Chairperson Karen Plant's Report 2013
This is my 4th year as Chairperson and, much as I was hoping to be giving today a more upbeat report on the Community Centre, I once again 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. We struggle on a daily basis to keep the centre up and running, with just the committee and a tiny number of volunteers, seemingly unable to garner the support and participation from the community we so desperately need.
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 costly for a building of this size but is essential for the safe running of the Centre.
This time last year Dominique Jones, our Fundraiser on behalf of the rest of the committee was working extremely hard on 2 bids, one for the Big Lottery and one for CFAP to enable us to realise an exciting project, the renovation of the Comm into a Community Hub. So what happened to those aspirations? Dominique, in the following part of the report will explain.
Grant and Centre Development Report
Following on from the previous annual report the two key grant bids outlined were submitted in August 2012. The first was under the Lottery Programme People and Places; the second under the Welsh Governments Community Facilities and Activity Programme Grant.
A huge amount of work was invested in both applications including the development of a comprehensive Business Plan produced in conjunction with a Consultant paid for by Glasu with funded by the Rural Development Grant.
Just prior to Christmas 2012 we received correspondence from the Big Lottery Fund who advised that, due to an administrative oversight key information had been overlooked at the point of submission and in close
discussion with them we decided to withdraw the application and go through a re-submission process. This was instigated immediately and a deadline of August 1st 2013 has been set to get the full application re-submitted.
The Community Facilities and Activity Programme (CAFAP) Grant was rejected – however we received a very favourable report and the issues raised were very much in line with the requirements needed by the Big Lottery. These included:-
· Getting our governance and bank account details aligned. There were minor differences between the name on our Constitution (Knighton and District Community Centre Management Committee) and the Bank Account (Knighton Community Centre Management Committee.) This has since been rectified.
· Lack of a 20 year lease. The lease that is currently in place has less than 10 years to run and despite assurances from the County Council that a new lease would be negotiated and supported, both grant funders wanted to see this in place.
We have been working very closely with Powys County Council on a new lease that is acceptable to all parties and whilst it is taking far longer than we had hoped, we are hopeful that the remaining issues can be ironed out, with the legal assistance described below, within the deadline for resubmission..
In addition we have drafted a revised governance document and are working with the Charity Commission to ensure it can be adopted later in the year.
Unfortunately we submitted our CAFAP grant on the final round of the existing programme (July 2012). However we have received assurances from the Welsh Government that a new grant programme would be launched imminently. To date the launch has not taken place but we are hopeful that the new programme will provide us with another bite of the cherry.
We have received a lot of enthusiastic support for the changes that we want to make and though there has been the odd less supportive comment, the Centre continues to provides an unrivalled venue and the Committee feel the people of Knighton deserve and should have a facility which supports a range of community needs and is not just fit for purpose but is fit for the 21st Century and is sustainable in the long term.
Other grant applications and funding to support the Centre have included a small capital grant from Powys County Council (£2k)and Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations (£2k) to re-surface the floor of the main hall.
In addition our Youth Representative (Sophie Watts) applied for a Voluntary Youth Grant of £250 to fund resources and equipment to start some small scale activities for children and young people. Although this had a difficult start, two workshops aligned to the Saturday Craft and Farmers Market just prior to Christmas saw only three attendees, and bad weather and illness got in the way in the months leading up to Easter of further workshops. However on May the 25th 2013 we ran a very successful Arts Workshop where upwards of 15 children and young people 8 to 13 years old attended and painted the town and some of the area’s favourite views. Most said they would return if we did it again and all signed up to receive further information. Our thanks to Sophie and all her efforts for making this all happen – the committee values her energy and enthusiasm and we hope she will continue to work with us to encourage children and young people to engage with the centre.
We have also received a number of small donations to support the Centre and, as the famous multi-national says, ‘every little helps’.
Following on from Dominique’s report and concern on the issue of a new lease, I can inform you that we have taken legal advice from a solicitor from PCB, who is looking carefully at the implications for the committee of the new lease we have under consideration. Hopefully, we can come to a resolution very quickly, as time is of the essence if bids are to be re-submitted.
Another area of concern for the present committee is the current constitution, which is now not fit for purpose. The section Committee of Management 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 all the time I have been chair. Now with the help of Dominique we have produced a draft of a new constitution. As with the lease the committee is taking legal advice from PCB and the feedback so far has been very positive. In addition, contact has been made with the Charity Commission. The new constitution, when accepted by the Committee will need to be ratified at an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) - date to be decided.
Our solicitor has strongly advised us, the Trustees, to change from the present Charitable Trust to the status of Company limited by Guarantee. In effect we would become directors and have no personal liability if the future of the Centre became untenable. Hopefully such a change would encourage more people to come forward in the future to participate on the committee.
Moving onto the part of my report I find most satisfying I would like to highlight some of the events and regular activities that have taken place over the last year. We hope that people have a positive experience when attending the range of activities that take place and that those activities have contributed 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 last year.
Analysis of Activities June 2012 to end of May 2013
Activity Types Number of sessions Hours usage
Adult Education: 28 105
•One off all-day course
Artistic: 32 125
Meetings 6 16
Social: 26 101
• Private parties
• Fundraising parties
• Coffee mornings
• Formal dinners and balls
• Fashion shows
• Civic Lunches
. Wedding receptions
• Bingo nights
• Community Carols
• WI show
Others: 44 231
• Town Show and Carnival
• Queen’s Diamond Jubilee
• Schools Consultation Day
• Community Markets
• Health Screening
• Leg Club
• Pain Management Clinics
• Blood Donation
• Table sales
• Funeral reception
• Christening party
Sporting: 188 events 544 hours
• Indoor Football
• Motorcycle rallies
• Car rallies
• Cycle rallies
The first thing that’s apparent is the diversity of events and activities which the Community Centre has to offer – quite staggering, I think you will agree.
Entertainment-wise the community could choose between Teme Spirits production, fundraisers for Knighton Show and Carnival, namely The Presidents Ball, Knighton’s Got Talent and Ladies Day, musical events ranging from Knighton Silver Band, African band Harare, young people’s charity concerts and acclaimed singer Elin Manahan-Thomas.
Sports-wise there has been an increase in the number of activities offered. In addition to Badminton and Karate, Zumba and Yoga have been available. Indoor football was an option too in the cold winter months. Annually the Centre is used for both cycle and motorcycle rallies.
In the area of health and well-being the committee is pleased to accommodate both the Leg Club and a Pain Clinic (from Bronglais Hospital). Whilst the Pain Clinic is 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.
Cookery classes which aim to teach new cooking skills in a sociable environment have been successfully running for 2 yrs now.
The Food and Craft Market, run by Christopher Plant and Tom Taylor, was relaunched in May with a new name, Knighton Community Market, and a new logo, a sheep named Shauna Sheep. The market 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 socialize and meet friends and family in warm and dry surroundings.
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 committees successful renovation of the old snooker room into a more user -friendly room, the 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, but still needs further improvements, in particular more lighting and electrical sockets.
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 approximately two thousand pounds per month. Rod Smith, our treasurer, will provide you with more details when he presents the financial report. 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. As already mentioned 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.
At this stage I would like to make a special mention of Edible Knighton, one of Teme Valley Environmental Group’s (TVEG) exciting projects. The Edible Knighton project aims to plant fruit and nut trees and other edible
plants around town. The Committee has been delighted to work with TVEG over recent months to enhance the land to the rear of the centre by planting espaliered fruit trees and a herb garden. The hard graft and commitment of the volunteers was greatly appreciated by the committee. Working alongside community groups is most definitely the way forward and we sincerely hope this is only the start of working in collaboration with other local groups to improve our community centre.
Tom Taylor continues to run the bar, on behalf of the committee, on a shared profit basis. Unfortunately there has been a dearth of bars over the last year, particularly in 2013, which has affected its profitability, compounded by wastage from out-of-date stock. It is not an easy task to predict the amount of stock needed for a function and, of course, if there is a long gap between bars then wastage inevitably occurs.
In view of the reasons above it is even more important that all alcohol must be sold through the Centre’s bar. In addition the licence clearly states that “every supply of alcohol under the premises must be made or authorised by a person who holds a personal licence”. Alongside the regular bar fare our wine list continues to be popular with users, comparing favourably in price and quality with local restaurants.
Analysing the events and activities taking place, it is apparent that although we have increased hirings in some areas, such as health and well being, we are not attracting as many events which request a bar. We are aware we need to continue to improve income from bar takings while maintaining careful stock control.
It is worth mentioning at this point that in addition to barman duties, Tom donates a lot free time as a volunteer for the Community Centre, for which the committee is very grateful.
I feel it is very important for this issue to be raised at each AGM, not because we’ve seen an increase in cases of vandalism but because of the demoralising effect it has on all the committee and friends of the Comm. The incident over the Christmas period where roof tiles were removed andflung onto the car park below was on a personal level very upsetting as Christopher and I spent a large part of Boxing Day, which should have been spent with family, sorting the problem out. Until the roof could be assessed we also had the dilemma of whether to close the building with all that entails. The cost of repair, when every penny counts, obviously has an impact on our financial position.
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.
Lynne Conway, previously our treasurer, until Rod Smith took over the mantle, has sadly had to resign from the committee. This is due to ill health and we all wish Lynne a speedy recovery. Lynne has expressed her support for the Comm and hopefully will return to the committee in due course. In addition, I would like to thank Christine Baker for her contribution as our hard working secretary who resigned at the beginning of the year, due to family commitments.
The present members who are willing to stand again, if unopposed are myself, Karen Plant – Chairperson, Liz Reynolds – Vice Chairperson, Ann Dodd – Secretary, Rod Smith – Treasurer and Health and Safety Officer, Dominique Jones – Fundraiser, Sophie Watts – Youth Representative. In addition, the committee is joined by County Councillor, Peter Medlicott and a town council representative, 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, which I would like to plug – the more people click on our website the further up the searches the organisation will appear. 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 maintenance issues in the Comm.
I would like to thank our ever dwindling band of volunteers for their support and practical assistance, not only with events but also with painting toilets and general gardening work. However, I will make a plea again for more people to come forward as ‘Friends of the Community Centre’ to help with future projects. Special thanks, as always, to Fred Lewis, Mike Conway and Ken Fincham 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 end 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 2012, 2011 and so on. Our community need to show their support and commitment if they want their Centre to remain open.