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Chairman’s Report – February 2014
At the Annual General Meeting in 2012 the community agreed in principle that the site of the old Village Hall in School Lane should be sold. The Committee is in the process of registering the land and has lodged an outline planning application for two three-bedroomed houses on the site.
The residents of the Wigboroughs and the Charity Commission both have to give final approval before the sale can take place.
The outline planning application can be seen on the Colchester Borough Council website www.colchester.gov.uk. The application number is 132631.
It should be noted that a new owner of the land may seek to vary any approved outline planning application and that the Management Committee will then have no control over any changes which CBC may agree.
13th February 2014
How good it was to see so many residents at the AGM in June.
Since then the Committee has met three times. All Officers were willing to continue in their previous roles so once again we have Melanie Newton as Secretary, John Hutchinson as Treasurer and I continue as Chairman.
We have continued exploring, inasmuch as we can, the potential projects we described at the AGM – the possible use of St Stephen’s Church, the search for green space in the village and the possibility of investing in Peldon’s planned new village hall.
We have discussed and rejected the possibility of using St Nicholas’ Church in Little Wigborough as a community meeting place. This was suggested at the AGM but we felt that the site was too remote, the access along
Our current focus is very much on preparing for the sale of the land in
Preliminary discussions have begun with the Planning Department at Colchester Borough Council about our proposed outline planning application. As a result of feedback at this early stage we shall probably ask for two detached houses on the site. But there is a way to go before we are in a position to firm up on the application and then share the thinking with residents before proceeding to apply to the Charity Commission for permission to sell the site.
At the AGM we were given a mandate to develop a method of postal voting so that residents unable to attend annual meetings may still vote on the issues raised there. We are currently working out the details of a process which we hope will be acceptable to the Charity Commission so that we can use it at next year’s AGM.
As a Committee we want to explore more deeply how community life and aspirations for family recreational activities have changed since the old hall was last in use. We shall be seeking to improve our understanding via a questionnaire and possibly focus groups. We are mindful that any investment we make must satisfy all the legal constraints laid upon us, be financially sustainable and also deliver appropriate benefits for all the residents of the Wigboroughs. We do not want to squander the legacy left to us by earlier generations by inappropriate investment.
We have now established a list of e-mail addresses to keep in closer contact with Wigboroughs residents and others who have an interest in our activities. Please contact me ([email protected]) if you wish to be added to the list. We also publish information on the Parish Council’s website www.winstred100.org and this can be found under the Community Section of the Main Menu.
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.
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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:
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
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.
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
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.