Minutes from Board Meeting – 24th March 2021

Date of meeting: Zoom meeting Wednesday 24th March 2021 6pm

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

Apologies: Stu Hollihead

Chair: Beth Hollihead

Minutes: Pat Bray

Declarations of interest: PB personal friend of Andrew Law of Astrum Energy

Referenceto agendaMinuteAction

1Minutes of the previous meeting:
Draft minutes from the board meeting of 10th March 2021 were approved. 
Matters arising:
BH advised that we are still waiting for costs information for Penny the pig so we agreed to further pend the decision until costs are made available to the new board for a decision after the AGM. The review of sample policy documents from Wigan Council is partially complete. Outstanding items are the business plan, which will require consultation with the membership, the induction pack, which requires further work and the risk assessment, which DM will circulate for review. We were unable to formally adopt the documents we have reviewed, due to time constraints but we agreed to try and adopt by email if possible. If not, then all the documents will be formally adopted by the new board after the AGM. .  

2The 2021 AGM, except AOB:
BH outlined progress to date with AGM plan: the board report, financial report, minutes of the last AGM and the agenda for the current AGM have been circulated, Zoom link to be circulated later by BH. The election is underway, all the paper ballots have been issued, late registrations and other queries have been dealt with and voting reminders have been sent. Closing date is 10 pm Thursday 25th. Postal ballots to be counted at 9 am Friday by PB and KS by video link showing the whole process from opening the mailbox to counting the votes. There are currently two different versions of the membership list, which will be merged into one list by PB. Two copies will be kept, one by PB and the other by Rhiannon, with instructions that both copies are updated simultaneously if new members join. The farm copy held by Rhiannon will be the master copy.For the meeting, we first need to establish that the meeting is quorate, for which we require 10% of the membership to attend. The minutes are an agenda item so may come up for discussion. If so we agreed to state that it is appropriate for the AGM minutes to be high level ie they should not contain any unnecessary detail.It was agreed that BH deliver an upbeat summary of the board report, focusing on the positives and the plans for the futureNB and FE to briefly introduce themselves to the membership followed by a brief overview of the financial report. The result of the motion to waive the requirement for a financial auditWill be displayed on screen and announced. The results of the election of new directors will be displayed on screen and announced by KSWe agreed to ask Nick Ashcroft to give an overview of the election process, emphasizing the measures we have taken to conduct a free and fair election. It is hoped that Nick, who is not a board member, controversial figure or nominee, will be well positioned to offer reassurance on these issues.We agreed to welcome positive, forward looking comments from the floor. We also agreed that BH issue a statement thanking all our staff and volunteers for the hard work they put in during the Covid crisis and looking forward to working once again with our furloughed staff to move the project forward.BH to circulate an outline plan to the board for the meeting, indicating schedule/speakers/timings etc 





3AOB for the AGM:
We have received a number of requests for discussion of various issues, under AOB and under the minutes. There was a lengthy discussion about whether or not contentious issues relating to alleged defamation of character (on both sides of the farm divide) should be minuted or discussed at the AGMBH (chair) to make a blanket statement at the meeting covering all these requests, acknowledging the hurt feelings on both sides and asking the members to take the requests to the reconciliation panel.BH will then introduce a short talk from Neil Hickson and Ian Bowyer, which explains the rationale and scope of the panel and detailing the process of reconciliation.FE to talk briefly about the strategic business planning for the farm, outlining the process of membership consultation and the formulation of the overall strategic business plan. 

4Grant funding bids:
PB, DM and FE outlined progress on a funding bid for Power to Change that they are putting together. Stage one of the application has been approved and stage two will be submitted on Friday. The key idea is to make use of the government apprenticeship scheme to help create pathways to real employment for some of our care farm clients and other disabled individuals in the local community who might find it very difficult to find a job.We agreed for PB to register GCF on the government disability confident employer scheme, which is creating a movement of change, encouraging employers to think differently about disability and take action to improve how they recruit, retain and develop disabled people. There are a number of areas of farm activity which would benefit from this scheme, including the café and shop and community builders yard but the funding will focus on extra staffing for the care farm to help make this happen. PB outlined an expansion of the community energy project, which is currently under consideration. This will involve running the planned microgrid as a demonstration facility at GCF alongside a larger capacity wind turbine sited locally. The idea is to use the money from selling the renewable electricity that we generate to fund a wider community project to provide community energy apprenticeships and fund a community rollout of energy saving and renewable microgeneration with battery storage. DM pointed out that the area under consideration for siting the turbine had been selected with optimum windspeed (and therefore optimum output) in mind. KS has contacts in the land registry to help trace the landowner.BH has provided NB and FE with an email address for a contact at the Co-op. grant fund to direct enquiries about the current grant. BH also advised that the current £12K award for the community builders yard does not seem to have any specific time scale for spending. We considered three quotes for the electrical work for the bottom Wareing shed workshop and decided to award the contract to Astrum Energy, pending settlement of any relevant planning issues (PB did not vote). PB to investigate planning requirements. 


5Maternity issues:NB advised that the board has already approved by email, a package of improvements on statutory maternity entitlement for a current staff member. We agreed to adopted this package for all staff in the future.

6Any Other Business:
7Date and time of next meeting:TBA in consultation with the new board.
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