Parish council bails out leaky village hall roof

Heckington Village Hall. EMN-170525-211031001
Heckington Village Hall. EMN-170525-211031001

A parish council has pledged to bail out its village hall committee which has been hit with a hefty roof repair bill with recent heavy rains threatening to close it down.

Heckington councillors were presented with the predicament at its monthly meeting last week when chairman Coun Jan Palmer said she had been contacted by the village hall management committee which was facing a second roof repair bill within months that could force the hall to close if it could not pay up.

The latest bill was for £6,719 and Coun Palmer said the committee did not have those sort of funds in the coffers with only enough for day to day expenses and insurance did not cover it.

She said at the meeting last Monday: “They cannot afford to pay this.

“They can manage utility bills and so on but to get hit with a bill for the best part of £7,000 has put them in a state of flux.

“If the village hall closes due to this debt then it comes back to us as custodian trustees having been put into the constitution in 2011. We need to help them out.”

Coun Palmer said the heavy rains had revealed the latest leaks to be so bad that a fitness class threatened to turn into an ‘aqua-fit’ session.

Prior to that no-one had known there was a problem with the roof, which was last replaced 30 years ago after a fundraising campaign.

Coun Liz Peto insisted it was the council’s duty to help having made no donations for many years.

There were suggestions of seeking grant aid or fundraising from the village and the chairman of Heckington Players said they would be taking a hand in fundraising for the hall to ensure it builds up a reserve in case of future events.

Councillors agreed to pay for the full cost of repairs as a one-off grant, providing they received assurances that the hall committee works towards building up a contingency fund.

Following the meeting, Coun Palmer told The Standard: “The hall committee are going to try to protect themselves financially for the future.

“Thirty years ago we did lots of fundraising such as sponsoring a slate to pay for a new roof but on this occasion the money will come out of our reserves which we have built up due to careful budgeting.”

She said they would not be looking to fundraise or seek grants to recoup the cost at this stage: “I had been open to all ideas at the meeting for ways of raising the money to pay the bill.

“We shall be putting it down as an expense to the village as it is a non-denominational facility for everybody to use.”

○ The parish council last month wrote to Lincolnshire Co-op about the layout of the new tactile pavement being unsafe for partially sighted pedestrians outside their new pharmacy on the High 
Street.

“The paving appeared to jut out into the path of drivers turning into the car park entrance of the neighbouring food store.

“The parish council has since received word from the Co-op to say a bollard and markings will be placed at the entrance and signage will be improved.

○ A path on Fishpond Lane in the village has had to be closed temporarily because of vandalism to security fencing around the disused Heckington Manor leaving it dangerously overhanging.

The matter has been reported to North Kesteven District Council.