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Agenda item

Cobtree Manor Estate Financial Position


The Senior Finance Manager (Client) introduced his report summarising the financial position of the Cobtree Manor Estate as at 31 July 2020.  The report covered the performance of the Golf Course, Kent Life, Cobtree Manor Park and residential properties and highlighted the need for robust management and monitoring of the budget in response to the significant risks to the finances and operations of the Estate presented by the ongoing COVID-19 situation.


The Senior Finance Manager (Client) advised the Committee that:


·  The forecast assumed that the Charity would receive all of the contract income due this year less the reliefs granted to the Cobtree contractors at the last meeting.  However, to date, no payments had been received from any of the contractors.  If the Charity were to receive all of that income, it would be looking at a breakeven position at the end of the year in respect of the running costs of the Estate taking into account the investment income and the repayment of the car park loan to the Council.


·  There had been a strong recovery in car park income which was now back to the level that the Charity would normally expect at this time of year.  In addition, expenditure at Cobtree Manor Park was being restricted where possible to essential items only and further savings had been made by leaving the apprentice post vacant and by reducing the working patterns of one of the Ranger posts at their request for work life balance reasons.


·  Given the impact of the COVID-19 situation on the financial markets, there had been an initial reduction in the returns on the Charity’s investment in Charifund.  The investment was valued at £930,938 as at 31 December 2019 but fell to a value of £670,148 as at 31 March 2020.  However, by 25 August 2020 the value of the investment had increased to £704,018 and the recovery was continuing.


·  At the meeting of the Committee held on 18 March 2020, agreement had been given to the purchase of a park utility vehicle.  The Charity had not yet taken delivery of the vehicle, but the Officers, in looking at ways to improve the cash flow situation, were considering the option of selling it.


During the discussion, Members noted that a utility vehicle was a key piece of equipment. It enabled the Park Rangers to access all areas of the Park quickly, to transport tools and materials with them, and to complete tasks efficiently and effectively.  They indicated that the utility vehicle should not be sold at this stage and that the situation be reviewed in a year’s time.


In response to questions, the Senior Finance Manager (Client) undertook to:


(a)   Submit an updated version of the Charity’s Capital Programme to the next meeting of the Committee; and

(b)  Report back on the rate of return on the investment in Charifund, a specialist investment fund for Charities, and the reasons for the fall in value of the Charity’s investment in the fund, to enable Members to consider whether an alternative fund might be more appropriate to meet the Charity’s needs.




1.  That the financial position of the Cobtree Manor Estate as at 31 July 2020, as set out in the report of the Senior Finance Manager (Client), and as updated at the meeting, be noted.


2.  That the utility vehicle should not be sold at this stage and that the situation be reviewed in a year’s time.

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