FAQ

Frequently asked questions about the future of the farm at Moelyci

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Moelyci Environmental Centre Ltd (an industrial and provident society referred to as MIPS) and Cwm Harry Land Trust Ltd (a charity referred to as Cwm Harry) both issued statement on July 13th that can be read online at [Click Here]  In short the statements say that Cwm Harry is giving notice as the tenant and will not be seeking to purchase the farm from MIPS, who in turn will now have to consider the sale of the farm on the open market so as to clear their debts.

This news was announced at the AGM of MIP’s on Thursday 13th July and discussed in some detail at the Steering Group meeting held on Thursday 20th July and also at the Open Meeting on Friday 21st July. At these meetings a wide range of questions were asked and underpin this FAQ, as many as possible were answered as fully as possible but it was also agreed that MIPS and Cwm Harry would publish this FAQ providing as much detail and clarification as possible at this time.

Before beginning…

It is important to clearly identify the relevant parties involved and what roles they fulfill.

MIPS – is the community cooperative (of over 700 members) who hold the freehold of the farm but also hold the debts associated with the farm. They act as landlord on the farm. If there are any queries specifically about their roles and responsibilities then these should be directed to their Board via ips@moelyci.org

Cwm Harry – is the mid Wales based charity who have sustained the farm for the last 3 ½ years under the banner of Ffarm Moelyci, most recently as formal tenants. If there are any queries about their roles and responsibilities then these should be directed to Adam Kennerley via adam@cwmharry.org.uk

Both MIPS and Cwm Harry are legal entities and each has formal roles to play in how the farm is managed over the coming months. However there has been mention of a possible new consortium coming together that would look to purchase the farm and seek to retain some if not all of the ambitions that have been held by MIPS and / or Cwm Harry. Colin Keyes has stepped down from Cwm Harry (effective July 31st) to enable him develop this idea as an independent member of the community. If there are any queries about this independent consortium idea then they should be directed to Colin Keyse via ymlaenmoelyci@gmail.com

It has been suggested and agreed that Open Meetings will be held every other Friday between 6 and 8 pm to allow further questions and ideas to be raised. MIPS, Cwm Harry and Colin Keyse will endeavour to attend. The next one of these will be on Friday 4th August.

As and when there are updates these will be made known on the Ffarm Moelyci website, on notice boards within the farm and may be issued via an e-mail to those already on the Ffarm Moelyci bulletin mailing list.

IMPORTANT NOTES

1) The proposal for an independent consortium is, as the description suggests, independent from both Cwm Harry and from MIPS.

MIPS have to be minded that – as is outlined elsewhere in this FAQ – it is under an obligation to ensure the farm is sold and within this has further considerable obligations to its creditors, to the rules of the IPS itself and to its shareholders. Whilst MIPS might welcome a consortium bid it cannot actively enable it as its obligations lie elsewhere. It can however welcome it and treat it fairly alongside other bids it may receive.
Cwm Harry have to be minded that as they relinquish the lease they also relinquish any right to lead any new consortium that might emerge. However they can play an active enabling role and are doing so in two ways:

  • By providing as long a period of ’business as usual’ as is possible giving all parties the greatest opportunity to develop the most positive outcomes.
  • By specifically supporting key staff and projects that Cwm Harry has on the farm so that they gain the best chance of a future, ideally one still associated with the farm. Cwm Harry has specific assets on the farm that it would like to see used in support of this i.e.
    • The shop and café operations which might find a viable future;
    • Re-Direct, our project intended to develop the composting zone, which might find a viable future also.
  • Cwm Harry will of course lend support where it is requested and where it is appropriate to any of our current license holders.

2) Whilst the farms assets and activities are improved beyond recognition from where they were before Cwm Harry stepped in during the winter of 2013 / 14 all parties should be in no doubt about the level of debt that weighed – and still weighs – so heavily upon MIPS and which Cwm Harry has found themselves unable to lift. A positive attempt at creating a new consortium is of course welcomed and if successful it would be rejoiced by all parties however there should be an awareness as to how big an ask this is given the level of debts built up on the farm before 2013.


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FAQ

  1. When Cwm Harry gave notice to the IPS, what was the notice period, when will they relinquish their lease?
  2. Why has Cwm Harry left it until the 11th hour to make the decision and put the farm in jeopardy?
  3. At the AGM Cwm Harry listed the reasons why it had taken the decision not to purchase. One of these was the possible SSSI designation on further areas of land. Why is this seen as a problem and what effect would it have? How is the SSSI going to make a difference to the value of the farm and who gave permission for NRW to raise this issue?
  4. How has Brexit affected the funding?
  5. In the meantime, what does “business as usual” actually mean?
  6. What is MIPS’s current level of debt? Who do MIPS owe money to?
  7. What is the market value of the farm?
  8. What is the nature of the NRW debt?
  9. Is there clarity on the subject of Cwm Harry’s £100,000 share-holding?
  10. When the farm is sold, who actually gets what money and why?
  11. If MIPS becomes insolvent, what does this actually mean?
  12. Where has all the money from Landfill tax gone, what was it used for? Clarity needed on running costs? Has Cwm Harry taken any profit that should have been used to reinvest into the farm?
  13. How quickly the sale will happen? If it goes on the open market, what options does that offer? What the likely timescales are if the farm is put up for sale to help people plan? Who will be the selling agents?
  14. Who will get to decide if the land is to be split up?
  15. And who would decide who gets what bits? Will the IPS only sell at the full price?
  16. Have the bank already accepted that the mountain would be sold to clear the NRW debt?
  17. If someone is interested in buying part of the land, who should they speak to?
  18. If someone is interested in investing in / buying the shop and café, who should they speak to?
  19. Is the café financially sustainable on its own?
  20. Is anyone liable financially for repayment of grant funds received?
  21. When Cwm Harry leaves the site, if the farm has not been sold, what will happen to the income generated on the farm? Will the farm still be operational after this date? How much income is likely to be generated? Who will operate it?
  22. Will tenants, including all allotment holders, still have access to the site after this date?
  23. Will the site still be insured? If there is no income after this date, who will pay for insurance etc.
  24. Cwm Harry received funding of £150k for the shop, café and barn. What happens to these assets? There was some mention of Cwm Harry “gifting” these assets to the community, what does this actually mean and what happens if the farm is sold to a private buyer rather than a community venture?
  25. Please clarify the position with tenant’s assets, for example, do Snowdonia Donkeys own their large field shelter? What is the situation re smaller assets such as sheds and fruit trees on allotments?
  26. In addition to the formal public rights of way, there are many established rights of way across the farm, can these be protected and how?
  27. What will happen to the historical information, for example ecological or heritage records of the farm?
  28. Why can’t we set up another community association to fund raise?
  29. Has Cwm Harry thought about crowdfunding and making an urgent appeal to the shareholders?
  30. Could Cwm Harry not have found another buyer to help the situation?
  31. If the business plan was not going to be a success from the start, why wasn’t it flagged earlier?

Answers

1) When Cwm Harry gave notice to the IPS, what was the notice period, when will they relinquish their lease?

Cwm Harry notified MIPS in late June of their intention to surrender the lease and subsequently confirmed that the notice was to be affective from 30th June with a final date of occupation currently set as 30th September.
* A later question asks what happens after 30th September and Cwm Harry has indicated a willingness to consider ongoing support if there is a positive future possible for the farm, but it is too premature for anything concrete to have been discussed or agreed.

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2) Why has Cwm Harry left it until the 11th hour to make the decision and put the farm in jeopardy?

Neither of these statements are true. Cwm Harry was clear that the farm was placed in jeopardy in the years that ran up to 2014 by the IPS’s previous Board as substantial debts were accrued. It has been largely as a result of Cwm Harry’s involvement that such jeopardy was prevented from turning in to catastrophe for the farm. Stepping in, stabilising MIPS and turning the activity on the farm around.

Having said this the decision to finally withdraw from the farm was made by Cwm Harry in mid June and only communicated to Moelyci IPS in late June. As a result the three months’ notice period is a relatively short, if stable, period of time in which MIPS has to manage a substantial workload related to the sale of the farm despite a range of preparations having been made ahead of the planned sale to Cwm Harry.

It is acknowledged that it is a short time frame for any alternative proposal to buy the farm to be brought together. However there is an already established focal point for this, there are many more positive partners available than has previously been the case and there is a willingness by MIPS and Cwm Harry to suitably manage the coming months and indeed consider whether more time is possible.

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3)  At the AGM Cwm Harry listed the reasons why it had taken the decision not to purchase. One of these was the possible SSSI designation on further areas of land. Why is this seen as a problem and what effect would it have? How is the SSSI going to make a difference to the value of the farm and who gave permission for NRW to raise this issue?

Cwm Harry has listed a range of factors that have led it to make the decision to relinquish the lease and not purchase the farm. At the heart of these reasons is the simple fact that earning capacity on the farm, given its constraints as an environmental and community asset, has not grown sufficiently to be a viable means of covering the costs of buying the farm that were available to them. Cwm Harry was also clear that as a charity it had other obligations and other projects to take account of so not all factors were Moelyci focused.

Getting SSSI status can be viewed in different ways by different people depending on who wants to purchase it. Environmental NGOS would not be affected and may see it as a benefit as it protects the land from commercial developers. SSSI status sits well with the 10 ethical principles. However, it does potentially reduce its agricultural value. Jones Peckover understand this and will market accordingly.

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4)  How has Brexit affected the funding?

Of late a number of factors affecting the farm have emerged that have made Cwm Harry’s decision unavoidable. One, and only one, was the notification by NRW that they would designate additional parts of the farm as a SSSI. For Cwm Harry – and more for the financial backers Cwm Harry had been talking to – this uncertainty was unhelpful. However Cwm Harry was clear that other factors such as Brexit were equally, if not more, disruptive to those being asked to make financial commitments. Each individual factor creates uncertainty or risk. No one factor made the decision but rather the cumulative effect was unsurmountable to Cwm Harry.

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5)  In the meantime, what does “business as usual” actually mean?

Cwm Harry has given an undertaking that it will maintain ‘business as usual’ on the farm until Sept 31st for a number of reasons including:

  • To support MIPS in their task of putting the farm up for sale;
  • To support staff / licence holders on the farm in finding future work / opportunities – either work elsewhere or shaping their particular enterprise activity on the farm as part of any successor;
  • To provide the best possible space / opportunity for a successor to come forward and take on the farm.

Business as usual is really made up of three things:

  • Support to ensure that the shop and café and growing courses / volunteering all stay open and inviting – so that front of house matters remain as unchanged as possible;
  • Re-organisation of back office support. This is important as Colin is leaving to enable him to pursue the idea of a new consortium and Julie will be leaving at the end of July as she takes up a job elsewhere.
  • For all licence holders – e.g. allotment holders, graziers, Snowdonia Donkeys and AGRO etc. – their licences remain in force until 30th September.

MIP’s has published annual accounts each year outlining both its assets and liabilities and these should be referred to for details. Having been asked a series of specific questions the following answers can be provided:

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6)  What is MIPS’s current level of debt? Who do MIPS owe money to?

There are three categories of debt which in round numbers are:

  1. Secured debt i.e. holding a charge against the land is solely NatWest whose loan to MIP’s is currently £506,000.
    This is what is often termed the mortgage and up until recently it was a formal mortgage. Now formally a loan whose term (length) is short and reviewed on a rolling basis. The next review is in August this year. It is an interest only arrangement and the current sum owed to the bank has risen marginally since 2013 as loan arrangement fees / charges have been applied.
  2. Unsecured creditors £196,400 – this includes the claim from NRW of £97,000.
  3. Shareholders £199,000.

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7)  What is the market value of the farm?

A valuation of the farm was undertaken by Cwm Harry (employing Jones Peckover) in 2014 and shared with MIPS. Jones Peckover have reviewed the valuation recently and see no reason for it to be altered substantially for the market in 2017. They gave two valuations:

  • If the farm was sold as a single holding it could be expected to achieve £978,000;
  • If the farm were to be sold in lots it could achieve £1,170,000 made up from:
    • Mountain £147,000
    • Y Parc £55,000
    • Frydd £90,000
    • Lower farm (including all buildings etc.) £825,000

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8)  What is the nature of the NRW debt?

MIPS, before 2014, undertook a project to refurbish the main barn and in so doing took on an extension to their mortgage but also took in as series of grants from public bodies. The allegation by NRW is that public grants were matched together when they shouldn’t have been (an over claim of £97,400) and as they have taken up responsibility for managing these grants legacy they have sought to reclaim this sum in full.

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9)  Is there clarity on the subject of Cwm Harry’s £100,000 share-holding?

In the 2014 proposal to MIPS made by Cwm Harry and agreed at the 2014 AGM there was provision for up to £109,000 of shares to be issued to Cwm Harry. Over and above Cwm Harry’s own investments in to its operations at Ffarm Moelyci (see further answer below) it has incurred costs and obligations that have directly supported MIPS, preventing it from drifting in to insolvency which would have forced an unplanned sale of the farm on the open market. Details have been provided to and approved by MIPS.

Rather than lodge these as invoices – which would have meant MIPS trading insolvently – these have been treated as investment in to MIPS and shares have been issued to reflect this. The advantages to MIPS are threefold:

  • That costs have been incurred by Cwm Harry and not directly by MIPS, avoiding trading insolvency;
  • That by issuing shares to Cwm Harry rather than receiving invoices this is treated as investments on MIPS’s balance sheet and not as creditors, which improved MIPS financial position;
  • By Cwm Harry holding shares and not lodging invoices they come alongside the community shareholders and not ahead of them i.e. Cwm Harry share the risk and don’t place themselves ahead of the community.

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10)  When the farm is sold, who actually gets what money and why?

There is a clear order in which financial obligations have to be cleared by MIPS. This is in line with the categories of creditors explained above and again (in round figures) here:

1st – clear bank loan to NatWest (who hold the only (and thus first) charge on the land) – £506,000;

2nd – creditors, who will be paid in full if funds allow – £228,000 if all are claimed.

3rd – shareholders, who will be paid in full if funds allow. If funds do not allow then shareholders will be offered a proportion (x pence in the pound) – £199,000 if all are paid in full.

If all are to be paid in full – and this is not finalised and is subject to negotiation – then somewhere above £933,000 would need to be raised (there will be fees and costs associated with the sale for example).

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11)  If MIPS becomes insolvent, what does this actually mean?

MIPS has very carefully and astutely managed its financial position for four years now and, with the support of Cwm Harry, has proficiently avoided trading insolvently, something which had looked imminent back in 2013. There is nothing MIPS is aware of in the coming months that will upset this position. Cwm Harry maintaining business as usual over the summer is critical to this.

If, for any reason, MIPS have to take on the running of the farm again and therefore incur costs this would mean that expenditure outweighed income and with no reserves MIPS would be risking trading insolvently. At this point MIPS might need to ask for the intervention of an insolvency practitioner with two basic consequences of:

  1. An immediate and quick sale to meet the principle secured debt i.e. the loan from the bank;
  2. Substantial fees being applied and drawn off ahead of creditors and leaving less for shareholders.

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12)  Where has all the money from Landfill tax gone, what was it used for? Clarity needed on running costs? Has Cwm Harry taken any profit that should have been used to reinvest into the farm?

Since March 2015 Cwm Harry has taken on the sole running of the operation known as Ffarm Moelyci, in addition to ensuring all creditors to MIPS stayed at safe distances and all MIPS running costs were met. In so doing it has expended substantial reserves of its own and drawn in equally substantial revenue and capital sums that have, 100%, been invested on the farm. At no point has any profit been taken off the farm (the reality is very much the opposite).

The revenue funds from Landfill Tax Community Fund (secured solely by Cwm Harry) and all income from the basic payment scheme and the standard Glastir contract have been spent on the farm.

Furthermore additional capital investment of £150,000 have been secured by Cwm Harry and invested solely on the farm (in completing the refurbishment of the barn project and in establishing the shop / café).

Outside of capital investments made the farm simply consumes running costs – staff, insurances etc. The only area of activity that has emerged as achieving a break even position is that of the shop / café. All other areas contribute to costs but don’t provide sufficient funds to enable the ongoing running costs of the farm to be met without external revenue support (which is where landfill community funds have been deployed in the last two years). The ‘business plan’ being pursued by Cwm Harry had been dependent upon achieving a quicker turnaround of the culture on the farm, a speedier removal of the losses and of getting more activity underway and earning.


MIPS is the legal owner of the land and at present there has been no sign of repossession nor of insolvency and so MIPS remains the legal body entitled to sell the farm. MIPS is of course heavily informed in this decision by the views of NatWest and by its inherited financial position, alongside its duties as an IPS and to its members.

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13)  How quickly the sale will happen? If it goes on the open market, what options does that offer? What the likely timescales are if the farm is put up for sale to help people plan? Who will be the selling agents?

The bank are yet to respond formally but MIPS is working to the following assumptions:

  • To the best of MIPS’s knowledge there will be no repossession or forced sale of the farm undertaken by the bank. To date there has been a very positive relationship between NatWest and MIPS (supported by Cwm Harry). This continues to be the case and Cwm Harry’s commitment to maintain a ‘business as usual’ operation through to end of September provides all parties with the confidence to undertake a sale in good order (and thus gain best market price). It is believed that it is in NatWest’s interest for MIPS and Cwm Harry to continue to collaborate and deliver an orderly sale. If the bank chose to repossess then the expectation would be that they would appoint agents and seek a rapid disposal with the possible following outcomes:
    • An immediate and quick sale to meet the biggest obligation of clearing the loan to the bank;
    • Substantial fees being applied and drawn off ahead of creditors and leaving less for shareholders.
  • Given that the principle of the sale of the farm, has been agreed (albeit a sale to Cwm Harry was originally planned) and Cwm Harry has given the undertaking to relinquish its lease (allowing the farm to be sold without a sitting tenant) then MIPS is free to commence the sale as early as it likes.
  • A number of preparations had already been made that would allow the farm to be on the open market over the summer. Whilst details are not finalised the following may be helpful:
    • The farm is likely to go on the market as soon as possible (although MIPS must wait for information regarding SSSI designation from NRW and subsequently on opinion from Jones Peckover);
    • The farm will be on the market for a reasonable length of time;
    • The process will enable a wide range of potential purchasers to make offers.

It is not currently possible to say when a final decision will be made.

Jones Peckover have been taken on to undertake the sale on behalf of MIPS.

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14)  Who will get to decide if the land is to be split up?

At present it will be MIPS who will decide if the land is to be offered for sale in different lots. Given the additional value of selling in lots (see answer above) this would seem likely.

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15)  And who would decide who gets what bits? Will the IPS only sell at the full price?

It will also be MIPS that will make the decision as to which bids to accept although it should be borne on mind that MIPS is sharply constrained by its financial obligations and it will make this decision only following relevant discussions.

It isn’t automatically the case that MIPS have to accept the highest offer but as is clear the financial burden that it has inherited is substantial and cannot be disregarded.

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16)  Have the bank already accepted that the mountain would be sold to clear the NRW debt?

Yes, that was the plan set out and agreed with the bank earlier in the year. At the time, the bank had agreed to the plan to sell off the mountain and Y Parc to clear the NRW debt but this was on the basis that Cwm Harry would be purchasing the rest of the farm. The bank is currently reviewing its position. Note: even if the original plan had still been in place, the money raised from the sale of the mountain would have gone to the bank and held in a special fund – it would not have gone directly to NRW.

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17)  If someone is interested in buying part of the land, who should they speak to?

At this point in time any expressions of interest in buying the land should be lodged with MIPS via ips@moelyci.org

Note – if someone is interested in buying a parcel of land as part of the new consortium then they should express their interest to Colin Keyse via ymlaenmoelyci@gmail.com

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18)  If someone is interested in investing in / buying the shop and café, who should they speak to?

It depends. If the interest is in the land and buildings in which the shop is housed then they should express their interest to MIPS via ips@moelyci.org . However if they have an interest in the shop / café as a going concern – so the assets such as stock, equipment, branding etc. – then they should express their interest to Carol in the shop or to Adam Kennerley of Cwm Harry via adam@cwmharry.org.uk.

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19)  Is the café financially sustainable on its own?

The café / shop is currently covering its costs and its financial position has grown significantly over the last year. It has the potential to grow further.

Carol and Cwm Harry are exploring the options that might best see the café / shop retained on the farm or, if this is not possible, made available to the community elsewhere.  A separate note about how the café / shop might move forward will be issued shortly. Talk to Carol.

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20)  Is anyone liable financially for repayment of grant funds received?

There is no obligation for Glastir and SFP payments to be repaid for the period to date. Any payments received for the period following a sale would most likely be repayable. The contracts for these are held by Cwm Harry and not MIPS (although MIPS retain the ownership of the entitlements that are used in calculating SFP).

Cwm Harry has also invested public funds (from Coastal Communities Fund and Cyfenter) in the physical assets of the farm. These grants have been for delivering community benefit. Should the assets bought with these funds no longer serve a public benefit then the funders are entitled to consider repayment. In the first instance they would work with Cwm Harry. In turn Cwm Harry has an agreement in principle that any assets that form leaseholder improvements to the farm could in turn be claimed from MIPS whose have benefited from those investments.

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21)  When Cwm Harry leaves the site, if the farm has not been sold, what will happen to the income generated on the farm? Will the farm still be operational after this date? How much income is likely to be generated? Who will operate it?

Cwm Harry has committed to maintaining the farm as ‘business as usual’ through to September 2017. Cwm Harry has agreed to consider staying on longer if appropriate and possible.

The farms operations, as a whole, do not yet make a profit so anyone looking to operate the farm post September 2017 would have to take on these costs. Cwm Harry manages this through combining farm running costs with running of other projects on site (which may or may not continue but which would not be available to other operators).

MIPS would struggle to take on the day to day operation as a business as usual because it is loss making and this would take it toward operating insolvently; something which it has successfully avoided now for a number of years.

If unsold at the close of September and if Cwm Harry do not stay on beyond September then MIPS might imagine a mothballing operation.

An alternative might be that a new purchaser, whilst waiting for legal paperwork to complete, could take up a licence from MIPS and operate the farm (but would do so as they saw fit).

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22) Will tenants, including all allotment holders, still have access to the site after this date?

This is not yet known. So long as Cwm Harry remain as tenant (currently to end September) then all licence holders will continue to have access. What happens after September is dependent upon what happens in the coming weeks and who steps forward to buy the farm.

All tenants have been advised of the current situation and know that they can speak to MIPS, to Cwm Harry or to Colin Keyse depending upon what their query is.

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23)  Will the site still be insured? If there is no income after this date, who will pay for insurance etc.

Whilst being managed by Cwm Harry it remains insured for all its operations.

After September if Cwm Harry are no longer on the farm MIPS will need to insure the farm but possibly only as a mothballed operation, so not requiring higher levels of insurance associated with staff and with operating the farm.

The costs of this will need to be negotiated with NatWest.

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24)  Cwm Harry received funding of £150k for the shop, café and barn. What happens to these assets? There was some mention of Cwm Harry “gifting” these assets to the community, what does this actually mean and what happens if the farm is sold to a private buyer rather than a community venture?

The public money taken in by Cwm Harry for the Shop / Café refit and the conversion of the barn through to a commercial kitchen was intended for public benefit. Cwm Harry is notifying the grant aiding bodies and making them aware of the options that the assets might be used for.

The assets are in two categories:

  • Those that are fixed to the farm – so for example the physical work to the wood shed that has made it in to the shop space (so steels, wirings, lightings etc. etc.) and to the barn to make it a kitchen (new floors and ceilings, plastic lining etc. etc.). These are on MIPS’s asset list and as fixed to the farm will be sold as part of the farm.
  • These that can be removed – so for example all the shelving, stock, coffee machine in the shop and the range of equipment in the commercial kitchen. These are on Cwm Harry’s asset list and so it is for Cwm Harry to decide what to do with them.

Ideally these all stay, in some form, as part of a new consortium on the farm and Cwm Harry is keen to support any individual, group or business who is interested in helping make this happen. Please lodge your interest with Carol in the shop or contact Adam Kennerley via adam@cwmharry.org.uk

However everyone is acutely away that staying on the farm may not be a viable option (if the farm is sold in to private hands for example) in which case Cwm Harry has an interest in seeing the majority of its assets – equipment and stock etc. – dedicated to a community purpose but this would have to be in another location. Again interest or ideas should be expressed to Carol or Adam.

Only if there is no identifiable and viable way of keeping the assets in community benefit will Cwm Harry consider selling them (in which case any funds raised would most likely have to be returned to the funders or, by agreement, dedicated to a similar project / beneficiary). The saleable assets belong to Cwm Harry and it will be for Cwm Harry (with agreement of the original funders) to decide on how they will be deployed or disposed of.

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25)  Please clarify the position with tenant’s assets, for example, do Snowdonia Donkeys own their large field shelter? What is the situation re smaller assets such as sheds and fruit trees on allotments?

Any asset placed on the farm by any licensee should, in most cases, remain as their asset. So the shelter built by Snowdonia Donkeys remains theirs, sheds and water butts are the property of the individual allotment holders etc.

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26)  In addition to the formal public rights of way, there are many established rights of way across the farm, can these be protected and how?

There is, to the best of knowledge of both MIPS and Cwm Harry, no formal agreements in place about wider public access on the farm. If this proves to be the case then public access to the farm in the future may be restricted to public rights of way.

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27)  What will happen to the historical information, for example ecological or heritage records of the farm?

All ecological records in the last couple of years have been gathered together and properly recorded (thanks to the ecology group). The heritage records remain stored as they were prior to 2014. All such records are community assets and will be made available to the appropriate authorities / groups at the appropriate time so as to not be lost.

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28)  Why can’t we set up another community association to fund raise?

There is an unavoidable factor that the bank wants to sell, and this means a new legal entity has to be the buyer. If someone wanted to propose a new community association to raise new funds they would need to be able to bid for the farm and present the bank with a viable and imminent solution i.e. the fundraising had already taken place / commitments made and a new body set up. There is a finite timeline but this is yet to be finalised.

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29)  Has Cwm Harry thought about crowdfunding and making an urgent appeal to the shareholders?

Cwm Harry had explored crowd funding and new community share in the early years but Ffarm Moelyci at that time was an un-investable proposition. Previous ‘appeals’ prior to 2014 were not successful because of this.

However with so much more on offer – richer in wildlife, in community health and wellbeing etc. – this may no longer the case. Crowdfunding or a share offer against a specific project or element might be more relevant but only if a coherent proposition can be pulled together.

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30)  Could Cwm Harry not have found another buyer to help the situation?

Cwm Harry has considered and spoken with a range of potential partners / funders but none have come to fruition. The ability to ‘sell’ Ffarm Moelyci is now substantially better that it has been in previous years and whilst Cwm Harry will support any other party expressing an interest it is not actively seeking an alternate buyer at this time.

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31)  If the business plan was not going to be a success from the start, why wasn’t it flagged earlier?

The assertion that the business plan was not going to work from the start is a flawed one. No one would embark upon a business venture if they knew it would fail. Cwm Harry took on Ffarm Moelyci knowing that it was fraught with challenges and fully aware that it would take a number of years to move from losses to profit.

The business plan – based around a masterplan that zoned the farm and sought to run it more as an enterprise park where the responsibility for paying for the farm was devolved across a range of enterprises – was published and shared to all parties back in 2014 and gained widespread support. Part of the business plan required the very expensive finance underpinning the farm – in the form of the mortgage held by MIPS – to be fully replaced by more affordable finance (or ideally substantially reduced).

Whilst Cwm Harry invested substantially to give the Business Plan three years to emerge this simply hasn’t been enough given the breadth and depth of problems it has had to resolve and the slower than anticipated pace that profitable enterprises have emerged. At the heart of it the replacement finance that Cwm Harry had planned for was simply too risk adverse to enable Cwm Harry to purchase the farm and lower the financial burden.

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Published on 1st August 2017.

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