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Public Meeting Minutes 7 June 2021

MINUTES of the Extraordinary Parish Council Meeting to a Public Meeting to discuss the Town Hall consultation results, held at The John Fretwell Complex, Sookholme on MONDAY 7TH JUNE 2021 at 6.15pm.

Present:

Cllrs D. Barlow (Chair) (MDC), A. Burgin (Vice-Chair) (MDC), W. Williamson-Cooper, M. Fowler, G. Morris, R. Butler, M. Jones and K. Hardy.
Amanda Cooper (Clerk) and Gemma Blagg (Assistant Clerk).
7 members of public.

Minutes

1/0706. RECEIVE ANY DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Age Concern - Cllr. L. Davis.
ASB Project - Cllr. G. Simpson.
Association of Labour Councillors - Cllrs A. Wetton and A. Burgin.
Big Warsop Partnership - Cllr A. Burgin.
Birklands School Board of Governors - Cllr G. Simpson.
Finance & General-Purpose Working Party - Cllrs D. Barlow, A. Burgin, W. Williamson-Cooper, R. Butler, K. Hardy & L. Davis.
Friends of the Earth - Cllr K. Hardy.
Friends of the Carrs - Cllrs W. Williamson-Cooper & A. Burgin.
Friends of Warsop Vale - Cllr A. Burgin.
Green Party Member - Cllr R. Butler.
Let Warsop Speak - Cllrs D. Barlow, K. Hardy & R. Butler.
Liberal Democrats Party Member - Cllr K. Hardy.
MDC Tenants Association - Cllr W. Williamson-Cooper.
Meden Vale Colts FC - Cllr A. Wetton.
Poppy Group - Cllr L. Davis.
School Board of Governors (Eastlands & Netherfield) - Cllr G. Simpson.
Smile Campaign - Cllr Hardy.
Sports 4 kidz - Cllr G. Simpson.
Staffing Working Party - Cllrs D. Barlow, A. Burgin, L, Davis, R. Butler, K. Hardy and W. Williamson-Cooper.
The Rotary Club - Cllr G. Simpson & W. Williamson-Cooper.
Warsop Athletic FC - Cllr Mark Fowler.
Warsop Carnival - Cllr W. Williamson-Cooper.
Warsop Food Share - Cllr W. Williamson-Cooper.
Warsop Youth Club - Cllr G. Simpson.
Warsop Youth & Community Trustee & Secretary at the Shed - Cllr W. Williamson-Cooper.
Where There’s Hope - Cllr W. Williamson-Cooper.

2/0706. APOLOGIES

Cllrs A. Wetton (MDC), L. Davis and G. Simpson.

3/0706. TO DISCUSS THE TOWN HALL CONSULTATION RESULTS

The Chair read out the rules of the meeting and then followed with her summary on current situation the Parish Council face with regards to the Town Hall and it’s continued maintenance.

In the 1970s Warsop Urban District Council’s assets passed to MDC and NCC. A Lease went to NCC and under the terms of the lease it should have been maintained. There should have been work done around asbestos but after making contact with NCC, there was no record on file or proof of the work being done. NCC returned Town Hall to MDC who allowed WPC to continue in residence. No repairs or maintenance were done by MDC at this time. MDC wanted to get rid of Town Hall by selling it. Parish Councillors got an agreement that the Parish Council would take over the building and buy it for a £1 on a 99-year lease. This was offered in a state of disrepair. WPC are quasi owners of Town Hall, but we are not able to raise any large capital to actually make any major repairs. Staff have tried many avenues to gain funding including the Heritage and Lottery funds. The Town Hall is not a listed building or considered a historic building so grants through the Heritage Fund are not available. As a Parish Council we not eligible for most grants, and as it leased to businesses as well as community groups it means some grants cannot be applied for. The repair bill is estimated to be over £200,000. We went back to MDC, but they have no money and no resources to help. During this lease if WPC wish to sell the Town Hall, we will have to give MDC £165,000 – the current value of building is around £100,000. MDC may be willing to remove the clause so if we choose to sell the building WPC would get all the money. As a Parish Council we can only hold a specific amount of money/assets unless we have a comprehensive and viable business plan in place. As a Parish Council we can’t access community funding the same way as charitable organisations can.

It was decided that a consultation was needed with the people of Warsop Parish as this was too big an issue to decide as a council. Our advice from MDC was that we didn’t need to do a consultation. With Covid last year it was difficult to know when to do this. It was in WPNs in March, and we received 257 responses. A lot of issues also raised which were useful, also a lot of issues separate to the Town Hall. As a Parish Council we are committed to supporting current services and enhance them if possible.

The public did not want to see the precept increased to support the Town Hall maintenance, however we had 50 people express an interest in bringing a community group together. So far, we have had about 15 of these people confirm their interest.

The Chair has re-contacted MDC about removing the sale clause as per the decision made by the Parish Council at the meeting on Thursday 27th May. The proposal and decision was as follows –

The Chair proposed that those who expressed an interest in forming a Community Group for the Town Hall would be invited to a meeting to work out if this is a viable option. The council will then speak to Mansfield District Council regarding the transfer of the Town Hall to Warsop Parish Council. If the Town Hall Community Group is not a viable option, then Warsop Parish Council will sell the Town Hall and earmark/reserve the monies from the sale.
RESOLVED: This proposal was unanimously agreed by all members in attendance.

The Parish Council would look at lease for a community group – possibly around 20 years subject to legal advice and what the stipulation is for a community group and securing funding. However, there would be a caveat on what success would look like for the community group. If the community group aren’t able to get the necessary funding, then it will be handed back to Warsop Parish Council and the council will proceed with the second part of the decision that was made.

There were 6 members of public who asked the council questions.

Karen Bonsall

1. She was unsure what was meant in terms of raising money. Would the council be giving any money?

The Chair stated the Community Group would be charged with raising funds for the repairs. The Parish Council are looking at possibly giving the group a £10,000 start up fund, and would become tenants renting the current office, chambers and some storage space from the group at an agreed cost as well. The Community Group would have their own constitution, guidelines and select a Chair, secretary, etc.
The Clerk suggest the council would need to consider covering the groups legal costs.

2. If a Community Group can take it forward, how would the council support?

The Chair said that this would need to be ironed out between WPC and the Community Group with proper legal counsel. WPC would still be the owner but the Community Group would be responsible for the running of the building including maintenance etc. The lease length would have to be properly discussed and agreed, again with proper legal advice. However, it would have to be time limited in terms of achieving the necessary funding.

3. Are there things which need doing from the building survey which would stop it being kept open?

The Chair was unsure what impact the repairs would have on the building and tenants.

4. Would like to see the Town Hall preserved and give the Community Group a chance to make it successful.

The Chair said this is what the council are hoping will be achieved.

Mike Johnson

1. Mike asked how MDC can ask for £165,000 if the building was only worth £100,000.

The Clerk stated that the other stipulation in the lease was if the Parish Council could no longer maintain the building, then it would be handed back to MDC.
The Chair wrote to MDC asking for the Town Hall to be transferred to the Parish Council and for the removal of the stipulations.

2. He suggested that the tiles should be sold from the stone buildings at the side of the Town Hall.

The Chair and Clerk both reiterated the point that had been made from previous meetings that the stone buildings are dangerous (derelict and asbestos) and would require employing specialist firms for the removal. The Chair is happy for the council to look into the possible sale of the tiles for reclamation purposes, but she thinks the numbers involved would be relatively low in comparison to the amount required.

3. Mike mentioned the conservation area that the Town Hall sits within.

The Chair said she had had conversations with the conservation officer about removing the building from the conservation area but was told that isn’t an option.

Mr Briggs

1. When the Parish Council took on the lease and building with all its issues were these stipulations written into all the contracts.

The Clerk answered that they were written into the lease.

Cllr Andy Burgin stated it was very much a take it or leave it situation.

2. Could the Council have increased the precept over the past few years to help raise money for the maintenance - it could have been put up by £5 for 2 years and raised about £30,000 per year.

The Clerk explained that the calculation can’t be done on 6000 households, it has to be calculated on the base rate which equates to a Band D property so the amount of money raised would be much lower.
The Chair said that the precept could have been raised but that is want residents have specifically said they do not want us to do. We’ve had to draw a line and that is why it is being put to a Community Group. The Parish Council cannot afford to keep paying for the building at the expense of other services.

3. Mr Briggs suggested that the council speak to the external auditors.

The Chair thanked Mr Briggs for his suggestion.

Mrs Briggs

1. Has the council sought any legal advice on initial lease and the stipulation of giving £165,000 to MDC from any sale of the Town Hall.

The Chair has been in discussion with them since early 2020 to remove that clause and transfer the Town Hall to the Parish Council.

2. On handing back the Town Hall – if the council can’t maintain it, it could be returned to MDC for £1 however they would sell it. She asked if the Methodist Church could be used by the Council to base the council offices and meetings? Mrs Briggs stated the Town Hall is a money pit.

The Chair has already made enquiries if the council could use the money to plough into the new leisure/health hub and have chambers/offices there. Hopefully, a Community Group can be established and make the Town Hall a true community hub. The next step is to get the Community Group set up and established. The council would need to know that the group have a business plan to take this forward.

3. Would some of the people be thinking it was simply about fund raising rather than full responsibilities if they joined a Community Group.

The Clerk said it was mentioned in the consultation information in the Warsop Parish News that it would involve taking ownership/responsibility.

4. Any plans to open the Town Hall in the near future?

The Chair stated when government give the green light because unfortunately the Town Hall is not currently Covid compliant. When we can open, we will open up, but we have to be responsible to those vulnerable people who use the building.

Phoebe Cox

1. The responsibility aspect of the group – what would it entail?

The Chair stated that the Community Group would be responsible for the day to day running of the Town Hall – utilities, emergency lighting, costs, repairs, business viability etc. A group would need to set up a group structure, bank account, quotes for repairs etc. If the group collapses, then it is no longer viable, and the Parish Council would have to take responsibility back. As well as the cash injection of £10,000 the Parish Council staff would be on hand for a few months to support in terms of the work involved and go over all current procedures/maintenance/services.

Sharon Scott

1. How much needs to be spent on repairs?

The Chair stated upwards of £260,000 based on 2019 survey.

2. So, group would have to raise possibly around 300,000? That’s a lot of money for a group to take on.

The Chair said it’s a serious amount of money that the Parish Council have to see if they can raise it.

3. Sharon: would the group struggle to get that amount of money? She was worried that when it comes down to people putting time and effort in it isn’t always forthcoming. It’s a big commitment to take on and get that building up and running.

The Chair said it’s unlikely the group will take it on lightly, they may feel it is too big a job but we hope they will give it a go. We need to work with the consultation outcome which hasn’t given a clear direction – this suggestion does the best for both views on the Town Hall.

Cllr Andy Burgin said Sharon made a good point regarding support and people giving their time.

4/0706. CLOSE MEETING

The Chair thanked everyone for attending and closed the meeting.

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