Redacre Chair's Report 2019

30th January 2019

Phil Cheshire-Neal, our outgoing Redacre Chair gives his report for 2018 - 2019.

I read the recent newsletter and was shocked myself to hear that we have been running at a loss for the last few years, especially as I’m the chair and was totally unaware of this. So I had a look into the figures and am pleased to say that the Newsletter was wrong, over a thousand positive pounds wrong. I also was not happy with the serious and in my opinion authoritarian nature of the last newsletter. I feel that the tone of it was not in accordance with the ethos of the Redacre Growing Project. On behalf of the directors I wish to apologise, and assure you the board have agreed to moderate communication before circulating in future. The statements were in some ways due to the complicated and not always clear nature of our accounts. There are differing feelings within the Board on our financial footing.

So I thought I would start this, my last Chair Persons Report, with a look back over Redacre since conception to the present day, with an illustration of how our finances have been managed, so please bear with me. I am now I believe the only active member who was on site before any work had begun, and feel that this is my opportunity to pass on my experience and understanding of how we got to where we are today.Work began on Redacre in 2009 preparing the site for allotments, the first of which were ready to use in 2010. Prior to this the site was half woodland and half scrubland, and we had no money in the bank but belief we would raise the money, belief we would create a community, belief it would be amazing. It was exciting, we were full of optimism, nothing was known and everything was possible.

During the period 2009 to 2014 we had literally thousands of pounds of grants and loans coming into our bank account and flying out ; paying asset transfers, legal fees, contractors and materials. Every single pot we applied for was successful. Every grant we had was specifically for certain costed developments (clearing the site, draining, making a carpark, building the roundhouse, land purchase, making the raised beds, creating a chicken enclosure, the first polytunnel). We had to evidence that we spent the full grant on the exact item that grant was allocated for with the various funders. Our bank balance went up and down wildly. (for example in 2012- 2013 our income was £33,836, outgoings were £31,771).

To look at our long term financial projection we must exclude funding & grants and base this directly on money received from rents, the annual costs (insurance plus strimming etc.) and the non-annual development and maintenance costs. So, grants aside, in 2009 we had no money whatsoever from rents. As all grants are pre-allocated for specific projects the money from grants has not affected the NET (long term) balance of our bank account.  Since 2009 we have steadily increased our reserves from zero to nearly £3000. I can only identify one year when we made a loss (2015-2016 loss of £561.50 due to hire of portaloo).

The years from the conception of RedAcre in 2009 up until 2014 can be summarised as follows - Through applying for funding we have managed to own outright the entire site. To transform it from woodland and scrubland into allotments with drainage, water supply, chicken enclosures, landscaped carpark and a community shelter, without ever going in the red, and without anyone dipping into their own pocket. To maintain, insure and continue to develop Redacre further. We have always spent within our means, and achieved so much.

Here are the actual figures for 2014 onwards – (please note I have put in brackets the £1950 School Flowerbed Project Funding (SHPF) which we received in 2013-14 from financial projection figures, as this was pre-allocated money which we spent between 2014-2016).

Initial bank balance of £1827.9 (plus £1950 SHPF)
Income £2345.40                  
Outgoings £1318.6 (plus £1595 SPHF)
Ended with a balance of £2854.7 (plus £445 SPHF)
Profit £1026.80
(This larger profit is due to a donation of £544.40 from Calder Food Hub)

Initial a bank balance of £2854.70 (plus £445 SHPF).
Income £ 4083                       
Outgoings £ 4199.77 (plus £445 SPHF)
and ended with a balance of £2292.93
Loss £561.77
(The larger income/outcome is linked to receiving £2470 funding for and spending £2485 on the new compost loo, and the loss related to spending £550 on interim toilet hire, another £225 went on the portaloo next year!)

Initial bank balance of: £2292.93
Income £ 2310     
Outgoings £ 2526  
ADDITIONAL £506.12 of income not accounted for
and ended with a balance of £2583.05
Profit of £290.12   
(Of note this year we spent £1200 on new polytunnel.)

Initial bank balance of:  £2583.05
Income £ 2637.88                 
Outgoings £ 2016.83
and ended with a balance of £2825
Profit of £241.95. 
( This year we invested £250 in new wheel barrows and created a new chicken enclosure.)

In 2014 began with £1827.90 (plus finding for flowerbed) in the bank, fours later £2825. This is a net profit of £1000.

If I put the actual figures, discarding any monies linked to funding, into a chart. Starting at a bank balance of zero in 2009, we get the below. (I've added a dot at £3.3k for my prediction where we could be financially in 2020, you will see later that that our Treasurer's Financial Projection predicts us reaching  over £3k this summer!).

Looking ahead

Our annual income is at present approximately £2500. Our necessary expenses (insurance, annual maintenance etc) are about £1000. We are financially stable and able to comfortably invest £1000 each year in non-annual maintenance (such as the purchase of new wheel barrows and an apple press last year) developing and improving the site. AND WE HAVE INCREASED OUR FINANCIAL CUSHION ON AVERAGE BY £300+ EVERY YEAR.

Below is a list of nearly £4000 worth of non- annual items we have funded ourselves in the last four years

  • £500 fencing to RedAcre Woods
  • £775 portaloo hire
  • £1200 polytunnel
  • £350 contribution to School flowerbed
  • £800 new chicken enclosure
  • £300 tree felling
  • £250 wheel barrows
  • £336 compost bays
  • £120 apple press

As we enter this AGM we have £2299.29 in the bank, this is an unprecedented amount at this time of year, shortly before Lady Day when the new rents come in.

And also, with regards to the future…

We have a 100% success rate on every single funding application we have ever made. Funders love us. A rural community project that involves the wider community, gets involved on Mytholmroyd events, welcomes refugees, community payback and schools and has disability access raised-beds and a disability compost toilet. They also love the fact that every penny we have been awarded has been spent on exactly what we said it would be spent on within a reasonable timeframe. If something major did happen that exceeded our financial ability, I am confident that we would be able to secure funding to see us thorough the unexpected.

And I would like to add that never, in nine years of attending RedAcre Directors meetings, can I remember a meeting during which we were discussing how we can save money. But I can remember plenty of meetings where we have been coming up with ideas of how to spend the money we have. What to do with that extra £1000 each year… Anything is possible if you believe!

We do of course need to be cautious. We have always set out to have a financial cushion for the unexpected. Should our main land drain need repairing this would quickly empty the bank account, though I feel confident we would be able to gain funding to meet any such disasters! We have a 100% success rate on every funding application we have made in the last 10 years! Our biggest visible challenge is the raised beds which are falling apart, we need a new solution on redeveloping this area with the understanding that our hands are somewhat tied by a condition that all growing is within two spades depth height of the imported soil. We need to think outside the (growing) box and find a way forward for this area. We welcome your ideas.

We have always steered RedAcre with positive beliefs, joy, excitement and enthusiasm. A belief that enough will attend community days to joyfully get the tasks completed with enthusiasm and laughter (tea and cakes). A belief that we will always find the pennies for whatever comes our way. Excitement for the amazing inclusive Project we are a part of and belief that it will be here for years and years and years and years. I personally am convinced that the Project will only survive through positive belief. Belief from the heart attracts possibilities. Redacre does need your help, your commitment, your input during community days, and some of you willing to join the Board oiling the cogs behind the scenes. But most of all it needs your smiles, your passion, your belief!!!

There have been four highlights to my RedAcre year 2018:

  • Lady Day – the first gathering of our community, the start of the year, daffodils aplenty and the excitement of Spring
  • The Great Get-together picnic with music, pizza, a bar sunshine and happiness
      • A huge thank you to Heather who put so much effort into organizing this event.
  • The annual Autumn Equinox Harvest Celebration, always a wonderful celebration with a roaring fire, tasty pot luck feast, the obligatory blackcurrant vodka and great company
  • Apple pressing day and tasting the delicious juice

And I'm already excited about Wassiling the apple trees on Sunday 3rd February, do come and join us, bring things to bang and scare the demons away, food to share and cider to mull! I will also lead a pruning workshop at 3pm should you wish to learn how to prune apple trees.

We have one other extremely important matter today, and that is legally becoming the cooperative we thought we were. (We totally mucked up five years ago and wrote new articles, voted them in, but never registered them and actually lost the signed resolution). So today I leave the Board of directors, having stood since before a vegetable was grown. And my final act will be in changing RedAcre from a benign dictatorship to an all inclusive cooperative, where for the first time the members actually have a legal right!

May Redacre continue to prosper for years to come! And thank you for supporting me as your Chair for all these years.

Phil Cheshire-Neal