Am Bratach No. 232
February 2011

Third time lucky for Assynt Foundation

Assynt Foundation will hold its annual general meeting at the third attempt on February 22, at 7.30pm in Lochinver Village Hall. The community land owner is calling upon members to turn out to show support for the organisation.

The meeting was originally intended to be held on December 9 2010, but it was postponed due to snowy conditions, and concern that not enough members would be able to brave the icy roads. However, the rescheduled meeting on January 20 could not run because too few members were present to achieve a quorum. The AGM requires 10% of the membership to be present and, with almost 300 members, that means thirty people, but only about a dozen turned out. The low turn-out was blamed on clashes with other meetings, including the AGM of Assynt Field Club.

When the AGM finally goes ahead it will involve a significant change of the guard. Don Campbell, chairman for the past three years, is standing down. Tony Usher, previously the treasurer of the organisation, resigned during the course of the year, as did Mandy Haggith. As well as the chairman, two other directors of the foundation are stepping down from the board at the AGM: Davy Robb finishes his three year term, as does Alasdair MacAskill, the founding chairman, who will stay on the board of, the foundation’s trading arm.

One new face is likely to be voted onto the board: Andy Summers, the senior ranger for Highland Council and chairman of the Assynt Field Club, has been nominated. However, this will still leave the board with fewer members than previously: Pat Robertson, Agnes Dickson, Fergus Stewart, Helen Steven, Jackie Yates and Steven Smith.

Pat Robertson, vice-chairman, said: “The board will be smaller, but sometimes that makes decision-making easier. It does mean there will be fewer people to spread the work effort, but we’ll work with what we have. It would be more representative and better for both community and Assynt Foundation if more people were more directly involved, either for short periods of time or longer, depending on commitments and what they are interested in helping with.” Nominations for other directors can be made until February 8. Mr Robertson does not intend to chair the new board and it is currently unclear who will take on that role.

The foundation’s activities have been dominated in the past few years by the refurbishment of Glencanisp Lodge, which is now complete. Income from rental of the lodge will help to pay back the loan required to top up the grants for the project, which cost around £1 million.

There is now a lot of other activity for members and directors to get involved in, with grant money available to the foundation to run a log building course to construct a log store and an art studio and to improve the walled garden at Glencanisp. Funding has also been secured to do strategic planning of woodlands on the 44,000 acres of land owned by the foundation.

Like Assynt Crofters Trust, the foundation is trying to develop affordable housing or house sites. It is also investigating a possible future income from renewable energy through a feasibility study into small scale hydro-electricity generation. Consultants are currently surveying all the potential hydro sites on foundation land. Deer management is also ongoing.

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