Pye Green Community Centre Frequently Asked Questions

Posted on: Thursday, January 13th, 2022 In: Uncategorized

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.

Q) 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 hire.
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.


Q) 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.


Q) 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.


Q) 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.


Q) 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 Community Centre.
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 in-year contribution
• 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.


Q) 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 Hednesford.


Q) 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.


Q) 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.


Q) 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 Centre.
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.


Q) 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 online.
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.


Q) 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
https://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50026354/1972%20Local%20Govt%20Act%20
Schedule%2012A.pdf

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.


Q) Do any of the Councillors personally gain from the decision regarding the future of
Pye Green Community Centre?

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 year.
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 an allowance.

Q) 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.
https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/sites/default/files/pdf_file/Part-1-Can-you-stand-forelection-P-and-C.pdf
The current Councillors all live, work or volunteer within the ward boundaries of Hednesford
Town Council.


Q) 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.


Q) 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, 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.
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.


Q) Does this decision need the permission of Cannock Chase District Council before it
can be implemented?

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.


Q) 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.


Q) 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.


Q) 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.