Community Member Comment

Post in Community Ownership by Marion Taylor
A comment has been received from a member of our community regarding the lack of investment in Garve Public Hall

I cannot understand why we are giving away 40k to an energy officer, over 3 years, and the grant applied for refurbishment for Garve Public Hall is still pending.

As we no longer have a shop or public house surely the hall is the social hub of the community and as such is deserving of a grant?  

Really, how many officers and groups do we need and what percentage of the funds are being taken up in administration fees and salaries and feasability studies?

Questions & Comments

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Sheree Grant said:

I agree with all of Marion’s comments, and would add that in the various surveys that have been conducted the Village Hall refurbishment is always high up on the agenda. The grant application not being approved is just delaying improvements to the hall that would benefit the whole community.

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Robert Moir said:

Agree 100% with both of above comments. will LCT be willing to explain publicaly to the community why they are delaying a desire strongly expressed in the community survey for improvements and refurbishment of the hall?

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Alan Ross said:

Totally agree as well! As a 4th generation hall trustee myself the whole process about getting funding from the LCT to push forward our plans as trustees and the views of the majority of the community have been continually set back. Criteria that we were advised to comply with from the last emmergency electrical work grant has been met to the best of our knowledge and yet they still try and push us back. As a vital community asset there should be no issue with receiving grant funding from the LCT. As I recall a few years back we were continually asked why we weren't applying for money to spend on the hall. Now that we are it's caused nothing but grief for the hall trustee's who work very hard behind the scenes making sure that this facilty is up and running and maintained ready for use by anyone at any time! It has operated like this for over 100 years and is something we are proud of and not willing to change! Looks like another personal attack against the hall and its trustee's. I also wish to point out that I hope this energy officer gives value for money! LCT is on course to destroy this community and all the hard work people have put in!

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Gemma MacDonald said:

As a new member to both the LCT and the Development company I don't understand why it's pending? surely if there is a problem that you can't pass the grant for the village hall then we as members should be told? Is there something going on that's not legal? or is it you cant mark it with the COVID-19 but surely we should be told. If that was the case then the rest would have not got marked.

A confused member. 

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Sue Tarr said:

Thankyou all for your comments. Please be assured that the Development Company and Officers have the Hall as one of our main priorities, and we will post an update following our next board meeting (which is tonight). I hope you can bear with us in the meantime, thanks for your patience. 

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Sarah Bedwell said:

I think the LCT need to publicly explain the answers to these queries by members. They need to be held accountable and could do with being reminded this is not directors own personal money.

I have no confidence in the LCT and certainly have no trust in it.

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Janice Ross said:

Totally agree with what has been said. The hall is the hub of the community and all the trustees are trying to do is make it better for the whole community. I also thought this money was for everybody but it seems very difficult to receive funding for the hall??

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Tina Hartley said:

Apologies for the delay, I respond on behalf of The Garve & District Development Company Board of Directors: - 

The Development Company’s role is to move forward Garve and District’s Community Development Plan - contents of which were agreed by this community, Lochluichart Community Trust and Garve and District Community Council during March 2019. The Plan has the following themes: -

  • Community Ownership
  • Community Energy
  •  Utilities
  • Community Care
  • Community Groups & Events
  • Business & Tourism

An annual review of these themes is now due, and our Development Officers are working on this. The work of the Development Company is wholly based on these 6 themes. The items mentioned in comments – Garve Public Hall, Energy Officer, groups and administration are all a clear fit with your  Community Development Plan. 

Garve Public Hall - the Development Company fully support moving forward the community’s wishes with regard to refurbishment of the hall. Since their appointment in 2018, our Officers have worked hard to develop good, strong, working relationships with Hall Trustees. Trustees and Officers are working closely together to ensure the Hall’s governance is fit for purpose taking account of liability; that new governance put in place supports the ability to attract funding as a Charity; and the Trustees continue to be open and transparent in all they do in their management of this communty asset. The Development Company and Hall Trustees are ready to move forward the community’s wishes, ensuring the hall remains at the heart of its community. This is a clear fit with the Community Development Plan. 

Energy Officer - the Development Company, wholeheartedly, welcome Ewan Bush whose post is currently 100% funded by Scottish Government’s Investment in Communities Fund (external funding). Ewan’s initial work will concentrate on supporting those members of our community wishing to improve energy efficiency in their own homes leading to reduced energy costs. In moving forward, the Community Development Plan’s climate and energy objectives, our work will always seek to demonstrate a return on any community investment within and beyond the life of “your” wind farm funds, to the benefit of every part of the community.  We did apply for match funding from LCT in readiness for this post requiring additional hours to meet the plan’s climate and energy objectives.  After lock down, we have no doubt these extra hours will be needed. This is a clear fit with the Community Development Plan. 

Groups – the community requested more social activities and opportunities to come together, to this end the Company developed the DigiHub Group funded by SCVO (external funding) and Activate Garve and District, funded by LCT. It is great to see 12 groups now listed on this, the community’s on-line hub. We have seen older people coming together to learn new digital skills and a Whist Group had just started prior to lock down. The Yoga Taster day was a great success and our Project Co-ordinator, Morven was planning follow-up sessions, Morven had also started work with the Achnasheen residents too. The Events Group, I believe, were about to publicise a Bingo Night, the Parent Council had a Night of Mediumship planned and in this virtual world we live in now, Kenny has a Quiz Night planned for this weekend. These activities are all a clear fit with our Community Development Plan. 

Administration – currently we have Tina and Lucy as our Development Officers, although the Company have finances available to pay them full-time Tina and Lucy feel the job only requires 4 days just now. Sheila, our Company Secretary works one day per week keeping us all in order and Morven was employed to work two days per week prior to COVID-19 on a short term Activate Garve & District Project and as previously mentioned, we now have Ewan who joins the company for two per days week. During their time with us, the Development Officers have raised applications and secured £197k in funding to deliver key objectives within the Community Development Plan, of which 41% came from external sources. Using the community’s (LCT managed) pot as ‘seed’ funding, this percentage is likely to rise as we address the larger, capital projects e.g. Garve Public Hall refurbishment. Administration is a clear fit with the Community Development Plan. 

Directors and staff do understand the community’s frustration with regard to funding processes for Garve Public Hall, but please, be assured, we are in communication with staff and Directors of LCT to get this first application for funding in place asap.  Garve Publi Hall remains a high priority for us and we will continue to support Trustees in taking the community's wishes forward - a newly refurbished hall that remains at the heart of its community. Sincerely Board of Directors - The Garve & District Development Company

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Marion Taylor said:

Thank you to the Development Board and Officers for their speedy and comprehensive reply, however the main question  as to why the Grant for the Garve Village Hall from the LCT funds remains pending is left unanswered

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Carol Smith said:

Thank you for your comments regarding the recent application raised for the planning application for Garve Hall and please accept the delay in response but as you are aware we having to all work remotely which makes the process of contacting all directors slightly longer.

 LCT would like to reassure the community that it is, in principle, in favour of the grant application. However, a number of directors have raised a concern regarding the organisational structure of the Hall. The Garve Hall currently has a charitable status of an Unincorporated Association. This means that the building and any land associated have to be held in the names of individual trustees, who essentially own it, rather than the hall committee, andthat the trustees have personal liability for the hall. As part of the grant review process the LCT directors need to ensure, as recommended by Foundation Scotland in their audit in May, that there is an appropriate organisational and legal structure, especially for capital projects. As the hall must be held in the names of individual trustees with personal liability it is felt that presently there is not an appropriate structure. LCT recommended to the Garve Hall committee, last May, when a grant was provided for emergency remedial work that the structure should be altered and offered funds for legal advice and costs associated with any changes. At the point the current application was received by LCT there had been no evidence of any organisational change.

LCT is working closely with the TGDDC Development Officers to clarify the situation and to ensure that this application can be further reviewed. The hall committee has agreed for the hall to become a SCIO and this process has now commenced. Concern as to the organisational structure of the SCIO adopted by the hall trustees has been raised, in response to recommendations by SCVO, which needs further discussion.

I appreciate that the review of this application is taking longer than usual but in the current circumstances LCT is having to gain information and make grant awards remotely. Please be assured that LCT is working towards getting a resolution but it is essential, that despite the current circumstances, the correct process is still applied.

Please be advised that members can contact LCT directly with any queries regarding applications, as indicated in notification emails on grant awards,

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Uisdean Menzies said:

Dear Members of the Community 

On behalf of Garve  Public Hall Trustees, I would like to fill you in with some facts to the statement that has been posted on the Hub by the board of the LCT.  This is to ensure openness and transparency to all community members following this post. 

Early 2019 - On the change of the hall Chairmanship, CEDOs began a discussion about the possibility of the hall changing their constitution and research began on the best option – a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO).  At this point, the hall had no need to change, but were open to discussion that an SCIO would ensure there were no issues regarding personal liability.  CEDOs were preparing hall triustees for the likelihood that a change would be needed if a major investment was required.  The application to LCT for funds to cover the professional fees for remedial electrical works brought the matter to a head. 

10th of May 2019 - The board of the LCT got confirmation about the hall’s existing constitution from the company solicitor stating:  “Although the copy is unsigned it specifies that the appointment or election of new trustees shall be by invitation of the committee. This is perfectly in order and if the practice has been followed over the years it is clearly the accepted manner of appointment.” Alpin Stewart Solicitor to LCT

14th of May 2019 - The Hall Trustees received this from the LCT  “I have asked Alpin to clarify how this issue can be resolved but unfortunately he is on holiday until the end of May. I have, however, checked the OSCR website and it appears that the best option for the hall is to become an SCIO. This is also the view of one of the parties of Brodies LLP at their seminar I attended last week.” Carol Smith   So on that advice from the LCT, it was presented to the hall Trustees at a meeting (see minutes of the meeting on the hub 17/06/19). 

19th of June 2019  - Tina worked on the first draft SCIO and sent it over to Uisdean and it was circulated to Hall Trustees. On the same date, the Hall applied to become a member of SCVO.  At this point, it was agreed that an SCIO Tier 1 was the best way to go and a draft was agreed. At this point, it was felt that the results of the community consultation needed to be seen before making any firm decisions about changing the constitution. 

1st October 2019 - A post on the community hub showed that external consultants had surveyed the community. 105 surveys were returned providing a return rate of 41%. 63% wished to see the redevelopment and expansion of Garve Public Hall 

21 October 2019 - I sent an email to the Secretary of the LCT "Good afternoon, Carol Can you please confirm that the LCT are still willing to cover the solicitor cost for the Garve Public Hall.  This was offered by the last board so the old constitution, was updated to a new SCIO. Kind regards, Uisdean.  I received a reply on the same day: “Thank you for your email.  I will check with the Board that they are willing to pay for the legal costs for change of legal structure and let you know. Regards, Carol” 

28th of October 2019 -  A further reply from the Secretary of the LCT “I am still waiting for all of the directors to respond but wondered if you could give me an indication of the costs that you anticipate for this change.  I am trying to ascertain whether from a process and governance perspective there would need to be an application form and will let you know in due course. Thank you, Carol”  I replied to this email on the same day, 28th October 2019, stating that I did not have a clue on the costs. On checking all past Minutes on the LCT webpage, I can not see any reference to it being discussed.  To this date, 11/04/2020 have never received a reply from the board in this respect. 

Over the next few months, we moved forward, with the help of the Garve and District Development Company, in applying for funds and becoming an SCIO Tier 1 to facilitate the requirements of the LCT. 

14th November 2019 - Feasibility Study published. 

14th January 2020 - Hall Minutes – Uisdean had contacted a solicitor.

20th February 2020 - Applied for Sasine Sheet. in suport of changing Trust Deeds

27th February 2020 -  Current funding pplication submitted to LCT 

27th March 2020 - Submitted application for SCIO to OSCR 

So I am dumbfounded as to why the Board of the LCT would send out a statement, that was not correct in view of the fact that the Trustees of the Hall have been working hard towards restructuring the constitution over the last 12 months.   LCT recommended to the Garve Hall committee, last May when a grant was provided for emergency remedial work that the structure should be altered and offered funds for legal advice and costs associated with any changes.  At the point the current application was received by LCT there had been no evidence of any organisational change.” 

As you can see from the timeline above, we have tried to keep the LCT informed consistently as we were going forward and there is a considerable body of evidence to show that there has been organisational change. 

Last, of all please note we have not applied for a grant for a capital project, but a grant for professional fees.      

Wishing you all a Happy Easter. Kind regards, Uisdean F Menzies  (Chairman of Garve Public Hall)  

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Alan Ross said:

Thank you to the Board of the Development Company for their explanation.

 As for the LCT I still think more expanation is needed from some members of the board to the public as to why they seem to have a personal vendetta against the hall and its Trustee's. The last emergency grant was the same grief to getting approved. Community money going to a vital community asset whats the problem??? Going by the comprehensive list of conversations and emails exchanged between the Chairman of the hall and the LCT, it appears to be very strange that  LCT are so worried about how the structure of the Hall is operated and run (which has been the same, for more than 100 Years, without any major problems and is a decision for the Trustee's not the LCT) when maybe they should be more focused on the "organisational structure" of their own board rather than Garve Public Hall. As trustees, we are aways transparent with our decisions with what is the best long term future for the hall and are always willing to listen to the community needs. Which is what we are trying to do regarding the community survey/feasibility study.

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Carol Smith said:

Following the comments raised by the Garve Hall Committee I would like to again reiterate that LCT has always been, in principle, in support of this application and has been working to get the grant award reviewed urgently.  There is absolutely no vendetta against the hall or any other organisations or individuals but LCT has to ensure that due process is followed. Unfortunately, in the current circumstances with COVID 19, decisions take a bit longer.

As the Chair of the Hall committee has commented there has been ongoing conversations with the hall committee regarding the organizational structure of the hall and LCT recognizes that the hall committee has improved the transparency of its decisions and actions through its AGM and minutes being posted on the website.  Likewise LCT is also keen to maintain its transparency through the LCT website and community meetings.

With regards to the current application, as of the date that the application was received, being 28th February 2020, the application for the SCIO had not been presented to OSCR and LCT therefore had no evidence of a change of the organizational structure.  LCT has also taken advice from Foundation Scotland who again advised the necessity of the change to the organizational structure. LCT has now received confirmation that the application for a Tier 1 SCIO has been sent to OSCR. 

As all concerns have now been answered the LCT Board has now reviewed the application and awarded the full grant as requested.

LCT recognizes that the need for collaboration is vital but also has to ensure that all due diligence is undertaken on applications.  Over the past year we have held regular meetings with the Development Company and the Community Council, as well as hosting our own community meetings.  Unfortunately our proposed EGM and community meeting in March had to be cancelled due to COVID 19.

LCT has a strong commitment to improving the community of the Garve and District Community Council and the lives of its residents.  Should you have any ideas as to improvements or projects that you would like to see undertaken please contact us via our email address or phone 07713 503375

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