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Village Hall trust meeting - May 14





Present: Donald Angus, Dot Benson, Roger Bragg, Carolyn Cripps, Trevor Roberts, Lizzie Phipson, Ursula Pool  (Trustees)

Neil Beresford (Treasurer), Barbara Lowesmith (Monitoring Officer)

  1. Apologies

Sarah Corri, Steven Oldfield

  1. Welcome to new members

The two new Committee members, Lizzie Phipson and Ursula Poole, were welcomed to the Committee and to their first meeting. NB See subsequent email and letter from Ursula Pool

  1. Signing of declarations as Trustees

In accordance with Charity Commission recommended good practice, all Committee members present signed a declaration of awareness of their responsibilities as trustees and willingness to serve. Arrangements will be made for the other two trustees to sign the declaration, and for all declarations to be kept on file by the Secretary. Action: Trevor Roberts

  1. Governing document, Charity Accounts, Annual Report and information for trustees

All members of the Committee had been provided with copies of Charity Commission information for trustees, the Annual Accounts and Annual Report for 2012/13 and the rules concerning conflicts of interest adopted by the TMC. This was confirmed.

  1. Minutes of the last Ordinary Meeting held on 14 January 2014  (previously circulated)

These were agreed as a correct record.

  1. Matters arising from the Minutes not on the agenda

The following points were noted:

Item 4. The handover arrangements were delayed due to last minute problems, with the Coffee Shop opening on 1 March 2014, the Main Hall on 7 March 2014 (with a performance from Blackheart followed by two open days), normal bookings commencing on 19 March 2014

Item 5 The Coffee Shop opened as planned, three Baristas were appointed and the Coffee Shop Manager appointed to start just in time for the opening, but the initial period of the Coffee Shop was much more difficult than hoped or planned

  1. Election/appointment of Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer

The following were duly proposed, seconded and unanimously re-elected/appointed as:

Chairman - Trevor Roberts

Vice Chairman - Sarah Corri

Secretary - Steven Oldfield

Treasure - Neil Beresford.

It was explained that the "officers" of the VHT comprise the Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary. The Vice Chairman substitutes for the Chairman when necessary.

The officers have all been in post for some time now and have borne the brunt of work in connection with the revitalisation scheme. Efforts will need to be made in the next year to ensure some transition/ succession in these key posts. This was noted by the Committee. .

  1. Appointment of Monitoring Officer

The Committee endorsed the continuation of Barbara Lowesmith in this honorary post.

  1. Financial reports

Neil Beresford presented a report on the financial position of the Village Hall. This showed that balances now on the Main and Project Accounts are both (as anticipated) very low and therefore we have to manage income, expenditure and cash flow very carefully over the next few months. 

Project Account - the current balance is £1878 but the last tranche of the BL grant (£22000) remains to be claimed. Thereafter we will still owe about £15000 retention payable next year, and in the next month or so we will have to pay the negotiated final accounts from Postlethwaites plus various other bills, so it seems inevitable that we will face a shortfall on the retention amount, necessitating continued fund raising for the project during the coming months, via the Buy a Brick and other means.

Main Account - the current balance of £3750 is too low for comfort and must be boosted by attracting bookings and by controlling expenditure. Lettings income was typically around £6/7000 per annum, we need to be aiming for about twice this level now (excluding the Coffee Shop license fee) with the improved facilities. Expenditure is somewhat difficult to predict at the moment, as the energy costs element is still being sorted out and there is significant expenditure still associated with the new arrangements for managing the Hall. However, it is clear that until our income and bank balance has built up, expenditure on non essential items will have to be restricted.  

Coffee Shop - this has started trading well, and will be paying a license fee of £1517 in June, £2275 per quarter thereafter. This is the largest single source of income for the VHT (quite separate from any "profits" which the Coffee Shop may eventually deliver).

Predicted income and expenditure On the basis of the best information currently available and a lot of assumptions, Neil presented a forecast of income and expenditure in a "typical" year which indicated a surplus of about £6000 income over expenditure.

VAT The VAT registration and the way we operate it has been given a very definite approval following a VAT inspection earlier this year, a clear vindication of the decisions on VAT registration (which occupied a good deal of the TMC's deliberations a couple of years ago) and also of the separation of the VHT's roles as accommodation provider from the various organisations which use the Hall and pay a charge subject to VAT.

After considerable discussion, the Committee:

  • accepted the report
  • agreed that we must intensify our efforts to ensure the Hall is well used and income from lettings maximised, as this is the most fruitful way of improving financially stability
  • noted the very general financial framework towards which we seem to be moving
  • agreed that as a principle we should try to finance normal Hall expenditure from lettings income, with the Coffee Shop license fee regarded as a bonus/buffer; this implies a target for lettings income in a full year of about £15000.
  1. General discussion of the future of the Village Hall and the VHT

This general discussion took up most of the time of the meeting, and was conducted in relation to a report circulated by Trevor Roberts relating to this item and item 12 on the agenda/minutes, see below. The following points were broadly agreed:

  • the Committee's role is changing from one where credibility (ie "who members are") was most important to one where a more engaged role in terms of Hall management and operation (ie "what members do")
  • the model where almost all executive action is delegated to a small core group broadly endorsed/legitimised by the TMC needs to be broadened, partly to relieve the core group of the pressures, partly to involve more people in Hall management etc
  • the current TMC is still composed (even with the two new members) on the basis of its credibility and general perspectives, and is not ideally suited to taking on executive functions to any great extent; we need to involve other volunteers with the right mixture of capability, interest, availability and commitment, which will not be easy
  • associated with this is a clear need to creates some succession arrangements for management of the Village Hall, in terms of the key officer positions and the TMC (the Chairman and Vice Chairman have to be drawn from the TMC)
  • while the difficulties of getting other people involved was recognised, there are some encouraging signs, not least the increasing involvement of younger people in activities at the revitalised Hall, and also in the relatively large numbers of volunteers engaged in some form of activity in support of the Hall
  • the key shortage is not people to DO things, but in people to ORGANISE
  • to encourage succession/transition, we need to involve people from a younger age group than currently predominates, although it is unrealistic to expect at this stage significant engagement from people with young families, jobs etc

The Committee concluded by agreeing to approach informally and personally some individuals who might without too much persuasion take on the crucial organising roles in some key areas of Village Hall operation, including especially:

  • Hall management and maintenance
  • bookings, marketing, promotion, communication etc
  • possibly support for running events and activities in the Hall (nominally this is the responsibility of the organisation which rents the Hall, but in practice there is sometimes no clear distinction).

Action: all. 

  1. Revitalisation scheme

A written update was circulated prior to the meeting. The formal handover of the project took place on 7 March, but this is subject to various ongoing issues with the contractors, none of which are impinging too much on normal operations of the Hall and Coffee Shop. Financially, it is anticipated that we will need to raise some money to meet the retention payment of about £15,000 in March 2015, but we should have enough money in the Project Account to round off the scheme payments in the next few weeks (although as previously predicted cash flow has to be managed carefully at this juncture). Feedback from initial users of both Hall and Coffee Shop has been overwhelmingly positive. The report was noted.

The Committee endorsed the work of the team of volunteers (Neil Beresford, Sarah Corri, Adrian Eddleston, John Knifton, Steven Oldfield, Trevor Roberts) who represented the VHT on the client side of project management, and attended the monthly meetings with contractors and consultants throughout the project; and agreed to thank them formally for their work. Action: Trevor Roberts.

  1. Allocation of responsibilities among Committee members

This was discussed at the same time as the broader future of the VHT. It focused on the proposal to establish Sub Committees as a means of devolving responsibility and authority for large aspects of Hall operation.

A clear distinction was drawn between involvement of a few key people in "sub committees" charged with organising/arranging things; and a broader, more flexible group of people who will be called on to actually do things.

The Committee resolved:

  • that the officers formulate proposed terms of reference for two or three sub committees along the lines discussed, together with a list of things which each of these sub committees would be asked to take on board and organise/arrange
  • to use these outline responsibilities in relation to approaches to individuals agreed under item 10 above
  • to aim at having a framework of sub committees and membership lined up for approval at the next meeting (11 July) if at all possible
  • in the meantime, the current delegation of routine matters to the officers continue in operation. .

      Action: the officers lead by Trevor Roberts

  1. Hall Caretaker

It was reported that Sylvia Tuer has agreed to continue for the time being on the same terms as previously, subject to a review when things have settled down and it is possible to assess the situation. She is focusing on cleaning and "meet and greet", as bookings are now handled by Annette Howe. Her duties involve daily cleaning of the toilets and common parts in accordance with the agreement reached between the Village Hall Trust and the Coffee Shop CIC that this should be done by 9am each day the Coffee Shop is open.

Neil Beresford reminded the Committee that Sylvia is not an employee, she undertakes the work on a contract bass and submits a monthly invoice for caretaking services.

The Committee felt that although we are clearly getting an excellent service from Sylvia at relatively little cost, and in the short term we need to be cautious about taking on any additional financial commitment, in the longer term the situation looked unsustainable and some more robust arrangements, including additional remuneration and some back up for  Sylvia when she is away or unavailable, needs to be considered.

It therefore resolved that a full review of the caretaking arrangements be made at the next meeting on the basis of a report from the officers. Action: the officers (lead Trevor Roberts).

  1. Report on bookings etc

A report on the state of play regarding Hall bookings was circulated and considered by the Committee. This highlighted the work of Annette Howe, progress on installing the bookings and Keycard operating software, and the general state of play with bookings. Generally the systems are settling down, but some aspects are still being worked on. Bookings are satisfactory, it appears that we have about £8000 worth of bookings this year already, which is encouraging, as interest is clearly still building.

 The Committee noted the report, and agreed that the officers, BAMS and others involved should continue to develop the bookings system and to promote the Hall as described. Action: the officers (lead Trevor Roberts)

  1. Monitoring of Hall use and impact

Barbara Lowesmith, the Monitoring Officer, attended the meeting, having previously circulated a report outlining the systems and for collecting participant information from regular Hall users and from people attending the larger events (of which four had been held so far); including some results. She also circulated a report specifically on the health/community well being aspects of Hall activity which had to be supplied to one of the funders.

The Committee:

  • noted both reports
  • agreed that its own meetings would be subject to the regular event monitoring regime
  • agreed to delete the question about disability from the monitoring questionnaires since no funders had specifically requested this information
  • agreed to the inclusion of questions on where people had heard about events etc where appropriate, to assist in promoting events/activities.

Action: Barbara Lowesmith

  1. Arrangements for the official inauguration on 6 June 2014

Trevor Roberts reported on arrangements for this. All those present had received the invitation and programme. A list of invitees was circulated and all those present asked to contact Trevor regarding any obvious omissions etc.Costs  are likely to be less than £1000, covered by grants specifically for the event. The report was noted and Trevor Roberts authorised to make all the arrangements. Action: Trevor Roberts  

  1. Grand Opening Draw

No information was available on progress with ticket sales, but it was reported that they are more difficult to sell than the Christmas draw tickets.  It was agreed that we should

  • find out how sales are going and take action to chase things up as necessary
  • continue to promote sales at events etc including on the inauguration day itself
  • arrange to hold the actual draw quickly and privately on the evening of 6 June, and announce the winners at the interval
  • hold a special draw at the interval, for separate prizes, just for tickets sold on the night, where it is likely the winners will be present (NB prizes needed for this).

Action: Sarah Corri

  1. Future of the Village Hall Support Group

It was reported that the Village Hall Support Group Committee and the Threlkeld Activities Association Committee are considering the latter being absorbed by the former in the light of the considerable overlap in their activities. This is likely to take place in July. Both organisations are of course separate from the VHT. The position was noted.

  1. Village Hall policies and procedures

The various Village Hall policies and procedures are all now due to be reviewed in the light of the new situation.

It was agreed that

  • the Health and Safety policies and procedures would be revised following discussions with our Health and Safety consultants on 27 May 2014; the officers were authorised to deal with this as appropriate,. Action: the officers (lead Steven Oldfield)
  • arrangements will be made to review other policies and procedures before or at the next meeting. Action: Trevor Roberts
  1. License fee and agreement between the VHT and the Community Coffee Shop

It was agreed that

  • Steven Oldfield will continue to act as the VHT's representative in discussions about the license agreement and protocols which specify the relationship between the VHT and the Coffee Shop CIC Action: Steven Oldfield
  • anyone who has any views on how the arrangements should be modified should contact Steven Oldfield direct Action: all
  • revisions are needed to cover the use of the room upstairs which was not anticipated when the agreement was drawn up
  • the Coffee Shop be allowed to set up a fridge and freezer upstairs (at its expense) to assist with its storage needs.
  1. Publicity, promotion and information

This item was deferred for consideration at the next meeting, although the report referred to in the agenda may be circulated soon to keep the Committee informed

  1. Any other business


  1. Dates of future meetings

Future meeting dates were agreed as follows:

Thursday 31 July 2014

Thursday 23 October 2014

Thursday 11 December 2014

Annual General Meeting 29 January 2015.

 All members to note these dates and try to make sure they attend if at all possible. We deliberately do not meet very often, and in order to exercise the necessary degree of oversight as trustees, attendance at the meetings by Committee members is regarded as significant. Action: all


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