Chair’s Report- Year Ended 5th April 2019

Chair’s Report Year Ended 5 th April 2019

First of all, LCDC survives because of the substantial efforts & commitment of a Small
Army of Volunteer’s and we as members of LCDC owe them all a massive debt of gratitude.
The 2018/2019 financial year has been one of substantial challenge to both the LCDC
board and its subsidiary trading businesses. Whilst the boards directors have remained
consistent throughout the year, the level of workload due to the wide range of
forthcoming suggested projects has led the board to consider the possibility of seeking to
identify potential suitable skilled and qualified members who can assist the board in an
advisory capacity to add resilience and further widen the skill set. This will form part of
the ongoing review regularly completed by the board to augment the work commissioned
during 2018/19 by HIE.

Whilst the primary focus of LCDC will always be to support the community in realising
increased employment and training opportunities, availability of affordable housing and
supporting local traditional arts and crafts, the primary focus of the board during the
year has been to establish a sustainable revenue stream in order to support the many
projects directly aimed at satisfying its primary objectives of providing employment,
training and affordable housing opportunities to the community whilst continuing to
support traditional arts and crafts.

The financial position of LCDC whilst steadily improving remains one of an organisation
which is asset rich and cash poor and therefore places further urgency in achieving the
sustainable revenue stream as mentioned above to ensure the future financial stability of
LCDC. The position remains further impacted by the decision of HIE to only part fund our
LDO who is key to the success of LCDC and adds a further financial burden on already
stretched resources, but her involvement is crucial and therefore other sources of funding
this deficiency have been identified – Wood fuel/Café Profits.

Many of the areas in which LCDC have historically employed to generate funds to run the
activities of LCDC have been reviewed and challenged by the new board and decisions
have already been taken which will enable a period of financial stability to be maintained
whilst optimising the revenue streams from current assets.

Following the investigations by the board as detailed in this report last year, of the
iGallery and Monthly Producers Market the board has continued to pursue the extension
and conversion of the existing underutilised iGallery building into a Café to optimise
revenue given its location adjacent to the NC500 and limited similar facilities available to tourists and visitors alike locally. Grant funding having been secured, work has already
been completed and was officially opened on 3rd September 2019.

Although slightly later than originally forecast due various issues including but not limited
to-
 A longer than expected turnaround of grant funding applications across 3 key
funders
 Substantial delays in certain bespoke building materials sourced from Denmark.
 Recruitment issues due to the timing of the opening being so far through the
season.

I am sure you will agree the community can be justly proud of the wonderful new
addition to the village facilities, together with much needed employment opportunities.
The new Café Ceàrdach will concentrate on supplying a menu to suit all tastes and
particular those with special dietary requirements but maintaining our commitment to a
green agenda and a low food miles ethos. Café Ceàrdach also houses a delicatessen
selling locally sourced products and produce, a gallery space eventually providing a 7 day
a week shop window for local artists and craftspeople together with a training and
educational space. Its location adjacent to the NC500 should ensure that our goals of
providing an all year-round facility for all, setting us apart from many other local
amenities which operate on a seasonal basis only, can be fully realized to the benefit of
the local community, contractors and visitors.

As indicated above and detailed in last year’s report, the board also investigated various
options regarding the Monthly Producers Market. Whilst in its present format this is not a
financially viable undertaking the board retains its community focus and for this reason
will continue to operate the market for the benefit of the community. The board does
recognise however that with the establishment of the Café Ceàrdach food provided at the
market can be provided from the Café rather than outsourced as has been the case this
season.

The complete occupation of the other buildings at the Smithy Hub site continues and
when one recently became vacant it was quickly filled by a new local craft business.
LCDC policy of maintaining these rents at below market rate to benefit small local
businesses will continue. Occupiers of the other buildings present on the Smithy Hub site
are already reporting increased foot fall and business since the establishment of the Café
facility.

Kirkton Trading continues to supply wood fuel to the local community and at the
beginning of the 2018/19 financial year completed its second felling which will secure
wood fuel stocks for a further 3 years together providing a nett income from the wood sold commercially versus the felling costs. Additional investment has been made in
automated wood chopping and handling equipment and we are currently negotiating the
purchase of a logging trailer to enable quicker and safer deliveries of wood fuel to our
customers.

The education of local schoolchildren in rural skills and bushcraft continues to be a
popular activity and is generally oversubscribed.
Despite an overall very successful year we did have some setbacks.
Our challenge of relocating the West Highland Dairy to a bespoke building on the Smithy
Hub site in order to retain traditional Cheese and Dairy product manufacturing skills
unfortunately could not be realized and although several iterations of funding
applications were submitted the high capital costs involved due to specialist nature of
the food standard manufacturing facility proved nonviable. It is with great regret that the
West Highland Dairy has now closed.

Our plans to facilitate the availability of affordable housing to the local community
continue to gather momentum with the proposed sale of land owned by LCDC for the
development of affordable housing. The sale of this land if successful will enable the site
infrastructure to be established providing a greater opportunity to secure affordable
housing and self-build opportunities for those plots retained by LCDC.
In summary, with the Café Ceàrdach facility opening in September providing a sustainable
revenue stream whilst providing employment, training and shop window opportunities
for the local community the forecast is positive and I look forward to exciting times
ahead where we can consolidate a level of financial stability necessary to deliver our
longer term objectives for the benefit of the community.

Colin Sharp
Chair – LCDC

25/08/19

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