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Village Hall Trust meeting - February 2012





Present: Donald Angus, Carolyn Cripps, Sue Dunn, Steven Oldfield, Trevor Roberts, Sarah Rose, Gill Winter. In attendance: Neil Beresford (Treasurer)

  1. Apologies

Roger Bragg (family commitment), Adrian Eddleston (chairing meeting in London)

  1. Minutes of the last Ordinary Meeting held on 9 November 2011 (previously circulated)

These were approved as a correct record.

  1. Matters arising from the Minutes not on the agenda

Possible application for Village Hall Hallmark Standard

This matter had been deferred unto this meeting to give the new Treasurer time to look at financial procedures etc. The procedures are currently in the process of change, so it was decided to defer consideration again until the next meeting. Steven Oldfield pointed out that Hallmark standard qualified us for a reduction of £30 or more on our insurance premium.

  1. Financial reports

Neil Beresford presented a short oral financial update on routine financial matters. Currently in the Main and Deposit Account we have £11,230, about £800 more than at the end of September. Generally bookings are going well, nothing exceptional to report (other than payment of the insurance premium, see below).  

Balance on the Revitalisation Project account at the end of January 2012 was £38,074.50 (this now includes £12,509.19 transferred from the Threlkeld Parish Council Revitalisation Fund on 9 December 2011). Approximately £2,800 is due to be paid out of this account shortly to cover Architects fees and the fee for the new planning application; although this will be repaid shortly afterwards by claiming against the Big Lottery Development Grant.  

The Committee noted these reports.

  1. Costs of the revitalisation project and fundraising in support of it

A detailed report explaining exactly what the scheme development has cost so far (to the end of January 2012) had been circulated in advance for consideration. This showed in detail how the revitalisation project has been financed so far and how our local fundraising has been deployed. Key information included was as follows.


Total expenditure on the scheme to date has been £42,967. This is made up as follows:

  • Architects Fees - £40,240
  • Other professional fees  -  £1,768
  • Statutory fees and Charges - £872
  • Administrative and Sundry costs - £85

Of this expenditure, £38,750 has been covered by external grants; the rest has come from locally raised funds and donations.

Professional and statutory fees were paid in three phases:

  • preliminary phase when the basic scheme was being developed and discussed - £6,842
  • fees associated with the preparation, submission and discussion of the planning application - £6,000
  • fees etc after planning permission was granted, relating to detailed design work, including costs of re- designing the scheme when we opted for a scaled down version - £30,090.

Total income

In total, we have so far generated £80,924 for the project.

The income has come from:

  • external grants towards development of the project - £38,750
  • donations - £7,779
  • local fundraising activities - £15,828
  • financial support from the Village Hall and the Parish Council - £18,399

External grants were given by:

  • Big Lottery Awards for All - £5,250
  • Cumbria Community Foundation - £6,000
  • Cumbria County Council Eden Neighbourhood Forum - £500
  • Cumbria County Council Members Divisional Capital Grant - £2,000
  • Lake District National Park Authority Sustainable Development Fund - £10,000
  • Lake District National Park Authority Investing in Communities Fund - £15,000.

The significant support from the LDNPA was offered initially for the scheme generally. At our request, it was specifically allocated to the development of the scheme to allow design work to proceed at a critical point.

The Committee noted this report; and agreed to it being reported to Threlkeld Parish Council, to a summary being placed in the minutes and to a short report being published in Beneath Blencathra. This is to ensure transparency about this important matter. Action: Trevor Roberts

  1. Accountants

Neil Beresford reported that in accordance with previous decisions, the Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer approached three recommended local accountancy firms – Dodd and Co, Saint and Co and Keswick Accountants.

All three were sent a brief of our requirements. Responses were received from Keswick Accountants (Frances Clarke) and Dodd and Co (Faye Armstrong). Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary saw both for a discussion. 

There was a unanimous recommendation to appoint Dodd and Co as our financial consultants and accountants. Although likely to be somewhat more expensive than Keswick Accountants, they have both the specialist expertise and the back up of a larger firm which is considered very important in our situation. However, in the longer term, once things have settled own, we may well opt for less expensive arrangements, so the appointment should be subject to an annual review.

The Committee:

  • endorsed this recommendation
  • authorised the Officers to make arrangements with Dodd and Co Action: Trevor Roberts, Neil Beresford
  • agreed that we need to give a high priority to resolving the issues surrounding VAT registration
  • agreed that we ask Dodd and Co to act as independent assessor on our annual accounts; and to thank Dave Steen for his many years of assistance in this respect Action: Neil Beresford
  • resolved that the appointment of accountants/assessor be subject to confirmation annually at the Village Hall AGM, with a recommendation to the AGM from the Committee     
  1. Bank signatory mandate

In accordance with previous decisions, the Committee resolved that the mandate with Barclays Bank be amended to allow Neil Beresford to be a signatory on cheques on all the Trust’s accounts, and that Roger Bragg’s authorisation be discontinued. Action: Neil Beresford

  1. VAT registration

After discussion of this very significant issue and its implications, the Committee:

  • reaffirmed the authority to the Officers to handle this matter
  • resolved that, in the event of our having to register for VAT while the Hall is still operating on its current basis, and subject to any specific advice from Dodd and Co, VAT should be absorbed within our existing charges (ie Our charges will not be increased, but our post-VAT income will drop. It was estimated that this might mean a drop in income of about £1800. Other options were carefully considered).
  • authorised the Treasurer to make whatever changes are needed to our financial systems to accommodate VAT if required, subject to advice from Dodd and Co. .
  1. Village Hall Insurance Premium

The Committee endorsed the decision taken by the Officers to pay the Village Hall insurance premium this year; and agreed to this payment being part of the normal Village Hall outlay in future.

  1. Revitalisation project and its funding

A detailed update was circulated for consideration beforehand. This indicated that things were proceeding according to plan with regard to the Big Lottery application; with detailed design of the scheme; and with the planning application, just submitted. We are currently still about £150,000 short of the total funding target, but several bids for external funding are under consideration, and more will be submitted as opportunities arise. The confirmed offer of £20,000 from the Garfield Weston Foundation was noted as positive sign of possible support from other quarters. Most discussion focused upon the issue of loans of various types. The Committee:

  • noted the report and the accompanying update on funding applications
  • reaffirmed the authorisation to the Chairman and other officers to continue with the detailed work on the revitalisation project and its funding, and to commission the Architects etc regarding the next phase of design work
  • expressed the VHT’s support for the planning application to the LDNPA (to be sent in writing at the appropriate time) Action: Steven Oldfield
  • resolved that the detailing of the revitalisation scheme should be to the highest reasonable quality, and that the Architects etc be informed of this general approach Action: Trevor Roberts
  • authorised the VHT officers to negotiate a bridging loan to assist with cash flow etc during construction; and to discuss the details and implications of a possible “last brick” loan up to £25,000, this latter to be agreed only subject to Committee consideration of the details and the implications Action: Trevor Roberts
  • resolved to support any efforts by the Parish Council and others to develop a long term infrastructure of community organisation in Threlkeld, to ensure that there is continuity of community engagement.
  1. General discussion of aspects of management of the revitalised Village Hall

The Committee discussed in general terms issues relating to management of the Hall post-revitalisation. The intention was to establish some general principles/approaches to assist in the various grant applications now being made, not to make any firm decisions. It was a very useful and informative discussion. Key points which emerged were as follows:

  • the most critical thing is to ensure the Hall is used and used by local people; the document produced for the Lottery, The Positive Difference, sets out the blueprint for this, but action to make sure we have the organisation, planning and finance to deliver on this needs to start NOW, not wait until the revitalisation is finshed or even in progress
  • charging users in the new facility may well involve differential rates and/or initial incentives, in particular to encourage local use and the retention of existing Hall users; however, we do not want the basic level of charges for local users and organisations to be very much different from what we charge at present, and in general terms we do have to be “competitive”
  • it is likely we will need additional caretaking time, and this might be best provided by engaging an additional caretaker to parallel Sylvia Tuer, which gives greater flexibility (we will simply assume a doubling of the outlay on caretaking); however, the Committee felt strongly that other aspects of Village Hall management should continue to be handled on a voluntary basis for the immediate future at least, this being seen as a vital aspect of the Hall’s role as a community facility
  • careful attention needs to be given to security (which must also be addressed at the detailed design stage now commencing)
  • careful attention must be given to the details of the agreement between the Trust and the CIC regarding routine management, since for much of the time the Coffee Shop staff are likely to be the only people “in charge” and so duties and responsibilities relating to the building generally will need to be spelled out
  • the idea of getting organised so that we “hit the ground running” when the revitalised Hall reopens was strongly supported.

All these matters will be built into the way the project is now developing. Action: Trevor Roberts and everyone else as necessary

  1. Routine management and maintenance matters

Roger Bragg had obtained estimates for various painting jobs, and recommended we get Derek Hessett (Braithwaite) to paint the Porch, hallway, rear Hallway, rear porch and men’s Toilets for 940. This quote covers use of exterior quality paint (to withstand condensation and mould) in the existing colours. Painting of the toilets will be postponed until the roof has been checked and repaired if needed. This was all agreed. Action: Roger Bragg

It was agreed that we will not replace the carpet in the Small Meeting Room.

Carolyn Cripps reported that Sylvia did not feel a new vacuum cleaner is needed. No further action.

Steven Oldfield reported that the filters etc on the stage lights had been done.

It was agreed not to pursue a “spring clean”, especially since a lot of painting is about to take place.

Roger Bragg has asked Matthew Airey to ease the doors which are sticking.

  1. Beneficiary monitoring and equal opportunities

Discussions with the Big Lottery on “beneficiary monitoring” were described and the Committee gave detailed consideration to the issues involved. The Committee then:

  • confirmed its understanding of the issues and the position as described
  • endorsed that our responses to the “beneficiary monitoring” questions in the Big Lottery Stage 3 application would be that, on the basis of what is known of the characteristics of the local population, the project will benefit especially people of “white UK” ethnic background; people of Christian or no religion; but otherwise not benefit especially any of the specific groups mentioned.
  • reaffirmed the Trust’s commitment to promoting equal opportunities in all the relevant aspects
  • resolved to handle the matter of beneficiary monitoring in a responsible, appropriate and proportionate manner in due course, with full awareness of the significance of assessing impact on different groups.
  1. Training related to Child Protection policy and procedures

This item involved decisions about Trustee training. The issue was recognised as important but not urgent (we already have a policy and basic procedures set out), and to give it the attention it deserves, it was agreed to defer consideration until the next meeting, when it would be put towards the front of the agenda. In the meantime all Committee members should consider the training proposals, and also ensure that they are familiar with the policy and procedures previously agreed. Action: all Committee members

  1. Brief updates on other activities

Whist Drive and Christmas Draw

The Christmas Draw had raised £208 (£216 last year). The Whist Drive was well attended; it made about £118 (£127 last year)..


Moira Surinagar had aimed to get a Ceilidh and also a children’s show to involve the school, which seems a good idea. These are likely to run in March and April. We need to sell as many tickets as possible for these, and also if possible run a bar at the ceilidh, since the “deal” with Highlights is much more likely to cost us money now. Action: all Committee members.

It was agreed to postpone the review of the Highlights scheme involvement planned for our May meeting; it is worth seeing how the scheme itself evolves, and also its future is tied up with the revitalisation plans. Action: Trevor Roberts to inform Moira Surinagar.

  1. Any other business


  1. Next meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 16 May at 7.30pm.

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