Chairperson’s Report 2014
In this year of the 30th anniversary of the Comm and my 5th year as Chairperson, I’m going to start my report with a plea to all the people of Knighton to support us with our plans to not only transform The Community Centre but to see the future of the centre as integral to their and our community. I have always tried to sound up beat and positive about the Centre but, as in previous years have to emphasise that, despite the Committee’s many achievements and the total commitment of its members, we continue to feel disappointed by the apparent local indifference regarding the long term survival of the centre. Visitors from other areas are often astonished that such an incredible asset is available to a relatively small community – why is this attitude not shared by many Knightonians? Yes, it’s too big, is badly designed, has challenging acoustics and a myriad of other problems but let’s try and fix it together and recognize its amazing potential. We, the committee, struggle on a daily basis to keep the centre up and running, with just a few members and an almost non-existent number of volunteers , seemingly unable to attract the support and participation from the community we so desperately need. Practical support is seemingly more forthcoming for groups focusing on one or two days of the year, but for the Community centre’s committee and volunteers it’s a year-round, daily commitment to a community resource on which much else in the town’s life depends.
On a more positive note Powys County Council (PCC) continue to support us by assisting us with some outdoor maintenance and taking on our compliance programme which includes legionella testing, emergency lighting and signage, fire doors and extinguishers servicing, boiler servicing, PAT testing, stage lighting rigs, fixed electrics and roller shutters checking and certification. This is all, as you can imagine, extremely complex to manage and costly for a building of this size but is essential for the safe and legal running of the Centre.
Dominique Jones, our Fundraiser on behalf of the rest of the committee has worked extremely hard on the Big Lottery bid, which if awarded as we hope, will enable us to realise an exciting project - The Big Ren (the renovation of the Comm into a Community Hub). Dominique, in the following part of the report will explain.
Grant and Centre Development Report
It feels a little like ‘ground hog day’ because this years report is almost identical to last years.
Just prior to Christmas 2013 I drafted an expression of interest application once again (3rd time) for the Big Lottery People and Places programme. Once again we have been invited to submit a full application by the 9th September 2014.
Progress has been slow since February mostly due to us negotiating a revised lease – which we now have. However on the plus side we have now re-appointed the architect who is slightly adapting the design to help facilitate further co-located activities.
Powys County Council continue to provide unstinting support and as part of the Community Hub programme are helping to pay for this additional design work to be carried out. In addition the appetite for co-production, co-location and integration of services has grown since last year due to the challenging financial position that all local authorities find themselves in.
It is unfortunate that personal circumstances have meant that my energy and focus on all things ‘KDCC’ have been limited this last year. However we were successful in our application to the Police and Crime Commissioner who awarded us £2400 for diversionary activities with children and young people. In addition, Teme Valley Masonic Lodge kindly donated £250 towards refurbishment of the Reynolds room.
Most effort has been focused on refining the new constitution and we are delighted that we have got to the stage of looking to adopt it at this years AGM. Good governance is the cornerstone of our voluntary activity and will be the key to any successful grant funding in the future.
We continue to meet the Charity Commissions reporting requirements, but sadly for the first year since the new committee took over in 2008 the financial outcome will be less healthy. However our determination remains and we continue to work towards a community facility that the town and district deserve.
Looking back over my 2013 report three important issues were raised:
1) re-negotiating a new lease;
2) improving our constitution;
3) changing the Management Committee’s status from a Charitable trust to a Company Limited By Guarantee
As Dominique stated in her report we are now in a much better position with a far more workable lease – PCC have been very open and supportive on this issue. This was essential for our lottery bid.
Our present constitution, which in my last report I explained was not fit for purpose, states that a representative from each of a list of organisations should attend committee meetings and included in this list is an Indoor Bowls Group, Snooker Group, and Knighton Festival of Brass Bands all of which to my knowledge are now defunct. Other groups such as Teme Spirits, Knighton Show Committee, Silver Band and Badminton, whilst very supportive of the Comm, have not been able to send a representative in all the time I have been Chair. Now with the help of Dominique we have produced a draft of a new constitution which more accurately reflects the charity and its Management Committee. The new constitution, which has been unanimously accepted by the Committee, now needs to be ratified later in today’s proceedings.
Our solicitor is still in the process of changing our present Charitable Trust to the status of Company limited by Guarantee. This, in effect, would mean the trustees become directors and have no personal liability if in the future the Centre became untenable. Hopefully such a change would encourage more people to come forward in the future to participate on the committee.
Events and Activities
I will now move on to the section of my report which highlights some of the events and regular activities that have taken place over the last year. We continue to strive to ensure that people have a positive experience when attending these activities, which are after all the rationale for keeping the Community Centre’s doors open. It is our core purpose that those activities should contribute to the general well-being of the community. The table below shows a list of events and activities and a breakdown of usage over the year of 2013.
Analysis of Activities January to December 2013
Activity Types Number of sessions Hours usage
Adult Education: 18 74
Including first aid
Artistic: 42 151
Meetings 15 30
Social: 21 88
• Private parties
• Fundraising parties
• Coffee mornings
• Formal dinners and balls
• Fashion shows
• Civic Lunches
• Bingo nights
• Community Carols
• WI show
Others: 86 350
• Town Show and Carnival
• PCC Cuts Consultation Day
• Community Markets
• Health Screening
• Leg Club
• Pain Management Clinics
• Blood Donation
• Table sales
• Funeral reception
• Christening party
• Visit by Palestinian Youth
Sporting: 203 463
• Indoor Football
• Motorcycle rally
• Cycle rally
Looking at the wide range of events and activities which the Community Centre has to offer, I think you will agree the list is both impressive and diverse.
Entertainment-wise the community could choose between the Teme Spirits production, fundraisers for Knighton Show and Carnival, particularly Knighton’s Got Talent, musical events ranging from Knighton Silver Band, Electro Swing, young people’s charity concerts, the very popular Little Big Band, the acclaimed RAF Red, White and Blues Band, a new venture in the form of a Quiz Night, and by popular request the return of The Conmittments.
Sports-wise Badminton and Karate, Zumba and Yoga continue to be very popular regular activities, while the Centre is also used for an annual cycle rally. Also last year, wrestling, (perhaps more entertainment than sport) was a great family event.
In the area of health and well-being the committee has been very pleased to accommodate both the weekly Leg Club and a less frequent Pain Clinic (from Bronglais Hospital). Whilst the Pain Clinic was only an eight week course, the Leg Club is available on a regular basis every Thursday morning. Both clinics are very welcome additions to the list of activities offered by the Comm.
Also cookery classes which aim to teach new cooking skills in a sociable environment have been successfully running for several years now.
We were very pleased to provide the venue for PCC’s Civic Sunday Lunch – a first for Knighton. Knighton Town Council regularly hosts its Civic Sunday lunch in the Centre, which is always well attended.
The Knighton Community Market, run by Christopher Plant and Tom Taylor, continues to thrive and has become a well established bi-monthly community event. It is much more than a market: it’s a lively place to socialise, listen to music and meet friends and family in warm and dry surroundings and is increasingly drawing visitors to the town.
We’re pleased that Knighton Community Support continues to base itself in the Community Centre as that organisation shares many of the same objectives as us. Finally the centre is vital for Polling Days and Blood Collection Service, functions enhanced by its accessibility and adjacent car park.
Since the committee’s successful renovation of the old snooker room into the more useful Reynolds Room, we have experienced an increase in bookings for private parties, meetings and workshops. The room is a vast improvement on the state it was in when the present committee took over, and the room has been further enhanced with additional lighting and, most important of all, electrical sockets. Two community events which I would particularly like to highlight as showing the adaptability of the room and which the committee were happy to be involved with were the Community Lunch and the Palestinian Youth visit. The Community Lunch was a very successful event, the food cooked and served by a great bunch of volunteers for the local people. The young Palestinian visitors, although camping on the rugby field, were able to use the room for meals and music workshops over the 3 days they were in Knighton.
As in previous years I need to emphasise that running all these activities comes at a cost. Simply keeping open this enormous building (the biggest community centre in Powys) needs an income of approximately £2000 - £2500 per month. Rod Smith, our treasurer, will provide you with more details when he presents the financial report. However, it is apparent that despite an increase in the number of hirings, the overall income has remained almost the same and this, along with our huge heating and lighting
and other utility bills, means we have a deficit in our yearly accounts. This leaves us with no other option but to increase the rental charges and possibly apply a winter heating surcharge for those hirers who require heating. We realise this may deter some hirers but our choices are stark – we obviously cannot continue to make a loss so in the committee’s opinion this is the only solution. It is worth repeating that this is a charitable organization, run for the benefit of the community, with virtually all expenses having to be met from events and activities held at the centre. We do receive some funding from Powys County Council and Knighton Town Council - of course much appreciated - but it is only a tiny fraction of the money needed to keep the place afloat.
You have heard from Dominique about our aspirations for the future of the Centre. In the meantime we are not standing still and look forward to celebrating the Comm’s 30th anniversary with a variety of events.
Excitingly, thanks to funding by the Welsh Assembly, Powys is now able to tap into the very popular Flicks in the Sticks programme which runs successfully in Shropshire and Herefordshire. Starting in September Sheila Taylor and Roger Casstles have kindly agreed to help to organise a regular event, with a programme of dates set for the rest of the year – we just have to book the films. It will probably run in the Reynolds Room and we anticipate offering refreshments including tea/coffee/wine. There’s a definite buzz in the air over this project – but like all ventures, attendance is key so we’re hoping it appeals to Knighton people. The launch of the programme is on September 6th with a double bill – a children’s film in the afternoon followed by an adult film in the evening.
From September art and Welsh classes will be starting in the Reynolds Room – a welcome addition to our other adult classes of yoga, zumba, badminton and cookery.
We would love to have live music in the bar on a regular basis, so a one-off event in October, organised by Mick Westrip , will hopefully gauge if there is enough local interest and support to continue with the concept. We also hope to bring back the hugely popular Little Big Band in December and the acclaimed Welsh folk band Jamie Smith’s Mabon in late autumn.
The Committee has long wanted to encourage young people to use our Centre as they are a section of the community that is underrepresented in our activities and booking listing. Over the last year there have been a couple of musical events run and organized by young people, as well as the Young Farmers events and of course our extremely successful children’s workshops run by Laura Lunn– but we felt there was more we could do. After liaison with Lesley Smith from the Youth Service it was agreed that a Drop In Session would run from the reception office for a trial period. The room hire would be absorbed by us in the short term, using funds from the Police Commissioner’s grant. In the future it is possible that the Drop In will move to the Reynolds Room, in preparation for which part of the police fund went towards the cost of upgrading the provision of power sockets. Wi-Fi provision would be a definite asset to the Youth Service and negotiations are in progress with Community Support to share their service. Activities identified by the Youth Service such as cooking classes could also be funded by the Police Commissioner’s grant.
Tom Taylor continued to run the bar, on behalf of the committee, on a shared profit basis during 2013. Unfortunately bookings involving bars, over the last year, continued on a downward trend which has affected its profitability, this being compounded by wastage from stock going out of date due to lower than expected attendances. It was never an easy task to predict the amount of stock needed for a function and, of course, when there was a long gap between bars then wastage inevitably occurs.
In view of the reasons above, Tom and the committee agreed this situation was untenable. Analysing the events and activities taking place, it was apparent that although we had increased hirings in some areas, such as health and well being, we were not attracting as many events which request a bar. Therefore when Publican Andy Crowe approached us with a proposition to run the bar and take control of the stock we agreed to accept his proposal for a year’s trial starting February 2014. Andy pays us 10% of the profit and he is willing to run small bars as and when necessary as a service to hirers. In addition, he is very keen to work alongside us to keep the centre open and not just with bar-related functions. He has already held a Quiz Night and has plans for other events to bring people to the Centre who may not be regular users. Our working relationship is good but bookings for bars continue to drop.
I was planning to leave this disappointingly regular section out of the report this year as there has been a marked decrease in the number of cases, but, then, only 4 days ago we had to deal with a broken window in the dressing room. This may seem trivial but the demoralising effect it has on all the committee is a real issue. Besides the cleaning up, informing the police, contacting a local builder to repair the damage, there is the cost to consider, when every penny counts.
At this point I would like to say a huge thank you to all the present committee, reiterating what I said last year, that we have worked together as a great team, putting in many hours, to keep the doors of the Community Centre open. Our meetings may at times be long and frustrating but we support each other and laughter often erupts to lighten the atmosphere.
The present members who are willing to stand again, if unopposed, are myself, Karen Plant – Chairperson, Liz Reynolds – Vice Chairperson, Rod Smith – Treasurer and Health and Safety Officer, Dominique Jones – Fundraiser and Laura Lunn – Youth Projects Organiser. A new candidate, namely Catherine Cadwallader, is offering to become part of the committee. No other names have been proposed but if anyone wishes to be considered they can put their names forward at the appropriate point in the meeting. In addition, the committee is currently joined by County Councillor, Peter Medlicott and town council representatives Roger Bright and Laura Higgins, whose attendance is much appreciated.
Christopher Plant, my husband continues to do a great job, on a voluntary basis, as the booking and invoicing clerk/coordinator, often on the front line when problems occur. He also manages and updates our marvellous website and the Facebook page, which has proved to be an excellent way of reaching out to people and promoting activities. Also at present he is the minutes secretary at our committee meetings. He maintains the centre’s links with the local papers. In addition to this, he works on a part time basis as the
caretaker. Although contracted for 8 hrs weekly it is a 7 days a week concern, demanding flexibility – even on holidays he’s answering phone calls about bookings and maintenance issues in the Comm.
I would like to thank our ever-dwindling band of volunteers for their support and practical assistance with helping to run events. At this stage, I would like to make a special mention of Scott Hill. He designed and painted the wonderful banner sign that festoons the front of our Community Centre. His dedication, skill and belief in the project is to be applauded. Single handedly, through some atrocious weather, Scott worked on producing a sign that the whole of Knighton should be proud of. More amazing still this project was all done on a voluntary basis. If only a few more volunteers with the same energy could come forward the Comm could be not just the biggest but also the best Centre in Powys. In addition, thanks need to be passed on to Paul and Ann Williams from Precious Earth for helping towards the cost of the paint. Special thanks, as always, to Fred Lewis and Mike Conway for their unstinting support for our Centre.
Finally, I would like to thank Julie, Di and Helen, our dedicated cleaning staff who do a wonderful job of keeping the Centre clean. The Committee values their efforts greatly.
To conclude as I did last year, I think it is imperative that Knighton people are under no illusion - the future of the Community Centre remains on a knife edge, just as in 2013 and 2012. Our community needs to show its support and commitment if it wants its Centre to remain open.