LONG ASHTON COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION ANNUAL PUBLIC MEETING HELD AT 7.30 P.M. TUESDAY, 21st JUNE 2016 IN THE JUBILEE PAVILION.
The meeting opened at 7.30 pm and the Chairman welcomed everyone.
- APOLOGIES were received from Pat Preston. The meeting was attended by members of the Community Association Committee, and two members of the public.
- MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING.
The Minutes of the last meeting held on Tuesday, 16th June 2015 were distributed. The Minutes were accepted as a true record and signed by the Chairman.
- MATTERS ARISING – There were no matters arising.
- CHAIRMAN’S REPORT
The Chairman opened her report by stating that the objective of the Charity was to manage and maintain the Community Centre and Recreation Ground on behalf of the Parish Council, for the benefit of the inhabitants of Long Ashton. The Association operated under the terms of 28 year lease from the Parish Council, dated December 1999. The Association aimed to provide good quality facilities at an affordable cost to voluntary organisations serving the community as well as other groups and individuals. The Association employed twelve part-time staff and the trustees met monthly as the Management Committee for the Centre.
Further, the Association maintained good relationships with its many users. In addition to our regular user groups there were many one-off bookings for parties, especially children’s parties, meetings, training days and other functions such as pop-up restaurants, festivals and sporting events. Usage had remained steady during the last year with the loss of a couple of groups and some new groups starting. Special rates were offered to new groups to help them get established. Both indoor and outdoor facilities continued to be well used by the local community throughout the year.
The Trustees acknowledged with gratitude the voluntary help given to the Association by many individuals in the community.
The Chairman reported on the following other activities:
- Staff. The trustees were grateful to the staff for their continued excellent work on their behalf: Manager Sarah Leong, Caretakers Denise and Ken Harris, Cleaner and Recreation Ground Warden Rachel Harris who also covered one weekend a month of caretaking, Banking Assistant Vickie Farrall, General Assistant Allison Rowlands, Peel Park Warden Jerry Nicholls, LA Cafe Managers Anita Bush and Patricia Kabala and LA Cafe Assistant Manager Jane Booth. Mark Hessey had now taken on maintenance of the website, general maintenance around the Centre and one weekend of caretaking. He also covered caretaking and cleaning during staff holiday periods. Tara Broad continued to proved holiday cover for the Manager.
- Management. It was noted that the Association endeavoured to manage the Centre to a high standard and was recognised as a model of good Community Centre management. Mark Hessey updated the website and the Manager continued to promote the Centre’s activities and facilities through local publications, schools and social media. Apart from the major projects listed in the financial report below, LACA continued to improve and maintain the facilities in many small ways.
- Community Events. It was noted that events were organised for the whole community to take part in and enjoy. Some of these events brought in a small profit, which was spent on improving the facilities in the Community Centre. This year we had kept to running events that had previously proven popular, plus a couple of new ones. These included:
- Four theatre shows
- Martin Daniels Comedy and Magic Show
- A tapas evening
- Village Picnic
- Quiz Night
- Our third annual Beer Festival kindly run for us again by Bruce Lee and his team
In addition, Feast with a Chef continued to run regular events here with Michelin starred chefs which attracted a full house.
- Other. It was noted that LA Cafe continued to grow and provided a popular meeting place for people of all ages in the local community and further afield. The opening hours had been extended in October to 10am to 1.30pm every weekday and the cafe continued to open alongside the monthly Village Market. Various activities continued to run alongside the cafe including storytelling, a bridge group, board games, massage, knit and natter, a new mum’s group and a breastfeeding group. Most Fridays, Keeds Hall was open alongside the cafe as an extra play space for children and on occasion the cafe was full to capacity. Two weekend artist exhibitions with LA Cafe open alongside had now run during the year attracting wide audiences. LACA continued to seek new ways of publicising and growing the cafe.
It was further reported that a ditch had now been dug on the edge of the University land adjoining the Recreation Ground and that this had been connected into a drain to reduce flooding of the sports pitch.
- Vandalism and anti-social behaviour. It was noted that the last year had again seen a high level of vandalism around the Community Centre site culminating in an agreement with the Parish Council that CCTV should be installed. Once this was in place, the key culprits were identified and dealt with by the police. We are pleased to report that vandalism is now much reduced. We are very aware of our responsibilities in terms of health and safety and any vandalism which poses a risk to public safety is dealt with as soon as possible.
- TREASURER’S REPORT
The Treasurer noted that the accounts for the financial year ending 31st March 2016 had been independently examined by Lynette Morgan FCCA in accordance with the Charities Act 1993. They complied with the Charity Commissioner’s Statement of Recommended Practice.
The Treasurer reported that the last financial year had seen a positive set of financial results for LACA. The annual grant required from the Parish Council had reduced again from the prior year, revenues had increased above plan and costs kept at the expected levels. The provisions held for long term refurbishments and maintenance were also at an appropriate level given the expected future works required across the Centre. The outcome of this positive year was that LACA would now expect another reduced request in the grant received from the Parish Council at our next request. It was anticipated that the grant request would reduce by around £2K-£5K but would be dependent on a review of the Community Centre facilities.
Income: The Treasurer stated that the overall operating income had risen from £82K to £104K in the year. The rents received from the Hall space providing £12K of that increase, the LA Cafe contributing £7K of the increase, £2K increase from the Tennis courts and events adding and additional £0.5K. The remaining revenues from the grounds (Football Club and Bowling Club) remained broadly flat. These were driven by matches played.
The LA Cafe growth in income was around 50% from the previous year and was built from increased opening hours alongside increased footfall from more regular customers. The cafe team continued their good work, generating additional income from events and opening to fit the needs of the village, an example being that the cafe is open during the monthly village market to capture visitors to that event.
Expenditure: The Treasurer stated that overall expenses had increased by £2K in the year, although this was driven by a number of variances across different line items. LA Cafe costs had increased by £5K in the year. This was caused by additional wages due to the increase in opening times and staff required during that time. However the increase in costs was lower than the revenue increases, allowing the cafe to increase its contribution to the LACA profit position.
Total provisions in the year had been increased by £9K as planned. This put the overall provision at £27K in line with expected future costs. Some of this provision would shortly be going toward some playground repairs and an additional play item.
During the year, there had been a large expenditure towards the installation of CCTV cameras across the Community Centre and the installation of a drainage ditch at the top of the sports pitches. Both of these new costs were covered by the Parish Council.
The following major expenditure items were highlighted and it was noted that there was no material item that hadn’t been planned for at the start of the year.
- Cabinets around Club Room boiler £636
- Cooker ventilation in Village Hall £2856
- CCTV £7488 (PC Grant)
- Lighting repairs on Tennis Courts £1020
- KH decorating £744
- Drainage ditch etc above the sports pitch £3100 (PC Grant)
- Pump for hot water system to changing rooms £544
- Keeds Hall lighting repairs £698
- Repairs to watering system electrics on Bowling Green £430
- Youth Hut decorating £397
The Treasurer noted that as in all previous years maintenance expenditure had varied against long term plans. The policy of the Committee remained ‘to replace items when needed (either when no longer economically viable to repair or when worn out, broken or dangerous)’. Running costs for the year had been well controlled and heat, light, water and insurance costs were all higher than last year’s figures but in line with expectation given the additional revenue activities. Staff costs had increased in the year, partly driven by inflationary rises but largely driven by an increase in work required to support the increased income.
The Treasurer went on to say that vandalism had remained high until the installation of CCTV and there had therefore been a tail off in the associated costs towards the end of the financial year.
Following a review of how LACA funds were held it had been decided that all funds should be held in savings accounts with Santander – one account for each of the long-term funds. This would allow the LACA Committee and the Parish Council to have immediate access and control over the funds.
The Treasurer concluded his report by thanking the Committee for their support and diligence through the year and especially Sarah Leong for her efficient work in managing the accounts on a day to day basis.
- ANY OTHER BUSINESS
- In answer to a question from Peter Steward as to whether the rise in the statutory minimum wage would have an impact on staff costs, the Treasurer replied that yes, this was the case and would show in the current year’s accounts. Mr Steward also suggested that the cafe income might plateau due to the restricted space of the Club Room. This might be a positive concern. The Treasurer replied that the cafe was not at that place yet and that there was still room for growth.
- John Ives introduced himself to the Committee and congratulated the trustees on the scope of the Community Centre. He went on to state that the Community Centre operates at a loss and that the tab was picked up by the Parish Council, roughly £30,000 per year. He also stated that because of the way the LACA charity was set up it was very difficult for the public to get information on how it operated. He went on to state that the Bowling Green appeared to incur more expenditure than income generated and that therefore the Bowling Club was operating at no profit to the charity. The Treasurer explained that not all of the income from the Bowling Club appeared under ‘Bowling Green’ and that further income from them would be incorporated into the ‘halls income’ figure. John Ives was also concerned that the Football Club was not making money for LACA either.
- John Ives then raised the issue of the solar panels costing £9029 back in 2013 but heating and lighting costs having still increased. The Treasurer explained that FIT payments went back into our account on a regular basis and that it would take about 9 years to recoup the cost of the solar panels in this way.
- John Ives then questioned LACA’s level of reserves. He stated that these had built up to £26000 and asked how this could be justified when the charity was making a loss. Was it legal to take money from a grant and put it into reserves? The Treasurer replied that he was not aware that it wasn’t legal and asked Mr Ives to send LACA anything that indicated that it wasn’t. Mr Cave added that it wasn’t only legal to put money aside in this way but prudent. It was noted that from time to time large sums had to be paid out eg. for resurfacing the Tennis Courts. By building up reserves in a planned way this avoided large sums suddenly being drawn from the Parish Council. Planned maintenance was better than reacting to a crisis.
- John Ives stated that the way the LACA charity was set up was most unusual and that most village halls were independent charities. He felt that every Village Hall charity should have an effective means of communicating with its local community and a funding regime that was sustainable. LACA didn’t appear to have these as in Mr Ives’ opinion the public had no access to the charity. Mrs Bridges replied by stating that she could see no reason why the LACA AGM Minutes could not be published on the website in future. Manager to arrange for this to happen. Mrs Booth commented that Mr Ives accused the Parish Council of exerting too much control over LACA and criticised LACA for not being transparent. However, he sent his letters about LACA to Parish Council members only and didn’t include trustees in the distribution. Mrs Booth felt that be doing this Mr Ives was perpetuating the situation he was complaining about. Mr Ives also questioned who the trustees were responsible to. Mrs Bridges responded by stating that LACA came under the umbrella of the Parish Council as they owned the buildings. She also noted that the public were welcome to attend our AGM to find out more and ask questions. The Treasurer added that it was not possible for an organisation like LACA to break even if it had to eg. maintain and run a playground that was not income generating. Mr Cave also stated that he couldn’t see how a complex like the Community Centre could make a profit as under the Constitution it had to be available to everyone and it was expensive to run. He challenged Mr Ives to come up with a way of it making a profit.
- John Ives suggested that there were ways that LACA could look into raising further income. Firstly, having a legacy strategy, although it was recognised that this had been declined by the Parish Council. Secondly, by running a Village Lottery. The Treasurer had already been in communication with Mr Ives over this and this latter suggestion would be brought up at the Committee meeting following the AGM.
- John Ives concluded by stating that he had a right to go to the auditors of the Parish Council to get information and would be doing so. Mr Cave stated that many people including the Manager and volunteers worked very hard to build up Community Centre activities and that negative feedback didn’t encourage them. Mr Steward and the Treasurer both stated that it was difficult to run the Community Centre at a profit while keeping the rates affordable to the local community. The Treasurer also stated that decreasing the grant application by 10% next year was a major achievement. However, LACA would be sure to review costs and charges.
The Chairman closed the meeting at 8.25pm.