1/20TO RECEIVE APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies were received from Parish Councillor Terry Collins, County Councillor Robert Mocatta and District Councillor Arthur Agate
2/20To receive any declarations of interest on the matter to be discussed (Members are invited to declare any pecuniary or non-pecuniary interests arising from this Agenda. Notwithstanding this item, Members may declare an interest at any point during the meeting. If a Member has a pecuniary interest then they must leave the room whilst the item is being discussed.
The Chairman clarified his position with regard to the Community and Sports Foundation as he understood that it might have been queried. He stated that he had been a Director and Trustee but, on being elected as Chairman of the Parish Council, he had resigned from both positions on 15th May, 2019 and with immediate effect – this had been reported to the Clerk and to EHDC at the time and it was duly acknowledged by the Foundation. Therefore, the Chairman did not have any interest to declare. Cllr Foster and Cllr Hurst declared a non pecuniary interest as they are volunteers at the Centre.
3/20TO OPEN THE MEETING TO MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC TO ALLOW THEM TO ADDRESS QUESTIONS TO THE PARISH
Meeting closed 7.02 p.m.
A number of questions were raised by members of the public. They related to whether or not the other South of Butser parishes were contributing to the financial support for the Sports and Community Centre, whether the Centre was making or losing money, when the Foundation would be holding its AGM, the level of support EHDC had provided and what warranties had been provided on the building.
The Chairman, Cllr Foster and District Cllr Moon replied.
Mr Cooper, a Trustee, spoke to inform the meeting that all the Trustees of the Foundation are local residents and he referred to the recent formation of the “Friends of the Centre” as an example of the support that they were receiving from the community.
Meeting reconvened 7.12 p.m.
4/20CLANFIELD SPORTS AND COMMUNITY CENTRE
The Chairman provided the background to this item. On the 9th December, 2019, the Foundation wrote to the Parish Council requesting capital and revenue support from both the Parish Council and EHDC. At the Extraordinary Meeting on 16th December 2019, the Parish Council had agreed to support the Centre to the extent that it felt able to do by providing an immediate cashflow loan of £25,000 and by allowing for ongoing support from 1st April 2020 in the 2020/21 precept which, it was proposed, would amount to £25,000 plus the suspension of the Foundation’s Lease commitment to reimburse insurance premiums to the Parish Council until 31st March 2021. The value of this ongoing support package would be approximately £38,000. EHDC had indicated that it was not able to consider the request for its support until formally requested by the Parish Council.
(a) The following Resolution was put to the meeting:
“Clanfield Parish Council invite East Hampshire District Council, whether by itself or by instructing or appointing any other person or agent, to assist in a review of the long term operation of the Sports and Community Centre.
“The Parish agrees to the sharing of such financial, legal and management information as is in its possession to facilitate such a review”
The resolution, as written above, with no amendments, was unanimously supported by the Council members therefore duly RESOLVED.
The Chairman then brought the meeting’s attention to the second agenda item under this heading:
(b) To consider, and if thought fit to set aside, provision for contingency loan support from the Parish Council to Clanfield Sports and Community Foundation (the Foundation) for February and March 2020 until the Foundation’s revised operational structure takes full effect and precepted support is available from the Parish Council as from 1st April, 2020
Cllr Foster addressed the meeting:
“Over 20 years ago in village appraisals and plans the village gave a clear message that more village leisure facilities were wanted and needed. For the last twenty years the parish council has been building up reserves to meet the costs of those anticipated facilities. We didn't know what the costs would be, but we knew it would be a lot, so we were reserving £20k each year out of our precepts towards the cost of future facilities. That is about £8 per household per year. In 2005 we had an architect design a community and sports hall that would provide for what the village had been asking for, and these plans sat on the shelf at EHDC until the Green Lane development became a reality, and we eventually got the centre we now have.
These types of facilities are not normally run by parish councils. The parish council was not in a position to manage the Centre ourselves so we needed an outside body to do this. We did have talks with a leisure company, but they wanted larger capital contributions from the Parish Council than we have actually put in to get it up and running. Nevertheless we are where we are, and the current Foundation eventually stepped up to operate the centre. The Parish Council is very grateful to the Foundation for the effort they have put in to get the Centre up and running.
It was always envisaged that the centre would take up to 5 years to become self sufficient, but we had no way of knowing what the building would cost to run, and neither did EHDC officers have that information. EHDC gave £50k towards the start up costs, and the parish council has put in just over £100k over the last year in the form of inventory and grants.
Over the years the parish council had built up leisure reserves of some £400k, however this has diminished as the various leisure facilities have come on line and been paid for.
Over the last 4 years we have spent:
£107k on the sports and community centre (does not include the EHDC £50k)
£71k on replacing the skate park,
and a further £42k on the Peel Park groundworks
£98k at St James Place on the bowls club inventory and car park
£15k on replacing the bus shelters
£6k on Windmill View allotments
£15k on Windmill View security
£27k on various legal fees for land transfers and leases
That is a total of £381k
I believe the council had been very prudent over the last 20 years to build up the funds to meet these costs. The vast majority of these costs have not come out of the pockets of the many newcomers to the village, but those who have been here over all those years. If you are relatively new to the village you are reaping the benefits of those who have contributed over those 20 years.
I have lived in the village for 44 years, and as I said earlier I have been a councillor for over 35 years. In all those years there has never been a parish council election….. until last year. That is because in all those years there has never been more than 10 people willing to put their heads above the parapet and take responsibility for running the parish. - until last year when we had 11 willing volunteers.
We are not experts….. but we are prudent and cautious, and manage your affairs within strict guidelines and standards. We have taken decisions that the sports and community centre needs to be financially supported with loans and grants, and have requested EHDC to meet our precept request which includes £25k for the next financial year which will cost each household in the village around 20 pence per week.
However there is an immediate urgent need to ensure that the centre gets through the next two months so we are putting aside a contingency of up to £5k in case they need help to get through to when the precept money could be available in April.
Whilst we have other projects requiring funding, some can be slowed down, to enable the urgent immediate support of the centre and I urge you to support these proposals being put forward tonight.”
The Chairman stressed that, as yet, the Foundation had not requested this interim support. It was a contingency proposal in case the request should come forward. The Foundation had been making strenuous efforts to contain its expenditure but the full effect of that would not be apparent until April. The latest draft forecast had indicated that under £5,000 might be needed until a trading balance is achieved.
The Council RESOLVED, unanimously, to set aside contingency loan support for February and March of up to £5000 in total, repayable, if drawn down as a whole or in part, within 12 months.
Before closing the meeting the Chairman reminded those present of the launch of the Clanfield Public Art Project on Friday 24th January at the Memorial Hall 6.30 for 7 p.m. He hoped that as many people as possible would be able to attend this meeting which would mark the beginning of an exciting initiative which could involve the whole community. The initial feasibility phase of the project is being funded by grants from District Cllrs Agate and Moon and County Councillor Mocatta.