Oldhamstocks Community Association Annual General Meeting 2017
– held in the Village Hall on Thursday 23rd November 2017 at 7.30pm.
Welcome: Neil Richerby, Chair, welcomed everyone to the meeting.
Present/Apologies: a sheet was circulated for signing – see Appendix A (below)
Minutes of the 2016 AGM had been posted on the OCA noticeboard in the Hall and online, early in 2017, but were read and approved this evening: proposed by John Hanvidge and seconded by Gordon Simpson. There were no matters arising.
Treasurer's Report: Gordon Simpson handed round copies of the accounts, and read the year's report in the format as sent to OSCR. Funding is comfortable, with generally some £3500 not ringfenced from which money was drawn to pay for hall maintenance and kitchen equipment etc: doors and benches have been repaired and painted, some plumbing has been updated, an electricity smart meter has been installed. A new electricity contract was negotiated in October. Smoke alarms are tested weekly, and the defibrillator is about to receive a new battery. In partnership with Simpson & Brown, plans have been produced for a new hall, and consultation Open Days were held, but there were not the usual number of social events. Funding has been received from Windfarm Community Benefits and a separate bank account has been opened for this income – during the year agreements were signed with Hoprigshiels Windfarm and Ferneylea Windfarm, and already £7560 has been received from Ferneylea 1. Annual accounts have been independently assessed and submitted to OSCR. Gordon presented the accounts – see Appendix B (Separate Trustee Report 2017) –which also show comparative figures for the previous year. Income amounted to £17164, and expenditure was £14591, showing a surplus of £2573. The opening balance was £13488 (with a slight adjustment from last year's accounts due to an outstanding item of expenditure), and the closing balance was £16060 in the bank, with £56 cash in hand. £15000 was received from ELCC as a draw-down from Windfarm Community Benefits, to meet costs for the new hall project: some £12500 for Surveyor's, Architects' and Quantity Surveyor's fees to date. The Community Association is exempt from water rates, but had received a refund for a previous overpayment. The figure for Fire Risk Assessment looks high, but this represents two years' fees paid in one financial year. The Treasurer was questioned on the lack of fundraising efforts for the benefit of the community – he replied that the committee had been much taken up with the new hall project, but that they recognise this omission and fully intend to organise social and fundraising events in 2018.
Chairman's Report and resultsof the recent consultation:
The Chairman's report was presented by Neil Richerby – see Appendix C – and was immediately followed by the Simpson & Brown consultation report presented by John Sanders of S&B.
Neil thanked all members of the committee for their hard work and support, all those who assist in keeping the Hall in as good order as possible, and John Sanders and his colleagues from S&B for their much-valued professional guidance and advice during the past year. He spoke of the committee's commitment to trying to achieve the best for the community, with particular reference to the new hall project which had formed most of the year's business. There had been more meetings than usual. He expressed the committee's sense of 'journeying' in order to arrive at the present proposed design, and explained something of the efforts taken to try and consider everything from all angles, and to respond to all the comments and opinions voiced by the community. He talked of costs and funding, of the importance of making the best use of our share of Windfarm Community Benefit income, and of spending wisely now for the sake of the community in the future. Regarding 'The Alternative Plan', Neil said that the next year's committee will look carefully at the suggestions and issues raised in it. While acknowledging the need to listen to all views, he emphasised the need to respect the majority view, which, from the results of the recent consultation, is in favour of the proposed design. He concluded with hope that the community should not be divided over this, and with encouragement and an invitation to all to consider joining the committee to take the new hall project forward.
John Sanders explained that the second consultation (carried out in October) focused on a revised design and had been organised in response to the community's clear request made at the first consultation (in March) for further opportunities to express views. In presenting the S&B report, John gave detailed statistics from the questionnaire results (in brief: 59% of individuals/64% of households are in favour of the OCA plan, with the response rate being c72%), and read out, in full, all the comments, both against and for. This took some time, and one or two present found this frustrating. He mentioned 'The Alternative Plan' and recommended that this should be considered in greater depth by the committee before going any further. In answer to Gillie Baird's question as to whether the S&B report contained all the comments, John said that it included all comments received by 31st October (the closing date for receipt of questionnaires) but that there had been two further comments received after that date (not included), one negative and one positive. Twenty paper copies of the report were made available this evening, and the Chairman confirmed that the report will be posted online immediately after the meeting, and that copies will also be available in the Hall to be read alongside these Minutes.
Questions and comments were then invited, and responses were given by the Chairman, and at times by other members of the committee. For details, see Appendix D. The committee was robustly challenged on various aspects of the project and on the direction being taken – questions and comments were made, in particular, on dimensions, funding and cost, and among the objections there were some very strongly expressed views. A considerable amount of time was given to this part of the meeting, but when it appeared that everyone had spoken who wished to, the Chairman drew discussion to a close, concluding that there is much for the next year's committee to consider.
Appointment of a new Committee: of the current committee all were willing to stand again except Angus MacDonald (the Secretary apologises here for omitting to say that Lorna Bairden also wished to stand down, and that Dougie McCreath had not indicated one way or the other – he will be contacted to find out if he is willing to remain on the committee). There were many willing offers to stand, so it was agreed to follow previous practice and to appoint twelve members, with the rest as co-opted members. The new committee is therefore as follows:
Members: Co-opted members:
Andy Shanks Lauryn Simpson
Sam Shanks Isla-May Edge
Gordon Simpson Chris Bruce
Alex Ainslie Sharon Simpson
John Hanvidge Jacquie Riddell
Janice Hanvidge Nathan Simpson
Nikki Edge Nathanael Mells
Elaine Baillie Miriam Mells
Alison Mells Kaleena Hanvidge
David Legge Dougie McCreath
(Sheila Ainslie reminded us that, according to Scottish Law, under-16s are allowed to express opinions but are not allowed to sign any contracts.)
At this point, Elaine Baillie, Debbie Zawinski and several other people commented that the divisions that had been observed this evening (divisions which in Jackie Philip's opinion were in relation to the new hall project and not to community spirit in general) were“astonishing” and “disappointing”, that we don't want sides being taken or people being categorised into 'them and us', that we should come together and be prepared to compromise, join and contribute. Billy Christison said that he felt it had been good to have so many folk present, and good to have a reaction from which good can come. Freda Birrell summed it up by saying that our community and its great community spirit are too important to lose and that there must be no more anger.
This concluded the business of the AGM, and those not appointed to the new committee left.
Election of Office-bearers:
Chairman: Neil Richerby – proposed by Chris Bruce, seconded by Sharon Simpson
Treasurer: Gordon Simpson – proposed by Barbara Richerby, seconded by Jacquie Riddell
Secretary: Barbara Richerby – proposed by Janice Hanvidge, seconded by Nathan Simpson
Next meeting: the new committee agreed to meet, where possible, on Thursdays.
The first meeting will be a social occasion, on Thursday 14th December, for decoration of the Hall for Christmas, and business will resume on a Thursday in mid-January 2018 – the date to be confirmed shortly.
Suggestions for social events and fundraising are sought.
Gordon Simpson David Legge
Alice Reynolds Andrea Davison
Olivia Reynolds Nicky Munro
Ted Neil Graeme Munro
Dorothy Neil Fiona Gray
Alex Ainslie Jim Gray
Sheila Ainslie Alec Amos
Gillie Baird Linda Amos
Winky Potgiesser Neil Reynolds
Angus MacDonald Venetia Reynolds
Paul Scott Oliver Reynolds
Marie Florence MacDonald Carmen Scott
Margaret Feeney Dan Feeney
Sally Drysdale Kaleena Hanvidge
Robin Drysdale Andrew McKendry
Ian Christison Joe Zawinski
Marlyn Foster Ruth Zawinski
John Hanvidge Andrew Zawinski
Janice Hanvidge Lorna Bairden
Stephen Mells Grahame Bairden
Alison Mells Paolo Oliver
Dave Philip Alan Oliver
Jackie Philip Janice Donaldson
Nathanael Mells Andrew Welsh
Miriam Mells Natalie Welsh
Appendix C - Chairman's Annual Report
Welcometo all of you to our Annual General Meeting.
Thankyou for coming out on a chilly, dark night. Thanks to all the committee memberswho've attended meetings, who've researched things, thought about things, askedquestions, prompted actions and helped in so many ways to keep things moving.Thanks to Janice Hanvidge for managing the hall bookings, to Janice Lennon forher cleaning services, to John Hanvidge and Gordon Simpson, principally, forwillingly carrying out ongoing maintenance tasks, and to Gordon for keeping thefinances in order. Thanks also to Barbara and Cat ONeill for their meticulousMinutes of our complex meetings, and also to Andrea Davison for posting thingson the website. Tonight we also have with us John Sanders from Simpson &Brown, and I would like to thank him and his colleagues for all their guidance,advice, and patience during the past year, for attending several meetings, forbeing the postbox for the questionnaires and collating the results. Shortly hewill take us through the report on the recent community consultation. The fullreport will be available in due course, in paper form alongside Minutes, asusual posted here in the Hall, and also online. And if anyone would likeMinutes to be emailed to them on a regular basis, please come and sign up atthe end of the meeting.
Thisis the time for me to report on the past year, my second as Chair of theAssociation. We have been very fully occupied with the new hall project – therehave been more meetings than last year and many hundreds of emails have beenexchanged in the pursuit of organising our thoughts and steering a path whichwe always hope reflects the majority wishes of our community. Unfortunatelythis has meant that there have not been the usual social events – we shouldremedy that in 2018 if possible, as it's always good to have opportunities forgetting together. The hall has continued to be used for all the various regularactivities, however, which is good, and what it's here for.
The members of the committee believethat having a physical place for the local community tomeet is an essential element of a good quality of life in the village, and inthe surrounding area. We know that social isolation is as harmful toindividuals as is smoking a pack of cigarettes each day, whereas being part ofa vibrant, welcoming community can add years to life. Having somewhere tomeet that is safe, warm, comfortable and welcoming can play a big part inachieving this for any community, and that is what is giving us all energy tocontinue with this complex and challenging task of replacing the presentbuilding with a high quality hall.
Thistime last year we had just reached the point where we had appointed Simpson& Brown to work with us on a design for a new hall. In March we held twoevents where the first draft design was displayed on paper, on wall-boards, andon screen in an impressive 3D digital presentation. A good many people attendedand this design prompted many comments on various aspects – exactly as we werehoping. In response to these comments, both for and against, and also as aresult of the first and rather eye-watering cost plan from the QuantitySurveyor, we asked the architects to revise the design... in fact, severaltimes over the last few months, until we arrived at something more realistic,with consequent reductions in the cost plan. It is on this revised design thatyou have just been consulted.
Itis true to say that we started from a naïve position, and have since been onquite a journey. We have visited other halls, learned about regulations,researched sources of funding, and discussed much, and have come to realisethat what we feel is the sensible course of action does cost significantly morethan we first thought. The estimated cost that we indicated in the most recentinformation sent to you includes things like fees, and allows for a contingencyelement, the cost of demolition of the current hall, and inflation. I shouldnote that until we get to the stage of inviting tenders for the project, we canonly work with a ball-park figure, which we expressed as a cost per squaremetre. We are trying to think of everything so that there will be no additionsor nasty surprises down the line. Having professional advice has been a greathelp. No-oneon the committee has the expertise or time to project-manage the funds or thebuilding process – this is a specialist, time-consuming process, and if themoney is to be well-spent we need to have professional assistance. Any fundingbodies will expect a professional approach to ensure a good outcome.
In terms of cost and funding, we knowthere are concerns so I thought it might be helpful to set out our thinkng in alittle more detail. When we started this process we might have set a nominalbudget and thought this might cover everything. Certain elements of the designare, however, not up to us but specified by Planning and Building Warrantrules, and are set in the context of building in a Conservation Village. So,for example, whatever number of toilets we might think is sufficient, BuildingControl have their regulations which have to be met. We all have ideas aboutthe size of hall, but again there are rules about its size in relation to ourcommunity. We wish to steer the project through the planning process as well assatisfy the aspirations of the majority of our community.
East Lammermuir Community Council has advised us that, over the next 20 to 25 years, in theregion of £5 million pounds will be disbursed in community benefits, which areto be spent on improving the quality of life of people in the East Lammermuirarea, and not on replacing or underpinning services which public bodies usuallyprovide. On top of our share of this money, we also benefit from about£22,000 of community funds each year from the more local Ferneylea andHoprigshiels wind farms, and hopefully further funds will come from East Neukwind farm in due course. It is incumbent on us to make the best use ofour share of these funds. We know that in some other parts of Scotland communitieshave not been able to find people to act as trustees for these funds, or todecide what to do with them, and they are considering having to ask the localCouncil to take over. We have made initial approaches to various otherfunding bodies such as The Big Lottery and Viridor, and will continue to followthese up at the appropriate time. Viridor were particularly encouraging intheir response. The results of the surveys that we have carried out in andaround Oldhamstocks have told us that the top priority of the local community(in common with other local communities like Stenton, and Spott) is to replacethe village hall. We want to use the capital funds we can access now tobuild a high quality building with low maintenance costs and a small environmentalimpact. This will prevent generations to come - because we expect thehall to last a good century or more – from having relentless maintenance tasks,such as those that volunteers carry out to this hall every year, without makingany headway. The fabric of our new hall should be of a standard that minimisesthe need for ongoing investment. This has been a key consideration inworking with the architects to arrive at the present design. We need tospend wisely now, for the sake of future residents who will not have communitybenefit funds to rely on.
Wehave not yet reached the tendering stage – this will happen once we know whatPlanning and Building Control have to say about our proposed design, and oncewe know if any changes have to be made to comply with current regulations. Itwould waste our time and that of potential contractors if we asked for detailedquotes on a building design which is not fully thought out. When it gets to thestage of going to tender, of course we will be approaching some localcontractors which could include Fleming Homes, as was suggested in the'Alternative Plan'.
We have agreed that we will look carefully at all of thecomments received, and consider what we can understand of the 'AlternativePlan', because perhaps one in four responses was in favour of this. Weclearly can't adopt that plan on the basis of 25% support, but again we shouldthink through the issues raised, and we intend to do so.
We have been accused of not listening.Time was set aside for our community tocome along to discuss our progress. Thiscommittee and those before it over the last four years have spent probablyhundreds of person-hours listening – trying, by way of individualconversations, formal consultations, and open meetings, to consider whatthe hall should be capable of, and to look at the proposed design. Wehave heard a range of views, but there is now
* a consensus on the need for a new hall
* a clear majority in terms of this being the top communitypriority, and
* a significant majority of people, and households, who wantus to get on with the current design.
TheOldhamstocks Community Association is not a "thing" nor a particulargroup of people. Our constitution sees us making an annual appointment ofa committee, who then in turn appoint a chair, secretary and treasurer. Standing for a place on the committee is open to anyone who has the benefit ofthis community at heart, and everyone here tonight is welcome to join. The membership of the committee has changed very significantly over the lastfew years, with people joining and leaving for a variety of reasons.
Everyone on the committee is part of other groups andfriendships in the community, as I imagine is everyone here tonight. We are acomplex community of multiple inter-relationships. We are certainly not acommunity that can somehow be divided into two, with an "us and them"mentality. There is just "us".
What I would say is that standing up as a member, and particularly as thechair, of a local group is not easy. Listening to everyone is possible -satisfying everyone is not. Where there are minority views, we respectthem and try to learn from them - but we cannot be guided by themalone. We must respect the majority view.
Any committee member only has so much energy for continuingto give time voluntarily, and we need to achieve what we know the vast majorityof the community wants - a new hall to replace this building. Please helpus in any way you can to make that happen, on behalf of all of the community,for the benefit of everyone who lives here.
Please consider joining the committee tonight, if you havean interest in making life here as good as it can be, for all of us.
Questions and comments voiced; Answers and responses given.
Q The proposed hall seems much bigger and taller than the present one, with a seemingly vastly increased footprint; will it be cavernous like the Co'path Hall?
A There was a recognised desire and need for more main floor-space, a more adequate kitchen area, better toilet facilities, and increased storage; there are ELC planning regulations regarding floor-space and number of toilets etc according to the size of the community served by the building; the current main floor-space is c12.5m x c5.5m – the proposed main floor-space is 13m x 7m;
yes, the proposed building is taller, but not excessively, and should not seem cavernous.
Q Total cost figures given in a report from the Quantity Surveyor were queried.
A These seem not to be from the most recent cost plan.
Q Will there be a roadway created across the Green for vehicular access?
A This is not planned.
Q Funding – would this involve asking members of the community to contribute?
A This is not envisaged.
Q Great cost – can this be justified? Is there enough usage of the Hall (consider the problems experienced in Co'path)?
A The plan is not thought to be out of proportion, and is designed to encourage and be a catalyst for increased future use. This is a vision in response to an opportunity. The committee believes that a better hall will encourage more activities.
Q Why hasn't there been more proper canvassing of user-groups? (specific mention of the Flower Show Committee)
A Members of the committee have received comments from members of user-groups in a more informal way; some are also on the Flower Show committee and had relayed their disquiet; OCA has received a list of Flower Show items for which it would be useful to have storage space – this was discussed and the suggestion had been made that loft storage space could be used for some things since access to these belongings is not required on a regular basis. (This suggestion is useless.)
Q Regardless of whatever design is chosen for a new hall, is the funding guaranteed? What happens if windfarms go into receivership?
A Reassurance was given that firm contracts with windfarms exist, windfarm income is already accumulating, that other well-known and reputable funding bodies will also be approached, and, more importantly, that OCA will not go ahead with any building unless funding is securely in place.
Q How is the Windfarm Community Benefit income shared out? Do the sums add up?
A ELCC intends to share money evenly between the four villages, all things being equal; confirmation was given that by 2020 some £350-400k is claimable for Oldhamstocks, and that the committee aims to raise the necessary balance from other sources (there are funding bodies that specialise in funding projects in rural areas). Viridor's response has already been encouraging, and community benefit income qualifies as match-funding in relation to the Big Lottery; Stenton has already had two very substantial tranches of money from ELCC but there had still been a shortfall – the community contributed, and this was regarded as a positive outcome, as a way to increase a positive attitude and a feeling of ownership; since windfarm benefits became available, Innerwick has received £104k and Oldhamstocks £59k for a whole variety of groups and purposes.
Q These large sums of money received from windfarm benefits are regarded by some people as excessive (“ridiculous”, “obscene”) and there are other halls nearby that we can use, so could the money be, for example, disbursed to all households for electricity bills, as by Penmanshiel?
A Using these funds in a way that brings about fresh opportunities – through the provision of upgraded and updated community facilities – will contribute to the maintenance of a vibrant community as well as to the health and wellbeing of individuals and the community as a whole.
Q Do we have any idea of running costs? Is it a space that can pay for itself? Is it eco-friendly and not big and expensive?
A The proposal is to have solar panels, double-glazing, an air-source heat pump and excellent insulation. There was a suggestion that if we are able to look at running costs for Co'path Hall perhaps we can arrive at a proportionate indication – John S advised that indue course the committee should provide a factual response and said he believed that S&B's proposed design is very energy-efficient.
Q With reference to a £1m Perthshire hall, recently built, the ridge and ceiling heights were questioned, and also the amount of glass used – could this not lead to significant loss of heat and high maintenance?
A John S replied that the ridge height was determined partly on aesthetic grounds in order for the building to fit in with the elevations of surrounding buildings, and that much of S&B's work is with churches so they have particular experience in using ways of making sure heat is not lost in larger rooms.
Q Did OCA have a site survey? Is a ground-source heat pump not possible?
A Yes, and the survey showed that the site is unsuitable for a ground-source heat pump.
Q Surely it's good to have the village hall built in a contrasting way (and not looking like surrounding houses) so that it can be easily recognised as a public building?
A There was some support for this opinion, but no particular response was made.
Q Where do we go from here?
A The committee will look at 'The Alternative Plan' in detail, and it was acknowledged that S&B can be asked for a further revised design.
Q Could we suggest an 80% approval?
A Some felt that as there is already a majority approval, that should be sufficient. Others disagreed with this view.
Q In the information provided with the first questionnaire more than a year ago, costs were unrealistic and details were minimal. Since then the design and costs have escalated and there is as yet no business plan. Can the community not be given one?
A The committee has been on a journey of investigation and much has been learned in the process so far, but it doesn't have all the answers yet; there is already much more detail, but there is still more work to do before we are in a position to provide a comprehensive business plan.
Q Would the people suggesting 'The Alternative Plan' be able to meet with the committee?
A There was not much enthusiasm for this approach, but the committee to be newly appointed this evening will be reviewing all ideas, and investigating further those put forward in 'The Alternative Plan'.