It’s been almost exactly 18 months since our last AGM, which was held shortly after the new committee took over the management of the hall. Little did we know then what was to hit our community, the country and the world at large just two months later. We have delayed this meeting because we thought it best to wait until the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions allowed us to hold an in-person meeting without restricting numbers.
There has not been a lot of activity at the hall over this period due to the restrictions. Unfortunately, this has resulted in quite a few cancellations. One exception however is the school holiday club ScapeSchool. Provision of school activities has been exempt from many of the rules, though still subject to capacity restrictions and risk assessment. They have been able to run the club in the hall and playground throughout all school holidays, which has provided an invaluable service to the community as well as needed income for the hall. You will see from the financial report that we need this income to cover our running costs and have managed to maintain a healthy bank balance.
During the less restrictive levels, our other main user group the Walton Group of Artists have been able to use the hall for their weekly art classes, and they now have a number of workshops and their annual exhibition booked. More recently we were able to host a very successful wedding party. So hopefully we will now be able to welcome back some of our previous customers and resume a full programme of activities, although we are encouraging everyone to still take appropriate precautions. We have a fairly full calendar for the rest of the summer, and it’s great that we have managed to achieve so much for such a small community – a testament to teamwork.
If you have any suggestions for activities you would like to see happening in the hall, please speak up! Though bear in mind that it always takes people to step up and run these things.
While the hall has not been so busy, the committee has. We have been holding monthly meetings on Zoom, and have progressed some big projects and ideas that we will tell you about this evening, as well as dealing with ongoing maintenance. As the various lockdowns have come and gone we have also had to manage the status of the hall as a Covi-19 secure location. We also have some exciting village events planned! I hope you will agree that our proposals will put the legal structure of the hall on a proper footing and enable us to improve the facilities of our wonderful hall going forward. Please remember that all the committee are volunteers, and we rely on your support and goodwill.
I would like to thank all the Committee members for their hard work over the last 18 months. Also thanks to the Parish Council and the Church, with whom we have developed a close working relationship, for their ongoing help and support.
Lastly, if anyone wishes to join the committee and has the skills or experience to make a contribution to the running of the hall, please let us know. Similarly, if you can help out at functions, we are always looking for volunteers!
~ Brian Eldred
The big projects and ideas
The chairman’s report referred to some big projects and ideas that were presented and discussed at the meeting. These are
- Building an extension to house new toilet facilities
- Registering the Village Hall as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation with the Charity Commission
The planned extension will be to the northwest corner of the hall. It will comprise new toilet facilities with unisex ‘superloo’ cubicles, baby changing facilities and a facility for the disabled that will be accessible from both within the hall and from the outside. The layout plans can be viewed or downloaded from the links at the bottom of this page.
The standard of the current toilets lets the hall down somewhat, so this extension will provide modern and extended facilities. The existing toilet space will be repurposed to provide much-needed storage space.
We are pleased to report that planning permission has been granted, and we will be tendering for building quotations shortly.
Registering with the Charity Commission
We are obliged to register with the charity commission due to our current income level, but also most sources of grant funding are only available to registered charities. So in order to gain funding for the extension, we need to register.
There are four charity structures available, and the most appropriate for us is called a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. This gives the Village Hall its own legal entity similar to a limited company but reports only to the charity commission. Our plans have the full support of the Parish Council and St Peter’s Church. A new constitution has been written, and the application was submitted on 6th July – we expect a response soon.
Below are some FAQs that we distributed at the AGM which should hopefully answer any questions you may have. If you have any further questions please email Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org
Frequently Asked Questions – Walton Village Hall charity registration
Why are you registering the hall as a charity right now?
We now have an annual income of greater than £5,000, and as such we are obliged to register with the Charity Commission. In addition, because we have ambitions for capital and investment in future projects, we need and want to access grants. Most grants are only available to registered charities. We need to make this change as soon as possible in order to fund our planned extension and other improvements to the hall.
Who owns the hall now?
The trust deed from 1927 conveys the hall from the then owner George Lane-Fox in trust to the vicar and churchwardens, their ‘heirs or assigns’, for the benefit of the Walton parishioners. Our solicitor and the church’s advisor both agree that legal title will have passed to the last trustee surviving and then under his will or by the rules of intestacy. We haven’t found out who this is yet, but we are confident that with the help and cooperation of the church and the charity commission we will resolve this uncertainty to everyone’s benefit and ensure that the hall remains a valuable village asset.
What is a CIO?
A Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) is a corporate form of business designed for (and only available to) charitable organisations. CIO status is conferred by the Charity Commission on application by a charity. The members of the CIO are the trustees, who are elected by the village residents.
What are the benefits of a CIO?
The main benefits are that the charity has legal personality (the ability to enter contracts, sue and be sued, and to hold property in its own name – rather than in the name of its trustees), and its members have limited liability (their liability in the event the charity becomes insolvent is limited or nil).
Who will the trustees be?
Initially, the trustees will be the existing chairman, deputy chairman and treasurer of the management committee, plus the vicar and churchwarden of St Peter’s church. These trustees will be free to appoint further trustees, including from main user groups if they wish, and new trustees may be nominated by any resident. Trustees are elected at the first AGM by Walton residents, then retire and may be re-elected at subsequent AGMs.
There is an additional clause in the constitution that gives the vicar and churchwardens the right to be trustees by nature of their position. This was made to keep to the spirit of the 1927 trust deed.
Who will run the Village Hall?
The trustees may appoint a management committee, as long as there is at least one trustee on it. So in reality the existing management committee will continue to run the hall, with the chairman, deputy chair and treasurer both trustees and part of the committee.
What will change as a result?
The day-to-day running responsibilities of the Hall will continue as will the ambitions, local feel and objectives of the hall, to support the local community. None of this will change.
What are the powers of the trustees?
The CIO has power to do anything which is calculated to further its objects. The ‘objects’ are in summary ‘To establish and run a village hall and to promote the provision of facilities for recreation or other leisure time occupation for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Parish of Walton, Wetherby or for the public at large’
There are several examples in the constitution, such as raising funds, borrowing money, co-operating with other organisations and disposing of assets. These powers are all subject to charity legislation. In case of the unlikely event that the trustees would ever consider selling or mortgaging the hall, we intend to add a clause to the constitution requiring a majority vote of the residents at an EGM.
What can the trustees do with the Village Hall?
If the CIO were ever to be wound up, this would have to be decided by a majority of 75% of the trustees. Assets would have to be applied for charitable purposes the same as or similar to those of the CIO. In other words, if the village hall were sold, the proceeds would have to be given to a new village hall or similar organisation.
What involvement has the Church and Parish Council had and have they been consulted in this decision?
Reverend Nick Morgan is a significant supporter of the proposed changes and has been consulted throughout the whole period, and has taken advice from experts in the church. He is a sponsor of activities and will continue to be a trustee of the new charity. The Parish Council have been briefed on the changes and are present this evening in support.
What are the next steps?
There are two steps to converting to a CIO:
- Creating a new charity. The CIO application was submitted, including the constitution, on 6th July. But the Charity Commission have a backlog and say it won’t be looked at for around 2 months. Then they may come back with questions. When this step is complete we will be able to apply for grants.
- Transferring the assets to the new charity and registering the land with the Land Registry. This will be handled by our solicitors. The first challenge will be establishing legal ownership of the hall and grounds.