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Village Hall trust meeting - July 14

THRELKELD VILLAGE HALL TRUST MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE

ORDINARY MEETING, 31 JULY 2014 7.45PM  (immediately following the Special Meeting)

THRELKELD VILLAGE HALL

MINUTES

Present: Donald Angus, Dot Benson, Roger Bragg, Trevor Roberts, Steven Oldfield, Lizzie Phipson,  (Trustees)

Neil Beresford (Treasurer)

  1. Apologies

Sarah Corri (Trustee), Barbara Lowesmith (Monitoring Officer)

  1. Resignation

The resignation of Carolyn Cripps as an appointee of the Parish Council was reported. The Committee agreed to accept her resignation and convey its thanks to her for her long service in support of the Village Hall (she has been a member of the TMC since its inception and of its predecessor Committees for many years before that). Action: SO

The steps to be taken as to a replacement were deferred until after decisions on Item 5.

  1. Welcome to new members (if any)

None, although Dot Benson was welcomed in her new capacity as a coopted member.

  1. Signing of declarations as Trustees (if required)

Not needed.  

  1. Governing document, Charity Accounts, Annual Report and information for trustees (if required)

Not needed.

  1. Minutes of the last Ordinary Meeting held on 13 May 2014  (previously circulated)

These were agreed as a correct record.

  1. Matters arising from the Minutes not on the agenda

None

  1. Revitalisation scheme

Trevor Roberts reported that:

  • the project is effectively concluded, but there are a few outstanding issues to resolve including
  • the platform lift, which has malfunctioned several times and even though it is now working he has refused to sanction its operation since formal handover of all the necessary documentation
  • a final signing off on the hot water/heating system
  • agreeing a final account with Postethwaites, which is still being discussed with the Project Manager and has really dragged on for various reasons we do not understand
  • a second round of snagging and payment of the retention next March.

Financially, it seems we are likely to need to find about £7-10,000 more to be in a position to pay the retention next March, depending on what the negotiated final account turns out to be. This is not entirely overspend on the project, it includes significant things added to the scheme as it was under construction.

This report was noted.

  1. Financial reports

Neil Beresford submitted financial reports on the Main Account, the Project Account and the position generally. 

The balance on the Main Account is now building up as bookings are attracted. However, there are uncertainties around the cost of utilities, where electricity charges are turning out higher than planned, almost certainly due to use by the Coffee Shop. Cleaning/caretaking costs are increasing as predicted. All this reflects the increased use of the Hall, which with the Coffee Shop is in operation most of the day, every day.

The Project Fund is currently in surplus, but once the final account on the project is resolved, it is likely to be reduced to a level insufficient to cover the retention next March. This will have to be the subject of specific fundraising and/or transfers from the Main Account which hopefully will be in a healthy state by then if bookings increase in the way expected.

The Support Group has now wound up as noted at the previous meeting, and the final sum handed over to the Village Hall is likely to be about £729.

The Committee agreed:

  • to note the reports
  • to intensify the efforts to ensure the Hall is fully booked in all categories
  • to review the level of charges at its next meeting, but in the meantime to ensure that people who hire the Hall pay the full amount due under the new rules (especially the need to pay for setting up and "dead" time when the Hall is not usable by other people), initially by publicising the rules about charging even more clearly
  • look to reviewing the discount for a large scale user when the Coffee Shop license fee is next renegoiated; and in the meantime revise the decision made at the last meeting to regard only 50% of the Coffee Shop license fee as a "bonus" over and above normal Hall hire income
  • seek to recoup costs incurred on behalf of other organisations which use the Hall facilities.

Action: Trevor Roberts, Annette Howe

  1. Christmas decorations and lights

The Committee considered this issue and agreed:

  • we will have external lights of an appropriate type and number Action: Neil Beresford
  • we will have an illuminated Christmas tree in the foyer in front of the commemorative window Action: Roger Bragg
  • we will dispense with the large bauble clusters which now look dated, and look through the other decorations in the storeroom upstairs to see what should be kept Action: Dot Benson
  • purchase any additional decorations considered necessary Action: Neil Beresford
  • encourage the Coffee Shop to have some lights and decorations. Action: Trevor Roberts
  1. Proposed modifications to the Governing document/composition of the Committee

A report on proposed changes to the Trust's governing document had been circulated prior to the meeting. These were aimed at making the Committee reflect more closely the interests of current users by reducing the Parish Council appointees from three to one; and adding appointees from the Threlkeld Activities Association and from Threlkeld Young People. The Parish Council had agreed to the proposed reduction in its number of appointees, but as things now stand there are two vacancies for appointees anyway. After due consideration, the Committee decided unanimously that:

  • in exercise of its powers under Clause 26(2) of its governing document, the Trust Management Committee amends Clause 8 (1) to read as follows

one member each must be appointed by Threlkeld Parish Council; by Threlkeld Activities Association; and by Threlkeld Young People

  • this amendment to take effect at once, and the Chairman be authorised to inform the Charity Commission in accordance with its procedures
  • the organisations concerned be invited to appoint people to the Committee, with a view to their appointees attending the next meeting; with the invitation expressing the views as to the nature of the appointments as set out in this report.

 Action: Trevor Roberts

  1. Delegation arrangements/spreading the load

A report had been submitted prior to the meeting by the Chairman, indicating various responsibilities currently delegated to the officers but where delegation to others would be possible as part of the initiative previously agreed to "spread the load".

Lizzie Phipson offered to take on principal responsibility for health and safety policy and procedures. Other trustees were unwilling to take any specific responsibilities and unable to suggest alternative delegation arrangements. In these circumstances it was decided that

  • Lizzie Phipson would be the Committee member with principal responsibilities for matters to do with health and safety; Steven Oldfield and Trevor Roberts will arrange for the transfer of functions Action: Trevor Roberts, Steven Oldfield, Lizzie Phipson
  • in other respects the existing delegation arrangements would continue for the time being, except for any alternatives agreed in respect of maintenance and promotional functions which were due to be considered later in the meeting. Action: the officers
  1. Hall Caretaker/caretaking arrangements

The officers submitted a report on caretaking arrangements and the financial implications associated with these. After discussion the Committee agreed to:

  • endorse the arrangements made by the officers as regards caretaking and cleaning, in particular the engagement of a paid cleaner in the mornings to ensure the common areas and toilets are fully cleaned every day
  • formally thank Sylvia Tuer for her continued support and involvement as Hall Caretaker in a flexible ad hoc manner as described in this report; and that her remuneration should be regarded more as an honorarium, in no way reflecting her full contribution to Hall Management in the way that a wage or contract would
  • financial projections for Hall management should build in £8000 for caretaking and cleaning, about £3800 more than the current level; based on the assumed arrangements set out in the report
  • to help cover the costs involved, only 50% of the Coffee Shop license fee should be regarded as unavailable for supporting Hall running costs

Action: the officers

  1. Proposed arrangements to delegate responsibility for maintenance

The officers submitted a report based on decisions at the previous meeting, seeking to spread the load and involve more people in responsibility for ensuring that maintenance and repairs are carried out effectively. This emphasised that it is responsibility and organisation which is required, there are several volunteers who can be called up as necessary to actually do things.

The main functions involved are as follows:

  • Key contact point/decisions on repairs, reported faults etc
  • Handling minor fixtures and fittings etc
  • To ensure electrical safety are instituted and observed
  • Ensuring procedures linked to fire protection and safety are instituted and observed
  • Organising and maintaining guarantees and service contracts on key equipment/facilities
  • Identifying and selecting contractors who can be called on to carry out repairs and maintenance
  • identifying and coordinating volunteers who are able to carry out repairs/maintenance
  • Planning maintenance programmes, Hall improvements etc

Following previous Committee decisions, most of these functions are the delegated responsibility of Steven Oldfield (he obviously calls on other people to carry out a good deal of the actual work of maintenance/repair, although key inspections etc he tends to handle personally). Steven has expressed a desire to be relieved of these responsibilities as part of the "spreading the load" process.

The officers recommended that these functions should be principally handled by two or three named individuals, who might or might not be on the TMC; but in any case one member of the TMC other than the officers should be delegated to keep in touch with maintenance activities and ensure that there is a degree of practical accountability to the Committee in exercise of this key function.

All members of the Committee had been asked to seek potential volunteers to carry out this role, without success (several people approached were most willing to provide voluntary help "when asked", but nobody was prepared to shoulder the responsibility of doing the asking). No decision was made regarding the appointment of a Committee member to act as an accountability link between these individuals and the Committee.

It was eventually decided that the existing arrangements will continue for the time being until alternative people are found or join the Committee; and the matter will be considered again at the next meeting. Action: the officers

  1. Proposed arrangements for delegating responsibilities for marketing and promotion of Hall use

The officers submitted a report based on decisions at the previous meeting, seeking to spread the load and involve more people in responsibility for marketing and promotion of the Hall as a venue/facility, work which currently is handled almost entirely by Trevor Roberts and the Bookings and Marketing Secretary. Although the role is mainly to do with responsibility, this function is likely to be actually handled in practice by those responsible, with only some specific tasks (eg the website management) handled by others.

The responsibilities covered include:

  • Dealing with hall users when they are on site to ensure a good experience and encourage repeat business
  • Development and management of a Hall user group
  • Promoting Hall community use
  • Promoting supplementary commercial use on the basis of the Business Plan related to this - in particular and overnight use; receptions and social events; conferences and meetings; a cultural and educational venue; etc
  • Press and public relations to improve profile and awareness of the Hall among people seeking a venue
  • Providing information to the website, managing the website, managing Facebook contacts, managing information on the monitor screen, managing the Hall promotional noticeboards etc
  • Developing and maintaining a Hall marketing plan

The Committee agreed to:

  • delegate responsibility and authority for marketing and promotion to the Chairman, BAMS and another member of the Committee as set out in the report - no other member of the current Committee was willing to take on this responsibility, it is possible someone will shortly if we can attract new people to get involved

 

  • include marketing and promotional expenditure within its budget, and authority to draw on this budget will be devolved to those involved as follows:
  • a total budget of £1200 (ie £100 per month), to be managed by the Chairman, BAMS and one other designated Committee member; outlay from this budget will be allowed without reference to the Treasurer
  • any individual commitment which exceeds or is expected to exceed £75 should be sanctioned in advance by the Treasurer; where any actual individual outlay exceed £75 the Treasurer should be informed as soon as this is apparent
  • if expenditure in a year exceeds or is projected to exceed the allocated amount, then the Treasurer must be informed as soon as possible
  • where possible/appropriate, estimates should be obtained in advance of any expenditure commitment, but it is appreciated that this is often not the case.

 

  • Immediate priorities are:
  • advertising and promoting supplementary commercial uses in a vigorous and active manner, especially overnight use, weddings and other receptions, conferences and meetings, children's parties and other social events etc
  • sorting out and systematising how we deal with Hall users, covering the information they receive before and after they arrive, meeting and greeting, briefing in Hall use, monitoring and feedback etc; this will pull together the contributions of several people and make sure they are working jointly and effectively
  • to get systems together for managing the flow of information to the website, the notice boards and the monitor screen, establishing a clear point of contact for reporting repairs and work etc needed
  • setting up arrangements for promoting the Village Hall in the media, working with others to this effect, making news contacts, putting out news releases to promote awareness of the Hall among potential bookers. 

Action: Trevor Roberts. Annette Howe

  1. Report on bookings etc

A brief oral report on booking was given which indicated that the value of bookings in the year to the end of September 2014 was so far about £5600; with two months of the year to go. Bearing in mind that the “year”  only started in March and that the first couple of months were at a 50% discount all round, this is a positive result (we are aiming at £12-15,000 in a full year).

A more detailed report on bookings will be made at the next meeting, which will be after the end of the VH’s financial year and also the point where some review of charges will be made.

Action: Trevor Roberts, Annette Howe   

  1. Monitoring report

The Monitoring Officer circulated a report on progress in relation to the various targets included in the Trust’s various funding applications. This indicated both successes and aspects where uses/activities still need to be encouraged. The VHT is working in conjunction with other organisations, notably the TAA and the TYP, who will both be asked to consider the report and take necessary actions. The report was noted with thanks to the Monitoring Officer, Barbara Lowesmith. 

  1. Official inauguration on 6 June 2014

A brief oral report was given, it was agreed all round that this went well. There are a lot of photographs on the website at http://threlkeldvillagehall.org/finalblog  The Committee noted the report.

  1. Grand Opening Draw/Christmas Draw

Neil Beresford reported that the net proceeds of the Grand Opening Draw was £937, something less than was hoped for – it was generally felt that the tickets had been overpriced and were hard to sell, although it was also noted that the FOTS had followed on with a draw with tickets also priced at £1. Sarah Corri, Dot Benson and Roger Bragg were thanked for their efforts in organizing the Draw.

After considerable discussion, it was decided to discontinue the Grand Christmas Draw because it is difficult to run and in recent years has raised relatively little money in relation to the efforts involved in securing prizes and managing tickets; and to thank Roger and Val Bragg for their many years of organizing this.

  1. Village Hall Support Group

The Village Hall Support Group has now been discontinued and most of its activities (which in the past have been largely devoted to fundraising) taken on by the TAA. The Committee recorded formally the extent to which it and the village generally are grateful to the massive efforts of the Support Group (previously the Revitalisation Action Group) in assisting achieve the successful revitalisation scheme. It was agreed to put a note to this effect in Beneath Blencathra. Action: TR

  1. Health and Safety Policy

A detailed draft H and S policy was circulated, prepared by the VHT in conjunction with its H and S consultants Acton Jennings. This document is deliberately framed to cover both the CIC as an employer and the VHT as an organisation with employees, volunteers and responsibilities for users. The intention is that this document will be approved by the VHT and the CIC (which had already met and approved it).  In the case of both organisations, employee consultation on H and S is required by law. Adoption of the document will be subject to this process, but the policy will be in force in the meantime. 

The Committee:

  • approved the H and S policy of the VHT, to be posted on the VH Policies Notice Board Action: TR
  • approved the overall policy and procedures document, to be made available to staff, key volunteers and others interested Action: TR/LP
  • noted the fire risk assessment and agreed that there would be another one in May 2015 Action: LP

and agreed

  • consultation with staff and key volunteers will be organised in conjunction with similar arrangements affecting the CIC Action: TR/LP
  • all concerned must be clearly briefed on fire evacuation procedures, which are very important Action: TR/LP
  • training will subsequently be arranged once full information on the fire alarm system is available. Action: TR/SO
  1. Review of other Hall policies

It was agreed to defer consideration and review of other Hall polices until the next meeting. However, it is important that this be done, so hopefully someone will be found to do some work in advance. Action: TR.

  1. Hall hire charges

Hire charges were set over a year ago. They have in the past normally been reviewed annually in the Autumn with any changes taking effect from January. The current charges reflect the level of charges from before the revitalisation, and we had at that time deliberately kept charges quite low. In practice for most users they are likely to be much the same as in the past because we do not now charge separately for power.

It was agreed

  • to review charges at the next meeting with any changes for implementation from January 2015
  • before then to conduct a full assessment of what is involved and conduct some systematic research into the issue.

In the absence of any volunteers or suggestions as to how this review might be done, it was left to the Chairman to make arrangements if possible. Action: TR

  1. Any other business

Car park signs

It was suggested that the parking restrictions signs were intrusive and unnecessary – too high, too many of them, a single sign at the entrance would suffice. It was observed that the car park was rarely used to capacity so the signs were not needed.

To counter this suggestion, it was pointed out that the planning permission did require the car park to be managed so as to give priority to the specified users, a provision made because local people had anticipated excessive car parking demand. In the absence of effective enforcement against offenders, it had been decided that absolutely clarity was needed – if there is usually space available this shows the effectiveness of this approach, indeed “rogue” parking has not been an issue.

A proposal to remove the signs was defeated, the matter will not be pursued and the signs will stay.

Rear perimeter fence

Reference was made to the condition and appearance of the rear perimeter fence. The VHT is obliged to maintain a stock proof fence in this position. It was agreed that this matter be investigated and costed proposals submitted to the Committee – investigations must include reference to the planning conditions along the rear boundary, to the existence of an electricity main subject to a wayleave agreement and to consultation with Alastair Birkett. Action: Donald Angus

  1. Dates of future meetings

The dates of the next AGM and two intervening Committee meetings have been previously agreed:  

Thursday 23 October 2014

Thursday 11 December 2014

Annual General Meeting 29 January 2015. 

  1.  Statement by the Chairman

Trevor Roberts informed the Committee that he did not intend to be available for service on the Committee after the next Annual General Meeting, which means he will be unavailable as Chairman or Vice Chairman. He has “done his whack” and it is time for someone else to take up the reins. He was giving notice of his intentions to provide an opportunity for people to reflect on possible successors.   

The meeting finished at 10.20pm with apologies from the Chairman and thanks to all those who had contributed.

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