Strathaven Airfield Ltd Annual Accounts 2015-2016
Welcome to Strathaven Airfield Ltd's first set of accounts.
The not-for-profit company was set up in June 2015 to create a sustainable governance for the airfield operations and emphasise that this is a community asset.
But before we go into any detail, I'd like to point out that although the airfield was opened just over 50 years ago, the town's links with aviation go back at least 100 years.
This month is the 100th anniversary of Strathaven teenager Donald Cameron joining the Royal Flying Corps. He was awarded his ‘Wings’ on 31st December, 1917, and arrived in France on 9th February, 1918.
Donald’s war flying training was barely completed when the great German Offensive began. Half an hour after his Sopwith Camel took off on a bombing raid on the 25th March, he was shot down by Baron Manfred von Richthofen better known as “The Red Baron”. Von Richthofen's combat report gave the following details – Victory No 68. 25th March 1918. 1555hrs, above Bapaume-Albert Road, near Contalmaison. Sopworth 1; burnt. Englishman (Beginner).
In terms of performance, many of the aircraft that use Strathaven Airfield are not too dissimilar to Donald's Camel: the wire-braced fabric-covered wings of the microlights and the grass landing areas would all be very familiar. And the weather is still a major issue!
And that is our aim: to operate a traditional grass airfield for simple aircraft types, a facility where everyone is welcome to enjoy the fun of flying - even if only to watch.
Obviously, the main highlight of the initial period covered by these accounts is the creation of the not-for-profit company. In the accounts, you will see there has been quite a bit spent on legal fees, surveyor's fees and accountants. In future years, we hopefully will not need to repeat much of this.
Since there is a potential conflict between the actual owners of the airfield - Colin MacKinnon and Marta Briongos - and the operating company, Strathaven Airfield Ltd, we have been very careful to ensure major decisions have been made at "arm's length". The rent, for example, cannot exceed the sum assessed by an independent valuer who is RICS qualified. For your information, although the rent was assessed at £45,000 a year, Colin and Marta have chosen to restrict it to £3,000 per month, ie £36,000 a year. (The £45,000 figure in the accounts covers an 18-month period).
The airfield lease allows for annual rent increases, but the rent was kept at £3,000 per month in December 2016 and it is anticipated that it will remain at that level throughout 2018.
Key events in the first 18 months have included:
- Completion of the disabled toilet facilities in the "new" hangar and the granting of a certificate of completion.
- The installation of the fire hydrant, a building control requirement.
- CCTV security around the airfield.
- The Large Model Association Scottish airshow weekend in June 2016
- SEPA (Scottish Environmental Protection Agency) using the airfield for drone training.
- Planting of 1,500 crocuses.
And the first trimming of the hedgerow planted by Strathaven Scouts to mark their centenary!
So as well as looking at improving the facilities here, we have also been extending our reach out to benefit the wider community.
In the coming year, we are extending this with the recent award of two flying scholarships to South Lanarkshire teenagers. Luana McAtear and Bruce Hutchens have started 15 hours each of flying lessons, with each bursary worth around £2,500. Hopefully this will get them to solo stage. We intend to grow this scheme to involve the whole of Lanarkshire and have already got a sponsor for a third bursary from Alex Paterson's aircraft for sale www.afors.co.uk web site.
The rest of 2017 will be a period of consolidation. We will be looking at some environmental improvements for visitors and refurbishing the biplane climbing frame which is ever-popular with people of all ages!
Other than that, we would like to build up a small amount of capital to help with cash flow and try and establish links with Strathaven Academy.
Finally, there are two items I would like to revisit.
The first is the fire hydrant.
The accountants thought it could be included in the landlord's accounts, and then the rent for the airfield could be increased to reflect the benefit (which Colin and Marta could have done without any revaluation since the rent value was assessed at substantially more than they are charging). They also thought it could be included in Strathaven Airfield Ltd's accounts, which it has been. This allowed the use of 100% Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) so that SA Ltd then had no tax to pay, saving about £3,000. The hydrant is now included as an "asset" in SA Ltd's accounts. While hard to sell on Ebay, on any termination of the lease then this asset would be valued and compensation paid to SA Ltd by the landlord.
The second is not even mentioned in the accounts!
As a not-for-profit organisation, South Lanarkshire Council has granted us 100% rates relief. With a new rateable value on the airfield of £41,500, that would mean an annual rates bill of around £20,000 a year. So our sincere thanks go out to the council. Without this, we would not be able to become the broader community organisation we are seeking to be.
Light winds and clear skies,