Minimum £250,000 Investment Required For City Farm Tender

As part of the budget cuts and cost savings being implemented by Stoke-on-Trent City Council the City Farm at Bucknall Park is being put out to tender.

The City Farm which was quoted in

Poor old Stoke does not get into many top tens but in their city farm they have a real treasure. Tucked into the south-east corner of Bucknall Park, the farm is home to llamas, kune kune pigs, chipmunks and a glorious sweep of domestic fauna. There’s also a sensory garden to thrill and tantalise all five senses. For afters, Bucknall Park has a children’s playground and, in the summer, a cafe too

seems doomed to close as part of the deep cost savings being made by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

According to the tender document pack, (which is one of the worst compiled packs of documents I have set eyes upon in a long time), the City Farm costs £178,519.24 to run in the 2010/11 financial year while. A majority of this cost is salaries for the 5 staff. The park does apparently generate a small income of just under £4000 this is in the form of donations of £2000 and sales of livestock, animal feed & bedding.

The tender is for 5 years with an option to extend to 7 years, although the Deed Of Agreement supplied in the tender pack, gives details of a 3 year contract to lease buildings at Carmountside Cemetery.

As well as the £178,500 annual running costs, anyone wishing to tender to run the City Farm will need to cover the costs of:

Repairs totalling £219,200
£34700 Stable Block
£12,000 Farm Lodge
£750 New Stable Block
£750 Toilets
£150,000 Bridge*

*Initially the tender document quotes £150,000 for repairs to the bridge, however Annex 12 of the document gives a breakdown of costs estimates for repairs to the bridge totalling £171,000

Infrastructure

In addition to the issues concerning the bridge over the River Trent, most of the Farm’s existing timber fencing around and between enclosures is in a poor condition and needs replacing. In addition, the Farm does not have a completely secure perimeter fence, potentially leaving it vulnerable to vandalism and theft.

The majority of footpaths around the Farm are in poor condition and require significant resurfacing work to make them safe and / or suitable for people with disabilities.

If there was any further selling point needed for this business venture, the following paragraphs sum it up nicely.

The River Trent runs through the south west side of the park, forming a boundary between park and farm for some of its length. Unsurprisingly much of the park is low lying, particularly the southern half, and there are associated drainage issues. The Farm has little in the way of installed land drains, the only form of drainage being soa-kaways[sic]. Consequently this frequently leads to problems with surface water pooling and some paddocks and fields becoming waterlogged.

So a minimum investment of around £250,000 is required for the leasehold of the City Farm, although,

Recent consultation with visitors to Bucknall Park has confirmed: 75% of existing visitors are prepared to pay an entrance fee, no one was prepared to pay more than £2.50 for a family, the average an individual was prepared to pay was 50p, 62% travel to the the farm by car, 66% only stay between 30 mins to 90 mins, 59% of visitors to Bucknall park do not visit the farm they visit the playground area or walk their dogs. From the above it would be difficult to charge the necessary entrance fee that would put the farm in a break even position. To breakeven would require the current estimated number of visitors (89,600) each to pay £2 every visit, every time, irrespective of age or ability. If we take out children & OAPs the fee is more likely to be £6 for every adult for every visit in order to breakeven. As most visitors travel by car there are existing facilities within a 30 minute drive: Blackbrook Zoo, Amerton Farm and Shugborough Park Farm. These facilities are– all excellent and Amerton farm is free. In order to compete or to implement an entrance fee providing value for money would require a minimum capital investment of circa £740k.

Return On Your Investment

So how do you get a return on your investment and cover the annual running costs of £178,500?

The farm is required to be open every day of the year apart from Christmas, Boxing & New Years days, so 362 days. On each one of these days you would need to take £493.14 just to pay the staff and keep the farm open before you start getting any return on your investment of between £250,000 & £740,000.

Admission Fees

According to the information in the tender document, the city council carried out a survey of visitors between June & September 2010, the figures are

for guidance purpose only and no guarantees can be given regarding the accuracy of the information supplied.

In the 88 days of the visitor numbers being counted (9 July – 4 October) there were 34,700 visitors to the City Farm or an average of 395 per day. This is somewhat higher than the previously quoted average annual visitor figures are 89.600 or 248 per day.

It is worth noting that school visits to the farm are free of charge and almost certainly there will have been school visits included in the count of visitor numbers.

Any charging policy you implement as part of the tender need to be affordable to all groups and is one of the evaluation criteria that tenders are scored on.

Farm Cafe

There is a café operating in the grounds of the park (refer Annex 4) that is not included in this tender. It is understood the café operator does not have exclusive selling rights in the Park but this would need to be verified by the Operator prior to undertaking any similar operations.

So you could sell refreshments but nobody is really sure.

If you are interested in taking the farm on as a going concern you need to get your skates on the tender closes on 28 January 2011, so not long to get your business plan together.

Stoke-on-Trent’s City Farm Needs You!

Everyone’s life will be affected by the Conservative/Liberal Democrats Government cuts in public finance.

Recently Stoke-on-Trent City Council has announced its consultation process with regards its budget plans.

“Within the City Council budget plans, I have concerns about the City Farm at Bucknall and it’s clear that the future of this much loved family attraction is only secure if it moves to become a social enterprise or co-operative trust.”

The problem is that the current Friends of the City Farm do not hold the capacity or ability to raise the necessary funds to take over its running.

“In my heart, I want to retain and keep the City Farm open and over the last five or six years I have continued to fight to protect it. It now face’s an uncertain future.”

“In order to try and keep the City Farm Open, I appeal to people or organisations to come forward to volunteer to help. We need people power, which hold the necessary dedication and skills to establish a trust to take over and run it.”

If anyone is interested in supporting the City Farm to remain open by volunteering their skills to establish a trust, I kindly request for them to contact me via email at adrian.knapper@stoke.gov.uk”.

Sign Up And Adopt Animal Down At The City Farm In Stoke-on-Trent

Berryhill & Hanley East Ward City Councillor Adrian Knapper has adopted Chicco and Pirate the llamas at the City Farm, Bucknall.

Under a new scheme that as been introduced, visitors to this much loved popular attraction can now sign up to adopt an animal that will help feed and care them.

Over the last 3 months, the City Farm had over 28,000+ visitors, yet nothing has been charged to gain admission.

“In times of the Government making cuts in public expenditure. It’s important that members of the public realise the cost of running this family facilities like the City Farm.”

“I am trying my best, to help this facility to make sure that it remains an enjoyable experience for all, but visitors to this site need to consider giving a little to help support the running cost of the City Farm.”

Members of the public can adopt one of the friendly animals from as little as £5 per year for a Rabbit or up to £30 for the llamas. Adopters receive a certificate; a newsletter twice a year and a special privilege pass that allows the adopter to have personal hands on session with their animal with the assistance of one of the animal keepers. This would make an ideal Christmas or Birthday present.

“If you love the animals down at the City Farm, please help by joining the adopt the animal scheme.”

Alternatively members of the public can also help support the City Farm by joining the active Friends Group who is working to promote and enhance this facility, just pop down and ask the staff for details.

This Is The Way To Stoke-on-Trent’s City Farm.

A new tourist information sign has been erected at Werrington Road to highlight the family attraction of the City Farm within Bucknall Park.

The sign has been funded from a contribution made from the Councillors Ward Budget for the Berryhill & Hanley East Ward.

“I would like to encourage anyone who loves animals to visit the City Farm.”

“It provides an opportunity to have a great day out in the heart of the City.”

The City Farm was recently accredited to be the third most popular animal visitor attraction in the UK by a national newspaper.

Councillor Knapper added “If people wish to help out on the farm. Why not join the friends of the City Farm, who are working to promote and enhance this much loved attraction.”

Anyone interest in volunteering to help at the City Farm needs just pop down and ask staff for details about the Friends Group.

Stoke-on-Trent Ward Councillors Present Cheque To City Farm Support Group

On Friday August 6, the three Ward Councillors for Berryhill & Hanley East, Councillors Rita Dale, Adrian Knapper and John Davis presented a cheque for £5,000 to the “ËœFriends of the City Farm’ support group.

This was a donation from the Ward Budget towards fund raising to help improve the facilities at the farm. The support group formed in February this year with the objective to promote the city farm and raise funds to renovate the facilities.

“All ward members got together with the support group and agreed this was an appropriate way to spend the ward budget. We feel it is a valuable resource for local people it is loved by children and older people alike. It is a real asset to our ward.”

Any member of the public can join the Friends of the City Farm support group by contacting Jeff Johnson the Chairman of the group on 01782 212976.