Minutes of the Stonnall Y & C. C. Working Party meeting held on 24th Feb 2021

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SHENSTONE PARISH COUNCIL

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Minutes from virtual meeting of Stonnall Youth & Community Centre Working Party & Stonnall Youth & Community Centre Management Committee held on Weds Feb 24th 2021

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Register of members in attendance: Cllrs David Thompson, Sheila Beilby, Gail Nicholls, Stuart Jones, and David Salter. Clerk- Shirley O’Mara.

Mr Doug Morrison & Mr Peter Hales , Stonnall Youth & Community Centre Management Committee (SYCCMC) & County Cllr David Smith.

All present were in agreement that the meeting would be recorded for the purpose of the minutes.

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Apologies received: None

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Cllr Thompson introduced all present and the purpose of the meeting: To brief the SY&CCMC on the progress to date of the Working Party & next steps. As a submission was made prior to the meeting, Cllr Thompson asked the SY&CCMC to explain further, verify and substantiate the points being made before the update from the Working Party as stated in the invitation.

County Cllr David Smith at this point explained why he was present. He stated as the offer is from the County Council, whatever is decided by the Parish Council needs to have his approval before going forward to Staffs County so he is a significant player in what may or may not happen.

He has seen the document submitted by the SY&CC MC and has some comments as there are a number of valid issues that need to be resolved & he needs to be involved in the decision making.

Cllr Thompson thanked Cllr Smith for this clarification and said it had been important for the Working Group to understand the origination of the County Council offer.

The County Council has been clear that member approval, including that of Cllr Smith, will be significant and welcomed his further comments after the SYCCMC had explained their submission.

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Due to significant technical issues Mr Morrison was unable to speak so County Cllr Smith offered to take over as he had shared the report with Mr Morrison and was aware of his feelings. Attached is the document discussed with Cllr Smith’s comments in italics behind each point.

  1. The SYCC Building. Currently the building accommodates approximately 14 regular evening groups, 3 daytime groups and seven occasional users from organisations working for the Community, such as The Community Library, SCAR, Speed watch, Neighbourhood Watch, Friends of St Peter’s etc.

None of these has ceased to exist but are of course presently in lockdown. There has, in fact, been an increase in interest and one new weekly afternoon group has signed up. The building is currently used regularly by over 200 residents of Stonnall meeting with numbers between 25 and 50. The management committee has plans to increase this to fill vacant slots but as these are largely daytime this is not easy. The committee was somewhat surprised at the estimate for maintenance as this does not appear to relate to current quotations for work required. Most of the points raised have either been completed or are budgeted for completion in the immediate future and would potentially see the building in a safe condition for the foreseeable future.

Cllr Smith said this point is self-explanatory- a record of the situation of the building. Most of the items have either been done or are budgeted to be done so the work specified in the £75K quote is no longer relevant as that work has been put in place already at no cost to anyone other than the SY&CCMCC itself. What is important is that 200 residents actively participate in the activities in the hut and more are planning to come in. It would be very helpful to look at the long term with the Hut Committee about what the existing users require. He does not believe that has been effectively done & stated the feelings of the people who don’t use the building are not very relevant.

  1. Finance. The management committee has successfully run the business side at a healthy profit so it is not a burden on the community funds and under normal circumstances trades very well.

Only insurance & Council taxes are met by the Parish Council, the hut Committee manages everything else.

  1. Consultation. It would seem to be reasonable to first consult with the existing users as they represent the customers of the existing building; there would seem little point in asking non users what they see for the future if they don’t use the facility, but 200 existing users is a critical number so it does seem to be a little late in the day to be looking to them for a view.

Self-explanatory. Before going forward there should be a 1 to 1 with the current users of the building an, though this is perhaps late in the day, but is an essential part of going forward.

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  1. Prospects. The Parish Council could on the basis of the present situation with Covid19 defer any further discussion until we can assess where we are when things return to normal. This would also give time to the management committee to consider its options.

Coffee Club anxious to get going again in May & increasing numbers.

  1. Existing Usage. From informal discussions with representatives of the Village Hall they confirm that they could not accommodate the number of present SYCC users even with some give and take, so this proposal is not viable. (One may question how much public money was spent on architects and advisers on the proposed Village Hall extension that was never an option.)

It would be unlikely that all of the activities currently in the Hut could be accommodated in the Village Hall.

  1. The Site. The offer from the County is for the entire site including the grassed area in the front. There will be a condition of sale that an agreed number of spaces are for school staff parking during term time. No discussions have taken place regarding any charges for maintenance. Should the hall be redeveloped it would be on a one for one basis and with reorientation of the building seated on a firm floor level foundation. This will obviate the need for access ramps and would provide an additional space to permit a building, nine feet wider and four and a half feet longer than the existing one if required, a saving in total of 765 sq. ft. Alternatively, the space saved (765 sq. ft.) could be used for additional car parking spaces. The area currently grassed over could also be used as additional daytime car parking use and would be available and ample for evenings.

  2. New Build. The estimates presented to the Parish Council do not represent the likely costs of rebuilding a facility that meets the requirements of either the present users or the envisaged future users. Initial opinion on costs is more in the region of £100/160k not the figures presented to the Council. When considering planning on the correct site area obtaining planning permission is not seen as a problem. The allocation of an agreed number of car park spaces to the school would be a matter of agreement and would not be a planning consideration. An initial view on the future requirements indicates that the appropriate use of the site would accommodate a 40’x40’ building with a 30’x40’ hall space and 4 areas 10’x10’ for toilets, store and kitchen, this would equate to 1,600 sq. ft. giving the same usable space as the current building. The reorientation will also provide additional car parking spaces.

County are assured that the building could be reoriented with a new building and he has talked informally to get costings on what a new build is likely to cost: £100-160K for a 40ft by 40ft building with 30 by 40ft call space, similar accommodation to that currently as well as toilets, a store and a kitchen equating to 16,000 sq. ft.

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  1. Where to Next. In the light of the current COVID19 situation, it is suggested that this matter is put on hold until we get back to a near normal situation, certainly no decisions should be taken on the basis of inaccurate information. This will give a breathing space for the management committee to prepare a proposal to the Parish Council.

The SYCCMC feel that , due to Covid all decisions should be put on hold until such time as they have the time & opportunity to pursue these options.

Cllr Thompson asked if Mr Hales would like to add his comments. Mr Hales stated he agreed entirely with the comments made but had nothing to add.

County Cllr Smith said that he would be happy to speak further as he knew what Mr Morrison’s feelings were and asked what areas the Working Party wished to query.

Cllr Thompson reiterated that the introduction was for the SYCCMC to explain the submission & that the Working Party reserve the right to respond and ask questions after due reflection. That option – to respond later- was put to the Working Party & unanimously accepted as the preferred option.

Cllr Thompson thanked County Cllr Smith & the SYCCMC for their points and said a response will follow in writing in due course.

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Cllr Thompson moved on to the update of the Working Party as planned.

He explained the proposal for consultation which was approved at the February Full Council meeting. This is the commencement of consultation on a number of options in response to being offered the freehold of a building by the County that our due diligence required us to thoroughly investigate and we have done so. The conclusion of the group was

After careful consideration the SYCC Working Group has concluded that both a repaired SYCC and a rebuilt SYCC building do not represent value for money and propose that the Parish Council consult on the following three options

Option A. Stonnall residents, community groups, school and the medical practice is asked if they wish to own and redevelop the land and building for the benefit of the Stonnall community. Following an expression of committed and viable interest the Parish Council will take ownership of the land from the SCC on the basis that it will be then transferred to the committed and viable interest for the benefit of the Stonnall Community. Over a one to two year period existing SYCC users will be accommodated in the Village Hall.

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Option B. Over a one to two year period the status of the Village Hall Trustees is amended to allow the Parish Council to support investment in the Village Hall to accommodate the current and future needs of Stonnall. Over the same time period and under the existing lease the existing SYCC users are offered accommodation within the Village Hall, the SYCC building is then demolished by the Parish Council and the land handed back to SCC. The Village Hall has Trustees who do not wish to undertake the work involved with extending the Village Hall but they are willing to stand aside to allow others to do so.

Option C.  Under the existing lease and over a one to two year period the existing SYCC users are offered accommodation within the Village Hall. Following this the SYCC building is demolished by the Parish Council and the land handed back to SCC.

This information has been shared with Staffs County Council Officers & they have said that the good practice with consultation is that these three options are simplified and that the long term options are stressed.

The consultation will be thorough, wide ranging and have several channels.

Re the point of value for money, Cllr Smith stated the existing building trades at a profit and the Committee have funds to address the issue of the pillar which needs attention for £100.00. The cladding is also being looked at, the building has been redecorated and new tea & coffee faclilities are on order making the building compliant for the next 5 years so no urgent decisions are required.

The SY&CCMC would like to put together a group of professionals to explore the “wish to own” option.

Cllr Smith went on to say he understands any proposal to extend the Village Hall in Stonnall will be opposed on the grounds of Highways so that is not an option.

The option to demolish & return would be met with very significant objections from within the village and certainly the present users would be extremely upset.

The Parish Council should leave further discussions & decision making to May or June. The costings given & used by the Working Group are fairly outrageous. Other examples were quoted which were must lower.

At this point, Mr Morrison held a notice up to camera saying “You should be working with the SY&CC Management Committee”.

County Cllr Smith said this was a fair comment and he was willing to offer his County role in any way deemed appropriate.

Mr Morrison then held up another notice saying “You should be working with the SY&CC Management Committee and not ignoring us”.

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Cllr Smith had nothing further to add other than he considered this meeting the first day of consultation with the SY&CC Committee and reiterated the importance of consulting existing users. Mr Hayles asked if the Committee had sight of a “pro’s & con’s” document produced by Mr Morrison. The Clerk confirmed this had been shared.

Mr Morrison shared the message that he would email over his personal comments.

Cllr Thompson emphasised the consultation to come and thanked the SY&CCMC for their comments which would be responded to shortly.

Meeting ended.