Early this month myself (Iain Withers) and Alastair Martin met up with Steve Dunlop and Katie Hughes for what we thought may be a crunch meeting revealing the ‘sting in the tail’ of the so-far positive response from SC. I’m happy to report that the cautious optimism about SC’s support of the project can happily continue after the meeting!
Here are my meeting notes for your perusal…
9th May 2016: Meeting with Steve Dunlop & Katie Hughes
- So i reckon the no.1 thing i came away from the meeting with was that they do actually want it to happen and there isn’t going to be a financial sting in the tail. They have clearly stated that there is no (direct) financial incentive for them.
- They were very keen that the project is done in the right way, with the right structure, transparently and independent of the SC brand. All of which is obviously good!
- They want a more detailed, clear vision document which goes into some detail in terms of the public-good outcomes of the project. They want a strong document for their use an that can be used to clearly explain to others why they are supporting this project. They want it to paint a bigger picture of what this project can do long-term and what the social benefits are.
- They want us to put together a clear time-scale for achieving elements of the project and they want to use that to form the basis of a series of meetings to put in their diary going forward. They want the next meeting to focus on two elements: 1. The vision document and clarity of social outcomes and 2. the practicalities of the moorings.
- Steve repeatedly said in principle it is great but the devil is in the detail and they want to make sure that things are done right, done right first time and fit in with their corporate compliances etc.
- On the physical structures side of things, Steve said he was happy for us to innovate and look at intermediate solutions somewhere between the SC last 50 years and the pallets and beer kegs floating about solution. They would feed this down to Brian and we would be able to negotiate structures based around our on-the-ground management/maintenance capabilities.
- On the paperwork side, we would probably be looking at a lease of the land (25 yrs suggested) and not a trading agreement. Trading agreements would open a whole field of corporate procurement. They talked about the set-up with Pinkston and said they were happy to show us that arrangement (but maybe without sensitive numbers) and use that as the basis for our agreement.
- On the structure side of things, they thought CIC would be most appropriate on top of the CLG to ensure an asset lock in place. Pinkston have this. (this article gives a good introduction to the different social enterprise structures)
- They are concerned about the aesthetics and feel that anything negative would reflect on SC.
- They want to make sure that our Ts & Cs reflect their policies and priorities and that there would be any major discrepancies so people couldn’t ‘get away with’ doing something unacceptable just because they were on our site.
Alastair also picked up on the ‘devil in the detail’ part and this is where perhaps the challenge comes. Katie Hughes will probably want to have close control on how the Community Moorings operate. She will probably not want them to undercut SC moorings vastly. She will also probably want to control how moorings are used, both in terms of commercial/leisure/resi being used for strictly these purposes and also in terms of the T’s & C’s of moorings use. So it would appear the challenge may not be permission and financial, but may come in how much control we have over our own moorings. That is probably where most negotiations will be required.
But all in all very positive – onwards and upwards!