The Lake District National Park Authority is to draw out more than £300,000 from reserves to deal with a downturn in trading performance.
Members of the resources committee for the Lake District National Park Authority gave the green light to plans to draw up to £81,000 from the general reserve and £251,000 from the trading reserve to accommodate a projected overspend and a revised trading forecast. Chairman of the resources committee Jim Jackson said: “We have burnt through nearly half a million pounds worth of trading reserve in probably 18 months, and we’ve had an injection of £440,000 from DEFRA in the same period, so that’s nearly a million pounds.
“Looking at a reserve of a million pounds leaves me a little bit nervous. In another 18 months that could’ve evaporated from us.”
Deputy chair of the Lake District National Park Authority Michael Carter added: “One of the issues with a decrease in reserves we’ve seen is we then have to build them back up again which bites into our flexibility on the revenue side.”
According to the report prepared for the meeting, the trading performance was £190,000 below the forecasted position at the end of September. The report states the performance mainly relates to activities and catering at Brockhole where there is an adverse variance of £214,000 compared to its forecast.
The authority has amended its full year trading forecast down by £271,000 in response.
It has lowered the forecast performance for Brockhole by £294,000, for Coniston Boating Centre by £35,000 and for visitor centres down by £28,000.
However, the authority has received £75,000 more from car parking than expected and the amount it is forecast to earn over the financial year has been increased by £80,000.
The report prepared for the meeting said the authority was taking action to address the trading performance.
It says: “Action is already being taken within the service to identify cost savings and other operational changes to make the net contribution more robust.
“Although a large proportion of the performance in year is weather related, the service delivery model is undergoing a full review.”
Mr Jackson added: “We’ve come through a very interesting three to four years in pretty good shape and we’re still dealing with massively variable visitor behaviours so I don’t want this to reflect negatively on anybody in the team.
“I think it’s been a massive challenge and to come out where we are with our challenges is a good position.”
Members of the resources committee for the Lake District National Park Authority approved the draw of funds from the reserves on Thursday (November 16).