Cornish Manor Owners’ Association
Minutes of Annual General Meeting
held on Saturday 6th November 2010 at St. Ives Holiday Park
Present Jean Tolchard Chairman
Mike O’Neill Vice Chairman/Membership Secretary
David Lappin Secretary
Trevor Healing Treasurer
Site Representatives: Paul Hunter Les Rose Liz Ashenden Simon Arkell John Youdell
Attendance 86 Members
Madam Chairman opened the meeting by welcoming members old and new to the first AGM to be held in November.
Minutes The Minutes of the meeting held on Sunday 21st March 2010 were received and approved as a true and proper record. Proposed by John Bennett and seconded by Richard Ashenden.
The Secretary said that due to the site management changes that had taken place earlier in the year he found it difficult to get all the answers to matters raised at the last meeting. The Secretary then went on to explain that he had had individual meetings with 3 of the 4 site managers. The exception being Perran View.
Ray Rushforth, former manager of Perran View has been appointed as General Manager and Matt Mitchell has been appointed site manager. St. Ives has been the victim of bad press during the past. The main complaints relate to cleaning, damp and odour. A programme of action has now been put into place to address these issues. Progress has already been made with cleaning standards, quality of service and a new entertainment structure. CMOA have again provided details to Ray Rushworth of equipment that may address the odour problems in properties. The original information appears to have disappeared during the management restructure.
Since the changeover to digital TV a number of properties have been stuck with just 5 TV channels. The matter was brought to Martyn Fowler’s attention and he promised to address it with some urgency. JFH have discovered that a larger number of properties are affected than was originally thought, which now presents them with a greater technical challenge as well as a considerable cost burden. It is a situation that must be resolved as visitors will expect the full range of TV and radio programmes they enjoy at home. Also flat screen TV’s cannot be employed leaving visitors with small portable TV’s and analogue reception. The Secretary will continue to liaise with JFH on this matter.
The longer term plan to refurbish and upgrade the site is still proceeding.
Heather Miles, former manager of St. Ives has now been appointed manager. Members raised yet again the condition of the roads on Kenegie. The Secretary raised the issue again with JFH and was pleased to report that the roads have now been resurfaced including the drive by the Summer House. Also the parking for the Barns has been re-gravelled as requested by Barns owners.
Some 18 months ago a compromise system to a deposit scheme was proposed by CMOA and accepted by JFH. The scheme comprised of a polite notice to visitors with an “Honesty Envelope” provided for visitors to pay for any damage/ breakage caused by them with the proceeds being credited to that owners account. Sadly the scheme did not come into being during 2009 season but was rescheduled for 2010. Unfortunately it appears that the stationary has been mislaid or lost. The Secretary will approach JFH again to arrange a reprint and hopefully have it in place at the start of the 2011 season. If successful it will be rolled out to the other sites.
Members complained about the lack of bookings during 2009 and suggested that the cancellation insurance offered by JFH may have been a contributory factor as it gives the person booking the holiday an easy get out at the last minute with no penalties being incurred. JFH are of the opinion that this facility did not have any significant impact and do not intend to make any changes.
Mary and Tim Gee now have sole responsibility for Tolroy. Members asked the Secretary to approach JFH and ask if they could resurface the main car park as during dry spells in the summer it becomes a dust bowl. The Secretary was pleased to report that the main car park has now been re-gravelled, thereby resolving the issue.
Members also asked what was going to happen to the area vacated by the Accounts Department now that it has relocated to Ifracombe. The area is still being used by Jackie Marriott who has taken over the role of Sales, as Brian Robinson has now retired. Members of JFH auditing team are also using the office space.
Chairman’s report – see attached.
The Treasurer reported that he was able to circulate the audited accounts for 2009/10 before the meeting due to the change of date for the AGM.
He hoped that by doing so members would have more opportunity to study them as against being presented with them on the day. He went on to advise members that the current bank balance to date stood at £1,100. He urged members who had not yet paid this year’s subscription to please let him have a cheque ASAP. Members were reminded that the password to access CMOA website was only issued when payment was received.
The Treasurer then invited questions from members present. A question was raised as to why CMOA held a deposit account of some £18,000. The Treasurer explained that the accrual of reserves was to meet any legal payments that the Association may encounter. Madam Chairman gave examples of where money had been used from this fund in past. The most recent was the investigation by Solicitors into the various leases held by owners. Another question related to the drastic reduction in interest received on the deposit account. The Treasurer explained that since the credit crunch and the fall in the Bank of England rate down to 0.5%, banks that hold charity status accounts were giving next to nothing in interest and by taking inflation into account the monies on deposit are now worth less than a year ago.
Election of Officers
As required by CMOA constitution all members of the committee are required to stand down on an annual basis. Due to the change of date for the AGM existing committee members have served for 18 months.
Nominations were received for Perran View, Tolroy and St. Ives
Madam Chairman welcomed the nominations and established that the existing committee members were willing to continue. Therefore it was decided by members present to re-elect the committee as well as the new nominees.
The new committee for 2010/11 is as follows:
Chairman Jean Tolchard
Vice Chairman/Membership Secretary Mike O’Neill
Secretary David Lappin
Treasurer Trevor Healing
Kenegie Paul Hunter
Perran View John Youdell
Tolroy Manor Les Rose
St. Ives Liz Ashenden
Business Rates and Tax Changes
During the past year there have been changes in the applied Business Rates and tax implications. The changes have occurred as a result of a coalition government being elected in May 2010.
The previous government had imposed a 5% tax levy on Business Rates and in addition made changes in their budget for Furnished Holiday Lettings. The new coalition government has now introduced the following:
In an effort to support small businesses a temporary rate relief scheme (SBRR) has been introduced taking effect from 1 October 2010 to 31 September 2011. The relief will directly affect all owners who are claiming Business Rates on their holiday property and whose rateable value is £6000 or less. The business will receive 100% rate relief. This change has resulted in owners being refunded overpayments for this year. It will also substantially reduce the rates payable for 2011. At the time of writing Cornwall Council is not in a position to advise what general rates will be levied next year and when. See attached key facts sheet.
One member has successfully appealed against the rateable value assessment that came into force this year. The member argued the case that the facilities available at Kenegie Manor for holiday makers were not in keeping with facilities offered on other JFH sites, i.e. entertainment and leisure etc. The Valuation Office Agency has now, thanks to member, reduced the Rateable Value on the Bungalows from £2500 to £2000. The effect of the change is not yet known because of the Business Rate relief scheme current in force.
The tax changes announced by the previous government did not get onto the statute book and therefore did not come into law. Please refer to Spring 2010 Minutes for further information.
The above changes were to bring the UK in line with EU Furnished Holiday Letting regulations and therefore the coalition government is obliged to change the law. A working party has been set up and was due to report back to the government on 22 October 2010 with proposals to bring the UK into line.
Some of the proposals are as follows which may have a direct effect on owners claiming Business Rates.
- Increase the number of days a property is available for let from 140 to 210 days a year.
- Increase the number of days a property is actually let to qualify for business rates from 70 to 105 days a year.
- To allow tax relief on one property only and any losses arising to be offset only against that property.
Capital Gains Tax
Another change that has been made by the new coalition government is for Capital Gains Tax. The new tax ranges from 18% to 28% depending on tax status; however for Furnished Holiday Letting Business the rate of Capital Gains is levied at 10%.
If the above becomes law, then owners selling and claiming Business Rates may have to prove that the property has been let for 105 days or more or may have to pay a higher rate Capital Gains Tax. It is advisable to check with a qualified Accountant before selling your property.
Landlords and Tenants Act
Earlier this year due to a High Court ruling, the status of holiday homes on holiday parks has changed from “Commercial” to “Dwellings”. This change of status will impact on the relationship between Park owners and holiday property owners from now on.
A new owner acquired Point Curlew Holiday Park in Cornwall and made some improvements and alterations and then imposed a large increase in service charges. The Chalet owners decided to get together and challenge the new owners as they either refused to pay or could not pay the additional service charges. The Park owners threatened to change the Chalet locks thus denying access or even repossession.
The problem was that the holiday chalet was considered to be commercial rather than residential. This landmark case decided by a High Court Judge sitting at Plymouth County Court has now caused a change from commercial to dwelling status.
The impact of this for the future is to prevent Park owners from increasing service charges etc. without due consultation with owners through their appointed representatives. It also reinforces the amount of expenditure that can be incurred on behalf of the owners for work carried on their property without prior approval to £250.
The firm of Solicitors who acted on behalf of Point Curlew owners has urged all owners on other holiday parks to band together and form an Association. This firm has now been appointed by Honicombe Owners Association (Honicombe owners were formerly aligned to CMOA) to challenge their park owner for recognition and unfair charges.
CMOA currently represents circa 60% of all owners on JFH sites and has built up a reserve fund of some £18,000 should a legal challenge ever have to be mounted.
Your committee make every effort to advise and recruit non-members into the fold and through CMOA website www.cornishmanor.co.uk it couldn’t be easier to find out more and make contact. Every member can do their bit by encouraging other owners that you come into contact with to join.
Please refer to newspaper article attached.
Website Forum Review
The Secretary took a quick straw poll to establish the percentage of members who were “Facebook or Twitter” enthusiasts. The straw poll revealed that less than 10% got involved. That 10% reflects on the number of members who have posted messages on the forum to date. The data so far since its launch in April 2010 is:
Postings Tolroy = 4
Kenegie = 8
St. Ives = 1
Perran = 0
General messages = 9
Average weekly visits to the site = 6
The Secretary urged members to visit the website more often either to put a message on the forum or simply to read what’s there. The Message Board informs members about meetings or any other information that has come to light, which attempts to keep everyone ‘in the loop’. Members present were reminded of the initial cost of setting up the forum and annual support costs, which is money wasted if the site is not used.
Members can also check on their booking calendar on the JFH website. At the present time access directly through the JFH website is not possible as the owner’s link button has been removed. Although the booking calendar is not 100% accurate it does give a good indication of how bookings are proceeding. Checking direct with JFH is advisable before taking any action.
Electrical and Fire Safety
In June of this year an incident involving an 18 month child falling out of an upstairs window occurred on Tolroy. Because of the nature of the incident JFH management had a legal obligation to notify the Health and Safety Executive. They decided that the window which was designated as a fire escape exit point be permanently fixed. This immediately caused a fire safety issue and needed the Fire and Rescue Service to approve and authorise alternative safety measures. The authorities would not allow the properties affected to be used for letting purposes until the work had been carried out and approved. Some 33 properties had to be taken out of service. The properties were a mixture of private and JFH owned.
To comply with the ruling hard wired smoke detectors on each floor and room plus emergency lighting and fire extinguishers had to be installed. Tolroy management had to work quickly as this was the beginning of the season and they didn’t want owners to suffer a loss of bookings. A price was obtained and the relevant owners were informed. Unfortunately due to the urgency it did not give owners in the majority of cases enough time to appoint their own electrician. The Authorities then insisted on an audit of all properties on Tolroy and other JFH sites.
The situation to date is that all properties on Tolroy letting through the JFH scheme will have the new safety measures completed during November. Until this is done they will not receive the appropriate Fire and Safety certificate to operate the Park.
St. Ives audit has been completed and owners will be notified of requirements in the near future.
Kenegie has not been audited to date, however it likely to be carried out over the winter period.
The site has not had an audit yet, but the site manager Gavin Lewis has established what is required and will notify owners as soon as all the details have been finalised.
JFH are legally required to ensure that all properties using their letting scheme comply. They also have a responsibility for those properties they “keyhold” for. Owners who let their properties privately or for their own personal use are urged to follow the recommendations for installing additional Fire and Safety devices. Installing a hardwired smoke detector will be more reliable and reduce expenditure on batteries. Although there is no legal requirement to undertake this work at the present time for private use, there may be insurance issues in the event of fire damaging another property.
Apart from Tolroy the proposed work will be carried out on the other sites in an orderly fashion, thus allowing time for owners to make there own arrangements if they do not wish to use JFH services. Managers should be able to provide a specification for each type of property on their site.
Members are supplied with new CMOA window stickers on renewal of subscription in April. The stickers are to show current membership and also to make other owners who are non members aware of the Association. However not all members are able to visit their property in April and it may be much later in the year before they visit, if at all.
The managers of the sites have kindly agreed to affix the new window sticker for those members who cannot make the trip in April or there about.
Providing the manager has access to your property, if you wish please forward your new window sticker to them when you receive it.
St. Ives – (Site Rep’s Liz Ashenden & Patrick Rooney) copy report attached
The meeting was joined by Ray Rushforth and Matt Mitchell, General Manager and Manager of St. Ives. They set out their programme to address the problems that have mounted up over the last few years and outlined future plans for the site.
Due to a plant disease that has migrated south the Rhododendrons will have to be removed to avoid other plants/trees being affected.
Tolroy Manor – (Site Rep’s Les Rose & Simon Arkell) copy report attached
The issue of trees was raised again by Tolroy members complaining that some are too close to properties and branches are overhanging the roof area resulting in loss of light and causing damp. The trees are strictly controlled by Cornwall Council and permission has to be granted to lop off branches or fell a tree. Although they are inspected on a annual basis members were advised to write to Mary Gee in order that she could then press Cornwall Council into action. Please refer to Minutes dated 21 March 2010.
Kenegie Manor – (Site Rep’s Paul Hunter & Barrie Hockley) copy report attached
Heather Miles, site Manager kindly joined the group to outline her goals and to answer owner’s questions.
Heather will be starting the new season with a fresh team and addressed the following:
Trees – It is considered that some of the trees are too close to properties and therefore will be felled in the coming months.
Swimming Pool and changing rooms – following the installation of a new boiler and central heating system.The changing rooms will be refurbished during the winter period.
Bar – It is intended that the Bar will be open from 3 pm to 11pm for business every day next year and not close on a Wednesday afternoon. Bar snacks will be re-introduced and the take-up will be monitored.
Outdoor Lighting – the lighting is not ideal and is not of a commercial standard and prone to failure. Heather will investigate a different lighting system.
Facilities charge – some owners are confused about facility charges which have not been applied correctly. Heather clarified the situation as follows.
- Owners using the JFH letting scheme – Free to owners and guests
- Private owners or those letting through other agents – £12 per owner or per let.
To ensure that the correct charge is made and owners are not charged incorrectly, which leads to complaints, Heather would like all owners to advise her with names of friends and family who are likely to use the property during the season. To establish this, a form was sent to all owners, but so far a number of owners have yet to respond.
Communication – in line with the system set up at Tolroy to ensure that owner’s queries are dealt with speedily and efficiently
Contact by email any query/ complaint in the first instance firstname.lastname@example.org and request a read receipt from your computer.
You will receive a response with 7 days either resolving the query or stating that further investigation is required.
Correspondence by letter – Your letter will be answered within 7 days to resolve the query or to advise that further investigation is required.
Heather is keen to get to know all owners and will be arranging a couple of get-togethers. The first is in December (invitations have already been sent out) and the second will be in the spring.
Perran View – (Site Rep John Youdell) copy report attached
Owners are mourning the loss of Ray Rushforth and feel that since his move to St. Ives the standards are beginning to drop. Some owners are also concerned about being charged for work that doesn’t appear to have been carried out and have requested itemised bills with some form of receipt in the future.
Owners would also like the Tennis Courts to be refurbished.
Action: David Lappin
A number of issues were raised during the general discussion. The main complaint by members present was the lack of bookings during the year with a large number of properties having few or no bookings during the peak season of July and August.
Some owners felt that it was the duty of JFH to inform them at an early stage to give them a chance to make alternative arrangements. Owners also wanted to know what JFH were doing about it. The Secretary reminded the meeting that JFH realised the potential problem at the beginning of the year and took steps to minimise the shortfall in bookings. (Please refer to Minutes 21 March 2010).
At the beginning of the year the UK was in the grips of a harsh winter and as January is normally the peak booking time for this type of business, it didn’t happen. Additional marketing expenditure was ploughed into the advertising media to try and recover those lost early bookings. In addition the economic uncertainty has played a major part with people leaving their holiday booking decision to the last minute and also people deciding to skip their traditional holiday and staying at home instead – the so called “staycation”.
As mentioned by Madam Chairman in her report, the holiday market is changing with more and more families opting for the short break. The scheme offered by JFH has not worked in owners favour and short breaks have generally meant that a loss has been incurred as well as the increase in wear and tear to the property. JFH have now, we are informed, changed the charging system for short breaks from a fixed fee charge to charging on a daily basis. The Secretary will take this up with JFH and report back to members on its viability.
Action: David Lappin
The power of the internet is increasing as more people report their holiday experiences either good or bad on internet sites such as “Tripadvisor” reported one member. St. Ives has come in for particular criticism during the past year or so. These criticisms have now been recognised by JFH and action is being taken.
Some members would like CMOA to address with JFH the matter of charging for work that has not been done and replacement of items that has not been carried out.
Some examples being offered were £200 to replace a chair and charge for a blind and for painting – a charge for a shower fitting.
Another member complained about being charged for a new cooker at a cost of £300. The owner was not informed or asked to consent to the charge. Another example was a charge made for a fridge that the owner did not possess. There was also a complaint that VAT had been charged twice.
Action: David Lappin
Any Other Business
At this point there being no other business Madam Chairman drew the meeting to a close and once again thanked everyone for making the effort to attend. Madam Chairman also thanked Ray Rushforth and Matt Mitchell and their staff for organising the catering and facilities for CMOA. There were also thanks to Heather Miles, Ray Rushworth and Matt Mitchell for attending the group side meetings with their presence and input being greatly appreciated. Madam Chairman expressed the wish that JFH management will be present at future meetings.
The meeting was closed at 5.15 pm with Madam Chairman wishing everyone a good evening and a safe journey home.
Next meeting. – Date to be advised.