Stay at home this Easter … The countryside is not your playground during #lockdown

As we head into the Easter weekend, the country is locked down … or at least it should be!

Despite constant Stay Home, Stay Safe, ProtectTheNHS messages from government, those of us managing rural estates are battling against walkers and cyclists who persist in flouting the rules in the mistaken belief that the countryside remains their playground during #lockdown.

When will they realise this is not a drill and people we know are now suffering and sadly others will not make it through the next few weeks? The message from land managers is stay at home is in order to protect the NHS and save lives.

While locked down and working from home, there are a number of other tasks and issues that land managers have time (hopefully) to consider and discuss with clients and their other advisors (Skype, Zoom and conference calls being the order of the day):
Insurances – when did we actually go through every clause in the insurance policy word-by-word?

There will be elements in every policy that are irrelevant or that have been possibly overlooked in the past. We now have time to scrutinise policy wording line-by-line; not that we did not do it in the past but we can give more time to the detail and not just take the agent’s word for it. Are you still insuring an asset sold some years ago? Does the schedule of timber match current values? All things to consider.

Other matters to consider and review include:

• Is the Vicarious Liability file up-to-date with all the relevant checks complete?

• Wayleaves – when were these payments last checked against the actual documents?• Are staff contracts up-to-date? Do you have a lone working protocol for staff?

• Is your will up-to-date and have you started discussion succession planning with the lawyers and accountants? Tax rules and rates are bound to change after the Corvid-19 pandemic eases

• Farm Tenancies - Have the termination dates been checked and diary entries made for sending notices.

With the numerous Government schemes to assist businesses, it pays to take time to read the detail. Some of the provisions will not apply to many organisations, but those with holiday businesses, commercial property and rateable subjects, should be applying for relief where possible.

And finally, there is no need to worry about management matters in isolation. The Bell Ingram team of land managers, foresters and valuers are only an email or telephone call away. When we are released from lockdown we want our clients to come out of this worldwide mess in good shape and eady to take advantage of all opportunities available to them.

Malcolm Taylor

Rural Land Management
Tel: 07715 609325 (mob) 01307 462 516

Article posted on 10/04/2020

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