Oldhamstocks Community Association
Committee Meeting held in the Hall on 27th June 2017
Present: Neil Richerby (Chair), Barbara Richerby, John Hanvidge, Janice Hanvidge, Alison Mells, Sharon Simpson, Gordon Simpson, Nathan Simpson, Lauryn Simpson, Dougie McCreath, Lorna Bairden, Chris Bruce, with John Sanders and Catriona O'Neill (S&B) and Stephen Bremner (D&S).
Apologies: Jacquie Riddell, Angus Macdonald, Lizanne Longmuir, David Legge.
Welcome: Neil welcomed all present, and noted that Lizanne is stepping down from the committee, as of tonight, as she is moving to Edinburgh. Barbara will write to show our appreciation and thank her for her contributionto OCA. Barbara
Minutes of the previous meeting (May 3rd) were approved. John Hanvidge volunteered to replace Lizanne as a 'Draft Minutes - checker'. Barbara thanked Cat for her excellent minutes of all meetings attended by S&B.
Treasurer's Report: Gordon said that of the £21,564.90 in the bank, £4195.10 is available. We have to date drawn down £15000 of the £50000 from Crystal Rig allocation – no change. It was noted that the S&B invoice forward plan given by Jenny H still stands, though the timing will be slightly different.
Correspondence from Angus Macdonald had been circulated to the committee, and his comments and concerns about escalating costs were noted. The committee agrees that we should indeed seek to reduce the current cost projection where possible, but that we do not want to compromise the current design plan to any great extent (and lose vital storage and activity space), and that we should not return to an unrealistic budget of around £300K – we are agreed that we want not only a quality building but also the additional space (Alison commented that a recent coffee-morning highlighted the lack of space in the current hall), and that we should be prepared for the likely costs involved (i.e. perhaps somewhat in excess of £600K if necessary); we have not yet fully explored funding sources and have much more to do on this in order to achieve what we feel is the best solution. We also did not feel that adding things (e.g. storage) at later stages would be practically sensible or cost-effective.
Our project may well be of interest to the Big Lottery – S&B offered to pursue enquiries – and to E L Council.
Sharon reported on her investigation into Tyne/Esk LEADER funding – but as this programme is part-funded by the EU, it may be that funding will be unavailable after 2019 i.e. by the time we are ready to begin on site. It may be possible to apply for funding now (to be spent before 2019) for equipment/materials that can be stored until required (e.g. play equipment, grass-crete, things which could be used in the current hall and transferred to a new building), but funding is unlikely to be granted unless we have title deeds/ownership of the land. Sharon has already initiated a meeting soon with a local lawyer (Paris Steele, Dunbar) to discuss title deeds, and offered also to ask about the procedure for drawing up a purchase agreement with Dunglass Estate, in the hope that we can have something concrete sooner rather than later – we agreed that this would be helpful, although acknowledged that perhaps initiative will have to come from Dunglass? Sharon
Neil said that Neil Reynolds had been in touch and had suggested we contact a lawyer friend of his who specialises in land purchase and who he was sure would be able to give us excellent advice – we agreed that this also should be pursued. Neil
Sharon and Gordon reported that they had met someone by chance at Stenton village hall who had informed them that Stenton Hall refurbishment has so far cost c£276K, with a separate £70K for the playpark, and there is further projected spending- this puts into perspective projected costs for our newbuild scheme.
Gordon emphasised that we need to get in early for funding applications to Tyne/EskLEADER funding.
Chris said that we should be confident that windfarm money will be available.
Neil reported that his conversation with a representative from Viridor Credits should encourage us to think of making multiple applications for £50K towards different 'parcels' of work – e.g. demolition and landscaping/playpark being separate from the main building project. (Stephen B – Quantity Surveyor – did not advise phasing of the main work however, and said we would need to havefully costed schemes for potential funders, also advising that we should apply as a 'community hub', representing various groups/users/sections of the community.)
For the Tyne/Esk LEADER funding, Sharon noted that we have to show 'added value' to the community, i.e. show that we would be bringing facilities in for those who are at present isolated from access to such facilities.
Gordon noted that the project should be VAT zero-rated for construction but not for fees. (Add-ons might attract VAT, so not a good idea.) Stephen B strongly recommended that we consult a VAT consultant for a definitive ruling. Gordon
ELC apparently has no money for new play equipment, but will pay for free fitting of any equipment we acquire – possibly a separate project for a Viridor application?
Next Consultation: at present we have postponed the next consultation (as planned at the May meeting) while we continue discussing the design and costs. As before, we agreed to the S&B suggestion that the next consultation should be by letter, by door-step delivery and conversation. So that people can make an informed judgement, we want to show that we have already listened to comments and suggestions by making changes; we should give additional, realistic information, refer to costs, include a clear statement about projected windfarm funding (emphasising that this money can be spent in a great way for us, now, and that if we don't spend it, someone else will get it), give some financial comparisons to other local village hall projects to put costs into perspective; and we would like an answer to a simple yes/no question – 'Do you feel there is general support for this project?' It is also very important to clearly explain the desire/need for a kitchen conforming to current non-domestic standards, while emphasising that it is certainly not (and never has been) our intention to operate the kitchen commercially. (OCA indue course)
Design: Question: Do we meet the projected £600K budget or refine the design as far as possible and aim to get any necessary extra funding? Neil had asked Cat for an alternative design which could conform to a £600K budget, but this removed the meeting room and reduced other spaces, and those present felt it was too much of a compromise on the brief we had. However this revision, set against the previous one, is all part of us doing our homework and will be useful as a benchmark – S&B and D&S would like a few weeks to work further on the design, aiming in between the two designs, in order to significantly reduce costs but without compromising on space. John S noted that we may not qualify for funding unless we are increasing the space – adding value - but agreed that £3K per square metre is a very high-cost spec; Stephen B replied that he would be doing well to get this figure below £2.5K (also commenting that using renewables would probably also attract funding). John S said that perhaps S&B had been too clever with storage ideas, and that we should consider exactly what we want to store – it could be that cupboards may be sufficient, rather than a room. S&B and D&S will therefore look at the spec closely and come back with a revision which retains the spaces and is creative with storage but is at a more reasonable cost, will explain their ideas, and give a cost report with a menu separating out items suitable for different funding applications. D&S will produce a table of costs for local, known buildings to enable us to have – and give out - a realistic cost comparison. S&B,D&S initially
This design revision etc will be sent to us in time for an OCA meeting to be held on 3rd August, so that it can be discussed in advance of the next general meeting with S&B and D&S on 10th August.
FlowerShow: The proposed joint meeting between OCA and the Flower Show committee (OHS) on 6th June having been cancelled, Marie-Florence Macdonald had intimated a request that OCA committee members join the OHS committee at their meeting on 18th July to hear their views. It transpires that few of us are available on that date (holiday time) - it was hoped therefore that all three people on both committees would be present, however, and Neil agreed to be present also. There was some concern that any discussion might muddy the waters, but we agreed that we would try to answer questions/address any concerns. Lorna, David, Barbara, Neil
Social events: we agreed that it would be good to hold an event in the early autumn, to welcome newcomers to the village. Janice H said she would be willing to arrange a Curry Night (Sharon volunteered help, as should we all!) and will find a suitable date.
AOB - Phonebox: Alison M asked about progress. There was none to report – Sharon will follow this up. Sharon
Next Meetings: 3rd August and 10th August at 7.30pm.