Saturday, 21 October 2017

Council reluctant to take on memorial hall

PARISH councillors in Peppard have been asked to take over the running of the war memorial hall.

PARISH councillors in Peppard have been asked to take over the running of the war memorial hall.

Philip Collings made the request as he is stepping down from his role as chairman of the hall’s trustees due to pressures on his time and a replacement hasn’t been found.

Mr Collings, who lives in the village, is a company executive chairman and parish clerk to neighbouring Sonning Common Parish Council.

The hall, in Gallowstree Road, has a stage, kitchen, bar, parking and disabled access and can accommodate up to 90 people. It is used by a number of groups, including the bowls club.

Council chairman David Hammond said he wanted to be clear what being responsible for the hall would involve.

Councillor Clive Mills said: “It’s not an onerous job and it’s on the basis that they haven’t got anyone who wants to take it on.”

He suggested investigating if there would be any benefit to the community in creating a charity to manage both the hall and the sports pavilion.

But Cllr Hammond said: “This has implications on what we’re liable for. We don’t want to be writing up any future leases for the memorial hall.”

Councillor Tony Cotton said Mr Collings had made a huge improvement to the hall and his successor needed to be someone who could give their time to it.

He said parish councillors already had a number of responsibilities in the community and looking after the hall would be another task.

Cllr Mills replied: “They’ve got an enthusiastic bunch of people and the hall is in a fantastic condition. They’ve spent a lot of money, which is coming from the various activities that take place there. It’s a well-used hall. The scenario is that we would become the sole trustees.”

Councillor Fiona Berry said: “They’ve got a very active committee that is quite organised. The people who use it have achieved something and it doesn’t seem appropriate that we go into it. We could try to persuade someone else from the clubs who use it to do it or see if there’s anything else we can do to support it.”

The council agreed that Cllr Mills should investigate further.

Mr Collings, 68, told the Standard that he had been working for 25 hours a week at the hall and with his other duties this amounted to 40 hours in total.

He said: “I had no time to start on some other projects that I want to do so, sadly, the memorial hall had to give. I will be a grandfather in March so I want to have a few hours free each week.

“I am impressed with the zest with which Peppard Parish Council tackles things in the village and heard that they want to make better use of the pavilion with more hirings.

“Given that the hall is in the parish, is a major landmark and asset and, unusually for such a venerable building, is not run by the parish council, it seems to me that managing two facilities won’t take much more effort than just one while there should be synergies in combination.”

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