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Village Hall Trust meeting - October 2013


ORDINARY MEETING, 30 October 2013 7.30PM

SADDLEBACK ROOM, BLENCATHRA CENTRE (courtesy of the Field Studies Council)

Present (Trustees): Donald Angus, Dot Benson, Sarah Corri, Carolyn Cripps, Sue Dunn, Steven Oldfield, Trevor Roberts.

Also present: Neil Beresford (Treasurer), Not present (Trustee): Roger Bragg


  1. Apologies

      Adrian Eddleston (Trustee),  Phil Sturgess (Coordinator, Marketing Action Group)

  1. Minutes of the last Ordinary Meeting held on 17 July 2013 (previously circulated)

These were agreed as a correct record.

  1. Matters arising from the Minutes not on the agenda


  1. Revitalisation scheme

The up to date predicted handover date for the Hall is Friday 7 February 2014. Further slippage is unlikely, but cannot be ruled out; however, we will have reasonable notice if this date is not going to be met. The Coffee Shop Board has already decided to work towards an opening on Friday 14 February 2014, with staff starting for training purposes on Monday 10 February. We have bookings for the week commencing 10 February 2014, and the Support Group has arranged an "opening bash" with The Night Riders on Friday 7 February 2014.

Considerable discussion took place about precisely when we should recommence operations. As well as the degree of uncertainty about the handover, there are bound to be problems associated with getting furniture in, getting sorted out and used to new systems/equipment etc, although the contractors have said they will cooperate in this respect during the closing phases.  It was eventually resolved that:

  • we will try to rearrange The Nightriders for Saturday 8 February 2014, and this will be an opening event, giving us about 24 hours to get things set up and organised
  • bookings for use of the Hall can recommence from Sunday 9 February 2014
  • over the weekend of 15/16 February, after the Coffee Shop is open, we will ask the Support Group to run informal open days so that people can see the facilities; with opportunities to raise money, mount an exhibition of the project etc if possible.
  1. Grants and transfer of money to the Threlkeld Activities Association

The Village Hall Trust has received two grants recently - £1960 from the Cooperative Community Fund in support of the Community Forum (now called simply the Threlkeld Forum, and possibly about to get a more appealing name); and £3000 from the D'Oyly Carte Charitable Trust in support of the planned programme of quality cultural events (now provisionally called "Live at Threlkeld"). The Committee

  • noted the receipt of these grants
  • ratified its previous decision to transfer these funds to the TAA for the purposes intended.
  1. Financial reports

Neil Beresford presented the Annual Accounts for the year ending 30 September 2013, subject to independent assessment. Comparisons with previous year's were not included because of the special circumstances.

He pointed out that the reduced bank balance on the General Fund, from £13,523 to £7,626, was mainly accounted for by a transfer of £5,000 into the Project Fund; with only an £898 deficit on routine operations.

The Project Fund was dominated by transactions relating to the revitalisation scheme, with payments to contractors and consultants going out, grants coming in. For the moment balances on this are strong, but as the scheme moves towards completion it will need to be managed carefully. This fund will eventually reduce to zero and the account will be closed. The project itself is being carefully coordinated, and is within budget.

Neil Beresford stressed that the balance on the General Fund is sufficient to cover expenses anticipated before bookings from the Hall come on stream again; that we can count on the license fee from the Coffee Shop, a useful buffer; but we do not have the leeway for any significant expenditure from the General Fund prior to bookings income being resumed. The sooner we start to earn money from the Hall the better.

The reports were approved and Neil Beresford authorised to make appropriate arrangements regarding an independent assessment and to submit the accounts to the Charity Commission. Action: Neil Beresford

  1. Draft Annual Report 2012/13

The Draft Annual Report was approved and the Chairman authorised to complete it subject to minor amendments and insertions. Action: Trevor Roberts.

  1. Funding of the Threlkeld Coffee Shop CIC

Further to decisions at its last meeting, it was reported that the CIC had been successful in obtaining an offer of a loan of £10,000 over two years from "social lenders" Key Fund, and the Secretary had provided the letter as required. The Committee noted and endorsed this.

  1. Children/Parents Action Group, Older People Action Group, Young People Action Group

In the light of the changed situation, it was resolved to discontinue these three Action Groups because their work had been taken over by others, and to thank the people involved for their assistance. Action: Trevor Roberts.

  1. Funding for furniture, equipment etc

Grant applications

The Chairman reported that there had been some success in grant applications for furniture and equipment. These included:

  • a grant to the TAA for destratification fans, which have now been reinstated into the work being carried out; the TAA will transfer the money to the Project Fund
  • a grant to the TAA for exercise mirrors and mats, which had been promised by the VHT in its successful bid for capital funding from Sport England; it was agreed to accept the TAA's suggestion that the VHT purchase these items (with money transferred from the TAA), own them and store them, subject to a condition that any TAA sponsored users should not incur any equipment hire charges should the VHT decide to impose such charges
  • a grant  to the VHT to cover 80% of the cost of AV equipment, which has now been reinstated into the building works and should be installed when the building is handed over. 

A major grant application to cover various items, including furniture, curtains, room dividers, tablecloths, IT equipment etc is under consideration with a reasonably good chance of success; a decision on this is expected round about 19 November 2013. The priority now was seen to be new comfortable chairs so that we do not need to reopen with the old orange ones; the estimated cost of 100 new chairs is £3,500. It was agreed that we should explore actively now the purchase of new chairs, but defer any commitment until the outcome of the grant application above is known. Action: Trevor Roberts.

Possible funding generated via capital/loans subscribed by individuals

In the light of a report from Neil Beresford, it was resolved not to pursue the option of a bond or similar publicly advertised arrangement; but that Neil Beresford be authorised to discuss any private approaches the VHT might receive as regards a loan, with any terms then to be reported to and approved by the Committee.   

  1. Coffee Shop Signs

The Committee noted the decision of the Coffee Shop CIC not to pursue the proposed sign on the gable end, and approved/permitted as required the smaller scale advertising now envisaged by the CIC including low level directional signs on either side of the car park entrance; possibly a sign on the post at the car park entrance; A boards in the new Hall porch area and car park; and various other options for off site advertising within the tight planning rules which apply.

  1. Marketing and promotion

The Committee endorsed the appointment of Annette Howe to the position of Bookings and Marketing Secretary on the employment terms determined by the officers as delegated. Additionally, the Committee:

  • agreed to discontinue the existing Marketing Action Group and to thank Phil Sturgess, its coordinator, for his work Action: Trevor Roberts
  • authorised the Treasurer to make any necessary arrangements regarding reimbursement of expenses Action: Neil Beresford
  • agreed to the purchase of Avalon bookings management software. Action: Neil Beresford
  1. Village Hall Draw

Having considered the views of the Support Group about the difficulties of running two draws at the same time, the Committee:

  • agreed to defer the Grand Opening Draw until after the Grand Christmas Draw was completed, probably to be drawn  on the day of an official opening when decided
  • noted the impressive list of prizes already obtained for both draws, with the former mainly going outside the village in this respect.
  1. Time capsule/message in a bottle

Neil Beresford and Steven Oldfield reported on the Time Capsule contents and arrangements. The Committee noted this and thanked all concerned.

  1. Proposed "exchange" with Thornham Village Hall, Norfolk

This is the Village Hall which has been paralleling us with the Big Lottery. Details were recently circulated to TMC members out of interest. The Committee

  • agreed to support the suggestion that we might develop this link and arrange a kind of exchange visit with them
  • authorised the Secretary to look into details of how this might operate, gauge the likely level of support and at the appropriate point contact Thornham Village Hall.  
  1. Window boxes

In recent years Jane Roberts has kindly provided plants in the six window boxes. She has provided a winter and a summer season planting. This year she is not doing the winter planting as it will hardly be there for very long, but will resume things for the summer season at the earliest opportunity. The Committee noted this.

  1. Parish Council Notice Board

The Parish Council has expressed a wish for an external Parish Council Notice Board to continue. It has obtained a grant to pay for a notice board of appropriate quality. The only convenient place is where the previous notice board was positioned. The Committee agreed that the Parish Council be given permission to erect a notice board there, subject to the design etc being approved by the VHT officers in advance; the notice board being securely locked and managed by the Parish Council; and only Parish Council notices to be displayed in it.  Action: Trevor Roberts

  1. Threlkeld Activities Association Local Forum notice board

It is envisaged that there will be a large general community notice board inside the Village Hall foyer, under the supervision of the Caretaker, where people can put up pretty well any kind of notice much as with the previous board outside; since the Hall will be open much of the time in future because of the Coffee Shop, this will be a reasonable display area. The TAA has requested that a part of this be reserved for notices in connection with the Local Forum it is currently developing, where as well as notices people can post suggestions, raise issues of concern etc (the idea is still evolving). The Committee agreed that this facility be allowed and arranged in conjunction with the TAA. Action: Trevor Roberts

  1. Car park signs

Under the terms of the planning permission, the car park has to be used for Village Hall visitors only. It is also a requirement of the VHT constitution that the car park is used for the benefit of the Village Hall and its users. The only exception is users of the public toilets, where it was conceded when the land was transferred to Eden DC that parking by toilet users is allowed. The main problem could be people using the car park as a local base for walking and cycling, thus clogging up the spaces. There is no intention to get "heavy" with people, but it is essential that clear, short and simple signs are erected to make the position clear from the outset. A wording has been agreed with Eden DC that signs saying "Parking while in Village Hall, Coffee Shop or Public Toilets only" will be erected by the contractors when the works on the car park are being carried out. The Committee endorsed this.  

  1. Licensing Steven Oldfield is in touch with Eden DC about a new premises license for the Hall. This will cover performances, music etc as it has in the past. Previously the Village Hall has not had a licence to sell alcohol, so that users of the Hall have had to make their own arrangements in this respect, usually by obtaining a Temporary Event Notice which costs £21 each time,  has to be submitted at least two weeks in advance, and is limited to 10 per year. The VHT officers propose to include the sale of alcohol in the new premises licence. Until quite recently, it was necessary to specify an individual person as a licence holder; however, under current rules it is possible for the Village Hall Trust Management Committee in general to take on this responsibility, subject to various conditions The Committee approved this approach authorised the officers to make the necessary arrangements. Action: Steven Oldfield
  2. Any other business

Beneath Blencathra

Carolyn Cripps reported that the pending resignation of Lizzie Phipson as "editor" and the linked withdrawal of photocopying facilities at the Blencathra Centre has placed a serious question mark over the future of the village newsletter, and the Parish Council was seeking whatever assistance might be available from the Village Hall Trust. Points made in discussion included:

  • the newsletter is very important to the Village Hall Trust both as a means of informing people of its own activities and a medium for promoting events which are organised in the Village Hall
  • the Big Lottery bid referred to the intention to produce a village newsletter ten times per year as part of a general package of community development; although this function was ascribed to the Parish Council, the Village Hall Trust has an interest in this intention being fulfilled
  • production of a village newsletter is beyond the remit permitted to the Village Hall Trust by its governing document; however, if the Parish Council or any other organisation dealing with the newsletter needs space for a photocopier or similar, this could probably be available in the Village Hall
  • various specific suggestions regarding cost reductions, alternative means of distribution etc
  • reference to the potential contribution towards costs in the longer term from Coffee Shop proceeds.

It was agreed that the Village Hall Trust

  • offer any support it can, within the terms of its governing document,  to the Parish  Council efforts to ensure the continuation of the village newsletter
  • should consider its publicity and promotion options in the event of Beneath Blencathra not continuing  Action Trevor Roberts, Annette Howe
  1. Dates of future meetings

It was agreed to have the next TMC meeting on 22 January 2014 - this would be a Committee meeting before the AGM and just before the Hall reopens.

It was agreed to have the rescheduled AGM on 26 February 2014.


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