Southern Rural Committee Minutes

Thursday, 1st December, 2016
Mountford Hall, Hitchin Town Hall, Brand Street, Hitchin

Attendance Details

Councillor D.J. Barnard (Chairman), Councillor Cathryn Henry (Vice-Chairman), Councillor John Bishop, Councillor Faye S Frost, Councillor Jane Gray, Councillor Steve Hemingway and Councillor Mrs C.P.A. Strong.
In attendance:
Stuart Izzard (Communities Manager) and Hilary Dineen (Committee and Member Services Officer).
Also Present:
At the commencement of the meeting 21 members of the public.
Item Description/Decision
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Steve Deakin-Davies and Terry Tyler.
RESOLVED: That the Minutes of the Meeting held on 10 October 2016 be approved as a true record of the proceedings and be signed by the Chairman.
There were no notifications of other business.
(1) The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting and invited them to join him for festive refreshments after the meeting;

(2) The Chairman reminded everyone that, in accordance with Council policy, the meeting was being audio recorded;

(3) Members were reminded that any declarations of interest in respect of any business set out in the agenda, should be declared as either a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest or Declarable Interest and are required to notify the Chairman of the nature of any interest declared at the commencement of the relevant item on the agenda. Members declaring a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest must withdraw from the meeting for the duration of the item. Members declaring a Declarable Interest which requires they leave the room under Paragraph 7.4 of the Code of Conduct, can speak on the item, but must leave the room before the debate and vote.
Mr David Sample, Great Offley Village Hall, thanked the Chairman for the opportunity to address the Committee and gave a verbal presentation in support of their application for grant funding.

Mr Sample informed Members that Great Offley Village Hall had been in operation since the 1930’s. It was owned by the Parish Council, but run by a separate committee. The hall was in need of replacement chairs as the original chairs, dating from the hall’s opening were well past their best.

The Great Offley Village Hall Committee had been fundraising for over a year and had so far raised £1,400. The grant funding request was for £500 to put towards the purchase of 80 good quality replacement chairs which would costs approximately £4,500.

The Chairman thanked Mr Sample for his presentation.
Mr Jon Marsh, Ms Kate Buckenham and Ms Chrissey Chadney, Dacre Rooms Kimpton, thanked the Chairman for the opportunity to address the Committee and gave a verbal presentation in support of their application for grant funding.

Ms Chadney informed Members that the Dacre Rooms were also known as Kimpton Village Community Rooms and consisted of a 4 roomed Victorian building in the centre of Kimpton.

The Dacre Rooms were originally gifted to the men of Kimpton by Susan, Lady Dacre but was now used by the whole community.

The building had been rarely used as a former youth club and was falling into disrepair. A consultation was held to find out what the village wanted to do with the building and as a result a new Dacre Room Committee was formed who were committed to the retention and revival of the building to meet 21 century needs.

In the last eighteen months they had applied for some grant funding, fund raising and donations and with a lot of hard work had transformed the rooms. The three main rooms had been renovated and they were now use for a variety of activities including children’s parties, mums and toddlers groups, craft classes and farmers market.

Evening events included the hire of the rooms for parties and a monthly social event attended by many from the village and annual events included the May Fest and the Kimpton Folk Festival.

Maintaining and restoring a 137 year old building was difficult and although the venue had become a welcoming place, there was still much to do as detailed n the Committee’s development Plan, which included smaller and larger projects.

The grant application was to support the next tranche of smaller projects including repairing and painting the traditional windows, complete the roof insulation and redecorate parts of the interior.

The Committee knew that the Dace Rooms could now survive, but wished it to be sustainable and this will require capital expenditure on projects such as refurbishment of the ladies toilets, Installation of a modern unisex toilet, Installation of baby changing facilities, transform the existing men’s toilet into a utility storeroom and redesign the kitchen area into a multi functional kitchen, bar and café. Quotes were being sought, but it was estimated that the costs for these projects would be approximately £50,000.

The Committee was able to raise sufficient funds for the day to day operation of the rooms including insurance and utility bills, but would be unable to undertake the capital works without grant funding.

Completion of all of this work would make the Dacre Rooms a modern, attractive, functioning and thriving facility where people could socialise, learn, escape from loneliness and be welcomed.

Members asked whether the Dacre Rooms was registered as a charity and suggested that they look into registering for VAT so that they could recover this cost from their expenditure

Mr Marsh advised that they had deregistered a few years ago as the turnover was so small but were in the process of reregistering.

Members asked for clarification regarding the day to day costs and what the grant awarded last year had been used for

Ms Chadney advised that the cost of insurance and utilities was approximately £4,000 per year, which could be covered by revenue.

Mr Marsh advised that previous grant funding had been use for the boiler and electrics.

Members recommended that the Committee liaise with the Communities Manager to look at other funding sources available such as Luton Airport Community Fund.

The Chairman thanked Mr Marsh, Ms Buckenham and Ms Chadney for their presentation.
Mrs Lynne Misner, Small Acts of Kindness, thanked the Chairman for the opportunity to address the Committee and gave a verbal presentation in support of their application for grant funding.

Mrs Misner informed Members that more than 30,000 of the 130,000 people living in North Herts were aged over 60, with 1,400 being aged over 90, which was the highest number in any District throughout Hertfordshire.

In the cold winter months many of these old people struggled to keep warm in their homes and were very often faced with the stark choice between heating their homes and eating.

Being cold increased the risk of high blood pressure with the resulting risks of stoke and heart attack and could have a negative effect on mental wellbeing.

Health professionals recommended that people who ere cold in their home, wrap themselves in blanket, protect their extremities and drink plenty of hot drinks.

The Warm in Winter gift bags contained all of those items to help an older person keep warm including a large fleecy blanket, a thermal hat, socks, gloves, a mug and a selection of hot drinks.

The project was launched in 2014 at which time 60 gift bags were distributed, last winter this had risen to 800, of which 168 were delivered to residents of North Herts by North Hers CVS and Herts Independent Living Service.

At that time there was no direct funding to deliver gift bags within North Herts, as most funding received was geographically restricted.

Small Acts of Kindness worked in partnership with care providers including Herts Healthy Homes, Age UK and Hertfordshire Independent Living Service who identified and refer their older clients who were potential at risk from the effects of the cold. This partnership working enabled intervention and prevention before the effects of the cold reached crisis point.

So far this winter they had received requests for 377 warm and winter gift bags in North Herts. So far they had distributed a total of 1,500 Warm in Winter gift bags as well as 300 Celebrate Christmas gift bags for those who would be spending Christmas alone.

Small Acts of kindness expected to give a total of 500 Warm in Winter gift bags in North Herts this winter with each one costing £15. The project was run entirely by volunteers to try to ensure that as many older people in need as possible receive a gift bag.

Currently funding was received via grants from Local Councils, Trusts and Foundations and donations from businesses, individuals and County Councillors. The plan for future sustainability of the project included the launch, in the spring of the 100 club, with the aim of getting 100 businesses to give £100 per month and the application for lottery awards.

Members asked for clarification regarding the number of gift bags requested for residents of North Hertfordshire and whether applications for grant funding had been made to the other Area Committees.

Mrs Misner advised that, at the time of applying for the grant they had estimated requests would number approximately 150, but the requests had actually been much higher than that figure. She informed Members that she had presented to Royston Committee and been successful with the grant application and would be presenting to the other Committees next week.

The Chairman thanked Mrs Misner for her presentation.
The Communities Manager presented the report of the Strategic Director of Finance, Policy and Governance entitles Community Update and Grant Applications and drew attention to the following;

There was currently £8,600 unallocated Discretionary funds and £5,000 Ward funds available for grant funding.

Members queried whether applications could now be made for funding from this new fund

The Communities Manager advised that the Scheme had been launched and, although no formal applications had yet been received, a number of intentions to apply had been made. It was expected that the first applications would be considered by the Panel in February 2017.

The Communities Manager informed Members that his Team was continually looking to unlock Section 106 funding as well as bringing grant applications to this Committee. Section 8.5 of the report contained a list of recent grants awarded.

Parish Council’s were no longer eligible for grant funding, therefore the Communities Team were looking at different ways of providing funding within each Parish.

The Communities Manager asked Members to contact him if they had any Ward Grants they wished to allocate or any groups that needed help with sourcing funding.

Members asked that each grant application include consistent information.

The Chairman advised Members that thanks to the tireless fundraising of the organisation and grant funding from this Committee, Waste Not Want Not now had a water supply at its Knebworth site.

St Ippolyts Bowls Club, an important and growing community facility would be seeking grant funding from this Committee in the near future.


(1) That the activities and schemes with which the Communities Manager has been involved with, as set out in the report, be noted;

(2) That the budgetary expenditure, balances and carry forwards within the Area Committee Development Budget spreadsheet, as attached at Appendix 1 to the report, be noted.

REASON FOR DECISION: To ensure that the Southern Rural Committee is kept informed of the work of the Communities Manager and to inform Members of the financial resources and current budgetary position.
The Communities Manager reminded Members that Great Offley Village Hall were looking to change all of the chars in the Hall. They had undertaken some fundraising toward the total cost of £5,000 and were seeking £500 from this Committee.

Members noted that a lot of fundraising and work had taken place in the Hall and that this now served a larger population as 63 new homes had been built in the village.

RESOLVED: That grant funding of £500 be awarded to Great Offley Village Hall from the 2016/17 Discretionary Budget towards the costs associated with the purchase of new chairs.

REASON FOR DECISION: To improve services provided by local organisations and groups which are accessed by the community.
The Communities Manager reminded Members that the Committee had awarded a grant of £2,000 last financial year towards some of the refurbishment works, which was being phased, with fundraising taking place constantly.

The application being considered was for repairs and making good. There were other significant capital works planned next year for which they would make an application to the Community Facilities Capital Funding Scheme.

Members were impressed by the energy and enthusiasm behind the project and were please to hear about the amount of progress that had already made to refurbish the building and bring it back into use.

RESOLVED: That grant funding of £1,050 be awarded to Dacre Rooms, Kimpton from the 2016/17 Discretionary Budget towards the cost of repair work and painting of windows, roof insulation and interior redecoration.

REASON FOR DECISION: To improve services provided by local organisations and groups which are accessed by the community.
RESOLVED: That grant funding of £300 be awarded to Small Acts of Kindness from the 2016/17 Discretionary Budget towards the cost of purchasing and distributing warm in winter gift bags to older people.

REASON FOR DECISION: To improve services provided by local organisations and groups which are accessed by the community.
The Communities Manager advised that there was £100 from the Chesfield 2015/16 budget that the Ward Councillor would like allocated to Youth Initiatives.

RESOLVED: That £100 be assigned to Youth Initiatives in the Chesfield Ward from the 2015/16 Chesfield Ward Budget.

REASON FOR DECISION: To improve services provided by local organisations and groups which are accessed by the community.
The Chairman informed Members that the Chilterns Conservation Board were keen to expand the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in North Hertfordshire, particularly to the east of Luton.

Members were concerned that the next meeting of this Committee would be held in Letchworth. They felt that the Committee should be supporting the wealth of village halls in the Southern Rural Area and suggested the Dacre Rooms, Kimpton and Great Offley Village Hall.
Published on Thursday, 5th January, 2017