The Sharing Agreement deed
I have now spent a considerable time coming to an understanding of the terms of the Sharing Agreement. Like most such documents it is needlessly convoluted but it can be logically unravelled to the point where we can ascertain just what the village should regard as its property.
As usual the devil is in the detail and one such detail was a pseudo-mathematical formula apparently assigning a monetary value to the Village’s share of the overall development. The form of presentation looks innocent in that the Village’s contribution figure of £55,666 was clearly visible in the formula. (£55,666 was not the cost of the hall it was the difference between the cost of the hall the Council could pay for and the much larger hall everybody wanted) The formula combines the value of the land and the overall cost of the hall (nowhere could I find a figure for the overall cost), the only hard figure present was our £55,666. If ever the asset were liquidated we would not get our money back multiplied by inflation over the intervening period, as I’ve heard stated. We would in fact get a portion of the Hall’s actual sale price reduced by its formula proportion, but, the Hall’s sale value would be subject to manipulation because it could not be sold in isolation. It was built as an integral part of the School so on selling the whole School the Hall’s value as a percentage of the whole would be subject to an arbitrary apportionment.
This however is probably academic because if I am reading it right we will never in fact be paid anything.
The reader may wonder why I am so concerned with termination of The Agreement when the hall is such an obviously essential part of the Village. When The Agreement was first mooted it was because the hall the Village and the School wanted was far bigger than the County Council could provide. Such hall sizes are calculated against pupil head counts. Now, with the Village at its current size, those calculations would come out differently and if we include a reasonable projection from the Buchanan Report, very differently again in the future.
Looking at the hall as a school hall it must be a considerable nuisance for the staff not to be in complete control of it. With staff changes over time, getting further away from the environment that led to the shared status of it, sympathy with us is becoming more difficult.
Were we to go off on an excursion into conspiracy theory, we could conceive of a situation where the County Council might want to conspire to spoil the village part of the hall’s functions to a point where it ceased to be financially viable. In the legal document, should for any reason the village not be able to continue, (through financial or support problems) the agreement ends and the property has to be sold, with the proceeds distributed as set out in the formula. The agreement clearly states, however, that such a sale would not take place until the school no longer required the use of the hall. Indeed all the shared and other parts of the building will transfer to the sole legal charge of the School in the interim. (Probably forever after)
Now if we go back and track all the e-mails, letters and other reports that took place last year, after it was realised that the new school kitchen facilities had displaced all the facilities the village needed for the sort of hiring’s that involved the preparation of cooked food for public consumption, a sinister aspect appears. Without this class of income, bearing in mind that hiring the hall out is virtually its only income, the financial viability of village usage is seriously threatened. When the decisions were challenged and viable alternatives offered a very strange situation developed, where, by all manner of prevarication and other ruses, the committee refused to reconsider any decision, until matters began to get very unpleasant.
We then ended up with a situation where our campaign was terminated after we were given a clear statement that all was to be made well, only to be later told that this was not in fact so. If the Committee Chairman’s flat contradiction of Councillor Wallace can be believed, we have a County Councillor prepared to lie to stop our campaign to save the hall. Conversely we seem to have a Committee Chairman prepared to lie and conspire to put his own committee and the hall out of business, equally hard to believe.
There is a hard core of villagers who will not let this matter rest until the investment made by their predecessors in the old Village Hall, sold to raise the £55,666, is secured for the future. Bear in mind that while this sum is not great by today’s values, it was raised in the early eighties and should now be factored by about six times to put it into current perspective.