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0 votes

We have a community centre which is managed by a charity which has a lease with the PC who are custodian trustees.  The Community Centre operates at a loss and the PC pays them a grant.  That grant is predicated on the lease’s keep in good and tenantable repair clause and historically has been authorised for “maintenance and repair” projects only .  Needless to say there have been endless arguments about “that’s not maintenance its operational costs” and relations have soured.  The attitude of some is "look this is public money and we must be super critical as to how and on what it is spent",  an attitude which seems never to be applied to other grants. My view is that any agreed grant should be spent on any “provision of facilities” costs as per LG (Miscellaneous Provisions ) Act 1976 S19 viz assistance of any kind .  When I asked the local ACRE chap for advice he simply said “Its whatever you agree”.

Can I ask in what ways others support their community centres/ village halls and are there any  “special conditions ” that should apply given the unique relationship  of the two parties

by (5.0k points)

2 Answers

+1 vote
The question is of course why is the venue making a loss? What are the management trustees doing to ensure that running costs are met or exceeded to ensure re-investment in the property? This is basic stuff and unfortunately the label " charity" seems to carry a warrant to exist without effort or input. The venue needs to pay its way either by charges made for use or by raising charitable donations ( such as and including the PC) and sponsorship. Have a business mindset. What do the management trustees think their position entails? Sometimes it can be the kudos of title rather the motivation of community service. ( like some councillors?)
by (27.4k points)
I agree entirely but equally some older Community Centres were created by PCs with little regard for being financially viable and some centres will never make money because of inherited issues. We have recently just had the 100 year old Village football team fold because the Community Centre started to impose  "business mindset" policies re the facilities they required .  Also  we had Covid  which decimated bookings .  So yes we aspire to a situation of no grant but in the meantime the question I asked was about the way grants were paid and what for during the transition period
Points taken and these are matters that face many community institutions coupled with lack of volunteers to run them ( including PC's). The Pc should have a grants policy where the requirements should be laid out. Now if that policy makes it difficult for them to meet such deserving cases as you lay out then they should be encouraged to re-visit that policy to accommodate the needs of the community.
As I was attempting to point out many groups do little to ensure their own survival expecting it to be done "by someone else". There are literally thousands of grants out there to apply for and perhaps you might have to apply for 20 to be successful in one instance. That is the management committees job is it not?
We cannot keep blaming Covid for things. Did your centre apply for the grants and recovery grants available to them?
The Pc and the charity should be working together to facilitate this community asset's survival and making it easier not harder.
It turns out that the lease provides for a "grant in aid" towards maintenance and repair costs .  Does that term have any real significance ? Is in any different from an ordinary S19 grant ?
Without sight or knowledge of the lease it would be difficult to comment and solicitors would need to give it the once over to ascertain if the council as landlord is bound by the terms and whether the council can legally fulfil the requirements of the lease and meet any new obligations or restrictions they are legally required to meet since granting the lease. Simply if statutory requirements placed on them makes the terms of the lease impossible to meet then they should have granted a new workable lease or found a way of meeting those obligations. Doing nothing is not an option. Seek legal advice before the charity does.
The relevant text reads
Para 3.4 To keep in good and tenantable repair and condition both the internal and external parts of the premises subject to the payment  of any contributions by the Council under the Grant in  aid
Para 4.2 the Council shall be responsible for the costs of any expense incurred by the lessees in maintaining and repairing the Premises (pursuant to clause 3.4) up to the total amount of any grant aid for the relevant financial year
 I think this covers the PC through "contributions and up to" but the real arguments have been about whats included in mainatence and repair  and what are operational costs .  Perhaps we need two separate grants a) for the lease and for b) S19 ? Problems problems
It depends to a large extent as to when the lease was granted and what requirements are to be met on what can be granted since that time ( also what was/is in the council's policy on grants).
The terms of what repairs and maintenance and "running costs" are, are clearly defined accountancy terms. The lease appears to say that the charity is responsible for all costs of the venue and the council will grant  ( up to what they have budgeted for annually). The charity have three options if the grant  for maintenance and repairs does not meet the cost involved. A) persuade the PC to up their budget or the grant, B) seek grants elsewhere D) seek donations and fundraise.
Hope this helps
0 votes
Marcus  a few questions

1.   What is the history?  ie why does the council own a community centre and why did it agree to lease it to a charity (was it to save on rates?  A group of people were really keen to run it as a charity turned up and asked to do it?  It seemed a good idea at the time and it would be cheaper than the council running it itself?

2.  Is the charity is an unincorporated one - you say the council is custodian trustee.  In this case the lease will be held in trust by the council, which is close to the council leasing its building back to itself?  Do the trustees hold contracts (in their own names as individuals) or does the council hold them for it?

3. How much rent does the charity pay to the council?

4. What are the councils plans if the charity folds?

I think that in the case above, what the initial agreement expected is key to any special conditions.  If the councillors do not want to give a grant, and the trustees want their lives back, they can hand the building back to the council to sort out, and maybe find some new trustees.
by (2.5k points)

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