What's going on? ...the future for the old school

by Roy Sinclair on 25 July 2017

The following is my best attempt at a summary of the situation regarding the future of the old school, based on a study of the last two years' BCC meeting minutes (cited below). If you know this summary to be incorrect or incomplete, I would welcome your input, especially if you are a member of the BCC or DCC.

In summary:

The Old School was gifted to the community by the Yale family [ not sure of the details ], but it turned out that the kitchen and toilet extension has always been owned by DCC. The BCC are doing their best to form a body of trustees with charitable status, in order to become the new owners of Canolfan Ial on behalf of the community.

The BCC commissioned NCompass Consultants (Suryiah Evans of Llandudno) to set up an internet survey of ideas for the future of the building, and to help prepare a business plan accordingly. She may also be helping with applications for grant funding to assist in the realisation of the chosen plan [ not sure of the details ]. DCC have given the parish a grant of around £10k to cover Suryiah's bill.

In April 2017, Suryiah presented a plan of her suggested development options to the BCC. Called the 'Vision Report', this document has yet to be approved by the BCC, after which it will be made public and reproduced on this website, provided there are no objections.

It is envisaged that the BCC will always be the owners/trustees of the building, but it intends to appoint a small management committee to oversee and manage the day-to-day operations and upkeep of the building on behalf of the community.

Canolfan Ial - The Old School in Bryneglwys

There follows extracts of all currently published BCC minutes relating to the feasibility study and future use of the old school...

7th March 2016

NCompass – Nia had spoken to Suryiah to ask her for an invoice for the work carried out to date so that she could forward to Amy Selby for the TAP grant.

9th May 2016

NCompass – Invoice for £1,384 for 15% of total quotation for feasibility study. [ Total cost of study must therefore be £9,227 ]

Feasibility Study – Clerk had emailed a copy of the community drop in consultation feedback (May 2016) to all councillors which NCompass confirmed that they were very impressed by the turnout. In a village the size of Bryneglwys, they were only expecting about 20 residents but more than 50 turned up with feedback, excellent ideas and suggestions for Canolfan Ial. Only two were negative and one of these didn’t even live in the village.

6th June 2016

Feasibility Study – Nia informed councillors that she had received many completed questionnaires and all seemed very positive. Clerk to forward to NCompass for processing. Sharon suggested that we should visit other similar organisations to see how they are set up and how they run their ventures. Stan had been to the community shop in Llandegla and informed all that shares were available if anyone was interested.

4th July 2016

Feasibility Study – Still awaiting notification from N Compass.

3rd October 2016

Suryiah from NCompass joined our meeting and was very pleased to report that she was confident that the project could go ahead and that we could move forward as the large majority of responses received had been positive. She would go forward with completing a business plan at no extra cost to us as it was part of the feasibility study. This would also help with the funding process. She was also very positive about the building survey carried out by Mark Bullock (Chartered Building Surveyor) as no major faults were found. All faults noted in the report could be rectified.

Councillors were very pleased with the results of the building survey. The only urgent requirement was the repair of the plaster on the buttresses to avoid water ingress as without repair, it could cause damage to the structure of the building. Bryn suggested that we ask Allan Roberts, Builder to carry out the work urgently. All agreed.

NAR Mark Bullock suggested an air source pump for heating the school building. Suryiah suggested that we should have solar panels to keep the electricity bills down as LH1 payments were available but we couldn’t have LH1 payments and grant for Air Source at the same time. She suggested that we have an energy assessment which would cost approx. £99. All agreed with this.

When applying for charitable status for Canolfan Ial, she suggested a Community Interest Company but to take advice from DVSC. Nia confirmed that she and Sian had a meeting with DVSC the following Monday. She went on to suggest that the Trustees should interview any candidates for the Management Committee and a small team would be best. She confirmed that she could help us with the Constitution for the Canolfan Ial Charity and also the policies need for Charities i.e Child Protection, Health and Safety & Equal Opportunities. All agreed that this would be helpful.

6th February 2017

Suryiah From NCompass attended to present a draft business plan for the proposed Canolfan Ial and to discuss the options available ie a decision will be needed regarding the extent of the project in order to apply for funding and she offered assistance with making the first phase bids if it was required. The decision would be needed before the next meeting and the DVSC status and proof of ownership of building would also be needed in order to proceed.

15th March 2017

Sian, on behalf of all the Councillors, has read through and suggested minor amendments to the draft business plan prepared by N-compass for Canolfan Ial and has advised the consultants that the Council wishes to proceed to obtain the maximum grants available to fully refurbish the building. Sian to arrange N-compass, to attend the April meeting.

3rd April 2017

Sian welcomed Suryiah to the meeting who circulated copies of her Vision Report which included existing and proposed floor plans and takes forward ‘option 3' in her Project Proposals Document. A DDA (Equalities Act 2010) compliant toilet facility is required to enable application for grant funding. Andrea questioned whether the two toilets indicated would be sufficient. Suryiah responded in the affirmative.

Sharon questioned the reconfiguring proposals at this early stage. Suryiah pointed out that a final cost is required for grant application which, therefore, necessitates proposed layouts to be drafted up at this early stage so that BCC is better prepared for a larger cost rather than falling later into an under funding situation, even if these layouts do not represent the final plans for the project.

Suryiah confirmed the budget estimate costing for the building works proposals at £160k. Richard asked how much grant aid funding would be forthcoming on a £160k spend. Suryiah confirmed a £10k match fund from BCC would be sufficient and pointed out that the less capital funding an applicant has, the more that applicant can expect in grant aid.

Suryiah outlined the four project proposals (objectives) listed on the back page of her Vision Report pointing out that more than just refurbishment is required. She explained the third point and also the visitor facility which had been added in - tourist information point.

Suryiah requires BCC's objectives, copy of lease and charitable status confirmation in due course and will make the corrections suggested by lan to her Project Proposal Document and re-issue. Suryiah is very confident on the future bid proposal, including lottery funding and the Community Facilities Grant from the Welsh Assembly and pointed out that there is usually a six weeks' turnaround period on most grant applications.

N-compass Consultants have been paid £7,361 covered entirely by grant aid.

8th May 2017

Sian reported that she had now received the updated Business Plan for Canolfan lal from NCompass Consultants to include the Vision presented by Suryiah Evans at the last meeting and the alterations suggested by Ian, copy to be issued to the Trustees.

5th June 2017

Anne Jones asked is the feasibility study carried out by NCompass Consultants available for public viewing? The draft has only recently been issued to the Community Councillors and once ratified will be made available.

Questions were raised on the cost of the work and Sian pointed out that Denbighshire County Council officers tendered the consultation exercise to a number of consultants and the lowest tenderer was commissioned by Denbighshire County Council who provided 100% grant funding, all on behalf of Bryneglwys Community Council.

BCC currently holds a Licence to Occupy and once charitable status is granted by the Charity Commission, BCC will be gifted the freehold of the building by the current owners. In the meantime, BCC has been successful in gaining grant aid to cover the cost of the feasibility study.

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Acronyms

BCC: Bryneglwys Community Council

DCC: Denbighshire County Council

DVSC: Denbighshire Voluntary Services Council

NCompass Consultants

Suryiah Evans is a sole-trader who describes her services thus: “I offer: project evaluation; tourism consultancy; heritage interpretation services; feasibility and mapping studies; community development and youth work consultancy; consultation, community and business appraisals; project management; organisational diagnostics; facilitation and training.”

Suryiah Evans t/a NCompass Consultants has a LinkedIn account but no website or other web presence, so we are unable to provide any other information.