meeting.
14. AOCB
14.1 Table on games day: Brendan/Andy to organise and be on it.
14.2 Work Experience request: Supervision time issue raised.
14.3 10 year anniversary of buy-out next year, noted.
Next meeting: 5pm Wed 3rd September. Meeting finished around 9pm.