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News From The RMVH Trustees

March/April 2024

NEWS FROM THE RMVH TRUSTEES
Easter seems to have arrived quicker than the better weather, but the spring colours are lovely to see. Riding Mill’s Outdoor Preschool Treasure Hunt around the village will be a fun way to explore during the holiday and to work off those Easter eggs. 

There are lots of forthcoming activities so keep an eye on the RMVH website. The Drama Club has completed another successful sell-out production, and their next one will take place on 28th, 29th and 30th November (regular users please take note that the Parish Hall will be out of use from 21st Nov to 1st Dec). If you’re interested in what goes on front of stage or behind the scenes, they welcome new members.

We always welcome fundraising activities which provide much needed funding for the upkeep of the halls such as the Plant and Table top sale on 4th May. All of the activities and events are organised and run by volunteers so please support them as much as you can.

We are looking for a new Bookkeeper/Treasurer to manage invoice payment. This is a volunteer role which can be combined with that of Trustee or stand alone. If you are interested, please contact our Chair, Adrian Banger: adrian.rmvh@gmail.com

The Trustees are holding a meeting for User Groups on Wednesday 24 April at 19.00 in the Parish Hall. In particular, we will be discussing some proposed changes to hall hire fees from the beginning of September.

This will be followed in May/June by an open meeting for everyone with an interest in Riding Mill Village Halls. More about that in the next Newsletter.

Pam Waldron
email: pam.rmvh@gmail.com

 

February 2024

The Millennium Hall Oak Tree
A recent post on Facebook says that the Trustees want to cut down a healthy 150-year-old oak tree as we ‘don’t want to pay money to check its health every few years’. This does not paint an accurate picture of the tree, or of our decisions. 

The most recent detailed assessment (March 2022) reported the following: there is internal decay within the main stem. The cause for this decay is not known, no evidence of decay fungi was identified, therefore the next likely cause is root damage/loss.  The specialist’s conclusion was that the internal decay requires future monitoring for progression but currently the tree appears to have sufficient supporting wood to prevent stem failure. Whilst the tree safety factor is currently low risk, this is predicated on there being no change in the dominant wind from the west.

We have a legal obligation to ensure that this tree does not pose a threat either to people or property. In the last 4 years alone, this has cost the charity over £4K. In order to satisfy both our insurers and ourselves that the oak remains low risk, we have an ongoing commitment to have detailed tests carried out at least every 2 years. The next assessment is due this year when the tree goes into leaf and will cost £495 + VAT.

We are perplexed by the intimation that we have not taken a measured approach to the issues we have with this tree. Particularly since we have disclosed all of the survey results and had frank and open discussions. The tree’s expected life span is 20+ years but its viability is under threat. We must pay to have professional assessments on a regular and ongoing basis, and we decided that this was not a prudent use of funds. 

As reported in the December Newsletter, we took the decision to have the oak felled and thus end the ongoing financial liability for a tree which is ailing. When the nearest neighbours volunteered to raise funds for the ongoing surveys required, we were content that the oak tree should not be felled unless its condition deteriorates, and it becomes an uninsured risk to life and/or property. This allows us to make the best use of our resources whilst managing any risks arising from the natural resources around the halls.

Pam Waldron
email: pam.rmvh@gmail.com

The next Trustee meeting is on 5th March 2024
 

January 2024

January always seems such a gloomy month but there will always be a welcome at our Village Halls. If you are at the Parish Hall and it is open, please feel free to come in and get warm and perhaps browse the numerous books we have to share. 

We are delighted to have a new cleaning company on board this month. Time to Shine Cleaning Services Ltd have taken on the contract and Georgie and Bobbie will be cleaning on Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons when the halls are not in use. It will be more cost effective for us to have a couple of sessions of thorough cleaning each week. We appreciate how much hall users do to leave the halls tidy after use and hope this will continue. Any feedback on our new arrangements to me please.

More good news: both Halls have been awarded 5 stars after their food hygiene inspections. We even featured in the Hexham Courant although it was only a few column inches alongside other successful businesses. This is an example of how much volunteer effort goes on behind the scenes to make things happen – even though sometimes it’s just relatively mundane, but necessary, compliance issues. 

Trustees have agreed an asbestos management plan for the Parish Hall. Most of the asbestos was removed when the foyer was built, and the remaining asbestos - cement panels above the stage, an old boiler flue, and a small section of insulating board on the kitchen ceiling – is in good condition. The asbestos material has been labelled and will be regularly monitored. If you want to see the plan, please let me know.

Finally, as we start a new year of activities in the halls, please check your bookings are up to date, particularly where block bookings have been made. 

Pam Waldron
email: pam.rmvh@gmail.com

 

December 2023

Following on from last month’s newsletter, there has been further discussion about the plight of the Millennium Hall oak tree. We have spent very significant sums over the years trying to maintain this tree in a healthy state where it does not pose a threat to people or property. The Trustees took the decision to have the oak felled, and thus end the ongoing financial liability for a tree which is ailing. The nearest neighbours have volunteered to raise funds for the ongoing surveys required and, on that basis, the oak tree will not be felled unless its condition deteriorates so that it becomes a hazard to life and/or property.

Sadly, our new cleaners let us down after just 2 weeks. So, after a considerable effort, we are just back to square one looking for a cleaning contractor, or self-employed individual, who can clean the Halls. There will no longer be a daily clean. It is more cost effective for us to have two or three sessions of thorough cleaning each week, avoiding times when the Halls are in use as far as possible. If you have any ideas, or know of anyone who might be interested, please get in touch.

We are still looking for someone with a high level of IT skills who can help us set up a secure, user-friendly, cloud-based structure for documents. We envisage this as a one-off project rather than an ongoing commitment. Can you help? 

Classes and activities have wound down now for the festive period. On behalf of the Trustees, I would like to thank all our class/activity/event organisers, our amazing volunteers, and, of course, Riding Mill residents, for their contributions to another successful year. Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas.


Pam Waldron
Email: pam.rmvh@gmail.com

 

November 2023

We have completed a comprehensive review of the trees surrounding the village halls as part of our duty of care towards the hall users and visitors.  A copy of the report has been given to immediate neighbours, the Parish Council and the Parish Church Council. A copy has also been put on the Trustee notice boards in each hall.

 

As you will see from this report, the oak tree adjacent to the Millennium Hall requires yet further attention. We have spent very significant sums over the years trying to maintain this tree in a healthy state where it does not pose a threat either to people or property. Unfortunately, we can no longer justify spending our hard-earned village hall funds to maintain this ailing specimen of a great oak tree. The Trustees have reluctantly taken the decision to have the oak felled, and thus end the ongoing financial liability for a tree which is sadly approaching the end of its viability.

 

As part of our drive to build robust management systems, we are looking for someone with a high level of IT skills who can help us set up a secure, user-friendly, cloud-based structure for documents. We envisage this as a one-off project rather than an ongoing commitment and hope someone in the village can help.

 

A reminder to keep an estimate of any time you spend on volunteer activities please. It’s amazing how much time is spent in the halls, and in the garden, and we can use this to show how well used and supported the halls are when applying for grants. A sheet is up on the Trustee notice boards for you to use.

 

Pam Waldron

Email: pam.rmvh@gmail.com

October 2023

Congratulations to Val, Alan and all the Garden Invaders, past and present, for achieving ‘outstanding’ in the RHS Northumbria in Bloom 2023 It’s Your Neighbourhood award. We are delighted that the hard work of all the volunteers over the years which has transformed the Parish Hall garden into a lovely peaceful space has been recognised.

 

More good news – village hall funds received a welcome donation of £1004 from the recent Jumble Sale. Our thanks to Linda and her band of willing helpers, and to everyone who contributed jumble and/or time to make it a success.

 

Trustees will be at the Café in the Foyer on Monday 6 November if you would like to chat with us. We’ll be asking for feedback on the Newsletters – do you find them helpful? We’re happy to take feedback by email too: pam.rmvh@gmail.com

 

The work to improve thermal efficiency in the Parish Hall, mentioned in our August Newsletter, will be carried out on Tuesday 24th October when double glazed windows and destratification fans to prevent hot air accumulating in the high ceiling of the main hall will be installed.

 

We are putting in place more robust financial systems as a lot of work has been required to reconcile some invoices with payments. Hall users have been written to individually to ask for their help. We would like to move away from cash wherever possible as it is the least secure method of payment.

 

Finally, it would be helpful if you could keep an estimate of any time you spend on volunteer activities. It’s amazing how much time is spent in the halls, and in the garden, and we can use this to show how well used and supported the halls are when applying for grants. A sheet is up on the Trustee notice board for you to use. Thank you.

 

Pam Waldron

August 2023

We are keen to keep hall users, and interested parties in the community, up to date with what’s going on in the Parish and Millennium Halls. So, this is the first in a series of regular newsletters telling you what we’re up to – and why!

 

1) We have welcomed Pam and Jenny to the Trustee team and Jenny has taken over the role of Treasurer.

 

2) Those at the AGM will have heard about the change of charity status to an incorporated charity (CIO). That means that RMVH will be a legal entity in its own right. We hope to complete the legal process shortly.

 

3) We are taking the opportunity of the quieter period in the halls to do some minor maintenance, deep cleaning, sorting of cupboards etc. We hope you notice the result when you return.

 

4) Following on from recommendations from the Maintenance Group, we have been investigating how to improve the thermal efficiency of the Parish Hall. A package of measures is intended.

 

a) The first will be replacing the remaining single glazed windows with double glazed. At the rear of the building, they will be plain windows to maximise the light and will open, more easily, from the bottom. We’re hoping this work can be done late Sept/early Oct with little disruption.

 

b) Secondly, we are looking to install fans in the ceiling which will prevent the hot air accumulating in the high ceiling. This is known as a destratification system and is widely, and successfully used in public and commercial buildings.

 

c) Finally, we want to insulate the sloping sides of the PH ceiling. They will then be plastered and painted to match the walls. This is the costliest part of the plan and will require funding before it can happen.

 

5) The PH is now a designated Warm Hub and we have had recommendations to improve accessibility and signage. We have prioritised the necessary actions and will implement them accordingly.

  

Pam Waldron

RMVH Trustee

August 2023

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