MAIDSTONE BOROUGH COUNCIL
Cobtree Manor Estate Charity Committee
Minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 17 January 2019
Councillor McLoughlin (Chairman), and
Councillors Daley, Mrs Gooch, Perry and Mrs Wilson
Mr Roger Hext, Cobtree Charity Trust Ltd
It was noted that apologies were received by Councillor Cox.
It was noted that Councillor Mrs Wilson was present as a substitute for Councillor Cox.
There were no urgent items.
There were no Visiting Members.
There were no disclosures by Members or Officers.
There were no disclosures of lobbying.
RESOLVED: That all items be taken in public.
RESOLVED: That the minutes of the Meeting held on 18 December 2018 be agreed as an accurate record of the meeting and signed subject to the following amendment to Minute Item 47 (Cobtree Park Car Park Improvement Works):
· Deletion of the words ‘the more they could compete on price’ and the insertion of ‘the higher the overheads’.
There were no petitions.
There were no questions from members of the public.
Mr Paul Holland, Senior Finance Manager (Client) presented his report which summarised the current financial position of the Estate as at 30 November 2018.
The Committee noted that there would be a surplus by the end of the financial year.
It was noted that:-
Planning Solutions had been invoiced for the first instalment of
their 2018/19 fee.
Contractors were providing quotes for the beetle infestation in
the Play Barn.
The Café Contractor, DAGT had paid their second quarter rental
but discussions were still ongoing regarding the staff recharges during the
transition period. Officers were confident that this would be resolved by the
end of the financial year.
Following concerns raised by the Committee the Chairman was due
to meet with the Council’s VAT Officer to gain clarity on what the Trust is
eligible to pay VAT on.
In response to questions from Members, Mr Holland advised that:-
Capital costs would remain on the balance sheet as this related
to land and would not depreciate.
Due to the recharges not being finalised, the figures shown in
the report were for 17/18 but would be updated for the next meeting of the
The Sage accounting system was scheduled to be in use in time for
1st April 2019.
The budget for the car parking income included the increase in
the car park charges.
The current financial position be noted.
The draft budgets for 2019/20 be agreed and that a revised set to take
into account the actual recharges would be produced for the March meeting.
3. The progress to date with the separate financial management system be noted.
The Committee considered the report of Mr Paul Holland which
summarised the main points from the audit undertaken on the Annual Report and
Financial Statements by the UHY Hacker Young, the appointed external auditors
to the Trust.
It was noted that:-
The total funds of the Trust had reduced slightly.
The Statement of Financial Activities (SOFA) included a deficit
of £54,825 which reflected the writing off of the sum due from Mytime, the Golf
The SOFA also reflected a small reduction of £17,922 in the value
of the Charifund investment and an upward movement of £35,194 in the value of
fixed assets held.
The final value of the write-off of the Mytime debt within the
accounts had reduced from £48,125 to £24,062 which reflected the value to the
Trust of the in-kind services to be provided by Mytime as part of the
settlement of the disputed sum.
· The accounts included a debtor for the VAT due at the end of March 2018.
In response to comments from Members, Officers undertook to:-
Request that the Auditors remove the reference to Kent County
Council under the ‘governing object section’.
Include the 17/18 visitor figures for the Cobtree estate on Page
4 of the accounts.
Discuss with Planning Solutions the use of ‘active greys,
recently retired’ under target audiences for future visitor offers and request
that they reconsider the terminology as Members felt this was offensive and not
Amend ‘Tyland Farm’ to ‘Tyland Barn’ and check why this does not
have a valuation figure against it.
Check whether the Gate Lodge and other properties on the estate
are under a repairing lease.
Request Property Services provide an annual condition survey
report to the Committee on the properties that are leased.
In response to an enquiry by a Member, Mr John Foster, the Interim Head of Regeneration and Economic Development advised that the planning application for the new Golf Course buildings was due to be considered by the Planning Committee on 21 February 2019.
The Report and Financial Statement for 2017/18 be approved and submitted
to the Charity Commission subject to the changes identified by the Committee
2. The Letter of Representation, as amended by the Committee, be approved.
Mr Paul Holland, Senior Finance Manager (Client) presented his report which brought to the attention of the Committee various matters that had arisen from the external auditor’s audit of the Report and Financial Statements.
RESOLVED: That the contents of the Management
Letter and the proposed course of action from officers be noted.
The Committee considered the report of Ms Lizzie Buckingham, Cobtree Manager which provided an update on the day to day work of the Estate.
Ms Buckingham provided an update on events and maintenance issues that had taken place during the period from November 2018 to January 2019.
The Committee noted that:-
The Men in Sheds Group continued to grow in numbers.
The vehicle counter failed to record vehicle movements after 11
November 2018 and the figures recorded up until that date did not appear to be
credible either. The manufacturer had been contacted to see if they could
resolve the issue.
Pre-start meetings had been held with the successful contractor
who would be carrying out the car park improvements and a start date had been
set for the end of January.
Another break-in at the Café/Visitor Centre had occurred on 1
December 2018. Officers advised that in an attempt to deter further
incidences, an assessment of all potential access points had been undertaken
and large boulders had been put in place to prevent vehicular access.
A number of well-being events were being planned by the Golf
A third contractor had visited the Play Barn and was confident
that the works to treat the beetle infestation could be carried out without the
removal of the soft play area equipment. Officers were awaiting a quotation.
Mr Roger Hext, on behalf of the Cobtree Charity Trust Ltd, requested that Members and Officers attend a meeting with members of the Trust to discuss the latest figures that they have obtained for the Cobtree Railway project.
RESOLVED: That the contents of the report be noted.
Ms Lizzie Buckingham presented her report on proposals for an increase in the establishment at Cobtree Manor Park.
The Committee noted that the current team consisted of the Cobtree Manager (1 FTE) and a Cobtree Ranger (1 FTE). Staff cover for park keeping, patrolling and visitor assistance during school holidays and evenings was brought in from the Council’s grounds maintenance team.
In addition, security services for opening and closing the park were undertaken by an external contractor.
The proposed new structure provided an additional full time
Ranger and an Apprentice. The proposals improved the level of service to
visitors and provided enhanced landscape management.
As a result of the restructure the services of the external security contractor were no longer required.
The appointment of one additional Cobtree Ranger be approved.
2. The recruitment of a Cobtree Apprentice be approved.
2.30 p.m. to 4.30 p.m.