Northiam Village Hall Trust  Chairman’s Report April 2021

 

Firstly, my apologies that due to the coronavirus pandemic, there was no (AGM) Annual General Meeting or Chairman’s Report in 2020. This time last year the committee made a decision to delay the 2020 AGM for just a few weeks until the pandemic was behind us and life had returned to normal. Little did we know then that Covid-19 restrictions preventing public meetings such as our AGM would still be in force some 12 month later. 

 

So, what has happened over the past two years? 

 

  • As a result of the pandemic a sub-committee of trust members was formed to monitor and implement Government and NHS coronavirus requirements and regulations to make the hall “Covid-19 secure” for our users. Due to the requirement for social distancing these requirements reduced the capacity of the hall to 32 people and the Jenkins Room to just 9 people, severely curtailing public use and many larger activities and fund-raising events.

  • Despite all the hard work put in by the sub-committee interpreting the myriad of Government/NHS information, marking out the spacing on the hall floor, creating a one-way entry/exit route, installing hand sanitisers, etc and writing clear and concise notes and notices for our users the hall still had to remain closed for the much of the time since March 2020. But even as I write this report there are signs that the Coronavirus restrictions are being gradually relaxed and hopefully, we will be able to offer the hall to larger groups and activities. 

  • However, sometimes good comes out of bad. The closure of the hall allowed the committee to undertake many projects, improvements and much needed maintenance work without disrupting or cancelling hall bookings. As a few examples:

    • Improvements to and redecoration of the Jenkins Room – with financial assistance from the Conservation Society

    • The installation of a computerised system that closely matches the hall and Jenkins Room temperatures to the type of activities taking place, much improving the hall’s energy efficiency and green credentials

    • The system also supports an online hall booking system which we intend to add to our website later in the year. This will provide an additional method of booking the hall to that of the current system of emailing or phoning our booking secretary

    • A digital access control has been introduced to replace the need to collect and return keys to the Spar Shop. On confirmation of their booking the hall user will be issued with four-digit code valid for the duration of the hire which when entered into the keypad will unlock the entrance door.

    • Replacement of the life expired hot water tanks/immersion heaters

    • Marking-out the car park with safe walking routes and disabled parking bays

    • Redecoration and upgrade of toilets and entrance lobby

    • Replacement of entrance doors 

    • Installation of two benches (donated by a generous villager)

    • Installation of a CCTV system after incidents of fly-tipping and vandalism (aided by a generous donation from a villager)

    • Installation of LED lighting in the hall, again to improving the hall’s energy efficiency and green credentials

    • Repainting of the ceiling and redecoration of the main hall

    • Ongoing maintenance such as grass cutting, relaying paving slabs, repair to guttering, etc.

  • As expressed in my previous report the committee has a can-do attitude and is very proud of the work that has been undertaken and improvements we have been able to achieve over the past months. 

  • Since my last report one of our committee, Peter Wheeler, stood down for personal reasons and we thank him for his support during the time he served as a Trustee.

  • One important change has been the transfer of the actual property from the “Trustees of Northiam Village Hall” to the Charity Commission’s Official Custodian where it is now held behalf of the local community. The property Trustees were separate from the Trustees Committee who are elected and appointed annually to manage the hall on a day-to-day basis. The transfer was done to avoid the legal complications which arise when a property Trustee retires or dies. It is important to note that the Village Hall remains under the control of the Trustees elected or appointed  annually by the local community.

 

Finally, I would like to thank our regular hall users for their tolerance and understanding that due to the pandemic affecting all of us we have not been able to provide the hall facilities they have previously been able to enjoy. I also thank all the members of the committee for the hard work they have put into running, maintaining and improving the hall in these difficult times. Each committee member has a different skill set which when combined I think has created a formidable team. On a personal front I am truly grateful for the support that the committee has given me to make my reign as “rooky” chairman such a comparatively easy one. By the requirements of our constitution the entire Northiam Village Hall Trust Management Committee will retire at the end of the AGM and a chairperson and vice-chairperson will be elected by the re-formed trust committee at the next committee meeting following the AGM and I am sure the same level of support will be given whoever they may be.

 

It has really been a roller-coaster year for all of us and we are looking forward to a much brighter future with no more lockdowns and fewer restrictions on our daily lives. When conditions permit, I am sure the lighter brighter hall will be seen to spring back into life with the return of various activity groups and societies and hopefully some new faces. It will also be refreshing to see a general return to the hall’s regular social and fund-raising activities such as Christine’s Coffee Mornings and Jumble Sales.

 

Keith Whiting – Chairman, Northiam Village Hall Trust Committee

 

Report of the Trustees for the financial year ended 31 December 2020

In a normal year, the Trust generates its income from rentals paid by hall users, supplemented by donations and fund-raising activities. Running costs account for most of the income but, where there is a surplus, this is used to contribute towards hall improvements. All monies raised, whatever the source, are used in maintaining or improving the village hall.

 

The Covid-19 pandemic meant that 2020 was not a normal year. The lockdowns in March and November and the intervening social distancing restrictions meant that many of our usual social groups were unable to meet. Some of our fitness and exercise classes did continue to use the hall outside of the lockdowns, but the overall picture was one of severely curtailed income from hirings. We were fortunate to receive financial assistance from government schemes by way of income support grants and business rates offset. These, coupled with the healthy reserves position brought forward from 2019, meant that we were able to cover all of our running costs, and finish 2020 with a healthy cash position to carry us through the first half of 2021, by which time we hope that the pandemic will be behind us, and that our regular social users will once again be able to use the hall.

 

With financial assistance from some generous benefactors, we have been able to undertake the following improvement projects during 2020:

  • Refurbishment of the lobby and toilets areas, partly financed by a National Lottery grant of £8,500; 

  • Line-painting of the car park to provide a safe walking route;

  • Work to facilitate the new library cabin, now installed in the village hall car park;

  • Commissioning of a new aerial photograph of the village, now on display in the lobby;

  • Removal of the life-expired immersion heaters in the loft space above the inner front doors and replacement with an energy efficient hot water system;

  • Completion of the refurbishment of the Jenkins Room (started in 2019), with financial assistance from Northiam Conservation Society;

  • Installation of a CCTV system to deter vandalism, fly-tipping and trespass, with the generous support of one of our villagers;

  • Installation and commissioning of a new heating control system, which allows us to heat the hall for booked hirings only, and to vary the temperature between different types of bookings, thereby being more energy and cost efficient. Financed by a £3,000 loan from another charity, repayable from a proportion of the estimated cost savings;

  • Purchase of a new computer to run our bookings, linked to the heating control system. This was with the generous support of a grant from Shell UK;

  • Installation of two new benches outside the front of the hall, generously provided by one of our villagers;

  • Upgrade of the WiFi system installed in 2019.

 

Projects planned for the future, when resources permit, include: completion of the lobby refurbishment with the installation of new front doors and an access control system; replacement windows on the North elevation of the main hall, along with replacement curtains or blinds; upgraded lighting for the main hall; and renovation of the kitchen including replacing the windows. At some stage in the near future the roof above the kitchen and South extension will require some attention, and the escape doors to the rear of the building will need to be replaced.

 

For the financial year ended 31 Dec 2019 our rental income was £6,581, a substantial reduction on 2019 (£19,914). Day to day running costs, at £10,188, were also substantially reduced from 2019 levels (£16,953), although not to the same degree as the reduction in income. The shortfall of costs over income was financed from the reserves that we carried over from 2019. Other income of £2,298, and fund raising of £15,973 helped to cover the £18,084 cost of the projects detailed earlier in this report. In addition, we have received Government grants totalling £16,334, which we are holding as a reserve against the shortfalls in income that are expected to continue until the end of the pandemic. At the end of 2020 our total reserves stood at [£26,416], against £13,180 at the end of 2019, although these funds will deplete quickly with the ongoing Covid-related restrictions on use of the hall.

Bernard Bone  - Hon. Treasurer Northiam Village Hall Trust