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Annual General Meeting – 6th June 2013

THE WIGBOROUGHS VILLAGE HALL MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 6th June 2013

ANNUAL REPORT

At the 2012 Annual General Meeting a resolution was passed which approved in principle the sale of the Village Hall and site in School Lane and gave the Committee the mandate to progress this sale in the most economical and effective way possible so as to maximise the long term value of the assets owned by the Charity.

The Committee has met ten times since the 2012 AGM and has concentrated on preparing to sell the site as well as furthering the investigations of a number of potential investment projects.

Selling the site

Given the remit of maximising the assets represented by the site we have agreed that the site should be sold for development with outline planning permission.  We are conscious of our duty to the Wigboroughs community to do all that we can to ensure that any development on the site is acceptable and appropriate.  We have therefore decided to apply for outline planning permission for ideally three small houses rather than a single large one.  For many years it has been apparent that the Wigboroughs lack small housing stock which makes it difficult for young people and young families to take up residence here and thus maintain a vibrant community.

A & P Designs has been engaged to take us through the process of preparing for and eventually obtaining outline planning permission.  The Committee thinks that the eventual sale will be eased if the land is registered with the Land Registry beforehand.  To achieve this the site has been cleared and a necessary survey carried out.

While there are historic documents, or at least copies of historic documents, proving our title to the site these are held on our behalf by the Charity Commission so the registration process may not be as straightforward as it might be for a more conventional site and we have identified a Licensed Conveyancer to handle the process on our behalf.

Our main focus has been on preparing to sell the site because until that is achieved we can make no active progress with the other projects.

Once we are ready to sell the site we shall arrange to show the plans to residents, confirm the agreement to sell and then seek the approval of the Charity Commission to do so.  The Charity Commission will control the resulting funds on our behalf until we are ready to re-invest in approved project(s).

Investment projects

We have further explored three potential projects in which the proceeds of the sale might eventually be invested.  Two of these came from the 2011 questionnaire sent to all residents and the third arose from a suggestion at the 2012 AGM.

Plans for each project need to be more fully developed to establish whether the project can be achieved in a practical sense, afforded as to set up costs and ongoing maintenance costs and fits the objectives of the Charity.  Any project surviving these tests must then be approved by residents and the Charity Commission before it could be implemented.

Investment could be made in a single project or in more than one and at this stage we do not rule out the introduction of other potential projects as yet undefined.

The creation of a virtual Village Hall

This project envisages providing access to a physical site or building owned by another party for general community or specialist group events.  It would be necessary to enact a proper legal agreement to protect the Charity’s investment and legacy.  There are two possible such sites in the Wigboroughs – the nave of St Stephen’s Church and the event rooms at Abbotts Hall Farm.  We have noted the latter but progressed no further with that possibility to date.

St Stephen’s nave is already used for a number of events but the Parochial Church Council in conjunction with The Friends of the Wigboroughs is seeking to improve the venue to make it more suitable and more attractive for a wider range of activities.  One member of the Committee has visited Wicken Bonhunt Church near Saffron Walden which has implemented such a scheme and been impressed with what can be achieved.  While in no way committing to future investment in this initiative the Committee has expressed support for grant applications being made to this end as we feel that regardless of the Charity’s interest a successful outcome would result in benefits to the community.

It should be noted that both of the venues, at St Stephen’s and Abbotts Hall Farm, are already available for community groups or individuals to use under normal booking and payment arrangements regardless of possible future interest and investment from the Village Hall Charity.

The purchase of land for a Village Green

We have approached a number of people who own land in the Wigboroughs asking if they would consider selling a few acres to enable the Charity to set up a Village Green with facilities for a range of sporting and recreational activities for young people.  Potential sellers have been given a promise of confidentiality at this stage of discussions.

Peldon Village Hall development

We have checked with the Charity Commission that should we wish to become formally involved with the development of the new Village Hall in Peldon we would be permitted to do so.  The Charity Commission was positive about such a proposal provided that the Wigboroughs legacy was protected by legal agreements related to the two Charities involved.  This would probably involve merging the charities in a way which would give The Wigboroughs an appropriate measure of representation and control.   Other than establishing the Charity Commission’s view on the matter we have taken no further action with regard to this potential project.

Communications

A regular subject of discussion since the re-establishment of the Committee has been the level and quality of communications with the community.  We considered holding open meetings and publishing Minutes but the Charity Commission does not recommend this and because there are various sensitive and confidential matters being discussed we decided that it would not be helpful to do so.  Instead we committed to publishing regular reports in the Parish Newsletter and publishing them on the Parish Council website.

At the AGM we propose to ask the community to pass a resolution enabling us to change our Governing Document so that we can support postal voting to allow people unable to attend an AGM to participate in votes taken there.

We intend also to capture e-mail addresses of attendees at the AGM to support more direct interaction.

Christine ‘Jinny’ Gale
Chairman WVHMC
June 2013

Minutes of the AGM

AGM

The Wigboroughs Village Hall Management Committee

June 2013 @ 19.30

Essex Wildlife Trust HQ at Abbotts Hall

Maldon Rd, Great Wigborough

1.   Present at the Meeting: 6 Members of WVHMC, Jinny Gale (JG), Carol Wyatt (CW), John Hutchinson (JH), Melanie Newton (MN), Mark Waterfield (MW), Phil Gladwin (PG).  32 Residents of Great and Little Wigborough and One Non-Resident.

2.   Apologies for Absence: Sam Norton

3.   Welcome

    JG (Chairman) welcomed the community to the AGM, and to the new modern facilities at Abbotts Hall. JG said that it was an opportunity for the community to have a look at the new meeting rooms.  She stressed that we as a committee were answerable to the community for our actions, and that the WVHMC are answerable not only to the villages we serve, but also to the Charity Commission. We also have to work within the framework of our governing document.

    4.  Noting the resignation of all committee members

      JG explained that all current members have to resign, and be re-elected.  She explained the nomination procedure for the Parish Council and the Parochial Church Council representatives (2 reps and 1 rep respectively). JG confirmed that all members from last year had resigned, and were duly re-elected as there had been no other nominations from the village.

      5.  Noting the names of appointed members

        Jinny Gale (Parish Council), Phil Gladwin (Parish Council), Sam Norton (Parochial Parish Council

        6.  Noting the names of elected members

          Carol Wyatt, John Hutchinson, Melanie Newton, and Mark Waterfield were duly elected.

          7.  Annual report and resulting questions

            (Please see separate Annual Report for details) JG noted that the Annual Report was available for people to take away with them. It would also be printed in the Parish News, and would be on the Parish Council website. A Question/Answer session followed in which the following issues were raised:

            • A question re the timing of the process. JG/MN replied that the registration/planning process would take time, as would the timing of the selling of the site to maximise the sales value.
            • Concern about the number of houses planned for the plot. JG stated that the aim was to encourage younger families/people to move into the village, and they needed smaller/cheaper houses.  The point was made from the floor that families with young children already live in School Lane in large detached houses.  Why was it necessary to plan for smaller houses to accommodate this type of family? JG replied that the Village Design Statement had shown that there was a lack of small houses for young people in the village.
            • Concern about the money being spent on the meeting facilities for the AGM at Abbotts Hall when the church was a free venue.  JG replied that the committee wanted the community to see the new facilities, as it was a possible option for investment in the future in some capacity. Normally the committee met for free in members’ houses
            • The point was made about any village hall, “virtual” or otherwise needed funds to maintain and keep it going. This was why the village hall had closed in the first place. There was a discussion as to whether the village hall had closed due to structural defects, or lack of use.
            • Concerns were voiced about increased traffic on School Lane as a result of another three houses. This will be addressed by the Planning Department who will not agree plans unless satisfied on this score.
            • JH stated that our remit as a committee was to maximise the value of the plot, which was why the committee had initially looked at three houses. After a discussion on size of the plot, JH confirmed the size of the plot was approximately 0.083 hectares.
            • Concerns were raised about “affordable housing” projects.PG stated that because the plot was inside the village envelope this wasn’t an option, and that affordable housing (as opposed the housing that was affordable for young families starting out on the property ladder) wouldn’t have maximised the value of the site, so it was never considered as part of the application.
            • A question was raised about garages in addition to houses on the plot. It was confirmed that there were no plans for garages, but there was adequate room for car parking.
            • A question was asked about the street view/street scene as there were bungalows on either side. JH commented that we had considered the street view very carefully. There was actually one bungalow on one side, and two cottages on the other.  Planning would also check the visual aspect of the street view before deciding whether to give approval.
            • Density issues with the number of houses. PG said that Planning Departments were very aware of density issues, and they would decide what was feasible. CW pointed out that it would be up to the residents to decide in the end, even if the Council decided that   it     was   feasible to have three houses on the plot.
            • PG explained why the committee had gone for outline planning permission as opposed to full. Largely to do with cost.
            • Green area facilities.  What types of facilities were being planned for the green area project? JG explained that of all the projects, this was the least developed and had been added to the list as a result of interest at the last AGM from residents. Possibly car parking, a pavilion, changing area, but stressed that this was in very early exploratory stages at the moment, as we did not want to waste time in detailed planning when a piece of land might not materialise. Two residents stressed any land should be in the centre of the village.
            • Question re the upkeep of the playground/green area.  Why couldn’t the upkeep of a green area be financed by the Parish Council as it was in Peldon and Salcott? JG replied it was because if the WVHMC bought a plot of land for use by the village, then it would be owned and therefore have to be maintained by the WVHMC.
            • Question about voting on the projects in the future and how this would work.  What percentage of residents would be required to pass a vote ? MW said this was a good question- we would have to consider this. JG said that at the moment there was no percentage of the village required to pass a resolution on projects.
            • A suggestion was made about looking at the existing site for use as it is, or as a community garden, or somewhere to hold village events in marquees. The committee explained that the village had already voted in favour of selling the site largely because the present site was too small to accommodate any parking facilities. Also, as explained before, we had to maximise the value. A further suggestion was made about looking to the community fund to help with the demolition costs. JG said that the land would be sold with the responsibility for demolition resting with the buyer.  JH thought that it was rare to get funding without putting in funds, which the WVHMC do not have.
            • A suggestion was made about using St Nicholas as a village hall. JG thought that this was food for thought, and would discuss at the next committee meeting. PG stated again that we as a village cannot afford to run a village hall. The National Trust may look to go into partnership with someone to keep it open-would the WVHMC be prepared to look into this? The NT have strong links with the Essex Wildlife Trust in this area. A suggestion was made that a River Blackwater type reserve might be an option.
            • A question was raised about what a “virtual” village hall actually meant. PG answered that it was that the building was already in place, and owned by a third party. The WVHMC could therefore invest in an existing building in some way.
            • Post  Box issues.  MN and CW explained the view from the Post Office re taking the post box away due to lack of use.
            • Peldon Village Hall. A question was raised about how the WVHMC could protect the legacy of the Wigborough Village Hall by financially supporting the Peldon Village Hall project. JH replied that there would have to be proper protection regarding the long term legacy, for example, adequate representation on a joint committee.
            • A question was asked regarding the eventual value of the site.  If someone gave the WVHMC the asking price for the site, would they sell? CW answered that our remit is to maximise the value of the site, and it would go to the open market. JH maintained that the Charity Commission would insist on us going to the open market and not making a private deal.
            • The question was asked what names would appear on the deeds once the land was registered i.e. who would own the present site? JG stated that we were awaiting confirmation from the CC as to their exact requirements for this because they hold the present deeds on behalf of the Charity

            8.  Finance report and resulting questions

              JH presented the Financial Report and spoke about running a tight ship due to lack of funds.  £4090.54 currently in the bank. The WVHMC had liabilities to pay out for the survey, planning costs in future. The committee’s aim was to husband the money and keep the expenditure down. One option would be to borrow against our assets but the committee did not want to go down this route.

              9.  Resolution re postal voting

                A vote was taken on the resolution “That a method of postal voting acceptable to the Charity Commission be developed and incorporated into the Wigboroughs Village Hall Management Charity’s governing document, to enable a wider electorate in the Wigboroughs to vote on key issues.”  Votes in favour 30.  Against 2.  Abstentions 0

                10.  AOB

                  None

                   

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                  Report from WVHMC Chairman January 2013

                  wigs-village-hallWhat future for Wigboroughs Village Hall? 

                  The Wigboroughs Village Hall Management Committee have been making progress on what should be done with the old village hall.  To read about the options they are considering and exciting new opportunities they present, read the latest update from their chairman on this website here

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                  Chairman’s report January 2013

                  Chairman’s report – January 2013

                  The committee has decided to place a short regular commentary of its activities in the public domain (notice boards, Village Newsletter and Parish Council website) so that the residents know what is happening.  Following the 2011 questionnaire and the 2012 AGM the Committee is looking at a number of possible projects which might provide for the community of the Wigboroughs benefits equivalent to those originally made available when the old School was purchased for use as a Village Hall and a Trust was set up.

                  A structural survey has established that the old building is past repair.  Raising the money to build, equip and maintain a replacement Village Hall which would be financially viable is beyond the reach of our small community.  At the 2012 AGM an agreement in principle was reached that when the time is right the School Lane site will be sold and the proceeds used to provide alternative benefits for the local community.  This can only happen with Charity Commission approval and with the continued agreement of the residents when more detailed plans are available.

                  In preparation for that time we are currently talking to professionals who will guide us through the process of maximising the return from the site by selling it with outline planning permission.

                  Of the various projects suggested for re-investment of the proceeds we are talking to the Church about the possibility of using the nave of St Stephen’s Church as a virtual Village Hall and there will be similar parallel conversations about potentially using facilities at Abbotts Hall Nature Reserve and/or Peldon Village Hall.  Another project under investigation is the purchase of land within the Wigboroughs to provide a village green area and a recreational area for children and young people.

                  A detailed business plan must be produced for each of these projects and any more which are suggested.  Plans will show the set-up and ongoing costs, the likely usage and income, the legal relationship with any partners or associates and arrangements to protect the legacy resource.  Full details will then be submitted for approval by the Charity Commission who will want to see that the terms and objectives of the original Trust Deed have been complied with as far as is possible.  Surviving projects will then be presented to residents who have the casting vote in which project or projects are progressed.

                  Jinny Gale
                  Chairman WVHMC

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