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Unfortunately things have kicked off with our Community Centre again . One of the issues is a condition which has been attached to the grants provided by the PC. In essence the lease provides for the PC to pay for the maintenance  to the buildings and land .  However our clerk has written an  associated  large grants policy which inter alia imposes the relevant para of our Fin Regs which deals with multiple quotes on the recipient (a charity). Unfortunately sometimes this takes time and recently delays to carrying out  repairs to the  showers led to one customer walking out and this in turn has led to a local outcry.   Can a PC legitimately apply conditions to a third party grant which are designed to apply only to itself?
by (5.0k points)

2 Answers

0 votes
Is this an annual sum paid to the charity, or are individual bills being settled as they arise? If the former, the PC can only recommend that the charity engages in a tendering exercise, although charity law and best practice would require this anyway for larger bills. Charity Trustees must ensure that they achieve value for money when spending the charity's funds. If the individual bills are being settled, the Council may impose whatever conditions it chooses, although common sense should prevail.
by (53.7k points)
The PC has  a budget against which the Charity can draw down amounts  as required ,  Each draw down has to be authorised by Council.  So depending on when a problem is identified it can take months to get authority to proceed. I am trying to get this changed so as to be more "user friendly" but that as well takes time
0 votes
I'm a little confused here.  Your question says that in accordance with the lease, the parish council is responsible for repairs and maintenance so this isn't (in my view) a grant to the community centre but a responsibility on the parish council in accordance with the lease.  Therefore the parish council should comply with its financial regulations with regard to obtaining quotes, etc. for work required in accordance with that obligation.  If the community centre had applied for a grant to carry out the maintenance which itself was responsible for, then the grant policy can require the recipient to obtain quotes if the agreed grant policy specifies this.
However, I'd argue in both cases that urgent repairs (i.e. on health and safety grounds for example) are usually outside the requirement for alternative quotes or at least they are on the model financial regulations.
by (19.6k points)
Now that’s interesting Delboys wife .  The precise words in the lease read “That the Council be responsible for the costs of any expenses incurred by the lessees in repairing and maintaining the premises up to the total amount of any grant aid for the relevant financial year”.
On reflection I believe this could be  read that the Charity has sole control of the process and simply submits the invoice to the PC for funding in the knowledge that there is a maximum amount.
Currently the PC as I say sets the annual amount and requires the charity to manage the process as if it was being paid directly by the PC and this causes delays
Thoughts ?
I've got to question who drew up the lease?  To be honest, that's not one thing or another really.  Is the parish council sole trustee of the community centre or is the community centre a totally separate entity?    On the basis that any expenditure by a parish council is using parish council funds (usually the precept but could be grant funding awarded to the council) then the financial regulations have to be followed.  That would include obtaining quotations and approving expenditure in a parish council meeting.
I agree that both the lease and the grant/funding arrangements do need some thought to make it work for both.  Frankly, with the current terms of the lease I'd be tempted to say that the community centre should be given the grant as a single sum at the start of the year so that they can use it for repairs and maintenance during the year with a proviso that they provide an account of what the money has been spent on (with receipts if necessary) and any funds not used as stipulated (i.e. for the purpose of repairs and maintenance) being repaid to the parish council at the end of the financial year (or perhaps being used to reduce the grant next year).   The grant award would need to meet your grant policy, so would need approval each year with an appropriate offer letter setting out the terms and conditions which would need to be formally agreed by the community centre.   I'd also suggest running this by your internal auditor first and you'd probably need to get a solicitor to draw up an amendment to the lease to reflect this.  Might be worth thinking about.
I tend to agree with DBW.  This lease is defective in the sense that its lack of clarity leads to conflict between the parties.  If I were the clerk in this position I would be advising the council to employ a professional, such as a chartered surveyor to draw up a properly crafted lease, agreed by both parties, which is workable, clear, and minimises disagreement.  It should be worth every penny.  Another aspect to consider is insurance - who would be responsible in the case of a serious accident.  A wise solicitor once advised me "start at the inquest and work backwards".  Make sure you (the council) is 'on cover'.

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