Cabinet Sub-Committee (Hitchin Gymnasium and Workmans Hall Trust) Minutes

Date:
Tuesday, 9th October, 2012
Time:
7.45pm
Place:
Committee Room 3, Council Offices, Gernon Road, Letchworth Garden City
 
 

Attendance Details

Present:
Councillor Bernard Lovewell (Chairman), Councillor I.J. Knighton and Councillor Mrs C.P.A. Strong.
In attendance:
Strategic Director of Customer Services, Head of Revenues, Benefits & IT, Accountancy Manager, Legal Advisor and Committee & Member Services Manager.
Item Description/Decision
PART I
9 MINUTES
RESOLVED: That the Minutes of the meeting of the Sub-Committee held on 22 May 2012 be taken as read, approved and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.
10 NOTIFICATION OF OTHER BUSINESS
There was no notification of other business.
11 CHAIRMAN'S ANNOUNCEMENTS
The Chairman reminded Members that, in line with the Code of Conduct, any Declarations of Interest needed to be declared immediately prior to the item in question.
12 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
There was no public participation.
13 2011/12 STATEMENT OF ACCOUNTS AND ANNUAL REPORT FOR HITCHIN TOWN HALL GYMNASIUM AND WORKMANS HALL TRUST: POST-INDEPENDENT EXAMINATION
The Accountancy Manager presented a report in respect of the outcome of the independent examination of the Trust’s Statement of Accounts for 2011/12. The following appendices were submitted with the report:

Appendix 1 - Final Statement of Accounts 2011/12;
Appendix 2 - Final Annual Report 2011/12;
Appendix 3 - Independent Examiner’s report.

The Accountancy Manager advised that, for the year ended 31 March 2012, there was a net inflow of resources of £17,717 which was almost entirely due to a revaluation of the property during the year to a carrying value of £174,000 as at 31 March 2012. Income from the hire of the hall was £16,301 (£13,557 in 2010/11) which, together with the contribution from the Council of £24,696 (£36,155 in 2010/11), covered all expenditure.

The Accountancy Manager advised that the examination of the Trust accounts had been completed by the appointed auditor, Gursh Bains CPFA, an Audit Manager in the Shared Internal Audit Service, who had experience of auditing Charity Accounts in previous roles at the Audit Commission. The examination did not identify any issues which needed to be bought to the attention to the Trustees and the examiner’s report was attached at Appendix 3 to the report.

The Sub-Committee was pleased to note that the cost of the independent examination had amounted to £250, the same as the amount paid in 2010/11.

The Accountancy Manager referred to an error in the Annual Report, under Section E - Financial Review. In the second paragraph of the third box, the words “…a capital charge for depreciation of the property and…” should be deleted.

RESOLVED:

(1) That the independent examination report, as attached at Appendix 3 to the report, be noted;

(2) That the 2011/12 Statement of Accounts, as attached at Appendix 1 to the report, be approved; and

(3) That the 2011/12 Annual Report, as attached at Appendix 2 to the report, and as amended, be approved.

REASON FOR DECISION: To comply with requirements for registration of the Trust with the Charity Commission.
14 NORTH HERTFORDSHIRE MUSEUM AND COMMUNITY FACILITY
The Strategic Director of Customer Services orally reported that negotiations with Hitchin Town Hall Limited (HTHL) were substantially complete, but that discussions with Adventure Capital Fund (ACF) (formerly known as Future Builders England) were on-going. As a consequence, the report to Council meeting on 15 October 2012 had yet to be finalised. He commented, however, that he did not anticipate that the recommendations that the Council would be asked to approve would have a significant impact on the Trust.

The Strategic Director of Customer Services referred to a revised Project Timetable, which had been tabled at the meeting, and which included significant changes to timescales to satisfy the requirements of ACF. The first of these was to ensure that all Legal Agreements relating to the project were completed and signed by 15 October 2012, hence the need for the Council meeting on that date.

The Strategic Director of Customer Services explained that the Development Agreement had been revised to take account of the essential requirements of HTHL. In addition, certain repayment arrangements had been agreed should the project completion date be not met.

The Strategic Director of Customer Services advised that the second major change to the Project Timetable required by ACF was that the building contract must be awarded by 31 March 2013. This had resulted in a foreshortened lead-in period of 5 months (as opposed to 8 months) which, following advice from the Consulting Architect, the Council would be asked to approve.

The Strategic Director of Customer Services commented that one of the reasons for the delay in progressing negotiations was due to HTHL suspending legal work with ACF for a period of time. However, the 15 October 2012 ACF deadline had focussed all parties, and the past few weeks had been spent in intensive negotiations between the Council, HTHL and ACF.

The Strategic Director of Customer Services reported that ACF also required collateral warranties for the Supervising Architect, Contractor and Sub-Contractors, and a direct agreement with the Council regarding the interest of 14 Brand Street. ACF were also seeking a refund mechanism should the building contract not be completed by the scheduled date.

The Sub-Committee noted that the Hitchin Museum and the Hitchin Town Hall were now closed to the public.

The Strategic Director of Customer Services advised that HTHL had applied to the Council for a loan of £20,000 to cover their legal costs. This would be repayable (with interest) on receipt of HTHL’s final payment from ACF.

The Strategic Director of Customer Services went through the resolutions regarding the project agreed by Council at its meeting held on 10 May 2012, and stated that these had largely been discharged. He confirmed that HTHL had secured charitable status.

The Trust Legal Advisor went through the resolutions agreed by the Sub-Committee at its meeting held on 22 May 2012. He commented that the Management Agreement now included minor changes in respect of HTHL’s charitable status and the potential for an expanded development. However, as the Legal Agreements had yet to be finalised, and it was unfeasible for the Sub-Committee to meet again before the 15 October 2012 deadline, it was recommended that the Head of Revenues, Benefits and IT, in consultation with the Chairman of the Cabinet Sub-Committee, be delegated authority to agree the Legal Agreements.

RESOLVED:

(1) That the information provided by the Strategic Director of Customer Services regarding progress to settling the Legal Agreements be noted, and that it be further noted that the outstanding matters do not directly impact the Trust;

(2) That the Head of Revenues, Benefits and IT, in consultation with the Chairman of the Cabinet Sub-Committee, be delegated authority to agree the Legal Agreements; and

(3) That it be noted that the project will require final approval by Full Council at its meeting to be held on 15 October 2012.

REASON FOR DECISION: To keep the Sub-Committee updated with various developments with regard to the North Hertfordshire Museum and Community Facility project.
15 EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC
RESOLVED: That under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and press be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the said Act (as amended).
PART II
16 NORTH HERTFORDSHIRE MUSEUM AND COMMUNITY FACILITY
The Strategic Director of Customer Services orally reported a Part 2 matter in respect of the potential for an expanded development, which had only been presented to the Council by HTHL in the past few weeks. He stated that it had been agreed that reference would be made to this possibility in the appropriate Legal Agreements. However, should such a proposal come forward it would require the agreement of all parties (including the Trust), and with a proviso that it would not jeopardise the Award of the Construction Contract deadline of 31 March 2013.

RESOLVED: That the report be noted.

REASON FOR DECISION: To keep the Sub-Committee updated with a development with regard to the North Hertfordshire Museum and Community Facility project.
Published on Thursday, 25th October, 2012
8.55pm