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Action Group minutes March 2007

1. Background

Following the recent village consultation, the Parish Council has decided to pursue a full scale renovation scheme for the Public Room - retaining the basic walls and roof structure, but otherwise going for a complete modernisation. The options of extending at the rear and the incorporation of a second/mezzanine floor are also to be explored.

This will involve applications for funding on a serious scale, with detailed and clear justification, including robust evidence of need. This is likely to be a long process. The Parish Council has asked Trevor Roberts to promote and coordinate this process.

Invited to this meeting were all the people who responded on the survey form that they were willing to help if they could; others who volunteered separately; all Parish Council members; and a couple of other members of the Public Room Management Committee.

The purposes of the meeting were:

  • To generate ideas and suggestions for the possible future use of the Public Room
  • To organise ourselves to develop the project and apply for funding.

2. Ideas and suggestions for possible future use of the Public Room.

A "brainstorming" session generated a large number of possible future uses, based on the hoped-for reality of a modern, warm, attractive and accessible facility. Generally the Parish Council is aiming for the Public Room to become reestablished as a major focus of village life. Suggestions included:

Current and previous uses

All the current uses, which range from theatrical productions, bowls, exhibitions, discos, meetings of all sorts, aerobics, etc - these will be properly documented from the bookings record (also previous uses which have been discontinued, records for these exist)

Additional community uses for which there COULD be a need and which might be generated by the availability of a comfortable venue

  • Senior Citizens lunches or more regular get-togethers in addition to the existing couple of annual events
  • Youth clubs for different ages - this has been an "on/off" feature in Threlkeld but a good facility would assist
  • After school club
  • Parties, weddings, birthdays etc, especially where more space is available than at the Sports Pavilion
  • Dancing classes
  • Dances, socials and similar events
  • Theatrical productions and shows, including village produced events +
  • Computer/internet room +
  • A proper pre-school playgroup *
  • A mini-gym +
  • Book club/discussion group
  • A book exchange scheme and similar
  • Musical events +
  • Music studio for practice, rehearsals etc * +

Facilities aimed mainly at visitors, partly to allow them to enjoy a visit to Threlkeld more, partly to generate income in support of managing the Public Room

  • Coffee shop/gallery * +
  • Gift shop, local produce, organic vegetable boxes, crafts etc * +
  • A permanent exhibition about Threlkeld and its people
  • Information centre
  • Stamping station on the C2C
  • "Camping barn" (this already happens to some extent, but could be extended by the right facilities and promotion) +
  • Base for fell races
  • Programme of talks etc for visitors and residents

Use of the facility by outside organisations to provide local services and/or to generate income

  • Meetings of outside organisations, especially where a bar facility is not needed. Even small conferences might be possible
  • Blood donor sessions
  • Base for local health service facilities and promotion (it is already where the local First Responders equipment is housed)
  • Social and other services which want to run "outreach" sessions
  • Evening classes/computer classes
  • Use by the school for special training events.

The items indicated * could potentially be run on a semi-independent commercial basis.

The items indicated + are likely to involve some special consideration in the specification for the renovation scheme itself.

This list is just a start. Other ideas and suggestions will be generated via contact with other villages and renovated village halls; and also by further discussion, as people locally get "into" the project.

However, all the suggested activities, and also all existing uses, will need to be very thoroughly assessed in terms of:

  • The level of local need, on a reasonably permanent and consistent basis
  • What alternative options are available
  • Any special cost, management and similar considerations.

Separately, under the auspices of the Parish Plan, we are in the process of organising an in depth study of Threlkeld by the Lake District National Park Authority. We are building into the brief for this project some systematic assessment of the need for Public Room facilities; such an independent assessment will be extremely helpful in support of funding applications. It is very important that the village supports and cooperates actively with this project once it gets under way - which will hopefully be quite soon. (This study is being financed under the Government's "Spend to Save" scheme for investing in rural areas).

3. Organisation of the Project Group

It was agreed that we would aim to involve and retain a large group of people, not focusing on a small committee or similar, at least for the time being. This could be a little bit disorganised and would take a bit of coordination, but the whole idea is to get a big proportion of the local community, all elements, on board this major project.

Broadly it was agreed to get small groups of people involved doing specific things, and these people are encouraged to get others to join them. Generally we felt people would be more comfortable, and more effective, operating in small informal groups rather than in large meetings.

4. Actions

A series of small action teams were established involving people present and some others who were "volunteered". In each case the person whose name appears in bold type is the "coordinator" for this activity.

NB People receiving these notes who were not at the meeting and who would like to get involved with any of these, either contact the person named as responsible directly; or alternatively, if you want to get allocated to something specific, contact Trevor Roberts.

Applications for funding, financial analysis etc

Trevor Roberts, Carolyn Cripps, Roger Bragg, Diane Robson

Sorting out the legal and constitutional framework of the Pubic Room

Trevor Roberts, Guy Duxbury

Developing the brief/liaison with architects

Jon Trotman, Trevor Roberts, Alison Critchlow

We need to develop a brief soon, taking on board as many of the requirements of organisations etc as we can - hence the importance of input from village organisations. The first step is to engage architects to do a feasibility study and produce plans up to public display/planning application stage - we will need to apply for funding to cover this part of the project very shortly.

Getting information from village organisations on their requirements etc

Steven Oldfield, Ron Horne

There has been an appeal for inout from village organisations via Beneath Blencathra but so far no response (although the deadline is end of March). It is vital we do get this input, partly to ensure that the specification for the scheme fulfils requirements, but mainly to provide clear evidence of need (without which we do not get past first base). Steven and Ron will chase this up using the list in the Threlkeld handbook. (The Church and the school - though not the Friends of the School - have aready given information).

Handling the continuing management of the Public Room

Trevor Robson, Diane Robson, Carolyn Cripps, Roger Bragg, Sylvia Tuer

The Parish Council has decided to keep the organisation of the renovation scheme separate from the ongoing management of the Public Room as it stands - but the ongoing management has to continue, involving lettings, cleaning, maintenance, repairs, organisation of teas in the season, organisation of events etc.

Fund raising

Dot Benson, Pat Knifton, Madeleine Singleton,, Carolyn Cripps

Although we assume that the whole capital cost of the renovation scheme will be met by grants, there are inevitably going to be many costs in addition to this, especially if we want to put in some "finer touches" (furniture, pictures etc) at a late stage. It is also possible that some grant aid might need to be "matched" locally. We are therefore aiming to raise £15000 over the next two years as a Threlkeld community specifically towards this project. This fund raising has to be special and additional - it must be over and above the fund raising already carried out in support of the Public Room (eg whist drives, summer teas for visitors); and it must not impinge significantly on the tradtional fund raising of village organisations.

This is a tough brief, and requires some good, imaginative ideas. A few were mentioned at the meeting, including a really big annual raffle; sponsorship by individuals and organisations; some big special events involving a range of village organisations;"begging letters", including to former residents; a "thermometer" showing how far we have got (but maybe not yet!); a promises auction. All these and others will be developed by this group and then everyone in the community will need to get on board in support of them - the purpose of this sub-group is to come up with ideas and plans to get the ball rolling, not to raise funds on their own.

Contacting other village halls and communities for suggestions and experience

Guy Duxbury, Eileen and Herbert Witherington

There is a lot of experience in other places, including some not far away. We need to find out how these places use their village halls; and also get tips from those who have recently been through a renovation process. Guy will do this in a systematic way, and select a couple of places where some of us could visit to see things in operation and talk to people involved.

Appraisals of the potential commercial operations

Jane Roberts, Sue Foster, Jo Alberti

Some of the suggested uses of the Public Room could be more explicit commercial operations aimed at local people and/or visitors. These include:

  • Coffee shop/gallery with linked functions such as crafts, local produce, gift shop etc
  • Camping barn on a more than casual basis
  • Pre-school playgroup
  • Music studio.

Others may crop up.

These potential uses could be important sources of revenue, but they may have implications for how the renovation scheme itself is handled, and also how the Public Room is managed. They need to be reasonably thoroughly assessed in terms of:

  • What they actually involve, how they would fit into the overall scheme physically and operationally, how they might reinforce/detract from community use
  • What is the potential market for the proposed activity, how could this best be "tapped"
  • What are the existing and potential competitors; could this competition be addressed by focusing or special promotions etc
  • What are the likely costs and profit (it is assumed that these would be proper commercial operations, employing staff and paying costs)
  • How might then operation be run eg by a concession, by some sort of community enterprise
  • What is a reasonable level of income which could be generated by this activity for the benefit of the Public Room; and is this worth the effort involved.

Distribution of notes etc

John Knifton, Kevin Robson

To involve people and keep them involved, we need to keep people informed, and notes of meetings, progress notes etc need to be circulated to Group members quickly.

The idea is that these sub-groups will get together and get on with things as quickly as they can and make as much progress as they can, keeping in touch with one another (and with Trevor Roberts as necessary). All the sub-groups are encouraged to rope in anyone else they can to assist them - if this happens let Trevor Roberts know so their names can be added onto the list of those involved..

5. Next meeting of the whole Group

The next meeting of the whole group was agreed as Wednesday 18 April 2007 at 7.30pm in the Public Room. An agenda will be circulated nearer the time. We would hope that the main sub-groups can report some progress, ideas or whatever then.

It was agreed to continue to include on the list of people invited the few people who had volunteered to help but who had not attended or sent specific apologies at this stage - we would hope they can still get involved.

The meeting was closed at 8.55pm.

Trevor Roberts (Chair), Dot Benson, Trevor Robson, Guy Duxbury, Sylvia Tuer, Pat Knifton, Steven Oldfield, Kevin Robson, Roger Bragg, Carolyn Cripps, Jane Roberts, John Knifton, Jon Trotman.

Ann du Boulay, Herbert and Eileen Witherington, Gill Winter, Jo Alberti, Sue Foster, Ron and Jean Horne, Caroline and Steve Dobbins

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