LI Advisory council meeting 2016-07-09

A brief selection of highlights from this meeting can be viewed Here


This digest is a summary of the main points from the Council meeting. It is produced straight after the meeting. It is not a formal minute of the meeting. Minutes will be available within two weeks of the meeting.

  1. President’s Welcome

Merrick Denton-Thompson (MDT) chaired the meeting as the new President. He welcomed new Council members, thanked those who had just left or were about to leave Council and noted the sad death of Mark Turnbull. Council gave unanimous support for Mark to receive the Institute’s Gold Medal (to be considered at the Board’s forthcoming meeting). MDT commented on the implications for the Institute regarding the vote to leave Europe.

  1. Capability Brown Festival

Ceryl Evans, Festival Director, gave a presentation on the Festival and how members can get involved, which was well received.

  1. New members’ website and the future of Talking Landscape

Council had a presentation on the impressive features of the new members’ website and searchable membership directory. It was noted that now we have new functionality on the website a review will be undertaken of Talking Landscape to see if there are improvements that can be made to the way we facilitate member to member communications. The review will take place over the summer.

  1. Board’s Report to Council

MDT updated Council on CEO recruitment. There was a strong field of applicants, 11 had been longlisted and interviewed, 4 had final interviews, a decision would be made shortly and Council informed.

Council raised concern over the low interest rate achieved on the cash from Barnard Mews. Phil Mulligan (PM) explained that the objective/priority for this cash had not been to maximise interest rates, rather it had been to keep the money safe, low risk and liquid until an investment decision could be made after the office location had been agreed.

Council wanted to see a longer term ‘business plan’.  This will be presented to the next Council meeting.

Council wanted to know if underspends during the year could be reallocated by Council, PM explained there is a process for revising the budget mid-year and Council can also suggest activities that need funding from reserves which in effect reallocated previous years’ surpluses into activity. PM clarified that Council had already allocated expenditure priorities for the year in October and while IT had not been a priority then, it now was for the organisation and as such reserves had been used to fund this rather than use any of the funding Council had already allocated for other things.

  1. New Governance Documents

A few members of Council felt the documents still needed some further work to improve clarity. Council was given until 15th July to get any last comments in to PM. The documents would then be revised and presented to the Board for adoption on 19th July. Council would then be asked to vote to support the new documents by email immediately afterwards. This will mean the documents can go to the membership for adoption with the support of both Board and Council.

  1. Vision Document and Operational Plan for 201617

Council noted the two-page vision document and MDT explained it was not ‘approved’ by the Board as such but the Board had seen it and were happy with it.  It would now form the basis of further discussions at the leadership retreat and it would be for the new CEO to also take an opinion on it. Some of the current political uncertainty in the UK may be clearer by then as well.

  1. Standard description for the Landscape Institute

Council discussed the proposed new universal description for the Institute. Some editing suggestions were made. A new version will be produced.

  1. Leadership Retreat

Agenda suggestions were: new vision/mission document, long term business plan, Brexit/political uncertainty and how to respond, threats to the profession from others (architects/garden designers), taking a position on the Garden Bridge.  On the latter Council agreed the LI should lead a debate over the pros/cons of the Garden Bridge.

  1. Approval of Revised Appointments & Selection Committee Terms of Reference

Council agreed that wider revisions should be made rather than just on scrutineers. Another revision will now take place and be brought back to October Council.

  1. Use of video for Council election 2017 manifestos

Council discussed the use of video for candidates and voted in favour of this. Council voted to not have conditions on format etc. A paper will now be drafted for Council approval on the use of video.

  1. Pro bono work by members

Council discussed pro bono landscape work undertaken by members and was supportive of promoting/encouraging this. Paul Lincoln (PL) to review how this can be presented/showcased on the LI website. Council was concerned about this being used as a way of self-promotion and not undermining the work of some practices. Robert Holden (RH) to produce a revised paper for Council.

  1. CEO Report

PM updated Council that Laura Smith will be leaving the Capability Brown Festival and a temp will be appointed for the last few months of the project. PM updated Council on the MERL liaison meeting and agreed to circulate the latest MERL report. Members of Council with questions/concerns about collection issues regarding certain achieves were directed to contact FOLAR.

  1. Appointments

Council noted the co-option of Julia Watts. Council noted that A&SC will be recruiting two new trustees over the summer. Council approved the reappointment of Rachel Tenant as Scottish Branch Rep for a further and final year due to exceptional circumstances

  1. Education & Membership Report

Council noted the report. A member of Council raised concerns that the steering group for the education review did not seem wide enough. MDT expressed concerns about the review strategy.

  1. Policy & Communications Report

Council noted the report. An update was given that the next Annual Conference would probably be held in conjunction with Manchester Metropolitan University.

  1. Technical & Professional Report

An oral update regarding additional volunteers that had been recruited was given and Helen Allen’s membership grade corrected.  Council noted the report.

  1. Licentiate report

Council noted that there was still a shortage of volunteers in various roles on the Pathway.

  1. Student report

Council noted the strong student turn out at the Annual Conference and wanted to encourage this again.

  1. Branch Reps report

Concern raised by some over the cost of LI events. PM responded that: LI events are already significantly cheaper than many other similar bodies;  Branches often put on cheaper events locally for members;  the LI had introduced free webinars for members; around 700 vouchers offering £100 discounts had been given to members; and the main LI events sold out indicating they were priced appropriately. PM also pointed out that events are budgeted to make a certain contribution and if the LI wanted lower priced events then the money would have to be made up elsewhere or some other activity cut.

Branch Reps asked for a role in agreeing the theme of the next Annual Conference.

Branch Reps raised the issue of policy work for England. This is already being discussed with PCC.

Branch Reps asked for a review of the Branch constitution. PM confirmed this could happen once the new governance documents were in place.

Branch Reps raised concerns about some banking issues and members having to fund things from their own pocket and then claim back the money. PM said it was unfortunately not possible to issue Branches with debit cards (LI staff centrally do not even have these). However, progress was being made with internet banking which would mean expenses could be reclaimed by members immediately.

  1. IFLA report

An update on IFLA was given.

  1. Minutes of the Meeting of 11 February 2016 previously approved

It was noted that MDT wanted draft minutes circulated within one week and then approved minutes circulated and on the website within two weeks, possibly with some items unapproved. It was agreed the Council meeting digests would remain on the website after the minutes had been produced and uploaded.

  1. Any Other Business

It was agreed to circulate the annual cycle of meetings schedule.



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