Your Questions Answered

Q.           Did HSA make a profit when it managed the Ken Williams Memorial Pavilion?

A.            Yes. In the first few years of our management of the pavilion, we managed to make some profits. These profits came mainly from bar income since the majority of our staff were unpaid volunteers. Only casual weekend bar staff were on the payroll , but their supervisors were unpaid volunteers. Additional income was received from regular hiring fees from fitness classes, diabetic clinics, community functions, but again we relied on unpaid volunteers to open up and secure the building.

 

Q.           Why did HSA need to make a profit and what happened to these profits?

A.            Heating, lighting and water costs were significant for a building of the pavilion’s size (circa £7,500 per annum). Other significant costs included contents/public liability insurance, cleaning, routine annual maintenance contracts and ongoing running repairs to building and replacement of faulty equipment (circa £25,000 in 2012 financial year).

In addition,  a sinking fund of £10,000 per annum needed to be maintained as a reserve for a building that was starting to show signs of wear and tear (not least the heating system, which broke down completely within 2 years of our tenancy, resulting in a substantial repair bill for our sports association). In addition, through prudent financial management, we were able to repay the initial loans given to us by member clubs to furnish the building once we took occupation of the building in 2010.

 

Q.           Why did HSA have a separate management company HSA Limited (HSAL)?

A.            We needed to set up a ‘limited by guarantee’ company to enable us to secure trading contracts with key suppliers such as Rebellion and Dayla (James Petit) breweries and Initial Services who supplied our hygiene facilities for the pavilion, as well as provide a weekly  bin collection for refuse and glass.

 

Q.           Did the Directors of HSA Limited get paid a salary or receive dividend payments?

A.            No they were all unpaid volunteers, democratically elected by the HSA member clubs.

 

Q.           Was the pavilion run as a private membership club?

A.            Absolutely not. We had an open door policy and regularly welcomed guests, spectators at sporting/charity events and local residents to enjoy the facilities at the pavilion (e.g. for family celebrations). To allow us to serve alcohol on the premises, we decided (on the advice of the WDC Licensing Department) to take out a Club Premises Certificate, rather than have an individual licensee, as you would have in a public house or inn.

This simply meant that occasional visitors who were not HSA members had to be signed in as a guest in our guest book in much the same way as the Hazlemere Community Centre or Royal British Legion clubs operate. This was purely a licensing requirement, and not an elitist HSA policy as some may have led you to believe. Furthermore, unlike other membership organisations or sports associations in our area, we did not operate a dual pricing policy or charge ‘guest fees’.

 

Q.           Did we ever have a lease or any other form of agreement with Hazlemere Parish Council?

A.            References to a lease being progressed by Hazlemere Parish Council (HPC) are recorded in various council meeting minutes going back to 2005.

On the 14th October 2010 a Peppercorn Rental Agreement was signed by the then Chairman of HPC on its behalf and by Milly Roberts, a member of HSA’s volunteer management team, on behalf of HSA. This Agreement provided for the payment of an annual rent of £1.00 to last “for the duration of the Lease” (i.e. for as long as HSA is Tenant).

Without this Agreement the Parish Council would have had to pay VAT on the construction costs of the new Pavilion. We’ve always believed that the Agreement placed the Parish Council under an obligation to complete a Lease to HSA at a peppercorn rent. The normal procedure is for the Landlord, through its Solicitors, to submit draft lease to the Tenant or its Solicitors. Despite repeated requests from us over several months, the Parish Council (as constituted in 2010) failed, through sheer inertia, to initiate the submission of a draft lease. Towards the end of 2013 the Parish Council (then controlled by new Councillors, whose interests were hostile to HSA and the sports clubs HSA represents) served a six-month notice on HSA, via their legal advisers, terminating HSA’s rights under the Lease of the old Pavilion. This offered HSA a new full-repairing lease on commercial terms to replace the Peppercorn Rent Agreement.

The terms proposed were a Lease for ten years with the ability for HSA to break the lease after five years; at a rent of £40,500 per annum. No meaningful negotiations ever took place or any concessions offered by the parish council under their then chairman Mr Mapletoft. Consequently, HSA were forced to vacate the building in November 2014.

The ‘Mapletoft’ council then set up a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) to manage the building, offering them a long-term lease for an annual rent of only £2,400! Mr Mapletoft has since resigned as a parish councillor and is now the Chairman of  the CIO Trustees.

We won’t offer an opinion on the ethics here. We will simply let others draw their own conclusions. 

Q.           The parish council made a substantial investment into the building of the new pavilion. Wasn’t it only fair that the council should receive a commercial rent in return from HSA?

A.            The arrangement with the Parish Council before the new 2013 Councillors came on the scene was that in return for HSA vacating the old Pavilion to make way for the new one (and furnishing the new building and agreeing to run it and accepting full responsibility for its maintenance and repair) the Parish Council would limit the rent to a nominal yearly rent of £1.00. We believe that this was a perfectly fair and sensible arrangement.

Furthermore, the previous Parish Council only avoided paying VAT on the construction costs of the building by agreeing to lease the new Pavilion to HSA at a yearly rent of £1.00. We’ve always believed that the Parish Council would have to pay a significant amount of VAT to HMRC if it charged a rent to HSA or any other tenant in excess of £1.00 per annum. A commercial rent was neither affordable nor justified. By seeking to breach the terms of the Peppercorn Rental Agreement we still believe that the ‘Mapletoft’ Parish Council acted improperly and against the interests of both its Council tax payers and the wider Community for whose benefit the new Pavilion was built.

As indicated above, we know from our experience of managing the Pavilion over a 4 year period just how expensive the costs of running this large building were.

We simply could not afford to pay a large commercial rent on top of a repairing lease obligation. We did however offer the ‘Mapletoft’ Council an annual rent of £2,400 and a profit sharing arrangement. This offer was declined.

Our conclusion remains to this day that the sole objective of Mr Mapletoft and some of his fellow councillors at the time was to evict the sports association. He and others may feel he has succeeded, but the fight is far from over.

Q.           What investment did HSA make since 2010 to improve the facilities at the pavilion and Hazlemere Recreation Ground?

A.            Initially, loans from our member clubs helped us to pay for all of the furniture and fittings in the pavilion and other facilities such as hand dryers and a baby changing facility. We also paid for all of the wooden benches that had to be built in the 6 changing rooms. In addition we made further investment in sport and recreational activities at Hazlemere Recreation Ground. For example:

  • Provision of equipment for a new start up cricket team
  • Provision of new internal storage facilities for junior football and pigeon club.
  • New goals and nets for adult football teams
  • Annual seeding of the football pitch and other essential maintenance
  • Sponsorship of 12-hour charity football event for Beating Bowel Cancer

In addition, we redecorated the upstairs function room shortly before we vacated the building towards the end of 2014.

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