News reaches me that part of Anston Parish Hall is suffering from structural defects. It seems the annexe part of the hall, including the toilets, which is used by the Pre School and other users is falling away from the main hall. Closer inspection revealed the annexe was built without being tied into the main structure and the current problem is suspected to be a broken drain which has soaked the ground and caused the annexe to tilt away from the hall.
Other problems include the roof of the annexe which during the last 12/15 years has suffered from ‘repair’ work by Billy the Bodger and is leaking. I understand a structural survey of the annexe has been carried out by a professionally qualified local surveyor and his report is being considered urgently by APC councillors.
This problem has not arisen overnight. The previous administration knew the annexe was not securely fixed to the main building and as long ago as 2010/2011 a gap appeared at the top of the annexe wall where it joins the hall and has since got progressively worse. From about 2011 amateurs were given the go ahead to supposedly repair the annexe roof and it seems all they did was to put patch upon patch. How much of our money was wasted employing these cowboys?
Plans were drawn up some years ago-at great expense-for a new Parish/Community hall and then shelved. Why is anyone’s guess.
Anston Parish Councillors have the unenviable job of funding and rectifying years of neglect. Not all of the parish council reserves can be used to pay for the new hall.
The Council is required, under statue, to maintain adequate financial reserves in order to meet the needs of the organisation. Section 50 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 requires that billing and precepting authorities in England and Wales have regard to the level of reserves needed to meet estimated future expenditure when calculating the budget requirement.
The Council’s policy on the establishment, maintenance and adequacy of reserves and balances will be considered annually.
The Council will hold reserves for these three main purposes: A working balance to help cushion the impact of uneven cash flows and avoid unnecessary temporary borrowing – this forms part of the general reserves; A contingency to cushion the impact of unexpected events or emergencies – this also forms parts of general reserves; A means of building up funds, often referred to as earmarked reserves, to meet known or predicted requirements; earmarked reserves are accounted for separately but remain legally part of the general fund.
2. General Fund balance
The general fund balance, commonly termed the ‘working balance’, is a balance on the council’s revenue account which is not held for any specific purpose other than to cushion the council’s finances against any unexpected short term problems in the councils cash flow.
The general fund balance is to be maintained at a level based upon a risk assessment carried out annually by the Responsible Finance Officer (RFO) when setting the budget for the forthcoming year. Any surplus on the reserve above the required balance may be used to fund capital expenditure, be appropriated to earmarked reserves or used to limit any increase in the precept.
‘The impact of unexpected events or emergencies‘. Nobody expected the parish council to have to find the money to repair the annexe at the time when plans are being considered and debated to secure extra external funding to build a bigger and better parish/community hall for everyone’s benefit.