Minutes from Board Meeting – 10th March 2021

Date of meeting: Zoom meeting Wednesday 10th March 2021 6pm

Present: Nicky Bailey, Pat Bray, Fiona Eccleston, Beth Hollihead, Donald McQueen, Katy Sneyd

Apologies: Stu Hollihead

Absent: Caroline Hudson

Chair: Beth Hollihead

Minutes: Pat Bray

Declarations of interest: None

Referenceto agendaMinuteAction

1Minutes of the previous meeting:
Draft minutes from the board meeting of 24th February 2021 were approved. 
Matters arising:NB reported that the duck house and aviary have been purchased. BH reported that we have suitable candidates for the two grower’s positions, to be finalised after the applications deadline has passed. NB to give a definitive answer on funds for the electrical repair work by the end of the week. BH advised that preparations are well under way for the AGM, the electronic voting platform has been agreed and posters are in preparation. The draft trustee nomination forms have been finalised and circulated to the membership. BH has obtained the password from Neil Hickson and amended the website as required. Decision on rehoming the homeless pig to be postponed pending financial update from CH. KS suggested we consider crowdfunding. 

2The 2021 AGM:
BH summarized the situation, the invitation has gone out and we will receive our full list of trustee nominations by midnight on Monday. We have to organize a board report and financial report. We hope to send these reports out together at least a week before the AGM. NB advised that the annual accounts are almost ready and are non-controversial. A number of options were discussed for approving the accounts and we decided to tell the members in a covering letter for the financial report that we intend to ask for approval at the AGM. Any problems/queries to be emailed to the board in advance.    BH presented the AGM timeline: nominations received by 15th, ballot set up by 18th, board report and treasurers report circulated by 20th, AOB items received by 23rd, voting closed on 25th, paper ballot counted on 26thBH to deliver the postal voting forms, redact personal data from the membership database and share with Nick Ashcroft so he can verify the ballot. PB to liaise with KS and Nick Ashcroft to organize the ballot and registration process. PB to conduct the paper ballot with KS by video link.BH has prepared a draft board report to be passed round the board for comments/additions. Board report to include an explanation of the co-option process for external directors stating that NB and FE are co-opted under Rule 67 for their specific expertise and skills. They are not required to be society members and are not required to stand down at the AGM. They are recruited for a fixed period of one year in the first instance, with the option to extend this following a performance review. The performance review will be conducted annually to coincide with the AGM. NB, FE to prepare treasurers report. BH to pull out relevant facts and figures from board minutes and circulate. Format is to be brief but will include an introduction to new financial team. CH,BH and SH to stand down at the AGM leaving eight available vacancies for new trustees. No nominations received yet so BH to send out another request for trustee nominations to the membership.BH to ask members to submit AOB (preferably AGM-related items only) in advance for the AGM agenda with a deadline of 23rd to enable discussion at the next board meeting.





3Grant funding bids:
PB and DM gave an overview of progress so far. There are two new projects being planned. The first is a community builders yard, which aims to collect unused building materials from local contractors, wholesalers and others. The materials will be cleaned, sorted and sold on or recycled in the local community. In the process we want to offer employment opportunities via a government apprenticeship scheme to care farm learners and others who find it difficult to get a job (waste resource operative, level 2). PB,DM and FE have submitted a first stage application to P2C. If this is successful we will be invited to submit a full application, which is currently in preparation. PB outlined some practical considerations in getting the Wareing shed ready. We have £12K of ring-fenced funding that should just about cover the work required, the unknown factor is the potential cost of the electrical work. PB to seek further quotes from electrical contractors. BH to investigate time limits on the grant funding.   
The second project comprises a functional renewable energy microgrid system, with a significant education/training element. This will be achieved by means of an educational ‘energy trail’ at GCF in tandem with an apprenticeship scheme (community energy specialist, level 4). Community rollout of a retrofit scheme comprising energy saving and energy storage technology is planned at a later stage.A working group is being set up with other farm members and external partners from the SustainNET group. We will apply for funding in two stages, the first stage is for additional solar PV and battery storage facilities at the farm, which will make us largely energy self-sufficient. A bid is currently being prepared for funding up to £50K from Arriva. The second stage will fund the educational elements and a wind turbine. This will leave time to obtain planning permission and other consents.KS advised of a new Wigan Council Community Recovery Fund initiative, planned to be launched at the end of March. This initiative offers small amounts of money in the first instance, to bring community groups back together. Larger awards will be available later, with a focus on apprenticeships that will be a good fit to the projects we are planning. 

4Maternity issues:
BH advised that discussions on staff cover and maternity entitlement are ongoing and the board discussion is pended until a later board meeting. 

5Wigan Council governance documents:
BH outlined our progress so far. We have collectively reviewed most of the policy documents and have reached a consensus but we have not yet addressed the business plan. FE has prepared a draft outline, including timelines, for the strategic business plan but we need to first consult with staff and members before deciding on a full strategic business plan with targets and direction. FE has a lot of expertise in this area but this is something that needs to be done thoroughly and comprehensively to have the best chance of success and BH requested that Wigan Council review our draft planning and proposed timelines to see if the requirements of the lease are fulfilled. KS advised that she will write a review of progress at GCF, to be presented to the Corporate Land Management team for review. This team are tasked with the management of the asset transfer lease and there are certain criteria that need to me met in order to comply with the requirements of the lease. Various factors will be considered in the review process, including the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and possible extension of deadlines. KS has observed that progress has been made in governance but the decision will rest with the review panel.DM suggested that we also consult with Lynn Calderbank, who has put forward a draft business plan and offered to help us refine it. BH suggested that FE circulate the draft strategic business plan to the whole board and include LC to try to amalgamate our efforts in this area. We agreed to formally adopt the documents that we have already reviewed. DM highlighted the need to deal with the risk assessment system, which is relevant and related to the business plan (DM and PB to work on the first draft, BH to supply useful template documents).   We agreed to formally review the policy documents at the next board meeting on the 24th March. 

6Any Other Business:

7Date and time of next meeting:6.00 p.m. Wednesday 24th March 2021, by Zoom.
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