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Can a parish council pay for free entertainment at a church fete?

0 votes
The Pcc has asked the council to pay for a children’s entertainer and towards an adult singer. The church raises a lot of money and the stalls nearby will profit but the actual entertainment will be free for the people of the village.
by (180 points)

2 Answers

0 votes
Check your grant policy as to whether your council supports religious organisations. If its silent you can use s137 or GPC as its not paying for the fabric of the church, which is the no no fr councils.
by (22.1k points)
The application form which has received PC approval states
Grants can not be given for
• The promotion of religion or political ideals

• Work that has already taken place, or for which an order has already been placed.

• Activities for which a statutory body is responsible

• Animal welfare

• Items that mainly benefit individuals (for example, equipment that is not shared)

• Fabric appeals for places of worship

• Fundraising events or activities

• Fetes or celebration events

• VAT or other taxes which can be recovered

• Salaries
Is the extract above specifically from your s137 policy?
If yes then it answers your question - no to fetes / celebrations.

So that is s137 out.

You may however find a solution in s111 or as part of your community outreach / engagement policies if such policies (and budgets) exist.

There is the issue of "so what?"
What sum of money (or proportion of total annual budget or budget header) are you being asked to provide?

What is the worst that could happen?
Provide the money on the basis of community engagement and IF an internal auditor even took a view (not uncommon to find 'attitudes' towards religion have a lot of influence in such matters and the absence of any absolute yes/no answer is often ignored in favour of personal opinion in matters relating to church) that 'view' would be opinion rather than legislation based - because the legislation simply does not dive down to that level of granularity.

Your council has a vote, the vote is either in favour or against, if in favour it is stated as community engagement.  If IA raises a query so what?  It was the proper decision of the council. Note IA query and crack on.
I should add that this church fete raises nearly £10k every year and they are asking for about £500. It will open the doors to an annual grant on a weekend when there are over 1200 visitors in the village so would be happier to see something at a different time genuinely for the children of the village.
We have no 137 policy just an agreement on the application form. The same few people who are involved in the church and help organising the fete are also councillors. It just doesn't feel straightforward.
Are you a clerk or a Cllr?

If a Cllr are you generally in favour or not of the proposal?

If a clerk are you looking for a silver bullet to validate or exclude presenting the option of a council vote?

My point being….

If the council WANTS to do it (by majority) there’s probably nothing, realistically, to state they shouldn’t.

If they are raising £10k, they should be self funding….
I am against as think it will lead to constant grant requests and they do raise a huge sum every year, but need a huge sum with a Grade 1 listed building. The vicar last year refused to say where the £10k went as people in the village think it goes to the fabric but it could equally go to the Parish share which pays the wages of the Bishop and Vicar. And yes I think that if they are raising £10k they should be self funding and the free entertainment will mean more money raised. It is the week before the Coronation and they say the flower festival is themed on that but their choice not to do anything on the actual weekend. Small parish and bitter, divided community. However it looks like there is no legal reason it can't happen which is what i was wondering.
Getting a better appreciation of the situation with the additional detail.
We had a similar situation where grants were historically being paid to 2 cemeteries (one church (CofE) and 1 non-denominational)
Historic and habitual
Without anyone actually knowing the original justification or rationale.
There was (happily no longer) an overtly anti church clerk but even they couldn’t stop the habit.
Whereas I am not anti church nor averse to PC funding assisting community organisations, I do want to see the accounts of any party seeking grant assistance. It is a fundamental component of due diligence and sound decision making.
Neither set of accounts demonstrated the ‘need’ for public money. It wasn’t particularly well received but having a fat bank balance rather blows any argument out of the water.
0 votes

Are there prayers and religious observation at the fete?

Is it actually titled “church” or “village” or just “fete” which has become ‘thought of’ as a church fete?

Is it an event exclusive for disciples of the post Reformation Anglican Church to the exclusion of all non believers?

If NO, to any / all of the above then it is not a religious activity (and ‘supposedly’) ineligible for PC financial support but rather it is a non denominational community event, open to all without fear or favour which delivers community recreation, cohesion and enjoyment. 

It may be facilitated within an historic building, probably at the geographic, cultural and historic centre of the community which just happens to be colloquially known as a church, but that doesn’t automatically disqualify it from PC support. 

Tag it as community engagement in your appropriate budget header and crack on. 

Imagine if all the T&P councils that have contributed time, effort, money to the Coronation had shut their support down on the basis that the Sovereign is the titular head of the Church of England, Defender of the Faith - which is of course a non inclusive single denomination role  

If the PC can muster a majority vote to support a village fete, don’t get too bogged down in who is delivering the output or even where any funds generated ultimately end up If there is ‘reasonable’ due diligence and confidence in the management / organisation of the facilitator, just eat the red herring which is this apparent aversion to anything culturally or historically English  

by (10.6k points)
It is definitely a church fete.

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