Minutes of the Stonnall Y & C.C. Working Party meeting held on 23rd Nov 2020

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SHENSTONE PARISH COUNCIL

Serving Little Aston, Shenstone, Stonnall, Shenstone Wood End, Lynn, Parish Council Office 25C Main Street Shenstone WS14 OLZ
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Minutes from virtual meeting of Stonnall Youth & Community Centre Working Party held on November 23rd 2020

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Register of members in attendance:

Cllrs David Thompson & Stuart Jones.

Clerk: Shirley O’Mara. Mr Simon Clifton & Mr Stuart Wills –residents of Stonnall.

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Apologies received: None

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Welcome & introduction.

Cllr Thompson set the context of the meeting: To follow up & discuss communications from Mr Clifton & Mr Wills following the article in the Parish Council Oct newsletter re Stonnall Youth & Community Centre (SY&CC).

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Mr Clifton began by stating that he did not wish to appear negative but, Covid prevailing, is frustrated at the lack of engagement with Stonnall residents to date and the general feeling of apathy around the issue. He is, however, grateful for the opportunity to engage with Council.

Mr Clifton went on to raise his points in turn.

  1. Current state of ownership of the SYCC building and land it occupies, given the potential for this to be owned by the residents of the Parish and administered on the behalf of the residents of the parish by the Parish Council and its relevant subcommittee.

Cllr Thompson stated that the owner is Staffs County Council and the lease to the Parish Council is 28 years with 11 to go. Our understanding is there are rights and a covenant: right of way access for the surgery, rights of access and parking access for 8-23 cars for the school and the covenant that the land must be used for the benefit of Stonnall residents.

County were very clear that right of access must remain.

Mr Clifton commented that this was very restrictive and Cllr Thompson agreed.

The question was raised: could we sell to the Academy Trust?

Cllr Thompson said that this has not been explored as he had met with the Headmaster who stated there were no plans for growth within the school and no plans for early years or pre-school provision. Mr Wills queried whether the Headmaster has the authority to make his statements

There was then a meeting with Staffs County Councils Early Years Officers who hold a “neutral position”- that there is no clear case for provision. Cllr Jones confirmed that from the notes of this meeting the evidence for a pre-school is not there.

Mr Clifton questioned that this may be that this is because a pre-school doesn’t exist and asked if the Academy Trust have any desires on the land. Cllr Thompson stated that he did not ask this question but established that if a new community centre was built the school would still wish to retain parking rights.

  1. Visibility over the estimates received for the repairs to the existing SYCC structure. How does this compare with estimates for identical works on a cost only basis if carried out by qualified trades within the parish itself?

Cllr Thompson said that the quotation received was from a fully qualified building surveyor and did not include costs related to drainage or electrics. There is no experience of this kind of procurement and public money could be at risk should we do so. All estimates/contracts will be secured to offer the best value for money.

  1. What options does the Parish Council have regarding seeking additional funding and grants from outside agencies towards the construction of a new facility on the existing site?

Cllr Thompson stated that the Working Party have only just started to look at funding but identified HS2 and a Local Quarry Consortium so far.

  1. What was the rationale behind the use of a statistical data set relating to the use of the SYCC and Stonnall Village Hall which draws upon data collected during a period where facilities are either closed, restricted to gatherings of less than 30 people and where public confidence in booking or attending gatherings is at an unprecedented low?

Cllr Thompson confirmed that data supplied was pre-Covid and that both the SY&CC & Stonnall V.Hall did not have full utilisation.

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Cllr Jones explained in detail why the Working Party felt that it could not justify the expense of restoring a building.

Having looked at all the data the recommendation of the Working Party was that Council reject the offer from Staffs CC & investigate the development of Stonnall Village Hall to offer all users of current Community facilities access all on one site.

Mr Clifton and Mr Wills wished to clarify if this decision had been made and when.

The Clerk explained that this recommendation was made at the Full Parish Council meeting on Oct 13th and unanimously agreed. However, minutes and decisions are not ratified until the following Council meeting when they must be approved.

In this case that will be Tues 8th Dec as the November meeting could not be held due to the absence of the Clerk. Once minutes are approved they are published the following day.

Mr Clifton & Mr Wills both felt that it is too early for Council to make a decision based on the low number of consultation responses and Mr Clifton felt that residents would respond differently if they understood exactly what the proposal of the Working Party is and should therefore be consulted again. Mr Wills asked if it was too late to do so and the Clerk confirmed that consultation and engagement is still encouraged despite only 14 responses to date.

Cllr Jones stated that the very last thing that the Council want to do is to impose on the residents of Stonnall something they do not want.

The Clerk stated that she was willing to coordinate another consultation and would welcome suggestions on how to do this. Mr Clifton agreed adding the Clerk needed help to do this as in his opinion there was clearly something wrong in the communication process to get such a mediocre response. Mr Wills said this was particularly disappointing given the vibrant community and that he was willing to help in any way he can. Mr Clifton also said he was willing to go door to door if necessary to get a true representation of what villagers truly feel.

Cllr Jones was wary that questions in any new consultations be clear on what we are looking for as it is a complex issue & responses will need analysing as part of the bigger picture.

Mr Wills asked what the vision is for the village hall. Cllr Thompson said as a baseline every user of the SY&CC could use the extended, improved village hall as well as the potential for any additional demand. There will be no additional car parking but the Village Hall has a good established relationship with the pub opposite.

Mr Wills asked “could we say we were looking at a quality, refurbished flexible space which could accommodate all users?”- this would give residents a reasonable idea on what they were commenting on. Cllrs Thompson & Jones agreed with this as a very good brief with Cllr Jones saying we need help with identifying the vision. Hence, an architect has been asked to assess the building & guide on what is and what is not feasible as well as realistic. In order to test those things we are also putting in a pre-application to Lichfield District Council.

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Actions were agreed as follows: –

  • The Clerk to liaise with Mr Clifton & Mr Wills on how to make the consultation more effective.

  • The Working Party to put together some question to be used as a starting point.

  • Mr Clifton expressed the view that non Councillors should be on the Working Party. Cllr Thompson said that this will be looked at.

  • Mr Wills asked if the recommendation to Council to reject the SCC offer & take forward the Stonnall Village Hall proposal could be put on pause pending the consultation. The Clerk explained that minutes can still be approved with recommendations not acted on but this cannot be pre-empted.

  • All points to be taken forward to meeting of the next Working Party Committee on Weds 25th Nov at 5.30 with follow ups to Mr Clifton & Mr Wills on Thursday 26th.