Mavesyn Ridware V illage Hall / Parish Council Trustee Sub Committee
Meeting Minutes Thursday 10th September 2020 at 7.30pm in the Village Hall
Those present: Viv Adams, Steve Higgins, Jeanette Roberts – Village Hall Committee.
Keith Vernon, Phil Stephenson, Denby Harris– Parish Council
Meeting commenced at: 7.35pm
1. Where we are. Update / recap, why we are here. Steve welcomed everyone. He acknowledged that no firm decisions could be reached tonight, as each party would need to go back to talk to their respective committees. Keith confirmed this.
As the Parish Council had gone through a number of significant changes since the last sub committee meeting in February, Steve provided a background as to why the meeting was being held.
Everyone attending confirmed they had had sight of the Minutes from the previous meeting. Steve said he hoped the issues being discussed, which in some cases had been concerns for many years, could start to be resolved. Also that this meeting would carry on in the same positive vein as the previous first meeting back in February.
Steve reported the Village Hall committee had received a letter from Keith dated 31st August 2020 in which he referred to a letter dated 18th December 2019 that had been sent to the PC, most of which Steve considered had been superseded in future meetings.
Steve went on to explain what had been meant by the statement the Managing Trustees must have ‘control of administration and responsibility,’ that Keith had questioned. Steve advised that the Managing Trustees are able to delegate responsibility. Undoubtedly, many years ago the running of the playground had been delegated to the Parish Council. The Village Hall committee’s letter stated that ACRE suggested you could delegate responsibility, but in order to delegate, clear instruction must be provided. Steve then posed the question: So what is written down to tell us how this responsibility has been delegated?
The guidance for Trustees suggests that where there is delegated responsibility, periodic reviews should be undertaken to ensure correct procedures are being undertaken. It is the Managing Trustees’ responsibility to make sure that any delegated responsibility is being managed correctly.
Therefore the Village Hall committee feel that a written agreement together with a good conduit between themselves and the Parish Council are essential, so that we can all work effectively together in the future.
2 of 6 Keith confirmed that the PC had already forwarded the requested insurance details. Keith also asked: What would you like as a solution? Steve replied, a written agreement with the PC on the way forward, which addresses the points on the Agenda.
2. Original Trust document. Update Steve thanked Keith for obtaining a colour copy of the original Trust Document, held by Moseley’s Solicitors. Steve asked if the covering letter had stated that it was a copy of the original, rather than a copy of a copy.
Keith responded he would have to look at Moseley’s letter, which he did not have with him. Steve advised this new colour copy is slightly different to the one held by the Village Hall. This latest one includes a memorandum dated 1984, plus a larger plan, but materially it was agreed there didn’t seem to be much of a difference.
All agreed that it was safe to work from this version of the Trust Document.
Steve advised the VH committee thought once matters could be resolved, if there is a written agreement, any Managing Trustee and Parish Councillors would not be in any doubt as to the various roles and responsibilities.
He stated that Martin Titley had said if you do it amongst yourselves it is a lot easier to change, than if it is drawn up by a Solicitor. However, legal guidance may be required to write the agreement, as Trust law can be complex. Jeanette said that stories have been passed around by word of mouth and this over time has muddied the waters. When new people take over, it would be good to make sure everything is easier to understand for everyone’s benefit.
Denby suggested we could possibly add a codicil to the Trust Deed to clarify matters. Keith said the PC were happy doing what they are doing at present. Steve suggested we just need it formalising.
3. Playground. Maintenance, inspection etc. Phil asked why the playground could not be handed over to the Village Hall to manage, because the original Trust Deed states that the Managing Trustees have responsibility for insurance etc.
It was explained to Phil that the playground was not there when the original Trust Deed was written. Keith stated that it is now listed as a Parish Council asset and they were therefore required to insure it. Jeanette had checked with the Village Hall’s insurers and they were unable to insure anything they did not own.
After discussion, Keith stated that the PC were prepared to continue what they currently did regarding the playground. Steve reiterated that it was his understanding that the Managing Trustees were able to delegate responsibility to the PC for the playground.
However, they should still satisfy themselves that the playground was being satisfactorily managed. Steve gave an example and asked what is the mechanism to report accidents or defects within the playground?
The Managing Trustees would like to see a method for the 3 of 6 reporting of accidents or defects by people using the playground. Also a few days ago there was an incident involving the playground and there should have been a procedure in place to deal with this.
Steve cited these as examples to demonstrate that the Managing Trustees feel there is a need for written understanding of what is required.
Post Meeting Note: The PC now have a website and facebook page, surely this would be a suitable contact for the public to report any accidents / issues?
It was pointed out that the PC for many years had insured the playground and paid the caretaker etc. Keith said the PC were happy to continue doing this.
Steve posed another question and asked whether there was a sinking fund for the future replacement of items within the playground, or what plan they had if equipment broke, needed maintenance etc. Steve said that the PC has a mechanism for raising a precept – and without them raising it, the playground probably wouldn’t have gone in. This had been the arrangement for many years, and was probably why the PC accepted responsibility for looking after it.
4. Grassed Area. Upkeep etc. Steve said he understood that a three-year rolling contract exists, but exact details of the work commissioned needs to be agreed and written down. Denby asked do the PC insure it? It was confirmed they did. Jeanette said our own gardener does the grassed area around the front, which is the responsibility of the Village Hall. Denby asked if it was all Trust Land?
The answer given was yes - and if the PC wanted to put anything on there in the future, they would need to consult with the Managing Trustees and get their permission.
5. Access to allotments. Steve stated that vehicles travelled along the path to reach the allotments. He suggested both sides should think about whether demarcation of the access is required, with regard to any potential accidents. There had been a previous suggestion of little chain posts, which could be removed as required.
Viv said the Village Hall was unlikely to want a permanent structure over part of the grassed area, for occasions like summer car boots and the village fete when the whole area may be needed. Keith said there might be an established right of way over the land.
6. Garage. Ownership, who has a use for it etc. Steve asked the PC whether they needed any part of the garage for storage and 4 of 6 whether they wanted to share it. Its current use was discussed and it was identified that neither the Village Hall committee nor the PC currently store any items in there.
The PC insures it. It would appear that is has a chequered past - and ownership has been claimed by both the PC and the VH over time. Steve stated that the Village Hall committee had identified items that could usefully be stored in the garage. It was hoped that an amicable agreement could be reached over its future.
7. Village Hall Office. Previously called the Parish room. Filing cabinets etc. Steve reported that the room previous known as the Parish room within the Village Hall couldn’t be accessed during the first flood.
Following the second flood, access was gained and it has subsequently been painted and a new carpet added and is now used as an office. The people who produce The Messenger have been spoken to and the VH are quite happy for them to continue to use the room for photocopying and collation.
Steve confirmed that the VH have added their own filing cabinet but there is still room for the PC to store one for themselves, as confirmed previously in an email from Viv to Keith.
Keith said he didn’t envisage the PC wanting to store a filing cabinet in the Office as it would be easier to store all three in the same place.
However, Phil suggested this was clarified with the other councillors. Keith said he believed the PC had been paying rent for the room up to 2018.
Jeanette said certainly since she has been VH Treasurer there has been no rent paid for 3 years. Keith said he would ask the clerk to check this.
8. Insurance. Who insures what? Public liability etc.
Phil stated that he didn’t see the point in having two insurance policies. It was suggested by the PC that we look at some kind of joint specialist insurance between the Managing Trustees and the PC in case this would result in a financial saving for both parties. Jeanette said the VH already use a specialist insurance for Village Halls.
She reported that including CCTV had reduced the cost. Steve said the Village Hall were initially only concerned in making sure that everything was insured and nothing was doubly insured.
9. Room hire charges Steve noted at the last PC meeting the PC asked how much they owed in room hire charges. Jeanette advised that Sandra is checking this out. Keith said that the PC should be paying for any room hire, despite what any other councillor may have said in the past. 5 of 6
10.Water bills Steve asked if anyone knew how the water bills had been sorted historically. It appears that currently the VH pays for all water, including that used by allotment users. Keith advised that the mains meter measures everything. There is a subsidiary one which measures allotment usage.
All the PC pay for is actual water usage, not sewage, waste water etc. Jeanette said that sewage and waste water is on a separate bill. It appears the Village Hall have paid the full water bill for some time now, including that used by the allotments. It seems unclear how exactly to divide the bill. Phil asked if someone was able to read the allotment meter, Jeanette said she didn’t know where it was, nor did Phil (who is himself an allotment holder). Phil asked whether we could have a separate bill for the allotments? Keith said no as it comes off the main meter. Keith agreed to go back through PC cheque books to see exactly what was paid and when.
11. Notice board Keith said on inspection he was quite shocked at its condition, with varnish peeling off. Phil then asked whether it was still fit for purpose? Viv and Keith said we often have to squeeze things in, as it is shared between the VH and the PC.
Steve said space gets a bit tight when such notices as traffic calming, minutes etc need to be included. Phil suggested maybe we could get three quotes for a second noticeboard and then we would have one each. With regard to whether the PC still needed a noticeboard in this digital age, Steve said that the PC need to be able to cater for everyone, and all parishioners do not have access to computers and rely on the noticeboard and the Messenger magazine for information.
12. Identification of any other matters that need resolution and could be covered by the sub committee. No other matters were raised.
13. Section 106 monies. Future VH projects. At the previous sub committee meeting, the then Chair had suggested the Village Hall put a proposal forward as he understood that there would be excess Section 106 money left over from the playground project.
Steve asked what the current position was regarding these monies. Keith said there were some funds left over, but they have to be returned to Lichfield District Council. The playground project had been signed off by Samantha (the previous Clerk) as Clerk of Works - and so it is now shown on LDC records as finished.
As they are subject to a government audit Keith said, if they don’t get this money back then LDC will be culpable. Keith said he would check whether they could revoke the completion certificate that Samantha sent in. He also 6 of 6 stated that he could find no specification or guarantee, just a list of equipment.
Viv said all this was to the detriment of the village. Steve asked whether the PC could reapply for the left over monies for a different project. Keith said yes, but it might not be there. It would have to go before a committee and then may take six months or more.
There is a difference between Section 106 money and CIL money and now you have to apply for CIL money.
Steve reported that the Village Hall had decided to proceed with improvement to the safety of the pathway. He explained the nature of the project to widen and replace the existing path from the side road up to the Village Hall and round to the gate and the footpath at the front, with part of the hedge also being removed.
He asked whether the PC could still be approached for a contribution towards the project retrospectively? Keith said let us have precise details and the PC will discuss it. Post Meeting Note: Keith has now provided the Village Hall committee with a form to apply for a grant from the PC.
14. Any other business No other business was identified.
Stev e said he thought the matters discussed illustrated well the need to have an agreement between both parties, so that everyone can easily understand who is responsible for what.
He said that we had heard a number of anecdotes during the discussions and this supports precisely the reasons why a more formal framework would benefit both parties. He stated the Managing Trustees are open to solutions and suggestions.
Steve said we would be likely be in breach of Charity Commission rules now if we conducted business in the way that it had been done many years ago. Phil said this all needs to be legally correct.
Keith said that the new Parish Council do not subscribe to the old views and asked the Managing Trustees to send the PC a letter clarifying what exactly they wanted.
Denby asked for the letter to detail what we would like in a draft agreement.
Date for next meeting Steve thanked everyone for their attendance and their positive contributions.
As the next Village Hall committee meeting is on 23rd September, Steve suggested putting something in the calendar for the first or second week in October. Keith agreed.
Steve asked for the PC to add the Village Hall as an ongoing Agenda point at their future meetings, so any relevant reporting by Phil could be undertaken. This was agreed.
The Meeting closed at 9.55pm