This week has been especially frustrating, as it’s seemed like we were going to get a draft lease from the University lawyers “tomorrow” every day since Easter.  This week I was very optimistic, but heard on Tuesday that the lawyer has taken leave this week, so it’s next week.  The delays on writing the draft lease seem to be that the University’s lawyers are particularly risk averse – more so than anyone else we’ve dealt with – and so they are raising concerns about almost every clause, it seems. Each concern needs addressing, and then something else comes up. We haven’t seen even a draft yet so the phase where our lawyers raise concerns on our behalf hasn’t even begun.

So, other than repeatedly chasing the draft lease, what’s been happening recently?

Well, we’ve been looking into director’s and officer’s insurance, to protect the company’s directors from bigger risks.

We’ve tried to get access to the space to start storing a few bits of kit we’ve had donated, but been turned down.

We’ve got a postal address for the space now and are looking into how post is handled (because University post doesn’t come from Royal Mail postmen, but from their own courier service).

We’ve determined that water definitely reaches the space, but we don’t know yet whether it’s potable, and want to get that confirmed. We’ll just be taking a cold feed and heating it locally, as that’s easiest for the lease etc.

We’ve discussed how utilities will be paid for a little more.  We’d initially planned to put meters on but this has seemed tricky, and instead for water, gas and some of the electricity supplies (including lighting) we are going to pay a proportionate charge of the entire building block’s costs, based on the floor area of our space. This will be reviewed annually in case our usage (or the university’s!) is exceptionally high or low. We also know how much the block pays for water, gas and electric 🙂  For two of the electricity supplies, we’ll be paying for the University to fit check meters so we’ll pay for what we use there.

Still waiting to see how much our share of the University buildings insurance will be…

We had a final planning meeting and agreed a strategy with the university for how this will be handled.

We’ve had a couple more rounds on Membership agreements and website terms of use and privacy policy documents with our lawyers – this is ongoing work.

I spoke last Friday at the Makers Guild event at the V&A in London, as part of an event on Maker Spaces. I felt something of a fraud, as we’re not an open space yet 🙁 but I wasn’t alone in this! It was great to share experiences (successes and trials and tribulations) with others and to hear about some of the other types of space people are working on.

We attended the first meeting of the UK&Ireland FabLab network up at the Manchester FabLab. It was good to see around their space and pick up on a few more tips for operation, but the best bit was meeting other FabLabs, proto-FabLabs, and other not-quite-FabLabs like Makespace. The various funding streams and business models are fascinating – I’ll blog some thoughts on this soon.  The ideas from Manchester about the Network itself were also thought-provoking.

Jonny, Simon and I had an “onsite” retreat at the end of April, where we created some operational principles and thought more in detail about how the company and community should interact. This was really helpful and I’ll write up our conclusions shortly.  It was good to talk through some difficult scenarios and work through how we think we might handle them, and turn those ideas into principles we all agree with and can hold to, even when times are tough. This should help us best serve the community (you!) and be sustainable. Some of our thinking will also cause tweaks to the Membership agreement. It was also great to be in the space for a day – sticking post-its to the walls as we can’t do much else yet – although it was pretty cold 🙂


Late lease

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