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REPORT AND ACCOUNTS 2017/2018


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Stone, DARTFORD
Kent DA2 6DN
ENGLAND
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Strategy

A number of options were explored during the year to acquire land or premises for the Museum but unfortunately without much success:-

1. Stone Lodge Development

We were unable to acquire the old Bridge Overlook Cafe site as Dartford Borough Council have earmarked it for their own use as a car park and side entrance to the new “amenity space” which they are proposing as part of the overall development. This space is much smaller than originally planned as the Department for Communities and Local Government have now purchased a large tract of the Stone Lodge land to build a new secondary school for the area and a similar size tract has been sold by Dartford Borough Council to Dartford Rugby Club for a new ground.

2. Purchase of Private Land/Property

Three opportunities were pursued during the year:-

a. Disused Garage Building at The Bull Public House, Horns Cross, Dartford

This was attractive as it had been converted into overnight accommodation for the bar staff back in 2000 and comprised two floors but has now been disused for some years and in need of repair. The ground floor would have made a good (although smaller than ideal) display area, the upper floor useful for storage and administration. Unfortunately, Green King PLC, the owners, are reluctant to release this building either for rent or sale. We willcontinue to press them.

b. Land Near Maidstone

Given the scarcity of available land in the Dartford area, we started to look further afield and this opportunity arose via the specialist property/land agent we registered with (as mentioned in last year’s Report & Accounts). Currently used as an open yard for HGV vehicles, this land was small enough to be affordable (the auction house having valued it at £30-40,000) but large enough to accommodate the Museum buildings, gardens and car parkthat we would need. On the auction day, however, this plot was sold for £120,000!

c. Old Stone Chapel, Dartford

The last time a church property of this nature came up for sale in Dartford, it went for £60,000. Enquiries of the estate agent handling the sale showed that the asking price for this small building was £299,995!

* * *

These last two experiences have persuaded us that on our own we will never be able to afford to buy anything suitable in the south east of England.

During the 2018/19 year we will therefore be approaching Dartford Borough Council to see if they would be prepared, at reasonable cost, to make available another plot at the Stone Lodge Development or whether acquisitionof any other Council owned unused land or property might be possible.

One possibility is to try and negotiate the use of land at one of their Country Parks by offering to provide them with free space in the Museum building(s) to use as a Visitor Centre/Tourist Information Office.

We will also be considering engaging a professional fundraiser to explore what potential sources of grant funding or corporate sponsorship we might be able to access.

Operations

The Collection

Whilst we are not actively looking to expand this part of the Museum we do still acquire the occasional specimen which we come across and which we believe will add significant value to the existing collection.

The total number of items we now hold in trust stands at 4,748.

Museum Website

Ipswich Inc, the US company whose free software we have been using to manage the content of our website since we launched it in 1999, has withdrawn this free facility and are now forcing users to purchase their off-the-shelf “professional” package. We have therefore transferred to a new supplier of free File Transfer Protocol software called WinSCP, whose software is similar to look at and use and which, so far, has performed perfectly.

The total number of visitors to our website is 214,495, up by 12,000 since last year.

Library

Our library holdings now contain over 22,000 items.

Field Trips

We conducted three field trips during the year. The first to Chafford Gorges, near Thurrock in Essex, the second to Braeburn Country Park, Crayford, Kent and the third to Parton Bay & St Bees Head in Cumbria and Walltown Crag, Northumberland.

Governance

Data Protection

With the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) coming into force this year we have been required to undertake a full audit of what data we hold, why and for how long. This has been completed and the two main outputs from the exercise have been fully implemented:-

Museum Website

As part of the GDPR excise mentioned above, we reviewed the way in which our website works. We knew that none of the pages we have designed and constructed produced “cookies” and so had not implemented the “Cookie Warning” that appears on most other websites. After investigation we found that because our site is hosted by a third party they produce a cookie when visitors come to our site and it is likely that as our Museum online shop – which also uses third party software – does also. For these reasons we have now added a “cookies” banner to our own website landing page.

Museum Policies

Following guidance on best practices issued by the Charities Commission, Stone Museum now has a comprehensive range of policies dealing with issues such as volunteers, complaints, diversity, investment, reserves, equality & diversity, health & safety, risk management and vulnerable beneficiaries (young and disabled visitors).

Finance

Donations were up by 2.9% but income down overall by 0.8% because the Museum shop has not had the sales it did last year. Costs reduced by 0.7%

Fixed assets decreased in value by 4.3% due wholly to depreciation while total assets – include the value of the Museum collection – showed an overall growth of 2.2%.

Admin costs have risen from 10% to 12% of our total expenditure because of the introduction of bank charges by our supplier, the Charities Aid Foundation Bank, but we have nevertheless been able to reduce overall operating costs by 4.7% over last year through savings in postage costs, customs charges, botanical sundries and printing & stationery.

Brian R J Glover
Curator


Notes to the Accounts


1. Museum Expenditure

As a non profit making organisation, the Museum aims to spend the minimum possible on administration and overheads so that funds can be channelled into curation of the collection and the acquisition of display equipment and new specimens.

Breakdown of expenditureExpenditure by Department

2. Tangible fixed assets and depreciation

Fixed assets at 31st March 2018 are stated at the lower of (a) cost, less provision for depreciation - if originally purchased by the Museum, or (b) net realisable value, less provision for depreciation - if the asset was originally donated free of charge.

Depreciation is provided on a straight line basis, and is calculated on historical amounts, after providing for any permanent diminution in value. The period of depreciation being the estimated life of the asset subject to the maxima shown below and commencing when the capital expenditure was incurred or on acquisition of the asset by donation.
Type of assetMaximum period
Computer equipment10 years
Laboratory and display equipment20-40 years

Estimated lives and residual values of individual items are reviewed periodically and amended when circumstances change. Asset values shown represent the estimated replacement cost of the collection with specimens of similar quality and size.

3. Disposals

No specimen in the collection is considered to be a disposable asset - the Museum's charter provides strict safeguards and restrictions on disposals of the specimens themselves.

4. Interest Receivable

Current account interest is received gross of tax each quarter. Investment interest is received gross of tax each June.


Balance Sheet

Position as at 31st March 2018

2017/20182016/2017
INCOME (£)
Donations3315.913222.83
Gift Shop Sales0.00201.46
Stock in Hand1021.301021.30
Cash In Hand1950.701893.63
Interest Received2.723.40
TOTAL6290.636344.35

EXPENDITURE
Acquisitions1962.981371.72
Purchase of Fixed Assets57.92610.78
Operating Costs1289.801350.88
TOTAL3310.703333.38

BALANCE2979.933010.97

WORKING CAPITAL
Interest Received2.723.40
Cash in Hand1955.911986.27
Stock in Hand1021.301021.30
TOTAL2979.933010.97

STATEMENT OF ASSETS
Position as at 31st March 2018

OPENING BALANCE5202.064465.85
Acquisitions152.501016.31
Depreciation325.17274.35
Less Disposals29.995.74
CLOSING BALANCE4979.405202.06

Working Capital2979.933010.97
Value of Collection38457.1337147.01
Current Assets296.19333.76
Fixed Assets4979.405202.06
TOTAL ASSETS46712.6545693.80


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