Village Hall Development

UPDATE (April 2013)

I would like to express a huge thank you to all who have contributed whether through time or donations to achieve our target to have the hall refurbished. It’s a fantastic achievement. As you probably will have seen, the builders have started work and all is going to plan. They have stripped out the interior of the hall, installed a new electrical supply, demolished the old kitchen and the toilet area (leaving part of one wall to test a method of repointing). Next week they start on the footings for the new part of the building. It's early days but we are still on target to complete the work in the middle of September.

UPDATE (February 2013)

After the completion of the village consultation regarding the proposed increased in precept we were delighted to receive some very generous and completely unexpected donations which have enabled us to change our loan requirements significantly. The consequence of this, you will be delighted to hear, is that there will be no need to increase the precept at all for the purpose of the village hall refurbishment. There will have to be a small increase of £3.67 per year per average household to cover increases in the costs of ‘regular’ parish business. This would have had to be applied whether we went ahead with the village hall project or not.

The final position with regard to costs is that the village has raised £108,522 and we have received grants of £142,400. This means we need to borrow £35,000 which we have elected to do over a 15 year period. The repayments will be approx. £2716 per annum. This will be paid for by a mixture of the village hall committee fundraising events/donations and the Parish Council from an existing allocation within the precept.

Having met the builders to finalise matters we can now confirm that the building work will start on 18th March 2013 and will last approximately 7 months. We need to stress that the hall will be completely off limits during this time. The builder should only be contacted through David Norris.

The Parish Council would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone in the village for their support in raising this fantastic amount of money and look forward to reopening our fantastic new hall in the autumn of 2013.

UPDATE (December 2012)

The fundraising of the village hall project is continuing at a pace. The last few months have been busy with meetings and consultations with the parishioners - all of which has been documented through personal letters to every household.

The village hall committee have had a hugely busy period fundraising, and the parish council would like to express their thanks to them all. We also have to thank all the villagers who have donated money independently – over £10,000 has been raised through this alone. So many, many thanks.

We are now waiting to dot the i’s and cross the t’s on the complete package (contracts with builders, finalising the amount of money raised etc.) but I think it is safe to say that we will be able to start work on the village hall in March 2013 as originally planned. Unfortunately the hall will have to be completely closed during the period of the works – about seven months - and we will need to respect the fact that it will be a controlled site with no public access during that time.

We are expecting to have all the details finalised by mid-December and will be writing with the exact figures when we have them, to keep you fully informed.

Dear Fellow Villager,

The consultation with the villagers conducted over the past few weeks has now concluded. Thank you to everyone who responded by letter, email or in person. Having listened to a variety of views, the Parish Council met on Tuesday, 9th October and voted on the following proposal:

'The Parish Council agrees to increase the precept by the amount required to cover the outstanding capital and interest repayments on the most beneficial loan available sufficient to cover the shortfall in fundraising for the complete village hall to a total of £279,000.

The approximate rise in precept payments will be £40 per household per annum if over a 10 year period - this is the Parish Council's preferred length of time.'

This proposal was passed and therefore the precept will rise in April 2013 allowing the whole village hall project to go ahead. We propose to start work in early spring of next year and should have a beautiful refurbished hall that we can all use and be proud of by Autumn 2013.

Yours sincerely,
Nicky Brooks
01993 701137
Keble House, Church End, South Leigh, OX29 6UR

UPDATE (September 2012)

Dear Fellow Villager,

Following our article in the Autumn Newsletter, and reproduced below on this page, regarding the village hall refurbishment and its implications for our Council Tax, we have now held our open meetings. These were well attended, and, on behalf of the Parish Council, we thank everyone who came to express their views, especially those who kindly offered to help us on specific aspects of the project.

Several helpful and constructive points came out of the meetings that we thought were worth reporting back on.

We trust that everyone agrees that the hall is a valuable community asset and that, if our village is to thrive, maintaining it for the generations to come is key. You could say that it is our legacy. The Parish Council, as owner of the hall, has a duty to ensure that the hall is maintained to an appropriate standard.

Cost of the project

Some people felt that the cost of the works seemed high for the amount of work to be undertaken. David Norris (another villager), who is a Qualified Quantity Surveyor and is experienced in projects of this size, is helping us throughout the whole process, from tendering, right through to monitoring costs and works , all - very generously - at no cost to us. As a result of the tendering process, the contractors that we are planning to use are a local professional firm with a long history of successful completion of projects, including the refurbishment of Victorian public buildings.

We have to bear in mind that, as we are both a public organisation and the project is a public building, there are many rules and regulations (not least health and safety) that we have to adhere to, many of which potentially add expense to the project. We have compared our costs to other local projects to establish that our quote is competitive, as we believe it is; for instance, Freeland's new village hall cost £550,000, whilst Enstone is spending £228,500 on everything apart from the shell of their new building. Despite that, we still intend to see if there is any further scope for reducing the cost of the work.

Will the Village Hall Committee continue to exist?

There has been a Village Hall Committee running events since 1958. We have had new people expressing an interest in joining the current committee - so there is no sign of a lack of commitment. As part of the discussions in advance of our loan application, the Village Hall Committee has indicated that they fully expect to continue organising events to raise funds for the foreseeable future. Their expectation is that events will continue to be able to contribute at least £3,000 pa, an amount that we expect to be conservative.

The Village Hall Committee is as much a part of the South Leigh village community as the hall itself and their continuing enthusiasm and energy has already made an enormous contribution to this project.

Sustainability of the hall in the future

One of the very first things we did when considering the hall refurbishment was to conduct a village survey. This showed that the majority of households in the village who returned surveys wished to have the hall refurbished and that they would use it more once the works are complete. The results of the survey were published in the Spring 2012 edition of the village newsletter and updated results will be published on the village website shortly. We took these results and have applied them to a revised forecast of income for the hall. This showed that it is possible that the refurbished hall could eventually bring in income sufficient to cover the annual cost of financing the loan and to allow us to start to build a reserve to cover future repairs. This will require sustained effort from all involved and we will be working on the business and marketing plans that were helpfully suggested at the meetings, with a view to getting the best out of our revitalised hall.

Increasing the use of the refurbished hall will take time, so that there will, as indicated previously, still need to be an increase in the precept that forms part of your council tax in order to help to fund the loan repayments etc. However, over time, it is our intention that amounts raised in excess of costs and reserves will be used to reduce the level of the precept.

We hope that this letter has helped to address some of the points raised at the open meetings. As the Fund-Raising Committee is due to report back to the full Parish Council on 9th October at 7.30pm, could we please ask that any resident who wants to express views on the project and / or the proposed rise in council tax contacts one of us as soon as possible.

Thank you again for your interest in this project.

Yours sincerely,
On behalf of the Fund-Raising Committee of the Parish Council

Nicky Brooks
01993 701137
Keble House, Church End, South Leigh, OX29 6UR

John Ashwell
01993 703534
Lymbourne, Chapel Road, South Leigh, OX29 6UP

UPDATE (September 2012)

Dear All,

First of all a big thank you to those residents who have so generously donated funds to the Village Hall refurbishment project. You will see from other parts of the website that there are lots of events being held in the lead up to Christmas and the Parish Council would like to urge you to attend as many of these events as possible.

For those of you who prefer internet banking and wish to donate online, the account details can be obtained from John Ashwell.

Instead of arranging the building work in two stages as was originally intended, the Parish Council has decided to complete the whole project in one operation as overall this will work out cheaper. The current situation regarding fundraising is laid out below.

Funds secured to date, i.e. grants and donations: £186,300.00

Still need: £92,700.00

We are still contacting possible donors/grant giving organisations and hope to secure further funds before our deadline at the end of the year. The grants are conditional on proof that we have reached our target and work must start by Spring 2013 or they can be withdrawn.

We have to accept that we are unlikely to raise all the monies for our project via grants and donations so your Parish Council has decided upon the following solution.

The Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) specialises in providing loans at preferential rates to councils for projects such as ours. WODC have just launched a similar scheme (in recognition of the fact that in these harsh economic times grants are hard to obtain).

Please note that all the following figures are estimates. Interest rates are current at the time of writing. WODC have said that their interest rates will follow PWLB but will be 0.5&£37; less. However the scheme is so new that nothing is published yet and so we are erring on the side of caution and using the PWLB figures. Their interest rate is 1.77&£37;

The shortfall, if no more grants and donations are forthcoming, would mean a worst case scenario of £90,000.00

To repay capital and interest at 1.77%; for 10 years would cost £10,592.00 p.a.

Less annual contributions from the Parish Council & Village Hall Committee: £4,500 p.a.

Leaving a shortfall of £6,092 p.a.

Based on a house in Council Tax Band E (currently £41.15) the increase required to cover this amount would be approximately an extra 90p per week per household.

For this we will get a beautifully restored village hall that will be there for generations to come.

I do hope you agree with the decision your Parish Council has taken on your behalf - if you have any queries please do contact one of the councillors. Their telephone numbers can be found here. Alternatively we are holding open evenings on 24th and 26th September at the village hall between 7.00pm - 8.00pm so that we can hear your views. The latest version of the plans for the hall will also be available.

Finally I gather that some people felt my circulated letter asking for donations was inappropriate. To those people, I apologise but would like to say that overall it was well received and many people felt able to contribute in a most generous way.

Nicky Brooks

UPDATE (March 2012)

You have probably seen in the press that we have been awarded a grant of £50,000 by West Oxfordshire District Council towards renewal and refurbishment work. This is of course excellent news, but there still remains a long way to go if we are to achieve our aim of an improved kitchen and toilets, together with a well insulated, smart hall with access onto the garden at the rear.

Thank you to those people who have already written in support of our aims. However we need more proof that increased usage of the hall would occur if it was in better condition and to this end the recent survey was distributed around the village. Thank you to everyone who spent a few minutes completing it. The grant giving bodies like to know their money will be appreciated by as many people as possible.

Unfortunately we were turned down by the Big Lottery, although disappointing this was not a great surprise as we haven't heard of any application to this source that was successful at the first attempt.

We have been told that some larger companies have grant schemes for communities such as ours that can only be applied for through an employee. We are wondering if anyone in the village is aware that their company runs such a scheme and would be willing to pursue this.

UPDATE (July 2011)

The Parish Council has arranged for plans to be drawn up for a new larger kitchen, new toilets and access directly from the hall to garden. Over recent months these have been amended several times but now we have reached the position where we are ready to submit them to West Oxfordshire District Planning Dept. for approval. This has been made possible by the patient involvement of David Norris, Chartered Surveyor and Planning Consultant.

If you would like to see the plans but didn't go to the PC meeting on 12th July, 2011 please let me know.

John Ashwell

UPDATE (November 2010)

A damp meter has been used to confirm that the walls are not as damp as they used to be. In the Autumn Edition it was stated "we have requested the services of a company to rake and repoint the whole of the village hall". We expected them in late September but nothing happened and eventually they promised to come in late November. We thought this was too late in the year to install new mortar and asked that they come next Spring. In view of the hard frosts experienced since the promised start date this turned out to be a wise decision.