You may be interested to see the membership of our Parish Council is to change yet again, with the resignation of Kate Tyler (Chairperson). The meeting on February 3rd is primarily for agreeing the 2015/16 budget, but will also address the appointment of a new Chair.
This brings me to the point of this particular blog.
Nocton Village Hall
Following my resignation from the Parish Council in March 2013, I decided to write a number of blogs about:
- 23 June - 'Our Village Hall'
- 24 June - 'Our Village Hall'
- 25 June - 'Our Village Hall'
- 09 July - 'Our Village Hall'
My initial aim was to highlight the historical background to this valuable community facility and then to make some personal observations about how it was being administered. I feel it is now time to further that debate.
As we know, the Village Hall is under review for a full refurbishment. Three redevelopment proposals are currently on the table for consideration, with discussions ongoing over the preferred option. However, there is still a long journey ahead to obtain the requisite funding to implement the proposals. I believe it is now time for a thorough review of its administration in readiness for that redevelopment.
As an outsider looking in, I don't think the current Committee set-up for Nocton Village Hall is the best way of administrating a modern village community facility. A wholesale reorganisation could make it far more efficient, effective and business-focused... and bring a new perspective to its operation in readiness for the refurbishment.
What is the current position?
- Nocton Parish Council is the established owner of the Village Hall. Title is registered at the Land Registry accordingly.
- A Village Hall Management Committee has been in place for many years... being re-appointed each year by its Committee members. This administers the Village Hall on the Parish Council’s behalf and organises events/bookings to generate income for the village hall upkeep.
- A private members’ Social Club has also been in place for many years... which pays rent to the Village Hall Management Committee for the space it occupies. It also organises events and provides a licensed bar in order to generate funds for its members and pay the ongoing rent and other outgoings e.g. a proportion of electricity costs are also paid to the Village Hall Management Committee. The Social Club Committee is also appointed annually.
- Overall, there is in effect three Committees involved with 'managing' our Village Hall. The Parish Council, the Village Hall Management Committee and the Nocton Social Club.
- The Village Hall has operated like this for in excess of 30 years... it is high time for a review to see if this arrangement is still the best way to 'manage' the community facility and compete with others for 'business' in the area.
What might the future look like?
- Nocton Parish Council will retain Title to the Village Hall in perpetuity for the community - it is the owner of the building and land. It will take an over-arching role with the community asset, by stepping back from any involvement in day-to-day issues, which will be handled by a new single Management Committee.
- This new single Management Committee could become a formal sub-Committee of Nocton Parish Council or act independently. If it does become a sub-Committee, it would be required to observe all formal policies and rules regarding operation of a Parish Council e.g. accounting records, formal Agendas/Minutes, orderly meetings management, operation of PAYE for employees, compliance with the law and regulations etc.
- The Village Hall will be organised as a ‘not-for-profit’ organisation (with all profits going towards running and maintaining the Village Hall as a community asset).
- The creation of a new single Management Committee for the Village Hall will streamline the whole organisation of our Village Hall. It will mean that the current Social Club and Village Hall Management Committees cease as separate entities. However, it is hoped the Officers of the 'old' Committees will stand for/be integrated into the new single Management Committee.
- This means that the volunteers who have willingly stepped forward to take on the burden of managing the facility over many years, will most likely still be the same volunteers who run it after the change... but instead of doing it through two Committees/two different organisations (with all the difficulties encountered), they will do it as one unified body.
- A licensed bar will still be a feature of the premises, but rather than being a feature of a private member's club, it will now be run by the new single Management Committee, with all profits going towards the benefit of the village hall, rather than a private membership.
- No changes will be made to the people entitled to use the Village Hall, as all current residents of the Parish will continue to be allowed entry to the licensed premises and external bookings can still be made for the hire of the hall, just as it has in the past.
- The new single Management Committee will be responsible for handling all day-to-day operations of the Village Hall, with the provision primarily as a community asset. This will involve full responsibility for publicity, raising funds by taking bookings / putting on events / running the licensed bar and reporting back to Nocton Parish Council each quarter.
What will need to happen?
- The current Village Hall Management Committee will wind up and be replaced by a new single Management Committee.
- Nocton Social Club will be 'invited' to wind up its current operation too, with a view to amalgamating its activities into the new single Management Committee to run the hall.
- All officers currently serving on the Village Hall Management Committee will be entitled to stand for office in the new single Management Committee, as will the Social Club Committee (as long as Committee Members live in the Parish).
- Perhaps the best approach will be to consider an interim merger, where officials from both Village Hall Management Committee and Social Club Committees come together to form the new single Management Committee, before formal elections take place after an inaugural period.
- There are a number of major issues that will need to be debated... not least what happens to the remaining funds tied up with both 'old' Committees. It would be really beneficial to the community as a whole, if the funds (and assets) from the old Committees could be transferred/donated to the new single Management Committee.
- The potential difficulty may lie with the funds/assets of the old Social Club Committee, as their operation is primarily a private members’ club... for the sole benefit of its members. Legally on any winding up, I assume these will be distributed between the members on an equal share. However, this is not insurmountable if the will is there... as the private member's could vote to 'donate' these to the new single Management Committee for the benefit of the community... but only the Club will be able to decide if this is a viable way forward for them.
- Any current financial arrangements of the old Committees would have to be brought to a close (with bank accounts, books and records closed)... and there would have to be consideration for any employees and whether new contracts would be required.
- There is just one single body operating the Village Hall's income generation, without any conflicts of interest, involving just one set of financial accounting and management.
- The new Village Hall Management Committee will have significantly more contingency funds for any future plans for the community asset. This will certainly help when demonstrating the community's contribution during the funding bids for redevelopment.
- All profits from the bar/Social Club would become part of the income for the benefit of the Village Hall as a whole (not just for a private membership).
- The administration will be significantly simplified with a sole purpose in mind.
- The new arrangement will keep overheads to a minimum... with no duplication of costs.
- Fundraising is directed to just one important thing – the future of our Village Hall.