Agenda item

Cobtree Manor Estate Financial Position


The Senior Finance Manager (Client) introduced his report summarising the current financial position of the Cobtree Manor Estate.  The report covered the Golf Course, Kent Life, the Manor Park and the residential properties.


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


·  Despite the closure of the Manor Park, Kent Life and the Golf Course at various times during the year due to COVID-19 and the contract issues which had been experienced, the provisional outturn for 2020/21 showed an overall surplus of £79,570 against a projected deficit of £10,740.  There were three main reasons for this:


a)  Car park income was higher than had been forecast;

b)  There were staff vacancies during the year; and

c)  There was a partial deferral of the loan repayments for the car park works.


·  The figures assumed that all outstanding contract payments would be made.  Planning Solutions, the operator of Kent Life, had now settled all outstanding sums.  However, an outstanding payment was awaited from Mytime, the operator of the Golf Course.


·  Due to the uncertainty over contract payments, there were concerns about the cashflow position.  It was agreed with the Director of Finance and Business Improvement that loan repayments for the car park works could be deferred to mitigate any possible problems.  Half of the sum due for 2020/21 was paid.  However, if the outstanding contract payments were received, it would be possible to repay the remaining balance together with the sum due for 2021/22.


·  Subject to the contract issues being resolved, an updated cashflow projection would be reported to the September meeting of the Committee.


·  The budget for 2021/22 was agreed at the meeting of the Committee held on 26 January 2021 and reflected the new management arrangements for the Manor Park and the establishment of a COVID-19 Recovery Fund to cover any COVID-related costs that might be incurred which had not otherwise been budgeted for.


·  A surplus of £49,660 was projected at the end of the financial year.


·  The value of the Charity’s investment in Charifund was continuing to recover and currently stood at £866,198 compared to the value of £820,915 in March 2021.  However, this was still lower than the value of £930,938 in January 2020.  Further updates would be provided at future meetings of the Committee.


In response to questions the Officers advised the Committee that:


·  A cautious approach had been taken when setting the budget for car park income in 2021/22 to avoid becoming too over reliant on it as it could, for example, be affected by a poor summer season.  Any income in excess of the budget would be a bonus.


·  In terms of the provisional outturn 2020/21 in relation to Repairs and Maintenance at the Manor Park, there had been additional expenditure as it had been necessary to install bollards in the car park due to the high number of visitor vehicles.


·  For some years no tree works were carried out so last year a larger budget than usual was required.  The budget for this year would be sufficient because of ongoing planned maintenance of trees and shrubs as part of the new management arrangements for the Manor Park.


·  When the budgets for 2021/22 were set in January 2021, recharges from the Borough Council were updated following a review of the services provided.  A schedule was presented detailing the services provided by, inter alia, Finance, Human Resources, Legal Services, Parks and Leisure and the Head of Regeneration and Economic Development, together with the charges allocated across the service areas.


·  The reason why the budget for the Manor Park had increased for 2021/22 over what was actually spent in 2020/21 was because of the additional car park income last year which was not budgeted for.  This would have reduced the overall net cost of running the Park, but the assumption had not been made that this would happen again this year for various factors, including the risk of a poor summer season.


In response to a question about whether more interpretive signage was required to assist visitors in identifying tree species etc. at the Manor Park, it was suggested that consideration of this matter be deferred until after the proposed briefing and tour of the Estate as other approaches such as guided tours might be more appropriate in delivering a positive visitor experience.


RESOLVED:  That the current financial position of the Cobtree Manor Estate be noted.


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