The following statement was issued at the meeting of the Parish Council on Wednesday 3rd February 2021.

On 30th December the parish council received a letter from the Village Hall Management Committee advising of their decision to completely restructure the management committee of Gainford Village Hall in order to become a Charitable Incorporated Organization (CIO).

Charities are facing an increasingly difficult time due to loss of funds and revenue, difficulties which have been exacerbated by the current pandemic with a predicted £6.4bn* loss in the 6 months to December.  1 in 10 charities faced bankruptcy in 2020 and local small charities are especially exposed to the crisis.

The Parish Council support the aspiration of the Village Hall management committee to become a CIO.  There are incontrovertible benefits in abolishing the current structure and converting to a CIO: limited liability for trustees; an easing of administrative burdens; tax breaks but it must be noted that a CIO is a corporate body with a legal personality; it can sue and be sued.  Whilst trustees of the CIO enjoy limited personal liability, assets of the CIO can be seized, sold, transferred or otherwise disposed of in a calamitous event.

The residents of Gainford and Langton enjoy a unique and historic village hall bequeathed for the benefit of all residents by Ms Alice Edelston in 1960. Ms Edelston’s wishes, outlined in the soon to be abolished trust deed, were that we all benefit from her kind generosity.

And it is the role of the Parish Council as Custodian Trustee to ensure that the village hall remains an asset of each and every resident.

The VHMC have indicated that they intend to transfer the freehold of the Village Hall to the newly incorporated CIO, thus removing a layer of protection which has been in place since 1960.  The PC has great confidence in the VHMC to manage our asset, namely the Village Hall and Tennis courts.  However, our role is to ensure that future generations benefit from the village hall and in light of the difficulties being faced by so many charities, we question the need to remove this layer of security built into the original trust deed.  We invite the VHMC to open and transparent discussion in order to secure the future of the village hall and tennis courts.

Happily, the VHMC can convert to a CIO, enjoying all the benefits, whilst retaining the existing level of protection for the VH.  The PC can retain the freehold document in its name, securing the VH ‘in perpetuum’ for every resident of Gainford and Langton, for our children and their children, as was the intention of Ms Edelston.


. *probono economics