MAIDSTONE BOROUGH COUNCIL
COBTREE MANOR ESTATE CHARITY COMMITTEE
Minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday 9 April 2019
Councillor McLoughlin (Chairman), and
Councillors Cox, Daley, Mrs Gooch and Perry
Mr Roger Hext, Cobtree Charity Trust Ltd
There were no apologies.
There were no substitute members.
The Chairman informed the Committee that he had decided to
include an update on the Cobtree Railway Project, following a recent meeting,
as part of the report on the Cobtree Manor Estate Trust Committee Update.
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 17 January 2019 be agreed as an accurate record of the meeting and signed subject to the following insertion, as shown in bold, to Minute Item 59 (Cobtree Manor Estate Financial Position Report):-
· Capital costs of £11,750 in respect of work on the car park resurfacing would remain on the balance sheet as this related to land and would not depreciate.
There were no petitions.
There were no questions from members of the public.
The Committee considered the report of Mr Paul Holland,
Senior Finance Manager (Client) which summarised the current financial position
of the Estate as at 28th February 2019.
Mr Holland highlighted that:-
The summary position as at 28th February 2019 returned
a positive variance of £36,000.
There were no issues to report in regard to Cobtree Golf Course,
Cobtree Manor Park or Kent Life.
Capital costs of £25,000 had been incurred for additional works
and project management costs for the car park resurfacing works.
There was potential to minimise the VAT on recharges and a report
would be brought to the next meeting.
The implementation for the financial management system had been
delayed due to staff absence but would be brought in for 1st June
2019, with all transactions being transferred to it from the 1st April
· The recharges, as set out in Appendix 1 to the report, would be revisited at year end.
In response to questions from Members, Mr Holland advised
He would speak to the Auditors about putting money aside in a
separate fund to use when the car park required works.
The Charity Commission had already provided funding for the
Visitor Centre but it was quite a long process.
Recharges for Procurement and Property Services included the
monitoring of the various contracts (Golf Course, Café and Visitor Centre and
The term under Controlled Running Costs for Other Income –
Cobtree Charity Trust Ltd should be changed to ‘Income from the Will – Cobtree
Charity Trust Ltd’.
The Chairman updated Members on the meeting he had with Mr
John Owen, Finance Manager on VAT recharges. He had advised that the Council
had taken the decision not to include VAT on the income from the Kent Life and
Golf Course. Consequently VAT would be charged and not be recoverable on the
outgoings. However, Cobtree Park and the Visitor Centre were VAT registered
and VAT was rechargeable on outgoings. Most recharges should relate to Cobtree
Park and VAT should be rechargeable.
It was noted that there would be a VAT charge on car parking income and rental on the Visitor Centre, against which the VAT on recharges could be offset.
Mr Hext confirmed that the amount from the Charity Will was £40,663 this year.
The Committee expressed their thanks to Mr Holland for providing the detail on the recharges.
The current financial position be noted.
The budgets (including recharges from the Council to the Trust) for
2019/20 be agreed.
3. The progress to date with the Service Level Agreement and the separate financial management system be noted.
The Committee considered the report of Ms Lizzie Buckingham, Cobtree Manager which provided an update on events and maintenance issues that had taken place during the period from January 2019 to April 2019.
Ms Buckingham highlighted that:-
Works to the paths had progressed which included management of
the vegetation, removal of fallen trees, pruning of shrubs and undertaking
further tree works following survey recommendations
A new Ranger had been appointed and would start soon.
A recruitment process for an Apprentice was underway.
An events programme for the Spring and early Summer had been
A volunteers’ gardening session had taken place on the bund of
earth around the Visitor Centre to create a wildflower bank.
Three students studying conservation at Hadlow College would be
carrying out three weeks of work experience during April.
There had been difficulties accessing the visitor numbers for
2019 but the system was now working correctly and the figures would be
circulated to the Committee via email.
A document setting out the Trust’s liabilities on the car park
had now been obtained.
A digger belonging to the car park construction contractor had
been stolen from the works compound while they were working on site on the
night of Tuesday, 26th March.
The boulders that were displaced during the theft of the digger
had now been replaced and Officers were investigating replacing the gate on the
driveway to the Manor House and cottages on Forstal Road.
The alarm for the Café/Visitor Centre had now been extended to
the storage unit.
The well attended health and wellbeing event had been held at the
golf course on 22nd February 2019.
Works to the timbers of the Kent Life play barn had been deferred
to January 2020.
The Chairman provided an update on the meeting held with the Cobtree Charity Trust Ltd on the proposals for a Cobtree Railway.
It was noted that Cobtree Charity Trust Ltd had commissioned an initial feasibility study by COWI, an Engineering Consultant. Their estimate of the project cost was between £1.4-1.5m.
The Chairman explained that although a representative from Planning Solutions was present at the meeting, they did not have decision making powers. Therefore it was necessary to arrange a meeting with Mike Stickland to firm up on the likely contribution from Planning Solutions.
Mr Hext was asked how he saw the proportions of spend on the project. He said that the Trust would match fund whatever the Council provided.
The Committee commented as follows:-
Need to think about other ways of funding, e.g. sponsorship,
borrowing from Maidstone Borough Council or use of charity funds which would
require permission of the charity commission
Projections had been made on current footfall with 15% of
visitors using the train
That the location of the line was not within the boundary of Kent
Life’s Entrance so visitors could turn up and ride on the train without going
into Kent Life
£60,000 investment would be needed upfront, this could be a 50/50
split between the Council and the Trust
KCC Highways would look at the feasibility of the railway running
under the road
The contents of the report be noted.
A report detailing funding options and next steps for the Cobtree
Railway Project be brought to the next meeting of the Committee.
3. A meeting be held with Planning Solutions, Cobtree Charity Ltd and the Council to firm up on their contributions to the project.
10 a.m. to 11.10 a.m.