Buxted Community Hall Trust minutes of meeting held at
8.00pm on 30th January 2018 at 9 Broad Oak, Buxted
Present: George Claydon (GC), Eileen Claydon (EC), Sheila Bartholomew (SB – Chair), Pauline Bonner (PB), Chris Hitchins (CHH), Vivienne Blandford (VB), Robin Farmer (RF), Nick Foskett (NF), Debbie Elliott (DE), Lis Edwards (note taker)
Declaration of Member’s Interest
Chris Hitchins declared a personal interest in any matter relating to BCHT and the Scout Group, by virtue of being related to their Group Chairman.
Minutes of last meeting
The minutes of the meeting held on 11th December 2017 were agreed without amendment.
No specific matters were raised.
Treasurer’s Report & Legal Requirements
GC reported that the ‘Carols on the Footings’ event on 16th December produced a total profit of £113.73. This was a good result considering the miserable weather. As can be seen from the separately circulated financial report, BCHT remains solvent with about £1,779 in the accounts following a part-payment of the invoice from the builders (Tourle Ltd) for the contract works to 11th January 2018 regarding the first monthly stage payment due in accordance with the standard terms of basic building contracts. Our contract was for a total of about £50K and GC had been advised that this would probably cover three payments of roughly equal sums over the period of the works. Fortunately, our financial situation (including the S106 grant arrangements) had previously been explained to the builders so when the first invoice submitted was for over £32K he was able to pay them C.£22K on account, leaving the balance of £10K to be paid on receipt of reimbursement of the invoice sum from Buxted Parish Council when they meet on 13th February 2018. With our replenished accounts we should be able to cover the remaining monthly invoices for Phase 1 in full from our resources, and await reimbursement from BPC S106 funds in due course. When we engage in future substantial contracts these ‘timing’ matters need to be carefully considered and written into the contract if necessary.
When all the Phase 1 works are completed, and the resultant monthly invoices have been paid (except for the agreed 5% retention for 6 months) and reimbursements made between BPC and ourselves, probably by mid-March, GC anticipates that the three relevant accounts will have the approximate balances shown:
BCHT (total) £23,864
BPC Earmarked account £9,736 and
S106 grant £41,507
VB advised that BCHT should not rely upon the BPC Earmarked account as there may be legal etc costs associated with the Reading Room that will have to come out of this source. This reduces our projected available funds figure to ca. £65K. This will be subject to any future invoices from our architect, QS etc.
GC or SB to try to establish from the architect Simon Barker exactly what these amounts are. The board agreed the need to obtain an up-to-date building cost estimate for the rest of the building work.
GC formally expressed his gratitude to the BPC clerks for their assistance in the administrative work around the payment of our invoices and for confirming the status of both the Earmarked fund and the S106 account.
The Charity Commission and Companies House have been notified of the resignation of VB as a trustee and director. GC proposed that when the Phase 1 ‘gate’ works have been finished and ‘the dust settles’, BCHT should consider gifting the property in the gates to the Ionides Trust for them to ‘adopt’ regarding maintenance etc. VB thought that the Ionides trustees might be agreeable to this course of action. This will be discussed again at a later date.
The draft lease that we have accepted contains a requirement that we pay our proposed lease charge of £1 per annum due 1st January in arrears. This has not yet been paid, pending receipt of the completed document.
GC reminded members about the advantages of having an www.easyfundraising.org.uk account that can been used with a wide variety of online retailers to earn a donation for the nominated charity (BCHT) whenever making online purchases. Sometimes the amount earned is quite modest, but every little helps.
BCHT does have an online donation facility which was set up on the website almost 3 years ago with GIVEY.com. This organisation makes no deductions from donations nor any charges to the recipient charity. It also deals with gift aid in appropriate cases. Unfortunately, it has never ‘caught the eye of the BCHT website visitors!]
Further to the Treasurer’s report, CHH asked for clarification regarding any outstanding charges due to the QS. SB to make enquiries and report back.
VB asked for confirmation of the fees invoiced by the architect for his work to-date. CHH advised that this amounted to £14,677 inclusive of VAT. RF asked to be informed when any further payments are anticipated so that these can be allocated in the accounts.
NF asked for clarification of the entry in the financial report for ‘Possible BPC/Ionides Trust funding’. GC advised that some years ago the Ionides Trust had tentatively raised the possibility of making a substantial payment (? £100K) towards the cost of building the new hall, but that this was not binding and so this entry in the accounts was aspirational only.
GC summarised that the Trust remained solvent at the end of the Phase 1 works, and he put forward his case for an immediate push for further fundraising.
Phase 1 Works
SB reported that the building works had been put on hold due to the recent wet weather. As a result, completion of the disabled parking area and the finishing off of the gates was delayed, but it was hoped the works would resume soon. GC has asked Tourles to lay markers on the 4 corners of the hall foundations but this cannot be finalised until issues regarding the Scouts’ lease are resolved. However, due to lease difficulties this might have to be restricted to just two corners.
VB reminded the board that there will inevitably be minor ‘snagging’ issues after the works are finished, but she wished to place on record her appreciation for the standard of work carried out by Tourles.
VB advised that on 08.12.17 a cheque for £2,400 had been sent by the Ionides Trust to its solicitors to pay for legal work to resolve the long-running issue of the Scouts’ lease. Also, at the end of December the Scouts’ solicitors had stated that the land maps of the hall site (which had been in their possession for review for some 3 months) were not ‘Land Registry compliant’. Simon Barker had kindly made the necessary modifications to the plans and these had been re-submitted to the Scouts in mid-January,
VB reminded the meeting that dialogue regarding the change in Scouts’ lease has been ongoing since October 2016, despite the fact that the Ionides Trust has agreement in writing from the Scouts to the proposed land-swap.
VB will chase the Ionides Trust solicitors to get a swift resolution.
GC reported that the AGM on 23rd January had enjoyed a record attendance, with over 45 members of the public present. It was agreed that the meeting had been largely positive, with none of those present speaking against the building of the hall. However, a major hurdle remained the estimated £1 million building cost which was strongly queried by those attending. A substantial part of the cost would be the groundworks required due to the sloping nature of the site.
SB and VB expressed their concern that BCHT lack the necessary technical expertise to carry the project forward. GC reminded the meeting that a direct appeal had been made at the AGM and in a recent article in the Buxted Messenger for residents with the relevant skills to put themselves forward.
As a point of interest, SB summarised the outline and costings from a recent – and successful – project to build a similar hall in Barcombe. It was interesting to note that 40% of the building costs for that hall had been funded by 30 local residents.
VB advised that the Parish Council is probably split over the desirability of running a survey in the village to gauge support for the new hall. NF felt that any referendum would be a distraction. The Phase 1 works already show a real commitment and there was a positive and substantial show of support from residents at the recent AGM. The project has reached a pivotal moment – it is not a case of whether the hall will be built, but how this will be achieved.
It was agreed that SB should ask the architect for the technical information required to take the project forward.
VB will ask Bob Ruthven (Buxted Construction) for his advice on costings for the groundworks if SB and GC are not successful in getting the information he promised from him.
It was also agreed that a figure needs to be arrived at for the future value of the Reading Room site – it was estimated this was likely to be around £200k/£250k, but confirmation of this will be needed.
The forthcoming Buxted Parish Council Assembly could be an opportunity for BCHT to update residents on technical progress and costs. GC felt strongly that there should be a major push in fundraising, at the same time making every effort to get more technical support on-board.
SB & GC will have a further meeting in the near future with a professional fundraiser who lives locally.
VB suggested enlisting the help of members of the community to organise future fundraising events, in order to spread the workload.
DE offered to ask a contact of hers who has the necessary experience whether he would be willing to help BCHT with grant applications. She confirmed that in her own professional capacity as fundraiser for a local charity she would be willing to use her expertise to help BCHT in an advisory capacity. DE also felt that BCHT should harness the power of social media, and with this in mind she offered to look into the possibility of setting up a ‘crowdfunding’ campaign.
[DE left the meeting at the end of this discussion]
Report from sub committees:
VB confirmed her willingness to give a talk (or talks, depending on demand) on the history of Buxted – possibly to tie in with the 150-year anniversary of the coming of the railway to Buxted in August 2018. Her preferred venue would be the Reading Room.
CHH has issued Version 4 of the Business Plan, and he reminded the board that all previous versions should now be disregarded/replaced.
CHH had taken up an offer of help with the website which had been received at the AGM, and changes were already being made to the site ‘behind the scenes’.
A member of the public had made the suggestion at the AGM that the hall could be built more cheaply if it were of a modular design. CHH had looked into this, but it was agreed that this would constitute a significant change to our agreed planning consent and increase costs.
SB will invite Simon Barker to attend the next meeting, and will ask DE if she can provide an update on possible crowdfunding.
Tuesday 6th March 2018 @ 7.30pm (time tbc) at 9 Broad Oak
The meeting closed at 10.00pm