Pye Green Community Centre Frequently Asked Questions
To help answer some of the frequently asked questions raised by residents and users of Pye
Green Community Centre, Hednesford Town Council have composed this document, for a copy click here.
Q1) Is the Council closing Pye Green Community Centre, or gifting it to one organisation for sole use?
No, Pye Green Community Centre is categorically not closing and will continue to operate as a Community
Centre. The decision taken by Hednesford Town Council on 7th December 2021 enables Hednesford Town
Council to inform the Landlord of the building, Cannock Chase District Council, that they wish to assign the
current lease over to 1st Hednesford Scouts.
If the assignment of the lease is approved by Cannock Chase District Council, 1st Hednesford Scouts would
not have sole use of the building and it would continue to operate as a Community Centre available for public
The Community Centre is not being gifted to the Scouts and, if the assignment of the lease is approved, the
current lease and financial responsibilities associated with managing and operating the building would be
legally transferred to that organisation.
Q2) Does Pye Green Community Centre need “saving”?
No, the preferred route of the Council will secure a vital community asset for generations to come. Pye Green
Community Centre will still operate as a Community Centre for hire and use by the community.
Q3) Why are the Scouts taking over?
The Scouts will not be taking over. The preferred route is that the current lease for Pye Green Community
Centre will be assigned to the Scouts and that they will manage the Community Centre.
Pye Green Community Centre operates with a financial burden on the tax payers of Hednesford which
currently amounts to subsidising a number of local businesses (hirers) with public money.
There are a number of core principles that are central to any decision making around the future of Pye Green
Community Centre including;
• the Community Centre remains available for community use
• any organisation has financial stability to support the operation of the Community Centre
• any organisation considered operates not-for-profit, is a charitable organisation or similar constituted
community group and must not be a private business of any kind
• any organisation is rooted in the community of Hednesford with a longevity and demonstrable record
of service to the Town.
In an exploration of the potential options, the Scouts are a not-for-profit Charitable Organisation which has
existed in our community for over 100 years serving the youth and families of Hednesford. With the Council’s
preferred route, this will secure a base for scouting in Hednesford as well as a Community Centre for wider
use to support clubs, activities, organisations and businesses into the future.
Assigning the lease to the Scouts will significantly reduce the operating costs and address the ongoing
financial burden of Pye Green Community on the tax payers of Hednesford.
Q4) When is this all due to happen?
The Council is working towards a completion date of 1st April 2022. This will give adequate time to
communicate and work with stakeholders and complete the legal processes. This may change depending on
the progress being made with each element of the process.
Q5) Why is the Council doing this?
As part of asking to be your Councillors in 2019 the Hednesford Residents and Volunteers highlighted the
significant financial contribution from your Council Tax towards running Pye Green Community Centre and
how this was affecting the ability of the Council to do anything else for the community of Hednesford.
Since being elected in 2019, the Council has been working to find a way to relieve this financial burden on the
tax payers of Hednesford whilst retaining its use as a Community Centre for the community of Hednesford.
Covid pandemic aside, the use of the main hall has always been the primary source of hire and the meeting
room hire has been incidental. The gap in income from businesses, community groups and others hiring has
remained fairly static. In broad terms the numbers are:
£33,000 Income from hire (per annum)
£40,000 Income from Council Tax in the year (per annum)
£18,000 Income from Council Reserves (previous Council Tax, per annum)
£91,000 Expenditure to run Pye Green Community Centre including staff costs
Former Councillors took on a substantial loan from the Public Works Loan Board to build an extension on Pye
Green Community Centre and this is repaid every year at £17,000. The original intention was to apply for a
grant from the Coalfield Regeneration Fund to cover the costs of the extension, when this was declined a
decision was made at that time to proceed with the extension but with a loan and to cover the costs incurred
from future Council Tax from Hednesford tax payers.
As a Council we do not believe it is responsible to leave this as the status quo from our time as service to our
community and have had a number of conversations, discussions and debates to consider options,
opportunities and ways forward to relieve the financial burden on the tax payers of Hednesford whilst retaining
the use of the centre for the community.
Councillors over the last few years have spoken to residents of Hednesford, surveyed the users of Pye Green
Community Centre and looked at alternatives to understand the options to secure the future of Pye Green
Doing nothing and retaining the status quo would present the Council with a few options. It could,
• Keep the priorities as they have been for the last couple of years and run down the reserves of the
Council to fund the deficit until reserves are exhausted
• Raise the precept or Council Tax for Hednesford residents to cover the gap in either reserves or the
• Increase the hire rates to a rate to cover the council tax contribution and stop the subsidy of private
businesses by the tax payers of Hednesford. The increase in rates would expect to be in the order of
three to four times the current rate and significantly different to other facilities in the area
• Stop or significantly reduce all other Council activities including the ongoing work for the regeneration
of our town and community across many initiatives enjoyed by all residents of Hednesford
Making a decision to address the financial deficit of Pye Green Community Centre allows the Council to focus
on the priorities of the whole community building on the successes of the last two years with year round events,
grants to support businesses and community groups, Hednesford Life Magazine, outdoor cinema and so much
more and the plans to expand community engagement and youth provision across the town.
Q6) How are hirers affected by the Council decision?
Pye Green Community Centre will continue to operate as a Community Centre and will continue to be available
for hire and used by community groups, organisations and businesses.
Week day evening hire in the main hall will continue to serve the community through the use of 1st Hednesford
Scouts. Weekday evening hire for meeting room space will continue to be available for hire and use by
community groups and others. To facilitate the outdoor development of young people, 16 weekends will impact
on the use and hire of the main hall.
All other times Pye Green Community Centre will continue to operate unaffected for hire and use by all
community groups, charities, organisations businesses and interested parties serving the community of
Q7) How are the Council helping those impacted by the Council decision?
Following the decision by the Council on the evening of Tuesday 7th December 2021 all hirers (and staff) have
been spoken to individually to share the Council’s preferred way forward and those hirers affected by the
decision have been offered full support to find alternative and nearby venues in the local area. This will
continue in a manner individual to each hirer as guided by the conversations with each hirer.
The Council can help facilitate conversations with potential alternative locations within the immediate area and
slightly beyond the town parish boundaries at the invitation of interested parties. The options may typically
include some of the following or others identified as suitable to type of activity or interest being promoted.
• Aquarius Ballroom and Function Suite
• Valley Heritage Centre
• Prospect Village Hall
• Cannock Wood & Gentleshaw Village Hall
• Hayes Green Community Centre
• Huntington Village Hall
• St Peter’s Church Hall
• Our Lady of Lourdes Centennial Hall
• Salvation Army, Trinity Church
• St John’s Church Hall
• Working Men Clubs at Belt Road
• Blewitt Street, Pye Green Road
• Church Hill, Wimblebury Road
• Local Secondary Schools
• Kingsmead and Staffordshire University Academy
• Local Primary Schools; St Peter’s, St Joseph’s, Pye Green Academy, West Hill, Poppyfields
• It is also noted that other schools in the wider immediate area may also be suitable for example Hazel
Slade Primary Academy, Five Ways School, Gorsemoor, Redhill, Moorhill, Chadsmoor J&I, Cannock
Chase High School, Cardinal Griffin
This is not in any way fully exhaustive or indeed every potential venue being appropriate to every potential
activity but is indicative of the potential options available. Some of these options might not be currently
structured to accept hire and the Council can help facilitate support to address what is required.
Q8) Is the Council against small businesses?
Absolutely not, as well as supporting these businesses to relocate and establish themselves in new locations,
we do not foresee that any business will close and their customers within our community and beyond will
continue to support and benefit from their services and activities.
Elsewhere, 40 businesses and community groups across the town were supported with our annual grant
scheme as they emerge from Covid. An open application process saw unprecedented numbers of groups and
businesses engaging with the Council to support their service to our community at a scale never before seen
by this Council.
Q9) What about other hirers?
All hirers have been spoken with and assured of their continued use. This includes some of the community
use raised as concerns by some residents including the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and the community food table
managed by CHASE Lighthouse.
To facilitate a smooth transition for the future the Council will move from its more general approach to hire
agreements to a clear structure of formal hire agreement with each hirer over the coming weeks.
Q10) Will this mean staff lose their jobs?
Pending the decision of Cannock Chase District Council Cabinet in March 2022, Hednesford Town Council
will enter into a formal consultation with all staff, considering the existing role and responsibilities within the
Council operated Pye Green Community Centre and those required with the future operation of the Community
The Council is fully aware of its obligations under the Transfer of Undertakings and Protection of Employment
2006 Regulations (more commonly referred to as TUPE) and will work with each staff member accordingly.
Q11) Why didn’t the Council consult with everyone before deciding?
Since being elected as Councillors in May 2019 the new Town Council has been transparent and has
broadcast every meeting on Facebook, even before the pandemic forced other Councils to consider broadcast
Throughout the pandemic where online only meetings were permitted and also since face-to-face meetings
have been mandated again every meeting is broadcast online via Zoom to Facebook Live.
Every meeting has an open section of the meeting where any resident can attend and ask any question of the
Town Council. This contrasts significantly with other Councils locally and in particular Cannock Chase District
Council where notice of any public questions requires 10 days notice and meetings are broadcast live now but
not recorded for the community to view afterwards.
As a diverse group of independent Councillors working together since 2019, the priorities of the Council have
been open and published on the Council website, were clear and transparent in the literature provided to each
house prior to the elections in May 2019, a survey of residents and centre users was undertaken and the
results published and all Councillors are visible and available within the community throughout the year.
Q12) Why is the decision about Pye Green Community Centre being made in secret?
A Council must consider sensitive matters in Confidential business after the exclusion of the public. These
papers are prepared and circulated in advance to all Councillors and remain confidential to Councillors. The
reasons for Confidentiality are defined in Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 and are both
extensive and specific.
This is a guide from Wirral Borough Council
Microsoft Word – schedule 12 a.doc (wirral.gov.uk)
That said, the Council has made a commitment to do things differently to previous administrations and other
Councils and to be as open and transparent as possible. In this case there is clearly information which the
Council has used as a basis of its decision which impacts itself, Council staff, hirers and others where the
integrity of those professional relationships needs to be maintained. The Council cannot comment on the
specifics of these without breaching confidentiality itself. We commit to release information when we can in a
manner which reflects a holistic approach to a complex and sensitive decision.
Q13) Do any of the Councillors personally gain from the decision regarding the future of Pye Green
No Councillor has or will benefit from this decision.
Councillors are asked to declare an interest in any item on every agenda at every meeting as well as
declaration of interest which is published on the District Council website. Councillors are also asked to consider
if they have a Conflict of Interest also where their participation in a debate, decision or vote might result in
personal gain in some way.
Earlier this year Hednesford Town Council considered and approved an enhanced approach to this as it was
recognised that many Councillors are embedded in many community activities and the perception of gain or
advantage could be seen for some decisions. This was approved by the Council at its meeting in July this
In this particular instance it was noted that two Councillors declared an interest in the item but neither of these
Councillors has a Conflict of Interest as a result of this interest.
Further it should be noted that no Parish or Town Councillor in Hednesford or anywhere else in the Country
receive any kind of income, salary or allowance. District and County (Principal Authority) Councillors do receive
Q14) Do the Councillors live in Hednesford?
Yes, to be elected or co-opted to the role of Councillor on the Town Council an individual must satisfy one or
more criteria around residency or working in Hednesford.
Part 1 Can you stand for election P and C (electoralcommission.org.uk)
The current Councillors all live, work or volunteer within the ward boundaries of Hednesford Town Council.
Q15) Is the Council led by the Chase Community Independents Group?
At a Town or Parish Council there is no Cabinet or Leader as such. Each Council is composed of a number of
residents who may or may not be members of a party or group registered with the Electoral Commission who
work together on all decisions that the Council makes.
The current Councillors are based around those elected as Hednesford Residents and Volunteers in May 2019. At the time the electorate replaced all ten of the previous Councillors with nine Councillors from this
group and one Labour Party member. Of the nine Hednesford Residents and Volunteers at the time this
included five people with no political party declaration and four Councillors who declared they were members
of the Green Party of England and Wales.
There have been a number of changes including people leaving the role of Councillor, others joining the
Council by co-option and some individuals leaving national political parties. At the time of the decision five
Councillors are recognised to represent Chase Community Independents Group, five not aligned to any
declared registered political party. At the meeting, where this particular decision was taken. one of the five
Chase Community Independents Group Councillors had sent apologies and was not present.
Update: There are currently eight Councillors and two Councillor vacancies. Of the eight Councillors, four
represent the Chase Community Independent Group.
Q16) Why did the Council restate its assets in 2020 in the annual accounts statement?
Historically the Council has stated its assets, things it owns, to include Pye Green Community Centre. A review
by new Councillors following election in 2019 and advice from both the Internal and External Auditors over
various administrative aspects of the Council found a number of errors around aspects of the Council functions
and it is the duty of the Council to correct these in a timely manner.
Hednesford Town Council does not own Pye Green Community Centre and as such cannot state this as an
asset of the Council and it should not be declared as such in its financial declarations. Once understood and
discussed with the independent Council auditors the financial statements were correctly submitted and signed
off by the Council.
The submissions and advice of previous Councils is a matter for them.
We have no reason to believe that previous Councils acted intentionally in these errors, rather that
they were honest mistakes arising from a different interpretation of what are at times complex rules
and regulations for a small authority.
Q17) Does this decision need the permission of Cannock Chase District Council before it can be
Throughout the process confidential conversations were undertaken with the Property department of Cannock
Chase District Council who were fully apprised of the preferred route of the Council. Cannock Chase District
Council officers explained clearly and consistently the process to assign the lease.
Now a decision of the Hednesford Town Council has been undertaken this would allow for the formal
processes to be discussed with the preferred partner and Cannock Chase District Council.
The current lease will require a variation in order to assign the lease to the Scouts and we are currently
preparing the information Cannock Chase District Council require for their Cabinet report. It is expected that
Cabinet will make the decision on whether the lease can be assigned at their March meeting.
Q18) What will happen to the existing Scout Hut on Mavis Road, Hednesford?
1st Hednesford Scouts lease the land from Cannock Chase District Council and how they resolve the lease
and the use of the land afterwards is a matter for Cannock Chase District Council.
Q19) Are Hednesford Town Council aware of a petition to “Save Pye Green Community Centre”?
Yes, the Council is aware a petition is being circulated and we welcome active and positive engagement with
the democratic processes by our whole community. We hope that the information composed here gives the
reader a true and accurate representation of the facts of the situation and the decision the Council has made.
UPDATED AND ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS
Questions from members of the public at the Finance, Personnel and Operations
Committee Meeting 11th January 2022
Q20) Alan Pearson: “As an ex-Chair of Hednesford Town Council, why can the current Council
not afford to keep the centre, when they are now receiving an extra £50k in precept from previous
councils, but it was affordable then”.
Affordability is a relative term, depending on what your outgoing commitments are as well as your
income. The previous Council committed future Councils to the annual debt repayment of
£17,000.00 per annum, for a period of 20 years from their decision to take out a loan to refurbish
The previous Council did not have a specific plan for how this sum would be repaid, for example
by generating additional net income through the centre. The latter has not been the case and
therefore it is the default position that the annual debt repayment is paid from either annual precept
(Council tax) revenues, or Council reserves.
The current Council administration was elected on a manifesto stating their intentions to increase
town regeneration and community activity and has chosen to allocate current precept funding to
these programmes and projects, as per its election promises.
This currently leaves a shortfall of approximately £18,000.00 per annum, which is situated in the
PGCC cost centre (budget) and as such is approximately equivalent to the loan repayment figure,
that is being funded from reserves. The Council did not consider it to be sustainable to continue
funding the loan repayment from reserves indefinitely, when other demands can also be made on
these reserves (including long term maintenance costs of PGCC i.e. roof renovation, plumbing
repairs) and as such a proposal has been approved (by Full Council in December) which provides
a solution to this problem.
The agreed proposal relieves both this loan repayment debt, and the additional annual subsidy in
running costs of a further £40,000.00 per annum, and removes the need for a long term
Q21) Paul Richards: “At the last public meeting you stated that there were going to be other
options to be discussed, can we now know what these options were?”
This is answered at Question 9 below.
Q22) CCDC Cllr Sheila Cartwright:
a. “At the last meeting the gentleman to the left of the Chair (Cllr Jones) stated that previous
Councillors had left the finances in a right mess, and that in 2 years the council would be bankrupt,
she would like to know why was it ok when they left but not now? What has happened to the
So far as we are aware, that statement was not made to Cllr Shelia Cartwright at any Council
meeting of Hednesford Town Council. At the Council meeting on 7th December, in the public
participation section, Cllr Shelia Cartwright told the room that “someone” had come up to her in the
car park and said “you left the council finances in a right mess”. Cllr Shelia Cartwright did not to
name that person.
Whilst the former Council administration may state that “all was ok when they left”, It became
apparent on their departure that they did not have a financial strategy in place for the loan
repayments or a sustainable plan to generate an increased income to assist with making the loan
It is explained in the answer to Q1 that this Council administration had distinctive objectives they
wished to deliver, as per the manifesto the electorate had voted in favour of and that the current
Council considered it a better use of funds to invest in the town and community.
b. “Why was CCDC not notified of HTC intentions of assigning the lease before any decisions
were made, also when CCDC were notified, it was via Cllr Paul Woodhead and Cllr Mandy
Dunnett which is not the correct procedure?”
The opportunity of assigning the lease was discussed with CCDC officers prior to the Council
deciding in December and CCDC were aware of the Council’s plan and that it would be brought
before Full Council for a decision. Once Full Council had voted in favour of the lease assignment,
CCDC were notified by a member of the elected PGCC Task Force.
Emil Hertzberg: “How can you make the decision to give notice to hirers to leave, when you
have not yet been given permission from CCDC and have not replied to the questions from
CCDC? If businesses are made to leave and permission is not given how will the loss of rent be
The Council reserves the right to cancel or refuse any booking and does not require the authority
of CCDC to do this. HTC has provided all five affected hirers with three months written notice
which is not a legal requirement.
Loss of room hire fee at any time is a question for HTC to address by way of its relevant internal
Regarding the dialogues between the landlord (Cannock Chase District Council) and the tenant
(Hednesford Town Council), these are confidential but are underway and it is untrue to state that
questions have not been answered.
Q23) Cllr Arthur Roden: “Why was there a letter from Phil Foster thanking the Council for
handing over the lease to the scouts, in the pack for the Council meeting 7th December where the
decision was made?”
The letter referred to was a draft document contained within confidential Council papers (sent to
Councillors) accompanying a confidential report to full Council which was discussed and debated
in private business on 7th December 2022.
As such, this question demonstrates a breach of the Councillor code of conduct by way of
a. “This is the community’s centre, why was there not a consultation advising the public of
your intentions before the decision was made?”
It can be seen from question 7 that a public survey was undertaken.
b. “Why are you trying to strip the community of their greatest asset?”
HTC is not trying to strip the community of their greatest asset.
The decision by Hednesford Town Council is to assign the lease of the Community Centre to
another organisation. Pye Green Community Centre would continue to operate as a Community
Centre, however it would be managed by a different organisation.
c. Why does everything have to revolve around Market Street?
This question contains a broad assertion, the details of which were not clarified by the questioner.
The pandemic affected towns and cities across England and to assist with the recovery the
government launched the Welcome Back Fund. This new EU funding had strict criteria and was
assigned to the town centre as the purpose of the funding was to boost footfall in the town centre
and encourage people to shop locally. As such £20,000 of ERDF funding (not HTC funding) was
allocated for various events and activities in the town centre.
The Nutcracker trail, Bumblebee Transformer, Christmas entertainment at the lights switch on
event and activities planned for January – March of this year are all funded by the Welcome Back
Q24) Emil Hertzberg: “Last year a survey was put out asking if the public wanted to keep the
centre, 91% of residents said yes, they did, why has this been ignored, and why have you gone
with the 9% that didn’t?”
The figures and statistics quoted by Mr Hertzberg within this question are inaccurate. This
question was answered in the meeting by Cllr Sharon Jagger when she advised that of the 17,000
residents only a small proportion (comparatively) had completed the survey.
The survey had also been completed by people that lived outside of Hednesford and therefore it
was considered that the survey was not an accurate reflection of the views of Hednesford
residents (tax payers) who are subsidising the Community Centre.
Q25) Emil Hertzberg: “The Scouts already have a building and have financial backing, why can
they not buy somewhere else?”
Hednesford Town Council are unable to answer questions on behalf of other organisations.
Q26) Alan Pearson: “Is it true that all 4 options (in the December Council paper for decision)
involved the Scouts?”
No, it is not true that all 4 options contained within the Confidential Council Paper for decision on
7th December 2021 involved the Scouts. Cllr Sharon Jagger asked if Councillors in attendance (at
the Committee meeting) whether they were in agreement for Cllr Darrell Mawle to read out the 4
options Councillors had discussed, permission by all HTC councillors present was granted and the
four options were read out. The answer to this question can be heard on the audio/visual record of