If you have any other questions, let us know and we’ll try to answer them.
Nobody has told us that they want us to close the hall. The vast majority of the village has told us that the hall is essential to the wellbeing of the village. Unless we do this work, the hall will progressively become dilapidated and fall into disuse and will have to be closed. We are trying to incorporate some enhancements which the village has told us would be beneficial, but at the very minimum we have to refurbish what we already have to keep the hall in operation for another generation.
To build a new hall of similar size and with similar facilities as the existing hall would cost of order £1.25m. In any case, the existing hall is structurally sound and, subject to refurbishment, meets the needs of the village. Knocking it down is unaffordable and bad value for money.
The hall is 40 years old, so it’s not surprising that it needs something more fundamental than redecoration. There are some areas of dilapidation, e.g. in the flat roofs and floors, which, if we don’t do something soon, will fail. We also need a complete re-wire, new lights, heating and ventilation. We have included some enhancements, in response to comments from the village:
- Vale Room toilets moved to Vale Room store
- A new store accessible from Main Hall
- Additional external door to Main Hall (providing potential access to school grounds in due course)
- Larger waiting/meeting room (subject to agreement with health centre)
- Larger male WC (subject to agreement with health centre)
If we can’t raise the money to make these enhancements, we won’t include them.
As so much needs to be replaced or upgraded to modern standards, we are doing more than sprucing it up. We also hope to incorporate some enhancements to facilities, which villagers have told us would be beneficial. We also have to cover professional fees and, because not all the money is coming from the Parish Council, we will have to pay some VAT (although the last budget suggested that this could be changing). We will only proceed on the basis of a competitive tender so that we get the best price we can in the market.
A competitive tender for a scheme which included all of these things gave us prices of around £700,000. We did then spend a lot of time working with a builder to see if we could reduce the price but found it impossible, without substantial risk, to achieve a price below £500,000.
We still think this would bring benefits but it would involve some additional works and we currently need to focus on making sure we can deliver an affordable scheme. We are, however, including two sets of glazed double doors on the west side of the main hall which will give us the option in future of accessing the school grounds from the hall.
We won’t do as much. We will drop as many of the enhancements we need to stay within the money we have raised.
We could consider additional enhancements, such as insulating the walls, or we could provide a war chest for future maintenance and projects or reduce the scale of debt funding.
We think so. We are drawing upon reserves, a loan, fundraising events, local businesses and personal donations and making applications to a very wide range of charitable and other grant bodies. However, competition for grants is fierce and the process demands strong evidence of need and support. The more we can do for ourselves, the more others are prepared to support us.
We are insulating the loft and roofs, installing LED lights and new water and space heating throughout all of which will improve energy efficiency and comfort. We will also replace the remaining single-glazed with double-glazed windows. We cannot afford to insulate the walls as we had previously hoped, although this is something to think about in future.
The cuts in subsidy and availability of funds make these impossible to afford at present. It remains an ambition to install them as a future standalone project.
We are trying to make space more flexible and suitable for a wider range of uses. The surgery office takes away space from the current waiting room. By removing it, we can make the space of more general value for meetings and in support of events in the Main Hall. The surgery receptionist will set up within the room. We are discussing the proposal with Woodlands Health Centre to confirm that they remain fully supportive.
Woodlands Health Centre and the receptionist previously agreed, in principle, to the proposals for the surgery waiting room. We still have to agree the specification for the new, secure cupboard and exactly what facilities the receptionist will need. These could include a removable screen. We are also proposing to improve the sound insulation between the waiting and consulting rooms.
The Parish Council has set the current precept to cover the cost of a loan for the refurbishment of the village hall, adding an additional £15 per year to a Band D dwelling. No further increases are therefore expected as a result of the refurbishment.
Because a donation from a company would not qualify for Gift Aid, it would be better to make it directly to the Parish Council. You can do this by sending a cheque made payable to Blewbury Parish Council to the Parish Clerk, Liz Cooper, 41 Dibleys, OX11 9PU or by BACS transfer to:
Account name: Blewbury Parish Council
Sort Code: 20 01 09
Account number: 40350494
In either case, please make clear that the donation is for the refurbishment of Blewbury Village Hall.
We will consider doing this if it looks as though we are falling short of our target and have a specific and readily attainable gap to bridge.
Please discuss with Steve White what you have in mind. We will be appointing a prime contractor to carry out the work and they will appoint sub-contractors. We could offer the names of people or firms as potential sub-contractors for specific parts of the project. However, if we required the prime contractor to use particular sub-contractors it could mean blurring the prime contractor's responsibilities and our accepting additional risk and possibly losing warranties, which we would want to avoid. Alternatively, if we had teams of our own who could do a job, we could take an area out of the main contract altogether, if it meant a big reduction in cost, even if we had to accept some additional risk.