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Village Hall trust meeting - Oct 14

ORDINARY MEETING, 23 OCTOBER 2014 7.35PM  (immediately following the Special Meeting)



Present: Steven Oldfield (elected member/Secretary), Lizzie Phipson  (co-opted member) , Trevor Roberts (elected member/Chairman), Moira Suringar (member appointed by the Threlkeld Activities Association), Emma Weir (member appointed by the Threlkeld Young People). In attendance: Neil Beresford (Treasurer)

  1. Apologies

Saima Afzal - (newly coopted member) due to a previously arranged meeting), Roger Bragg (member appointed by Threlkeld Parish Council) due to an inescapable work commitment.

  1. Resignation

The Committee

  • accepted the resignations of three members who had tendered their resignations since the previous meeting: Donald Angus (coopted member) , who has been a member of the Village Hall/Public Room Committee for over 50 years; Sarah Corri (elected member); and Dot Benson (co-opted member)
  • agreed to write formally conveying its thanks to those concerned for their commitment and service in support of its efforts.   Action: Steven Oldfield
  1. Welcome to new members

The Chairman welcomed Moira Suringar and Emma Weir to the Committee; they are both new appointments to the Committee under the recently revised "rules" agreed at the last meeting. He outlined something of the structure and background to the way we operate:

  • the Village Hall Trust and its TMC is responsible for the Village Hall as a venue and facility of local public benefit
  • the TYC and the TAA are legally an constitutionally separate organisations which run events in the Hall and pay charges to the Hall just like any other hirer; however, they are afforded some special privileges as they have special links with the VHT and work closely with us, being mainly responsible for delivering the activities which the VHT promised would take place in its funding applications, especially to the Big Lottery
  • the Coffee Shop CIC is an "arms length" company owned entirely by the Village Hall Trust but run on a commercial basis by a voluntary Board of Directors and a paid professional manager/staff team; all its "profits" must be used for benefit of the VHT or other local projects/activities of public benefit
  • Threlkeld Parish Council is legally and constitutionally separate from the VHT, but appoints a member of the TMC, and also acts as "custodial trustee" ie like all charities, the VHT cannot own property in its own right, so ownership is registered in the name of the Parish Council but all powers of management and ownership (including the power to sell the property) belong to the VHT.

As a charity, the VHT can only do things which are authorised by its governing document (a standard one issued to us in 2008 by the Charity Commission). These are:

  • primary purpose activities, which relate directly to the provision and management of the property for use in specified ways for local public benefit eg letting out the Hall for use by an adult education class or recreational group
  • secondary activities, which do not themselves qualify as serving primary purposes but are in support of them, mainly things to raise money to maintain the building and help us promote and manage it, including commercial/trading activity of a straightforward, non risky type eg letting the building for overnight use, receptions and parties etc (we call this "Supplementary Commercial Activity"); fundraising via raffles, seeking donations etc; and cooperation with other organisations.

Anything which falls outside these two categories is not a legitimate function or activity for the VHT eg organising a village bonfire, running a Christmas shopping trip, letting out toilets be used as free public  toilets. 

We are not allowed to conduct trading activity of a risky nature, and to do this charities have to set up specific mechanisms which do not threaten the charity's financial stability - in our case we have established the Coffee Shop CIC which is a special form of limited liability company, and if it were to get into financial difficulties there would be no repercussions for the VHT itself. The CIC pays a license fee to the VHT which is based on the same charge which would be levied on any other local user.

  1. Signing of declarations as Trustees (if required)

All Committee members are trustees of the VHT as a charity. In accordance with Charity Commission recommended good practice, all new Committee members signed a declaration of their awareness of responsibilities as trustees and willingness to serve.   

  1. Governing document, Charity Accounts, Annual Report and information for trustees (if required)

The three new Committee members received copies of our governing document; the Charity Commission document Being a Trustee;  the Annual Accounts and Annual Report for 2012/13;  and the rules concerning conflicts of interest adopted by the TMC.

The Committee noted for  the record that Emma Weir is a paid employee of the Coffee Shop and it will be assumed that in any discussions referring to the Coffee Shop, members of the Committee are aware of this.  

  1. Minutes of the last Ordinary Meeting held on 31 July 2014  (previously circulated)

The Committee agreed these as a correct record. .

  1. Matters arising from the Minutes not on the agenda

Item 24 on the minutes of the previous meeting - rear perimeter fence

Donald Angus has not followed up on this decision. The legal commitment of the VHT is to maintain a stock proof fence and access to the field. It appears that this commitment is being maintained, and there has been no approach or complaint from Alastair Birkett. In the light of the likely cost and complications involved (including the outcome of possible negotiations about the planning permission), the Committee resolved not to pursue this matter for the time being at least. 


  1. Revitalisation scheme

 An email update had been circulated by the Chairman prior to the meeting. This gave updated details of the  project work, now all completed except for some outstanding issues regarding the platform lift and signing off the heating system; provision of documentation/manuals etc; handling of minor defects ("snagging"); a complaint from the owners of Smithy Cottage not upheld by the independent Party Wall Act surveyor; and some minor aspects of conformity with the planning permission.The information was all noted.

An update on the financial position was given. Negotiations with the main contractors are continuing, there are some areas of dispute about compensation for delays. We have for the moment assumed that we will end up with a bill for about £15,000. Although we have this amount of money available, to pay this out would leave us without the £15,745 needed to cover the retention payment due next March. The Committee needs to have a plan to cope with this possible situation, and it was agreed we will::

  • do our best to keep the final account to a minimum so as to keep our liability down
  • postpone or spread out the payment as long as we can to give us time to organise resources
  • postpone if we can some or all of the retention next year if necessary
  • actively seek external grants now to cover the amount needed; this is the most attractive option, and although normally funders look to providing for work before it is done, this may be an exception in the circumstances
  • generate as much as we reasonably can from Hall revenue income to be available if necessary to support project funding needs
  • if necessary, look to Coffee Shop proceeds to support project funding
  • seek a loan to cover a shortfall.

Action on this is already under way. Action: Trevor Roberts, Neil Beresford·        

  1. Financial reports

The Committee considered a financial report circulated in advance by the Treasurer, including draft income and expenditure figures on the Main Account for the year ended 30 September 2014 (the end of our financial year).

In respect of the Main Account (which covers normal management of the Hall) he highlighted:

  • our income and expenditure pattern in the year has been heavily affected by grants coming in and purchases associated with the Hall opening, so ongoing patterns are only just beginning to emerge
  • income and expenditure in the year were almost equal, and since for about half the time we were not getting any income from lettings, that is a reasonable outcome (most of our expenditure carried on while the Hall was out of action)
  • he is continuing to monitor closely expenditure on energy, water, insurance and other major items and seeking ways to reduce these if possible
  • it is just beginning to emerge that in a "normal" year, if we achieve the income target of £12,500 (net of VAT) then we should be able to cover costs, but not by a large margin
  • so we need to make sure we maximise income from lettings especially, by intensifying use of the Hall and/or by increasing charges where possible
  • after a long period when we were benefitting from VAT replacements because of the revitalisation scheme, we are now paying VAT across as our income exceeds expenditure.

The separate Project Account is there to cover the rounding off of the revitalisation scheme. It contains about £14,500 and is due about another £3,000 from the Big Lottery. The outstanding financial commitments on the project are still being negotiated, but there is not sufficient in the Project Account to cover these (assumed shortfall is about £15,000). Steps need to be taken now to deal with this situation.

The Committee discussed and noted this report.

  1. "Area of benefit"

A map of the "area of benefit" as previously agreed by the TMC was circulated to members. The "area of benefit" includes all Threlkeld Parish (which includes Scales, Guardhouse, Wescoe, Blencathra Centre) plus adjoining areas of Threlkeld Quarry, Birkett Mire and Burns. The people who live in or have a connection within this area benefit from our "local rate"; and all our monitoring which distinguishes between "local" people and others defines "local" as inside this area.

The Committee

  • endorsed the decision to regard  Walthwaite and Shundraw farms as within the area of benfit
  • confirmed that the area of benefit does cover properties which actually adjoin the boundary, usually because they are on the road along which the boundary lies.
  1. Hall hire charges

Most of the time of this meeting was devoted to consideration of Hall hire charges and associated matters, based on a detailed report and recommendations produced by the Chairman (a copy of this report is available on request to the Secretary).  

Discussion focused mainly on the "local" rate, which the proposals put forward suggested should be two thirds of rather than a half of the "standard" rate. This would result in a roughly 25% increase in the charge (and because of the modified time periods, in some cases it would be a greater percentage increase).  Although it was recognised that the proposed charge was comparable with that levied to local people in other Halls, it was generally felt that any price increase would inevitably be compared with what was charged previously, so a charge lower than that proposed was settled on - basically £1 per hour more than the present basic (afternoon) rate in the period up to 2.00pm, with a premium after that time much as at present.  Various options were considered including a discount for multiple bookings, which was rejected as likely to be very awkward to administer. The standard rate seemed to be roughly comparable with competing venues, so this was left at the same level. 

The Committee considered other issues and made a number of changes to the recommendations in the report; in particular it

  • agreed a higher than suggested basic charge for weddings with no reductions for local people
  • concluded that we should not charge organisations which store things in the Hall
  • decided to offer the concession to people who book at the existing rates up to 1 December, but only if they pay as well as book.(NB This proved difficult to administer so it was subsequently decided to give the concession to people who booked in advance).

After discussion the Committee resolved as follows:

  1. To simplify the charging scheme by:
  • discontinuing the "Informal Meeting Room" as a venue for hire
  • reducing the three time periods to two, a "morning rate" up to 2.00pm, an afternoon/evening rate from 2.00pm
  • discontinuing the Whole Hall as a unit to hire.
  1. To adopt a schedule of charges as shown in the chart below:




Up to 2.00pm( per  hour)

After 2.00pm (per hour)



Local organisations 


Any public or voluntary organisation which clearly provides a public service for the local area 


Local commercial organisations  owned by local residents and/or based in the local area


Other commercial organisations which provide a service which helps meet the objectives of the Village Hall Trust by benefiting a specified number of local people


Private parties, functions etc where the person making the booking is a local resident




MEETING ROOM  (available outside Coffee Shop hours only)





Any public, private or voluntary organisation not covered by the above categories



Private parties, functions etc where the person making the booking is not a local resident




MEETING ROOM available outside Coffee Shop hours only)






  1. To endorse the £10.00 charge for a non returned Keycard; and move to a system whereby nobody retains their Keycard ie they are issued before and returned after each individual session.
  1. To reinforce again that users must pay for all the time that they use the Hall, including any setting up and dismantling time (beyond the periods already allowed at the start and end of the period of hire).
  1. To adopt the charges for AV equipment and furniture which requires VHT assistance in setting up, using or dismantling, as set out in the report, although these charges are regarded as relatively low in relation to the work involved; these charges are to be applied to the "associated groups (eg the TYP and TAA) and any suggestion by them that they avoid the charge by being trained to undertake the relevant work themselves be encouraged.
  1. To retain the existing charges and arrangements regarding use of the license for sale of alcohol (including that associated groups are exempt).
  1. The basic charge for overnight use should be increased from £8.50 to £9.00 and the various minor changes in the package set out in the report be adopted; the arrangements regarding group sizes and advance bookings should be retained subject as always to the discretion given to the BAMS to negotiate to suit specific circumstances.
  1. For the time being, until such time as we have a properly developed conference/meeting "package" the set of special charges for this should be abandoned and these uses will be charged on the usual basis.
  1. The package and charging arrangements for weddings/wedding receptions as set out in the report should be adopted and promoted, with a basic charge of £425 (not £375 as proposed), with no discount for local users.  
  1. For the time being at least, bookings for parties, receptions, private social events and children's parties/events should be handled as far as reasonably possible under the main schedules of charges; but BAMS be given discretion to agree specific charges with clients when larger scale or non-routine events are planned, using the wedding reception package as a model.
  1. The system of security deposits set out in the report be adopted, but the basic sum be £50 (not £35 as proposed); as well as arrangements for post event inspection we also need to make provision for some pre event inspection.
  1. The system of deposits to protect against late cancellation etc as set out in the report be adopted.
  1. Our general approach to cancellations should continue to be that
  • depending on the circumstances, we reserve the right to make cancellation charges, especially if the cancellation is at short notice
  • usually we prefer to negotiate a modification, postponement or other adjustment rather than apply a cancellation charge
  • always we will offset the value of any re-booking secured against a cancellation charge.
  1. To levy cancellation charges as set out in the report, with discretion given to the BAMS to take into account any special or mitigating circumstances.
  1. Not to charge for storage in the VHT, use of VHT facilities etc as outlined as a possibility in the report; but in the light of the shortage of storage space, to resist any extension of what we have at present. .
  1. To revise the Schedule of Charges in the light of decisions taken, and to implement the new charges on all new booking taken from 1 December 2014, with the cancellation and deposit arrangements coming into effect from 1 November 2014.
  1. To publicise the imminent changes immediately and as an incentive/concession continue to take new bookings for any future date at the existing rates until 1 December 2014, provided these are confirmed, invoiced and paid for by that date; if they are later modified then the new rates will be applied.
  1. To continue to delegate authority to the officers and BAMS to vary details of the scheme in the light of experience.
  1. Christmas decorations and lights

Neil Beresford confirmed that he is buying and putting up LED lights on the front of the Hall (cost £100-200); and also some at the back which will be paid for by the Coffee Shop.

Paulo Resende is arranging decorations in the Coffee Shop, including probably a Christmas Tree.

We have no plans to decorate the Hall. Nobody seems to have sorted through the sacks of decorations upstairs. However, it has been suggested that both the Youth Club and Rainbows might make some decorations; the Committee welcomed this idea and agreed it should be pursued. Action: Emma Weir, Saima Afzal

  1. Modifications to the Governing document/composition of the Committee

The Committee noted that the modifications agreed at the last meeting have been adopted and implemented; and the changes have been registered with the Charity Commission.

  1. Delegation arrangements/spreading the load

The Committee reviewed progress since the last meeting and in the light of additional members.

The Chairman explained how the Committee was moving towards a system where individual members took responsibility for particular aspects of management of the Hall, which for a number of years had been largely handled by the Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary; the work is not so much "hands on" as making sure that things are being done. This change is linked to an attempt to introduce new people and new ideas to the TMC.

The general areas of management where individual members of the Committee can take some responsibility include:

  • organising maintenace and repairs, on an ongoing planned basis and how to deal with things which crop up; this is an important role which we do need to get covered asap
  • promotion and marketing, aiming at getting the Hall booked, used and generating income - a detailed brief for this role was agreed at the last meeting, with authorisations and a budget given to the Chairman, BAMS (now Steph Malik) and another Committee member to get on and implement things - Saima Afzal has agreed to join this group and so this element of delegation should get under way shortly Action: Trevor Roberts, Saima Afzal
  • Lizzie Phipson has already agreed to take on responsibility for Health and safety policy and procedures, but the details of exactly how this will operate need to be resolved, so she, Steven Oldfield and Trevor Roberts will meet and sort this out shortly and report back at the next meeting Action: Lizzie Phipson
  • developing and promoting fundraising options, something traditionally done by "running events", but which now needs a different approach
  • organising and keeping on top of our somewhat complicated "housekeeping" arrangements - cleaning and cleaning standards, equipment and materials, generally making sure that the place is well set up and well presented
  • organising support for events where we supply it eg erecting and dismantling staging, bringing chairs downstairs etc
  • administration and finance related things eg insurance, licensing, rules, minutes of meetings, property matters, Charity Commission submissions etc.
  • general client liaison, meet and greet, feedback, user group etc - this is linked to promotion and marketing but more concerned with dealing with clients when we have got them as distinct from getting them to come in the first place NB Sylvia Tuer does this to some extent but it is all a bit hit and miss.

It was agreed that

  • all members of the Committee would think about this, and discuss possible inputs they can make
  • all members would look to possible new members who could be coopted to handle some of the responsibilities.

Action: All

  1. Report on bookings etc

A detailed report on bookings and related issues was circulated prior to the meeting. This provided some background to consideration of the schedule of charges. The report was noted and the various action taken by BAMS and others endorsed. However, the Committee did not have an opportunity to discuss the report properly, so an updated version will be considered at the next meeting. Action: Trevor Roberts    

  1. Coffee Shop Community Interest Company report to the VHT

The Committee

  • accepted the circulated report from the CIC, for incorporation into its own Annual Report.
  • noted that the CIC is performing satisfactorily
  • agreed that the arrangements which apply when someone who hires the Hall engages the Coffee Shop as a caterer should be clarified. Action: Trevor Roberts.
  1. Monitoring report

No Monitoring Report has been produced for this meeting. However, the Big Lottery requires its first proper monitoring submission to be sent early in December, so it is expected that a reasonably full report will be produced for the next meeting. The Monitoring Officer, Barbara Lowesmith, continues to collect and analyse participation information assiduously. Action: Barbara Lowesmith

  1. Health and Safety Policy/Procedures- implementation

Lizzie Phipson reported that she will be able to devote more time to this matter in the next few weeks, so consideration was deferred to the next meeting. Action: Lizzie Phipson

  1. Threlkeld Activities Association/Threlkeld Young People

These two Associations which use the Hall extensively have both now got formally adopted constitutions and Committees. In both cases their Committees include someone appointed by the Village Hall Trust. The Committee

  • agreed to appoint Laurence Deadman to the TAA
  • authorised Emma Weir and Trevor Roberts to select an appointment for the TYP Action: Trevor Roberts, Emma Weir
  1. Review of other Hall policies

This matter has been deferred since May. It was agreed to defer policy reviews until May 2015, with arrangements made to ensure this happens at the meeting round about that time of year.  Action: Trevor Roberts

  1. Fundraising  by the Village Hall Trust itself

The Committee briefly considered ideas for fundraising by the Village Hall Trust, which is entitled to raise money in support of its primary objectives. The VHT itself can raise money directly only where there is no VAT involved, which rules out anything involving hire of the Hall and/or selling things.

Suggestions included:

  • continuing with the Easyfundraising scheme and promoting it more vigorously and widely
  • seeking text donations via signs in the Hall and especially the Coffee Shop (NB the VHT already has this system established, it has never been pushed)
  • continuing to promote Gift Aid donations etc
  • establishing a "100 Club" monthly draw
  • developing a Coffee Shop Recipe Book, something which a lot of people ask about (this would have to be sold with VAT added).

No decisions were made, but the topic will be developed and placed on the agenda for the next meeting.


It was agreed:

  • to wind up the Buy a Brick campaign
  • on grounds of cost, to go for a roll of honour" type display of the names/text rather than a "wall"
  • hopefully obtain a grant or donation to cover the cost.

Action: Trevor Roberts


  1. Speaker at the Annual General meeting on 29 January 2015

A couple of good suggestions were made and will be followed up. Action: Trevor Roberts


  1. Any other business


  1. Dates of future meetings

The dates of the next AGM and the intervening Committee meeting have been previously agreed:  

Thursday 11 December 2014

Annual General Meeting 29 January 2015

A schedule of proposed dates for meetings in 2015 will be arranged in due course, probably on Mondays. 

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