Statement to the Parish Council – 7th July 2020

Thank you for inviting me to speak to you all tonight. I was asked to update you on what is happening with the Village Hall at the moment.

I’ll start with the Current Situation

During the pandemic, all the users of the village hall have cancelled, most saying they will not return until September at the earliest. Sunshine Club did consider re- opening, but have not done so. However, as it was empty, the Hall has been able to assist the shop by allowing them to use the building to store stock, This has enabled them to cope with extra demand during lock down and with the food deliveries. It is continuing to use the building. The Management Committee have been pleased to be able to allow this use free of charge and it has highlighted the value of a community building being able to help in a time of emergency without complications with insurance cover or other restrictions from a ‘higher’ authority.

The finances of the Hall have not suffered as much as they could have, due to relief of business rates for three months and a grant of £10,000 from West Berkshire Council. We have continued to pay Emma who has been able to tackle some outstanding jobs on the ‘to do’ list and keep the building safe for the shop staff.

The Trustees have been working on the newly introduced Village Hallmark Programme with Connecting Communities in Berkshire (CCB). This quality and demonstrates that Trustees are meeting their legal obligations, following the Hall Accreditation standard scheme recognises good standards in the management of village halls standard scheme recognises good standards in the management of village halls adopted constitution and serving their local community well. Each level looks at a different aspect of management. The Management Committee have been credited with the first part, Level 1. We are actively working towards next two levels.

Also during lock-down, we took advantage of a free offer from Gigaclear to install a high speed internet connection in the Hall, which will be available to users. This will be readily extended to the new premises when built.

The playground has been closed and could now be reopened. However, the RoSPA inspection report highlighted some issues which needed to be addressed before we do so. The small roundabout will be removed [when we’ve worked out how] and the large climbing frame has had some repairs, has been cleaned and will be painted in the next few days, weather permitting. We will reopen the playground as soon as possible. All offers of help with the painting will be gratefully received!

Development Project

A considerable amount of work has been carried out since planning permission was granted in October last year to provide facilities for this community – a village hall, new relocated playground, a proper lit MUGA and site improvements. Many conversations have taken place with builders, developers, other professionals and grant bodies. The Business Plan has been completely rewritten and much investigation has been undertaken into ways in which the cost of the whole project can be reduced as much as possible.

The project cost forecast is based on indicative budget costing provided by the architect for the whole project – village hall, external works and professional fees – and the addition of quotes from playground suppliers. The total comes to £2,271,000.

These figures constitute maximum costs at today’s figures. During the informal meetings with developers, it has been clear that significant savings can be made using ‘engineering solutions’ – that is changing some building methods, processes or materials to cheaper alternatives whilst achieving the same outcome.

The architect’s costings include a figure for furniture, blinds, etc and assumes them being provided on ‘day one’ and ignores the fact that we already have much of the necessary equipment. Fees are usually negotiable and so could be reduced. VAT has been included on some items where we are in fact able to claim it back through Green Clock Bradfield’s VAT Notice 708 certificate.

We are aware that this is a mind-blowing amount of money. But can I highlight a few things:
1 The state of the current hall, in particular, is not good. With the exception of regular bookings, the hall is currently rarely booked by anyone other than for children’s parties. Even in the last 5 years, people’s expectations have increased and this hall is just not good enough. We have to raise this money somehow as we have to go ahead with this project without too much delay.

2 However, and most importantly, as of today

  • we have raised £2,300 by our sponsored walk around the Village Halls – virtually of course.
  • we have over £12,000 in the bank,
  • we have good reason to believe that we will receive grants to the value of £200k
  • we have a promise of a gift of £350k on the provisos that it is anonymous, it is used for the current scheme and that some grant providers demonstrate their belief that this project is viable. This comes to a total of roughly £562,300 which is roughly 25% and we haven’t really started fund raising in earnest.

The current situation has limited what events we are able to hold to raise money and we are still considering what is and is not feasible. We will before long be distributing a leaflet to outline the details of the project and how it will benefit the whole community. It would help immensely if we can rely on the Parish Council giving this project your full support. We will not be able to complete it without your help. This development project is a vital part of this community and the Management Committee is confident that this project is achievable. We promise to keep both the Parish Council and the community informed of progress as we go. Thank you.

Newslink July 2020

Bradfield Village Hall’s “Three Bradfields Walk”

As I write this, we are just arriving at Bradfield Village Hall, Essex having walked over 350 miles of the 467 miles distance between the three Bradfield Village Halls – ours, Yorkshire and Essex.  It has been great fun walking around our area, seeing places we haven’t been too, some we didn’t know existed.  The weather has been really good to us. By the time you are reading this, we will hopefully have arrived ‘back’ to our own hall.

Emma has been tracking us and published pictures of places we’ve ‘passed’ on the way and we’ve got the whole virtual journey on our website along with a special song recorded especially for us.  

Check them out at here.

Why have we done this?  We wanted to start fundraising for the development project to provide new facilities for our community – village hall, playground, MUGA and site improvements.  This has obviously been difficult in the present situation and we hoped our walk has demonstrated that the project is still very much alive.  It will need a huge amount of money and applications are being made to grant funders.  THANK YOU so much for all those who have supported us, both on our walk and directly.  It is very much appreciated.

Our JustGiving page ThreeBradfieldsWalk is still open if you wish to donate.  All the money given will go towards the development project.

Please get in touch if you would like to get involved in this exciting project.

Christine Evans 0118 974 4920

Newslink June 2020

All activities in the Hall had to cease at the start of lockdown, but hopefully before long, some will be able to return.  In the meantime, the village shop has been able to make use of the vacant hall in order to meet the extra demands of people needing home deliveries.

 The Development Project

Much work has been going on since we were granted Planning Consent to build new facilities for the community in Bradfield – a new village hall, playground, muga and site improvements.  We have started making applications to grant funders.  Details of our project are on our website.

 We had intended to start actively fund raising for the project in April.  The current situation has prevented that for the time being but 

the Committee are doing a Sponsored Walk ‘visiting’ the other two Bradfield Village Halls. We have already raised £10,000 this year towards the project and have also had a very generous offer of over £300,000.  The target is enormous but the Committee are confident that we can achieve our goal.

The Playground

At the beginning of Lockdown, the Committee had to close the playground.  During our annual inspection, some serious safety issues were found and some items in the playground will have to be removed before we can reopen it.  We have no idea how long we have to keep it closed but until this work is done, even when the government allow us to open it again, it will remain closed.  

Part of the Development Project is to move the playground area to a much safer space, which will not need accessing through the car park.  Unfortunately we can’t replace the playground logistically until the new hall is built, so for the time being there will be a reduced playground.  We have considered alternatives, such as moving the playground to the other end of the field, where it used to be for many years was originally and the concrete is still there today,  but the costs of installation and safety requirements are a significant part of the price of either moving or buying new items.  We do not consider it wise use of money.  We would also have to apply for temporary planning permission, which would also cost us.  

We will be outlining our project in more detail next month, but in the meantime, we hope you will support our walk.