Registered Charity No. 702429

FINANCE DIRECTORS’ REPORT - A.G.M. 2010

The 2009 accounts for the Trust have again been examined and produced at a “community fee” by Dains, Chartered Accountants, (Lichfield). West, Chartered Accountants again examined the Retail Trading subsidiary accounts, free, with the outcome being incorporated into the main Trust accounts for a group position. Their findings confirm the figures shown in the draft accounts extract, published in CBW 63 in May (reproduced).

BALANCE SHEET

FIXED ASSETS
The main freehold asset continues to be Top Lock Cottage near Ogley Junction at the head of the Lichfield Canal where the tenant manages the property. Whilst one month’s rent is held as a restricted deposit, some regular rent overdue at the year end is included in debtors. The property remains subject to a legal mortgage to secure the reducing loan shown under Liabilities. There was no additional land purchase in the year, although there are three offers outstanding awaiting decisions by the land-owners. In absence of any leads on the theft of the Trust’s JCB804 excavator in June, a fair insurance settlement of £8,000 had to be topped up by 50% to acquire a comparable used machine in October which enabled the workers to continue the heavy work.

CURRENT ASSETS
Debtors comprise three lines: 1) normal Retail Trading subsidiary company stock and cash; 2) settlement of the group net VAT reclaim for the final quarter of the year; 3) outstanding receipts from agreed IWA Restoration Committee grant and Ogley Cottage overdue rent.

Bank balances follow the Trust’s Reserves Policy in three categories:- “restricted”, “designated” and “unrestricted” as defined in the formal accounts. Due to the state of the nation, deposit interest has been minimal. Funds are held for future purchase of land as it becomes available and for the restoration work. During a public launch in July of the Atkins Feasibility Studies of the Lichfield Canal, and a supplement for the Hatherton Canal, the new David Suchet Thirty Pound Appeal was announced targeting £1million towards Lichfield Canal Phase 1. Donors receive a fictitious £30 David Suchet bank note based on an amusing play on the word ‘pounds’ above the 30 locks of the Lichfield Canal. By the year end, 250 contributions with pledges and Gift Aid tax recovery exceeded £20,000.

LIABILITIES
As before, the mortgage loan from the Charity Bank secured by Ogley Cottage is repayable by monthly instalments over 25 years, or earlier without penalty. Three years’ forward projections show this to be manageable but an earlier sale of the property is looked for to make better use of about £15,000 annual interest cost.

INCOME
Subscription income was well up, not by increased membership but by 7 new sole Life Memberships and 3 taking the new category of Joint Life, together adding a total of £2,300. Members who voluntarily add a donation to their annual subscription renewal produce a valuable income stream for which we are most grateful. Generous donations have continued into the various funds, most noticeably the new David Suchet Appeal mentioned earlier.

Marketing and Retail Trading were well up again with a net contribution of £13,388 (2008 £12,260), thanks to the continuing effort of the Marketing Group and better sales of donated goods being all profit. The “500 Club” saw some new uptake, again generated another £1,317 for the Capital Fund: that’s £3,800 over its three years. Ogley Cottage rent and overall Gift Aid tax recovery generated another £13,000.

Another generous grant of £5,000 from The Inland Waterways Association towards the Atkins studies included in Debtors becomes payable in 2010. Total income of £100,787 (2008 £109,507) indicated the very real public support for the Trust which enabled the Directors to supplement the ongoing volunteer program with professional contract work.

EXPENDITURE
On the accessible parts of the Hatherton Canal, volunteer teams continued regular maintenance of the towpath and hedgerows, hardly incurring any costs. Restoration effort was again mainly focused on the Lichfield Canal by developing the Borrowcop Locks Canal Park theme at Tamworth Road. Constructing a new bywash round Lock 25 to accommodate future storm flows involved volunteers installing a 1 metre diameter Polypipe through an 18 metre trench into Pound 26, which enabled garden landscaping and outlet in the wall to be completed. Innovative planning made good use of donated materials for masonry side-walls on a surface channel connecting the upper weir to the novel circular drop shaft around which a new path will provide public access to the towpath.

Administrative costs largely reflect budgeting which follows a predictable annual pattern. The greatest outlay had to be spent on detailed Feasibility Studies by Atkins Limited, both for the Lichfield Canal and a revised Hatherton Canal route, essential for formal planning and supporting ongoing negotiations regarding land and water supply.

CONCLUSION
The Trust’s work in 2009 was not so visible since so much went on behind closed doors with various authorities on planning discussions and formalities directed towards route protection. Successful fund-raising and public events attracted income towards these activities bringing a visible outcome. But as ever, the accounts do not cover unpaid time, office work and efforts given by Directors, Officers and volunteer workers running the Trust which could well be valued at £100,000 a year in a non-charitable organisation.

R. O. WILLIAMS
Finance Director

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