Minutes from Directors meeting 14th October 2019

 

REDACTED VERSION

Date of meeting: 14 October 2019

Present: Joe Taylor, Dave Fairhurst, Jonathan Roby, Alan Kehoe, Rhiannon Jones, Kath Godfrey, Jane Fairhurst, Paul Corkill

 

Apologies

Ian Bowyer, Danny Halliday

Absent:

Chair

Joe Taylor

Minutes

Dave Fairhurst

Declarations of interest

Rhiannon Jones declared an interest in relation to aspects of agenda item 5

Reference

to agenda

Minute Action
1 Minutes of the last meeting

The minutes of the meeting of 9 September were accepted after minor amendments to the draft. Redactions were agreed to items 3 and 5 on the grounds of commercial sensitivity and confidentiality.

2 Matters Arising

Item 3: KG asked if the FCA had been contacted regarding issues relation to an earlier return.  AK said this hadn’t been done yet. KG stressed the need for us to contact the FCA regarding an error. DF agreed to draft a letter from the Board to the FCA, to be approved by AK and KG before being sent.

Item 5: JR brought in a hard copy of the employee handbook that he had reviewed.  He suggested a couple of minor amendments. KG to implement and pass update to JR and DF, for DF to print and provide to the office for use by staff.

Item 7: KG had previously advised the Board that the Council were adamant that full planning permission was required at the full cost as previously stated

DF/AK,KG

KG/DF

3 Treasurer’s report

AK went through the year-end figures.  He had adjusted the records as previously proposed by KG to provide a more accurate split between costs incurred by the café and costs attributable to the Farm as a whole, these latter costs being mainly linked to infrastructure work. This produced profit of just under £3000 for the year 

After a discussion that noted the seasonal nature of sales at the cafe and shop the Board noted that overall there had been a slight improvement in our finances over the previous financial year and that there was no immediate cause for concern regarding our cashflow.  

The Chair thanked AK for his work in producing these figures. 

The report regarding appointment of a book-keeper was not discussed.

4 Chair’s Report

The Chair submitted a report summarising the outcome of a working Group meeting of 22.9.19 regarding the development of clear aims for the Farm.  DF circulated the note of a later meeting he had held with Nick Ashcroft on the same subject. A further meeting of the working group needs to be arranged.  When that group has settled on some proposals, they can be the basis of consultation with staff before any final proposals are considered by the members.

JT

5 Delegated Authority:

DF spoke on a report he had submitted concerning various aspects of managing the Farm.  After discussion the following steps were agreed without a vote:

  • The Farm completes the work on a mission statement and aims as soon as possible.
  • Over the next 4 weeks we start the process of setting realistic and achievable targets for each Department in agreement with the appropriate manager. The targets to include such matters as financial performance over the next year, steps to promote our stated aims and whatever the discussions with the Managers bring out, including external reporting requirements.
  • Our Board meetings to be restructured so that the meeting starts with the Farm reports.  Each Manager will be expected to submit a prior report and to attend the Board to discuss progress towards agreed targets and to discuss any other issue as appropriate.
  • Departmental Managers to receive board papers and reports at the same time as the board, the only exception being where confidentiality may be compromised.
  • A staff bulletin to be issued after Board meetings to try to ensure that staff are kept up to date with issues and Board decisions as soon as possible.
  • As part of the target-setting meetings, Departmental Managers to be asked to identify any areas where they feel their authority and responsibility are unclear.
  • The Board adopts the general principle that responsibility and authority for the day to day management of the Farm are devolved to departmental managers as much as possible.
  • The Board adopts the general principle of “no authority without responsibility” in relation to executive functions carried out by volunteers so that no actions are taken that could have financial or broader organisational implications without the prior agreement of the Board or alternatively an explicit delegation from the Board to the volunteer.
  • The Farm establishes a Staff Welfare Fund. Payments into the fund to be based on an equal split between the Farm and the Fund on any overall net profits over and above the profit targets set by the Board, the dispersal of the Welfare Fund to be decided by the staff and agreed by the Board as long as it does not contravene any aims or policies of the Farm.
  • That at least one Board member commits to attending any functions held on the Farm
  • That the Board look into the possibility of organising an away-day for staff and Board members early in the next calendar year.
  • That managers are informed of the above decisions concerning the future running of the Farm.
  • That a staff meeting be organised for 5.00 p.m. on Monday 28th October 2019
6 Farm Reports

Care Farm:  

The report was noted, along with Hazel’s recent update regarding a recent staff resignation on the Care Farm and Hazel’s decision to keep the staff arrangements as at present, with her covering the vacant post in the short term. It seems possible that the recent new client, who is self-funding, may not continue to use the Farm.

Woodlands: 

No report re: woodlands, though RJ updated the Board on work recently done with biodiversity monitoring and a winter work programme as part of her report.

Growing:

It was agreed that an interview panel for the grower job would consist of RJ, NH and JT.  RH to liaise with KG regarding organising the interviews.

Animals and Education:

The report from RH was noted

Café/Shop:

The report was noted and the issues mentioned relating to communications and unclear responsibilities had already been considered under item 5 above.  The Board noted the need to take care in our communications that we did not leave ourselves open to misinterpretation of our honest efforts to improve the working of the farm and appreciated the effort Mark had made to draw our attention to communication problems.

Projects/infrastructure:

This issue was not discussed.  DF expressed a desire to see a clear prioritisation of infrastructure work, which would mean the development of a costed list of infrastructure needs.

7 Any Other Business

DF reported on a safeguarding issue that had just been brought to his attention by HM, the Farm’s Safeguarding Officer. The Board agreed a number of steps to deal with the issue.

It was also decided that existing Board members should apply for DBS clearance at their own expense.  DF to discuss with Hazel. It was also agreed that any future candidate for the Board would be expected to apply for DBS clearance should they be elected to the Board.

DF/JT

DF

9 Date and time of next meeting

11 November 2019, Time to be confirmed.

 

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