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

Date:
Monday, 22nd April, 2013
Time:
6.30pm
Place:
Committee Room 1, 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, Legal Advisor and Committee & Member Services Manager.
Item Description/Decision
PART I
17 MINUTES
RESOLVED: That the Minutes of the meeting of the Sub-Committee held on 9 October 2012 be taken as read, approved and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.
18 NOTIFICATION OF OTHER BUSINESS
There was no notification of other business.
19 CHAIRMAN'S ANNOUNCEMENTS
(1) 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; and

(2) The Chairman advised that there would be a debate upon the Part 1 item regarding the North Hertfordshire Museum and Community Facility, following which the Sub-Committee would consider the Part 2 item on the same matter. The Sub-Committee would then return to Part 1 to consider its decision on the matter.
20 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
There was no public participation.
21 NORTH HERTFORDSHIRE MUSEUM AND COMMUNITY FACILITY
The Trust Legal Advisor presented the Part 1 report of the Head of Revenues, Benefits and IT in respect of the North Hertfordshire Museum and Community Facility - Proposal for the inclusion of 15 Brand Street. The following appendices were submitted with the report:

Appendix A - Report to Council on 23 April 2013 plus appendices to that report; and
Appendix B - Report from Lambert Smith Hampton (Trust-appointed Surveyors).

The Trust Legal Advisor advised that a formal proposal had been received from Hitchin Town Hall Ltd (HTH Ltd) for the incorporation of 15 Brand Street into the approved scheme for the North Hertfordshire Museum and Community Facility. The Sub-Committee’s role was to consider whether or not the proposals, and in particular to gift 15 Brand Street to the Trust,

• Met the Charitable Objectives of the Trust; and
• Met the Public Benefit test, as specified by the Charity Commission.

The Trust Legal Advisor referred to the report on 15 Brand Street received from Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) (Trust-appointed Surveyors), provided at Appendix B to the report. He drew attention to the conclusion in the LSH report that confirmed their opinion that that it is in the interest of the Trust to proceed with both the proposed disposal (to a named party) of part on a long leasehold basis, and also to acquired Nos. 14 and 15 Brand Street, as an integral part of a major capital project to greatly improve the property. Taking all matters into account, LSH did not believe that, in respect of the disposal, a more beneficial overall outcome would be secured by offering the subject area of the property on the open market.

The Strategic Director of Customer Services referred to the report and associated documents to be submitted to the Council meeting on 23 April 2013, which were appended to the report. He provide the following amendments/updates to that documentation:

• The words “and on the draft Deed of Variation (Appendix 6)” should be deleted from Paragraph 2.2 of the recommendations;

• The words “appended to this report” in Paragraph 8.27 should be deleted;

• The words “attached in Appendix 6” in Paragraph 8.28 should be deleted;

• Appendix 6 should be deleted;

• The following should be added as an additional recommendation to Paragraph 2.2:

2.2.3 “Authority is delegated to the Strategic Director of Customer Services, in consultation with the Strategic Director of Finance Policy and Governance, the Portfolio Holder for Community Engagement and Rural Affairs and the Contracts Solicitor, to agree any required variations to any Legal Agreements to incorporate the proposed changes to the scheme.”

• Paragraph 8.17 - Stage area and associated storage - the view expressed in the report was the situation which pertained between NHDC and HTH Ltd at the time of the original submissions for Planning Permission and Listed Building Consent;

• Paragraphs 8.26 and 8.29.2 - clarification that the date for procurement of the main building contractor for the scheme would be by no later than 16 August 2013; and

• Paragraph 8.29.2 - clarification that within 10 working days of 16 August 2013, Hitchin Town Hall Limited would complete the purchase of both 14 and 15 Brand Street, and the Council would formally award the building contract.

In response to a question, the Strategic Director of Customer Services confirmed that the recommendations in the report to Council had been drafted on the condition that significant changes to the layout from those illustrated at Appendix 3 to the report would not be considered unless there was significant benefit to the Museum and that no additional costs or delay to the project would occur. This was to ensure that the community facilities did not overwhelm the primary function of the building as a Museum.
22 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 Paragraphs 3 and 5 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the said Act (as amended).
23 NORTH HERTFORDSHIRE MUSEUM AND COMMUNITY FACILITY
The Trust Legal Advisor presented the Part 2 report of the Head of Revenues, Benefits and IT in respect of the North Hertfordshire Museum and Community Facility - Proposal for the inclusion of 15 Brand Street. The following appendix was submitted with the report:

Appendix A - Part 2 Report to Council on 23 April 2013, plus appendix to that report.

The Trust Legal Advisor advised that, as with the approved scheme, the financial risks outlined in the report fell squarely upon the Council and, should the 15 Brand Street addition be agreed, would be picked up through the revised Management Agreement between the Trust and the Council.

The Strategic Director of Customer Services summarised the following risks set out in the Part 2 report to Council:

• Potential Withdrawal from the Approved or Amended Scheme by Hitchin Town Hall Ltd.;
• Hitchin Town Hall Ltd. - Financial Model and Capacity;
• Adventure Capital Fund (ACF) Conditions; and
• Procurement Issues.

RESOLVED:

(1) That the Part II report to the Council on 23 April 2013 be noted; and

(2) That it be noted that any financial risks to the Trust are transferred in full to the Council by virtue of the Management Agreement between the Trust and the Council.

REASON FOR DECISION: To ensure that Members of the Sub-Committee are fully advised of the background to the decisions that the Council will be asked to make on 23 April 2013.

[Note: The remainder of the meeting was in Part 1.]
24 NORTH HERTFORDSHIRE MUSEUM AND COMMUNITY FACILITY
The Sub-Committee, having considered both the Part 1 and Part 2 reports, was of the opinion that either the approved scheme or the revised scheme incorporating 15 Brand Street would meet the Trust’s Charitable Objectives and the requirements of the Charity Commission in respect of the Public Benefit test.

However, the Sub-Committee expressed a preference for the inclusion of 15 Brand Street into the scheme as it believed:

• the improved visual aesthetic and enlarged entrance area may increase visitor usage; and
• the additional first floor space would provide additional usable space for the museum,

thereby delivering a better facility for the Trust's beneficiaries.

RESOLVED:

(1) That, subject to agreement being reached with Hitchin Town Hall Limited and the Adventure Capital Fund, and should the Council at its meeting on 23 April 2013 decide to proceed with the revised proposals for the scheme, the Trust:

(i) Agree that the proposed amendment to the scheme for the Trust Property to incorporate 15 Brand Street meets the Trust’s Charitable Objectives;

(ii) Agree that the proposed amendments to the scheme meets the requirements of the Charity Commission in respect of:

• Public Benefit
• Acquisition of 15 Brand Street for nil consideration;

(iii) Authorise the Council to execute on behalf of the Trust:

• Any amendments to the Development Agreement
• Transfer of 15 Brand Street;

(iv) Delegate to the Head of Revenues, Benefits and Information Technology, in consultation with the Chairman of the Sub-Committee, authority to agree any amendments the Management Agreement with the Council required to incorporate the proposed changes to the scheme;

(v) Delegate to the Head of Revenues, Benefits and Information Technology, in consultation with the Chairman of the Sub-Committee, authority to agree any required variations to any other Legal Agreements to incorporate the proposed changes to the scheme; and

(2) That should the Council at its meeting on 23 April 2013 decide not to proceed with the revised proposals for the scheme, the Trust agreement to proceed with the project as agreed at its meeting held on 22 May 2012 be reaffirmed; and

(3) That, whilst the Trust agrees that either scheme meets its charitable objectives, it would prefer the scheme with the inclusion of 15 Brand Street as it believes:

• the improved visual aesthetic and enlarged entrance area may increase visitor usage; and
• the additional first floor space will provide additional usable space for the museum,

thereby delivering a better facility for the Trust's beneficiaries.

REASON FOR DECISION: To ensure that the Charitable requirements of the Trust are met in respect of the principle of the project and, subject to agreement by the Council, to enable the project to progress to deliver an expanded scheme which safeguards the future interests of the Trust and the Trust Property.
PART II
25 REPORT AND APPENDICES TO THE PART 2 ITEM (MINUTE 23 ABOVE) ON THE NORTH HERTFORDSHIRE MUSEUM AND COMMUNITY FACILITY
  • Report
  • |
    Appendix A
  • |
    Appendix A1
The report and appendices relating to the Part 2 item (Minute 23 above) on the North Hertfordshire Museum and Community Facility, are attached.
Published on Tuesday, 30th April, 2013
7.34pm