Memorandum submitted by the National Birds
of Prey Centre
The National Birds of Prey Centre is the most
significant collection of Birds of Prey in the world. The Centre
first opened to the public in 1967, and now houses approximately
300 Birds of Prey and Owls. Our average visitor numbers over the
past five years have exceeded 35,000 per annum. In addition to
the general public, the Centre is involved in education, research
and breeding projects throughout the world, providing an extensive
consultation base for numerous organisations, leading the world
in captive breeding.
We are continuously looking for additional income
to provide funding for the Centre, we are not able to apply for
grants or charitable funding, and zoos are not entitled to lottery
funding. The income from Falconry Experience Days, training courses,
external flying demonstrations, special events and film work provides
funding for the Centre through the winter months, when visitor
numbers are generally low.
Since the FMD outbreak in February 2001, our
visitor numbers have dropped considerably for this time of year.
Income on 23 March 2001 from the Gate, Shop and Café is
£10,925 down on the same period in 2000. To encourage visitors
to come to the Centre, a press release was issued and very negative
results were received from the media. School and Group visits
have been cancelled up to and including July 2001. Ticket sales
for our special events in April 2001 are 98 per cent down on last
year (loss of income £1,920).
Falconry Experience Days and courses (involving
Hawking on local farmland) have been postponed. To date we have
approximately 309 vouchers outstanding, which are valid for one
year. This is an achieved income of £33,990 and has already
been utilised. We do not have this money to refund to customers
if this situation develops. A total of nine Falconry Experience
Days were cancelled in February and March, total loss of income
£5,940. The Falconry Course booked for 12-16 March 2001 was
also cancelled, total loss of income £2,550. Courses planned
for April and May will not go ahead.
If the situation does not improve considerably
over the next two months, we stand to loose approximately £64,800
in April and May. This figure is based on previous income over
the past three years, and does not include potential income or
Crisis management plans were activated at the
end of February 2001, and this brought into force short-term and
long-term savings. All Shop stock (gifts and souvenir for the
season) orders cancelled, heating and lighting reduced, no orders
placed other than essential services and animal food. All advertising
cancelled or postponed, contracts cancelled for waste disposal
and visitor facilities. No seasonal staff recruited, part-time
staff laid off and full-time permanent staff have taken a pay
cut of 20 per cent.
At a meeting with HSBC Bank Plc on 26 March
2001, our Bank Manager authorised a no commission agreement for
six months. The only other assistance we are entitled to is Non-Domestic
Rates Hardship Relief, and our application was sent to the Forest
of Dean Council on 4 April 2001 (£1,311.95).
What has to be borne in mind, is even with interest
free loans or payments referred, without more positive financial
assistance it will take many years for our business (like many
other similar organisations) to recover. A substantial reduction
in VAT for zoos, and a short-term cut in fuel costs will assist
us to get through this crisis and encourage the general public
to visit tourist attractions in the near future. The opportunity
to earn revenue in the first quarter of our season has been prevented
due to circumstances beyond our control, and this period of income
is not recoverable.
If you would like any more information, please
do not hesitate to contact us.