WIGBOROUGHS VILLAGE HALL MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE
The Committee has met seven times since the AGM in November 2014. Our discussions have become increasingly complex as we have sought to address the various divergent and strongly held views within the community.
After the February 2014 questionnaire which showed clear support for two projects above others many residents believed that the decision about investment of the sale proceeds of the School Lane site was made. What remained to be done was to agree contracts between WVHMC and St Stephens’ Church and the Peldon Village Hall Management Committee, to agree on a recommended split of funds between them and then seek the community’s support for implementation.
Postal Voting at the AGM could not be used due to a change of policy by the Charity Commission and a group of residents expressed a view that all of the money should be retained and invested in the Wigboroughs. There was no doubt about the level of emotion expressed but there was no way at that time of quantifying that view against the results from the questionnaire.
While the Trustees considered how to do this Mr Cave approached us seeking our support in his application to have his land in School Lane at Drake’s Corner admitted into the Village Envelope, this being a step towards developing the land. He hoped to build a minimum of 12 houses there (later verbally stated to be more likely 15) and as part of the development would offer to provide a Community Centre and some land to the Wigboroughs residents. This offer has been extended thanks to the generosity of Mr and Mrs Wyatt who, if Mr Cave eventually acquires permission to develop his land, will donate additional land adjacent to Mr Cave’s to provide a larger area for sporting and recreational activities.
Faced with these two changed situations the Trustees felt that they had a duty to reconsider the way forward and decided, for a hopefully final time, to seek the views of residents again.
This turn of events has meant that we have abandoned our plans for a Spring EGM to gain ratification for selling the School Lane plot and now hope to address that at the June AGM together with our recommendations for investments, which will only be finalised when we have seen the returns from the pending consultation.
While planning for this further consultation Carol Wyatt resigned as a Trustee. Carol was one of the volunteers who organised the re-establishment of the Committee in 2011 and had been involved with the earlier attempt to re-build a Village Hall in the Wigboroughs. She brought special knowledge and experience as well as passion to the Committee. These were appreciated and she is missed. The Committee decided to exercise their right to leave the vacancy unfilled until the Trustee elections come round again at the AGM currently scheduled for 18th June 2015.
Carol also acted as our Treasurer and we are currently seeking a finance professional to take on that role without becoming a Trustee. This is within our remit.
We have, due to the efforts of Ella Haines for which we are immensely grateful, identified one of two scrutineers necessary for us to use the Postal Voting System.
The current situation about investment projects is not straightforward.
Development of the Nave has given rise to a concern that the Committee could be accused of religious discrimination if this was the only investment made. The Charity Commission has advised us informally that the provision of alternative facilities, such as a shared community facility with Peldon, would offset this accusation but frustratingly it has failed to confirm this view formally to date. The PCC has now drafted the enhancements they would like WVHMC to consider funding in an initial stage of development and have quoted an estimated price for them of between £60,000 and £70,000. Further development and investment may be considered at a later date.
Merging with the Peldon Village Hall charity is still possible but would now have to be on a changed basis because PVHMC have cut back on their original plans and intend to have a new more affordable hall built by the end of 2015. This will depend on them plugging the reduced gap in their funding by grants and donations. If we are still interested in joining them in a shared development we need to be certain of our intent and new contribution level by the summer of 2015.
The Peldon Village Hall Management Committee was asked whether they would wish to consider pursuing a joint development sited in the Wigboroughs but declined the invitation as they believe that there is a much greater chance of a successful outcome by pursuing their current plans.
It remains the Committee’s view that a Village Hall in the Wigboroughs is not sustainable but if Mr Cave eventually obtains planning permission for his land and makes a very substantial offer to the Wigboroughs the Committee will, of course, look again at the situation as it then is. Mr Cave’s land has been submitted to a Colchester Borough Council planning process which will result in a new Local Plan in the summer of 2017. No landowner can be certain that his land has been accepted into the Village Envelope until that process is complete. Normal planning applications can then proceed through the familiar process of consultation, negotiation, ruling and possibly appeal before it would be clear what the community might gain from this project. Funding of other projects would have to put on hold until this point is reached. The Committee feels that this is a high risk option with no guarantee that Mr Cave will achieve a favourable result from the Local Plan process and thus he may not, after a considerable passage of time, be in a position to make good on his potential offer to us.
The Committee is clear that contributing to the development of two community centres close to each other in the Wigboroughs would not be responsible use of Charity funds. It does not therefore support the idea of developing the Church nave and accepting Mr Cave’s offer should he one day be in a position to make it.
The Committee is aware that there is no point in considering joining in with the Peldon development and accepting an offer from Mr Cave as the time factor on the latter will be longer than the window of opportunity on the former.
I hope that in this report I have been able to explain the Committee’s situation and can only urge you to COMPLETE AND RETURN THE CONSULTATION FORMS which will shortly be arriving through your letterboxes. We need to be clear about the views of ALL the residents.