Registered Charity No. 702429

FINANCE DIRECTORS’ REPORT - A.G.M. 2011

The 2010 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 67 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, depreciated in the accounts to £259,650 and is subject to a legal mortgage to secure the reducing loan shown under Liabilities which financed the Birmingham Road culvert in 2007. The earlier tenancy expired in June when due consideration was given to separating the canal land from the domestic property to sell the latter but subdued market conditions rendered this unwise against a further tenancy. During the void period, intruders caused considerable internal damage delaying matters pending refurbishment through an insurance claim which enabled various improvements to be undertaken. A new tenancy was agreed in October for two years when better values may be expected for realising the intended division of tenure and redemption of the loan. Five other areas of canal-related land which are not depreciated total £59,686. There were no capital additions or disposals in the year.

CURRENT ASSETS
Debtors comprise the usual Retail Trading subsidiary company goods in stock, and routine settlement of the group net VAT reclaim for the final quarter of the year.

Bank balances follow the Trust’s Reserves Policy in three categories:- “restricted”, “designated” and “unrestricted” for future purchase of land as it becomes available, and for major restoration work. The David Suchet Thirty Pound Appeal launched last year has attracted nearly £30,000 towards Lichfield Canal Phase 1. To take advantage of better terms, it was decided to gradually transfer banking business to Unity Trust Bank plc which specialises in serving community activities.

Whilst grants totalling £70,000 towards a professional contract for the Pound 26 Water Park project were approved jointly by Lichfield District Council, Staffordshire Aggregates Levy Grant Scheme and Lichfield Conduit Lands Trust, only the latter advanced £5,000 in the year. Outstanding consents and formalities delayed starting the works but the grant-funded project expenditure is expected to be completed in the financial year up to March 2011.

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 as noted above, an earlier sale of the property is looked for to make better use of funds used in paying interest.

INCOME
Subscription income, influenced by reduced renewals and promotion opportunities through the show season, ended closer to the typical level of previous years. Members who voluntarily add a donation to their annual renewal produce a valuable income stream for which we are most grateful. Donations continued to flow into the ongoing appeal funds, but as expected, tend to tail off pending new stimuli inspiring sympathisers to support the next prominent phase.

Net return from Marketing and Retail Trading, down by about £3,500, is almost entirely due to fewer regional events attended and a reflection of harder economic times. The “500 Club” has settled to a plateau of regular members who generate useful gains to the Capital Fund. As explained above, a tenancy void at Ogley Cottage left a shortfall in rent, coupled with refurbishment costs to ensure a satisfactory tenancy.

EXPENDITURE
On the Hatherton Canal, no costs were incurred by volunteer teams in maintaining accessible towpath and hedgerows, nor in preliminary investigation with British Waterways into reopening the Lords Hayes Branch off the summit level. Restoration effort was again mainly focused on the Lichfield Canal by developing the Borrowcop Locks Canal Park theme at Tamworth Road. A new bywash round Lock 25 was completed as an essential preliminary to engaging a contractor to complete the pound between Locks 25 and 26 fully in water. An outlay of £4,629 was for an approach bridge and safety railings round the distinctive circular drop shaft, funded from a memorial donation.

Management and administration costs followed the pattern of recent years. Various negotiations by volunteer Directors and Officers took place in furtherance of the Trust’s objectives which only incur minor reimbursement of essential expenses.

CONCLUSION
The Trust’s most visible work in 2010 mainly brought the work being done on the Lichfield Canal at Tamworth Road to an effective conclusion as a public amenity pending further phases which are in hand. 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 have doubled the financial turnover.

R. O. WILLIAMS
Finance Director

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