New Community Hall
Below is a statement read out by John Bridge (Village Hall Committee) at the January Parish Council Meeting, following the appearance of a letter, posted through the letter boxes of a number of homes in the village, giving false information as to the funding of the proposed New Community Hall.
I am here to make a statement of fact. I have no wish to comment, in detail, on the note put through my door recently, other than to say I know the truth. I have been involved with the task of trying to provide this village with a Community Hall fit for the 21st century over the last 15 years. In all that time, I have been honest and open in all my dealings, indeed for many years I was the individual who kept the parish well informed with project developments via my regular reports in the Village Scene. I can vouch for the integrity of all those associated with the New Community Hall over the years and I am saddened to think that the time and effort we have all put in are so often challenged by a vocal minority.
And now for the accurate facts about funding. ……. Our new hall & associated work will cost in the region of £700,000. It cannot exceed £750,000 as that is the maximum build cost that one of our chosen funders will allow. At present via a 106 agreement with Torridge District Council, Pearce Construction, the prospective builder will donate a sum of £325,000 towards the building of the hall. This gives us a sizeable start in our bid to raise the required amount. Our existing hall, on current valuation, is worth £100,000. Added to this we are currently pursuing a sum of £20,000 through the Community Council of Devon which has funds tailor made for this kind of project and if successful (and we can see no obvious reason why it shouldn’t be,) Torridge District Council would match fund this amount giving a further £40,000 to the pot. On top of this sum would be a further £35,000 of our own monies raised by the community over the years. This amount would have been more but, of course, we have been spending money to sustain the project, particularly in architect’s fees. The total of all these contributions will be in the region of £500,000 !
This sum, in itself, would be sufficient to see a New Hall up and running, with key elements in place and an opportunity to complete the build, to our specification, as and when further funding was available. However, we are also in the process of applying for Big Lottery Funding. A branch of this Fund is entitled ‘Reaching Communities’ and is aimed at areas of multiple deprivation ! We, like it or not, along with the rest of the Torridge area, fall in to this category and I have already been given the special coding which entitles us to apply for Lottery support. There is no guarantee of obtaining this funding, there never is, but our bid – to replace a hall well past its sell by date, to create, for our Preschool, a dedicated base alongside our Village Primary School, to see the Primary School itself benefit from a sizeable hall, offering facilities for PE and Drama lessons as well as Special Performances, to achieve a far more welcoming environment for our hall users and, of course, the opportunity for locals to enjoy Wedding Receptions and Family Parties in their own backyard……. our bid is a strong one ! In conversation with one of the Big Lottery Team South West recently, what became clear to me is the benefit we have of such a full funding pot before our approach to them. They find themselves so often trying to help organisations who do not have such a solid funding base. Our up front matched funding strengthens our case considerably.
In conclusion, I need to add that the reason why the subject of a parish precept has arisen stems from a question on a funding application form. “If you have a Parish Council and they are not contributing towards your project, please explain why?” Personally, I have no objection to a “small” – and it would be small – precept to support the future of our village and strengthen the appeal of our funding application. Many Parish Councils draw a small precept! That’s my personal view and some will agree others will disagree but as I hope I have proved this evening, talk of a precept to fund £425,000 is just nonsense and I am quite sure that the majority of sensible citizens in this village will have realised this fact already.