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Board Meetings

Board Meeting May 2015

Minutes of Assynt Foundation Board Meeting
5pm, 20th May 2015, Glencanisp Studio, Lochinver

1. Present/in attendance/apologies
Present at meeting: Stewart Hill, Nigel Goldie, Helen Simpson, Jeanette McCarthy, and Brendan O’Hanrahan from item 4 onwards,
In attendance at meeting: Jane Tulloch, Adam Pellant, Ken Hamilton all from item 4 onwards.
2. Declarations of interest: None.
3. Minutes of April AFmeeting
Proposed:NG; seconded JMc Minutes approved.
4. Actions and matters arising

Deer Pit: Action rolled over from April – Brendan to meet with stalking staff to discuss locations.
Boathouse refurb cost: Action rolled over from April – Nigel to send round cost info.

5. Finances
Ken went over cashflow report. (Once in place, new accounts software will produce monthly P&L management accounts.) It had been expected that all current debts would be payable by end of May, however HIE grant is now likely to be received in two instalments, meaning some payments now expected to be made later than end of May. The cashflow situation is still fragile.

6. HIE Support
Stewart, Nigel and Ken met with HIE representatives on Monday. Claim has been put together for an initial grant payment of around 17k, with a further 10k to be claimed later in the summer. The 17k should reach us by end of May.
Argo: HIE have requested a full cost/benefit analysis for the argo purchase which has been budgeted by hire purchase or similar arrangement in 15/16 accounts. (Under terms of the grant agreement HIE permission is needed for a 3 year period for any capital expenditure above 1k.)
Ledbeg House: HIE have stated that we need to contact their solicitors for formal matters relating to Ledbeg House sale. Action: Stewart pass on contact details to Jeanette then Jeanette progress.
IT upgrade: Quote from supplier has been sent to HIE, which includes new machines and non-cloud-based file storage. Awaiting response from HIE on this.
Lodge Trading Business: HIE want to fund a consultant to appraise the potential for a lease of the Lodge trading activity to an independent lessor instead of to Assynt.Biz. Agreed happy for the consultant appraisal to go ahead, with no obligation on board to follow recommendations resulting from it.
Executive Officer funding: HIE have informally offered to fund 100% of a two year fixed term executive officer post salary. This would be similar in many ways to previous development manager role. Agreed in principle to this. Expectation is it will take considerable time to progress to an officer being in post. Action: Stewart to draft a job description and circulate.
Road: HIE will get repair works costed by a civil engineer.
Letter to MSPs: HIE have asked that a letter be circulated to MSPs/MPs previously written to, noting that previous non-payment of some costs has ceased or is soon to cease. Agreed, but noted that many costs cannot be paid until after receipt of HIE grant. Action: Stewart to draft and circulate.
VAT payment: Raised by HIE. Action: On behalf of Assynt.Biz, Ken will discuss unpaid VAT surcharge with HMRC.

7. Ledbeg House Sale
Title Plan is needed showing area intended for sale, before solicitor will actively market. Noted that map on which some content of home report was based differed from the actual map of intended sale area. Action: Brendan to produce map and send to Jeanette; Jeanette will pass to solicitor and discuss access rights etc.

8. Entertainment & Alcohol Licences
Nigel is dealing with Carbonlite regarding certificates needed for warrant sign-off for studio. Studio also needs drains test. For alcohol licence, HC has our original application paperwork, which can be processed once studio warrant is in place. A personal licence-holder is also required for sale of alcohol on premises. While there are individuals in Assynt who have this, it is agreed that Jane should obtain a personal licence as AF/Biz staff. Training for this is required, and may take some time to organise and occur.
Entertainments licence: Action: Jeanette and Helen to progress, possibly with help/advice from Alex Dickson.

9. Draft Business Plan
Helen Steven has drafted community section. Jane is halfway through lodge section. Action: Helen Steven and Jane to finalise these. Ken to revisit figures.

10. Organisation memberships
Agreed to retain paid memberships of Scottish Crofting Federation, Community Land Scotland, and also Community Energy Scotland if requiring paid subscription, but to drop membership of Community Woodlands Association for now, as cost-saving measure.
Noted that paid membership of West Sutherland Deer Management Group is a legal requirement. Action: Jane pay for SCF and CLS when due.

11. Community Engagement & Celebrating 10 Years
Helen went over the programme of events. These include music, art and writing workshops on Saturday, ceilidh in lodge on Saturday evening, needing to overlap with per-room lodge guests, Sunday coffee & pancake morning, and Sunday sculpture workshop. Agreed Helen (Simpson) and a friend can stay in lodge overnight while both are managing the weekend events. Action: Helen Steven to confirm whether BBC Alba require accommodation. Action: Jeanette to put up posters and print A3 poster/s. Adam to print A4 posters.

12. Stalking offer for young people
Stewart suggested an invitation being publicised for interested young people to have a free try at deerstalking under guidance of estate stalker. Directors agreed. Action: Stewart to progress.
13. Farm Subsidy Basic Payment Scheme
Brendan reported. New system following CAP reforms is a Basic Payment Scheme, which can be claimed by a farm for ground without livestock, if that ground is under a management agreement with SNH, or in some cases if an Environmental Assessment is carried out. Estimated cost of the assessment would be around 40k, for survey work etc, with estimated subsidy amount of 60k (both for year 1). But exchange rate and level of subsidy uptake will affect this, costs would be incurred before subsidy received, and there is very limited time to carry out first round of surveys. Also, morally questionable as we are not a practising farm with livestock. Agreed not to pursue this as too hard and with too many uncertainties. Action: Brendan and Adam investigate potential to claim for Drumrunie ground only, on basis of its existing SNH management agreement. Deadline for application is 12th June.
14. Hydro Approach – Stewart has meeting on 3rd June with party who contacted us through Bidwells about possible hydro scheme on Glen Canisp river system. No objection to this meeting going ahead.
[Adam left meeting.]

15. New Directors – No new potential directors were identified.

16. Timber Clearance – It was agreed not to pursue the proposed clearance party at the end of June but to wait until timber clearance issue is resolved.

17. Meeting with neighbours – SH reported. It was agreed all estates have financial problems. Cull targets next season may be reduced due to the number of winter deaths. The use of the pony path on Drumrunie was discussed. Pest control had been an issue at Elphin but given the action taken by the Foundation this is considered to be resolved.

Date of Next Meeting: 11th June, Stoer Village Hall.