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Re-taking management responsibilities for a village hall

0 votes
Hi All,

Does anyone have any experience of their parish council (As Custodian Trustee's) taking back management responsibilities of their village hall from a management committee? Of course, we own the building but the legal technicalities can be quite troublesome.

The relationship between the council and the management committee is super toxic - the latter being the cause. We do have a retained Solicitor to advise but it's always good to understand the grassroots background of situations where others have been through.

Thanks

C.
asked by (3.6k points)

2 Answers

+1 vote
As you will be aware that as usual the "devil is in the detail".It is unfortunate that in past periods agreements and arrangements were how can we say of a less structured nature than they may well be in today's climate of " sue thy neighbour". Unfortunately everything not contracted is open to abuse and misunderstanding unless the parties communicate. It seems that relationships that may have worked happily in the past cannot  easily weather sometimes complex problems thus we find ourselves trapped in a tangle of red tape. Our PC some 20 years ago was responsible for the village hall leased from the church which was becoming dilapidated. They were not prepared to take on the lease requirements of repair obligations and the problem was shouldered by the formation of a charity formed by and with the agreement of residents. The Hall has run very efficiently under a management committee with no interference from PC interests but support from PC towards the community work done by the hall. The question is does the ownership of the building allow autonomy to the management committee to manage or is the PC wanting its cake and eat it? Sometimes you have to let the managers manage!
answered by (1.9k points)
0 votes
A custodian trustee has no legal power to take back an asset.  A custodian trustee does not own a charity's assets.  They remain the property of the charity (or a third party).  The role of custodian trustee is to provide a legal entity to hold the title.  That is all.  The custodian trustee must, at all times, act in accordance with the wishes of the managing trustees, in your case, the management committee.

If the managing trustees are unable or unwilling to continue managing the asset in accordance with their governing document, they must follow the dissolution clause in their governing document to determine the future of the asset.  They cannot just walk away.  If the dissolution clause requires them to identify another organisation to continue to operate the facility, they may choose their custodian trustee, subject to their agreement.  The impetus for all of this must come from the management committee, as managing trustees.

Reading between the lines, is it possible that your parish council has misunderstood its role here and tried to take a more hands-on role than it should?  If so, you might be the problem, not the solution.

I'm happy to provide more specific guidance if required.
answered by (17.2k points)
Hi DavetheClerk,
Thank you for that. Your explanation was in line with my thinking. The governance document is about as useless as you can get and quite frankly I've sent better contracts between two rocks!

Our parish council doesn't have a desire to take on the village hall (although we would if need be). It's the fact that the relationship between the council and the VH Committee (well the ones with clout) is extremely toxic. The VH has a committee but is effectively dominated by two relatives surrounded by lots of yes men.
The hall is barely ever open, the complaints are rife and the only aspect of 'community' about it is the sign out the front. Our (the Council) wanted to investigate the possibility of taking back responsibility and either A) Employing a Manager or B) Creating a better Landlord/Tenant agreement.
Very messy!
Are either your Parish Council or the Hall Management Committee members of your local ACRE? You'll see me mention ACRE a lot, as I'm a Trustee of my local branch. ACRE provides a free community buildings advice service to members, which differs in delivery method from county to county, but usually includes advice leaflets, model policies and procedures, advice on governing documents and management issues, one-to-one telephone support from a trained community buildings advisor, networking opportunities etc.  In some counties, ACRE also operates the Hallmark quality assurance scheme that encourages managing Trustees to follow all of the recommended practices in return for lower insurance premiums once thay have achieved accredited status.

Bringing in an independent third party is often a good way to tackle conflict between the different interests around a hall.

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