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Village Hall Trust meeting - April 2013





Present: Donald Angus, Carolyn Cripps, Sue Dunn, Steven Oldfield, Trevor Roberts, Gill Winter.

Also present: Neil Beresford (Treasurer), Barbara Lowesmith (Monitoring Officer), Phil Sturgess (Coordinator, Marketing Action Group)

  1. Apologies

      Roger Bragg (work), Adrian Eddleston (holiday), Sarah Rose (ill)

  1. Minutes of the last Ordinary Meeting held on 9 January 2013 (previously circulated)

These were approved as a correct record.

  1. Matters arising from the Minutes not on the agenda

Re item 16 of the previous minutes

In the light of up to date information regarding the VHT financial position, it was decided to meet at the Blencathra Centre while the Hall is not available, subject to this being available. Action: Steven Oldfield

  1. Ratification of key decisions taken since the last meeting

Appointment of Party Wall Act Surveyor

The Committee noted and ratified the action taken by the Chairman and officers regarding appointment of an "agreed surveyor" to handle the Party Wall Act agreement with the owners of Smithy Cottage.

 Agreement to appoint Postlewthwaite Construction Ltd as the main contractor for the revitalisation scheme

The Committee ratified the signing of the main revitalisation contract with Postlethwaites, which was undertaken by the Chairman and Secretary acting under the authority given by the Committee previously.

  1. Signing of the contract with Postlethwaite Construction Ltd

The full contract documentation and plans were available for signature. Ursula Pool attended to photograph the Committee engaged in the process, an auspicious occasion. The photographs are available on the Hall website and will be sent to the local press.

  1. Financial reports

Neil Beresford provided written financial updates on:

  • a statement of account balances, income and expenditure for the six months to the end of March 2013; this indicated a surplus of £557 on ordinary activities, and of £33415 on the project account (this included local donations and fundraising of £3918)
  • projections of income and expenditure for the Village Hall generally up to June 2014, noting that even with cautious assumptions about income, the proposed outward transfer of £5000 and inclusion of the proposed additional staff costs, we would remain comfortably solvent, ending up with a projected cash balance of £7635 compared with £13867 at the beginning of this month
  • the projections for the capital project, emphasising that with the proposed transfer of £5000 from the Main Account to the Project Account, we have enough money to meet our commitments (this includes a contingency allowance), but only just enough.

The Committee

  • noted all this information
  • agreed to the proposed transfer of £5000 from reserves on the Main Account into the Project Account -  this fulfils the commitment to contribute £50000 towards the scheme from local funds, so all subsequent receipts from local fundraising can be regarded as additional to the basic amount we had assumed. Action: Neil Beresford
  • agreed that we should promote and encourage people and organisations to book the Hall in 2014 now, well in advance, so that we can build up the income side (ideally also we will get some income in advance via deposits) Action: Trevor Roberts, Steven Oldfield, Phil Burgess
  • agreed that we should encourage the Support Group to continue with positive fundraising efforts to generate funds for the various additional things we need in the Hall Action: Sarah Rose
  1. Revitalisation scheme progress

Trevor Roberts reported orally on the scheme progress.

The contract period started on 18 March 2013, with a start on site on 25 March 2013, as reported in the press and in Beneath Blencathra. A lot of internal stripping out has taken place, and externally cables exposed prior to the electricity supply being cut off to allow demolition of the extension to take place. Electricity North West has already been paid to replace the main cable running from the sub station, the legal formalities relating to this have been finalised, and work should start soon (this will involve some work on the highway in front of Smithy Cottage).

As well as the names of people from 1901, on the wall behind the wooden coving, as reported in the press, the removal of the floorboards revealed a bottle containing a message from 1933 when the floor was relaid, with the names of various people on it. The Committee saw the message and admired the bottle.

A good deal of the wood taken out of the building is being recycled by local people. The floor in paticular s high quality maple.

Ursula Pool is taking photographs of the scheme as it unfolds and these are being put onto the website.

Steve Peck has taken over as the Project Manager on our behalf (working for the consultants Baker Mallett) and he is proving to be very good. All dealings with the contractors so far have been very positive. The contractors and the consultants will be meeting monthly to review and coordinate progress, and we will be represented at these meetings by at last two of our own liaison group - the first meeting is on 17 April.

The Committee noted this report.

  1. Applications for grants for furniture, equipment etc and for help towards establishing activities in the Hall

A report had been circulated prior to the meeting indicating the various items of fittings, furniture and equipment which we hoped to include in the Hall over and above the provisions within the main revitalisation scheme; plus a list of grant applications already made for additional money, in the name of the Village Hall and other organisations.

The Committee noted this report. Considerable discussion of our approach on this took place.

It was firmly agreed that we should aim to have as many of the key items as possible available and built into the Hall where appropriate in time for its reopening in January 2014. To this end the Committee authorised the Chairman and officers to take such action as is deemed necessary to secure such an outcome, including

  • modifying the project to incorporate any structural items and/or purchasing furniture/equipment
  • continuing submitting of grant applications
  • monitoring closely the potential availability of money from within the contracted sums
  • application of the contract contingency allowance at an appropriate stage

Action: Trevor Roberts, Steven Oldfield, Neil Bersford

Additionally the Committee agreed that:

  • we should ask the Support Group to continue with whatever fundraising efforts it could in the circumstances Action: Sarah Rose
  • we should explore the option of a loan of up to £20,000 from The Charity Bank, broadly as previously considered, so that we can finance the required items if necessary Action: Trevor Roberts
  • we should explore the possibility of a loan or loans from local people on similar terms but with less onerous conditions and interest rate. Action: Neil Beresford

This will all be considered again at our next meeting. 

  1. Monitoring - report on the baseline survey

A report by Barbara Lowesmith, VHT Monitoring Officer, had been circulated and Barbara briefly introduced it.  The intention is that this will be part of a "baseline" against which changes over the next 3-5 years can be measured, to demonstrate impact of the work on the Hall. The report also indicates aspects where we need to give particular attention in promoting Hall use.

The Committee noted the report and complimented Barbara on the very thorough analysis and description. It was agreed that

  • the Committee should thank Barbara, her assistants Phil Sturgess and Joe Davis, the extensive team of helpers who carried out the village survey and others who had helped generate the information
  • we need to give attention to encouraging use by younger people and young adults  if we are to hit the targets used in support of the Big Lottery grant application and ensure Hall use by all sectors of the local population
  • monitoring will be built into arrangements for Hall use when it reopens, probably via means of a register of participants or similar
  • the various groups using the Hall need to be made aware as soon as possible of the significance of monitoring, their own role in this and any precise targets which affect them
  • while there were some concerns about car parking provision at the Hall itself, there is no possibility of any more being made available by the VHT itself; tangible steps will be taken to limit car parking use to Hall and Coffee Shop users, and any more general car parking problems in the village will have to be considered by the Parish Council and other relevant authorities
  • the list of possible Hall activities suggested is interesting and should be passed on to the Threlkeld Activities Association, the Support Group and any other relevant organisations
  • we should look to conducting the next similar survey of Hall use by local residents in 2015, somewhat earlier than previously thought.

Action: Trevor Roberts, Barbara Lowesmith and others as necessary

  1. Marketing and promotion

Phil Sturgess, convenor of the Marketing Action Group, gave an oral report on the activities and plans of the Marketing Action Group. This covered::

  • the Village Hall website which is now up and running and will become increasingly important for promoting and informing people about the Village Hall and the Coffee Shop
  • proposals for a "launch" of the revitalised Village Hall early in 2014; this includes a main launch day with a celebrity during mid February 2014 (precise date depending on a celebrity), where we will have various activities and a "do" at night; and a "sports launch" with hopefully some dance, fell running, cycling connection linked to the Inspired Facilities grant, provisionally scheduled for 12 April 2014, with a sports personality involved if possible
  • the important 50% "hitting the ground running" concession on bookings up to and including 31 March 2014, which it is hoped will encourage all kinds of users to at least try the Hall.

This report was noted and discussed. It was confirmed that the Big Lottery have offered us an additional revenue grant of £3000 to cover the launch and initial publicity. Phil and the Action Group were thanked for their work

  1. Hall hire charges - supplementary issues

A report had been circulated setting out some reasonably clear proposed rules/guidelines for use of the Hall, which will supplement the basic charging system already agreed. These covered various details of booking periods, booking arrangements and deposits.

The Committee agreed the recommended measures, and also emphasised the importance of applying these consistently and properly from the start.

  1. Staffing in the revitalised Hall

The TMC has previously agreed to the levels of staffing needed in the revitalised Hall ie extended Hall Caretaker hours, possibly involving an Assistant Caretaker once experience has been gained of the level of use etc; and a Bookings and Marketing Secretary to start work on a part time basis some time before the Hall reopens.

Since this latter post is critical to ensuring the Hall is fully used from the start, it was

agreed that we seek someone to take on this role taking on the role from 1 October 2013 ie three months in advance of the Hall reopening.

The Committee authorised the officers to sort out job specifications and other details for all three posts and make arrangements for the BAMS post to be advertised locally (in Beneath Blencathra, and then in the Keswick Reminder if no suitable applicants are forthcoming), followed by selection and appointment. Action: Trevor Roberts, Steven Oldfield, Neil Beresford.

  1. Repairs and maintenance in the revitalised Hall

A report had been circulated outlining issues and suggestion about how we should arrange for repairs and maintenance in the revitalised Village Hall. This is likely to involve a much higher degree of reference to specialist suppliers etc than at present, since there will be guarantees, maintenance agreements etc to manage as well as more familiar routine repairs to be arranged in whatever manner is appropriate, by volunteers or paid people.

The Committee considered this report and agreed that:

  • there should be a specifically designated individual with responsibility for maintenance matters, ideally but not necessarily a member of the Committee; that no maintenance or repairs on the Hall should take place without the involvement and where necessary the authorisation of this person; and that this person be given the delegated authority to take whatever action is appropriate to ensure that maintenance and repair is handled effectively
  • Steven Oldfield should be the designated person, with Roger Bragg as back up
  • we will need to sort out details of how things are handled, precise arrangements about delegation and authority to do things, what the caretaker can and cannot do, lists of relevant contacts, manuals of equipment use, details of special maintenance for particular items, involvement of any tradesmen etc etc Action: Steven Oldfield
  • we will allocate a sum of £1500-2000 in the budget each year to a "renewals" fund to cover the eventual replacement of any expensive items of equipment and/or cyclical repairs such as painting Action: Neil Beresford
  1. Village Hall website

This is now up and running as previously agreed, although it is still being developed and updated. In particular it includes a photographic "blog" of the construction project, being undertaken by Ursula Pool. It s a very attractive website. The Committee agreed to thank Helen O'Brien for her work on setting it up and maintaining it.

Action: Steven Oldfield

  1. Any other business


  1. Dates of future meetings

The following dates have already been agreed.  

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Wednesday 11 December 2013

As agreed earlier in the meeting, these meetings will be in The Saddleback Room, Blencathra Centre (NB this has been confirmed)

In the light of the dates for completion of work and reopening of the Hall, it was agreed to postpone the Village Hall Trust AGM from Wednesday 20 November 2013 to Wednesday 22 January 2014, in the Village Hall; with the meeting of the Committee on 11 December 2013 as the pre-AGM Committee meeting.

The meeting finished at 9.30pm. The Chairman thanked everyone for their attendance and contributions. 

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