URPC: Is this a Code of Conduct issue?

The picture above is of Upper Rissington Parish Council signing the agreement on April 28th, allowing the Trust to lease the Hall as of today (pictured Cllr Hanks & Laird {left to right}).

This statement written today is from an URVH Trust member:

“I’m very sorry to report but the UR Village Hall Trust was going to complete the Lease with the Parish Council today, to take over the running of the hall but the Parish Council have breached their Lease, so completion was stopped”. Councillors Laird & Hanks, hold three Master Keys and it was Cllr Laird who refused today, day of completion, to hand back the two Master Keys she has.

In short URPC appear to have broken their own Code of Conduct and brought their own Parish Council into disrepute after signing the lease that allowed URVH Trust to begin management of the Hall today and then failing to comply.

I wish the news could be positive for once. I wonder how the village will react? Will people fall on swords?

5 Comments

  • Sandi Garrett

    Can I ask what happens now?

    • Sandi, I don’t know, I won’t speculate. It is a very strange situation indeed. We can only hope common sense will applied today.

      This statement has appeared on the Trusts website: http://urvh.org It reads positive in that they haven’t walked away just yet.

      I am sorry to report on what should have been a happy day and the Trust took over the running of the village hall but it all went pear shaped today.

      As part of the Lease completion with the Parish Council today, it had been agreed that all keys would be returned to the hall and the Proper Officer (the Clerk) of the Parish Council would be issued with keys so they could access the hall and office, with access to the kitchen and toilets (as agreed in the Lease) and as Landlords, be issued with one Master Key.

      Today, Cllr Laird refused to hand back the two Master Keys, giving no explanation why when asked, only to say that they were talking to Cllr Hanks (who also had one Master Key) about this. Cllr Laird was informed that this breached their own Lease and this could jeopardise the Trust taking over the running of the hall.

  • Could there be closure on this? Cllr Hanks writes this on Facebook.

    I have been, and am, away from the village, but am disappointed at the comments on here that the Parish Council has breached the terms of the Village Hall lease, and didn’t exchange yesterday – I am sure I have an email from the Council’s solicitors that the exchange took place at the end of April!

    There are also allegations that the Council have not handed over all keys? I do not understand this comment (and have yet to receive a full explanation from the clerk); the Parish Council owns the Village Hall and is the Landlord of the building which it has rented to the Village Hall Trust. As such it is entitled to retain keys to enable it to exercise its rights under the lease, that the VHT signed. Despite a poster being asked about the breach, no specifics have been posted; in the meantime another councillor has asked the clerk for a detailed timeline on the events; in the interests of transparency, I hope he will be able to post them on the PC website.

    Additionally, under the Agreements, the Parish Council (meaning its officers – clerk; and members – councillors) have the right to access and use the office, toilets and kitchen 24/7; to do so means they need keys.

    My understanding is that the council would retain keys allowing it to exercise its rights, the Village Hall Trust would be provided with multiple sets of keys enabling them to run the hall

    As Councillors we have a fiduciary duty in respect of Council assets and budgets – perhaps why so few people want to join! The actions of the Council – what we can and cannot do are covered by law – and i would hope that electors appreciate that Councillors whilst acting in the best interest of the village also have to comply with their duties as Councillors!

    On a final note: This council is committed to the hall being fully used by the community – the subsidy of £35,000 over the next three years should help that! Whilst the signing of the lease to the VHT has taken far longer than hoped, the PC have in the meantime made the hall available to users and pushed to get the agreements signed; this has been low key so as to let the VHT have a grand launch.

    The Council remains committed to the lease agreements it signed; but should the VHT decide to withdraw, I have every confidence that the Clerk and Council will work to find a solution that ensures the hall is available to those who wish to use it, with no break in the facilities you have all enjoyed.

    Wayne Fisher writes:

    The Parish Council Solicitor and the Trusts Solicitors have formally agreed that the anticipated key issue will be resolved. Within two weeks the keys held by councillors will be returned to the Trust. The clerk will have a front door key, an office key and a master key. The master key can only be used in the circumstances prescribed by the lease but the other keys give the clerk access to all the necessary areas of the hall (toilets/kitchen/office). Thank you Brian if you’ve been party to resolving this. It would be helpful if we could get the keys back before that, I understand that you’re unavailable and that will affect your ability to return them and we’re comfortable with that. However, it would be a respected gesture if Cllr Laird could immediately relinquish her keys to the Trust. ON THE BASIS OF THE ABOVE THE TRUST HAS ASKED ME TO COMPLETE THE FORMALITIES AND THE TRUST AND PARISH COUNCIL WILL COMPLETE IMMINENTLY. Thanks to everyone for the support, we’re really going to need you when it comes to the tackling the list of jobs (shrub borders/storage/new furniture fundraising etc.) however, we don’t now want or need to waste anyones money on extensive changes to door locks (hopefully). Thanks from a tremendously excited and daunted Trust and Management Committee.

    Looks as though the legal people have resolved it.

  • I fear Cllr Hanks has been boxed into a corner and is in damage limitation mode (has he been successful?). Thankfully, the VHT look like they will get the Hall today. Couple of interesting points:

    There are also allegations that the Council have not handed over all keys? I do not understand this comment (and have yet to receive a full explanation from the clerk); the Parish Council owns the Village Hall and is the Landlord of the building which it has rented to the Village Hall Trust. ——— in the meantime another councillor has asked the clerk for a detailed timeline on the events; in the interests of transparency, I hope he will be able to post them on the PC website.

    The Clerk is/was not the person with holding the keys, it was Cllr Laird and she alone. Maybe, councillors need to improve their communication skills. Transparency, a very misused word, I fear?

    As Councillors we have a fiduciary duty in respect of Council assets and budgets – perhaps why so few people want to join! The actions of the Council – what we can and cannot do are covered by law – and i would hope that electors appreciate that Councillors whilst acting in the best interest of the village also have to comply with their duties as Councillors!

    People do want to join the Council, but so far the Chairman has prevented the process taking place.

  • Did you hear off the recording the excuse from the Chairman why co-options couldn’t take place at the last meeting – wrong time of day – you have to laugh 🙂

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