Minutes of the Projects Committee held in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Abergavenny, on Thursday 27 November 2014 at 7pm.
Present: Cllr M Hickman (Mayor)
Cllrs Ms S Dodd, Mrs M Powell, S Horrell, P Woodley, N Tatam, and D Edwards
In attendance: The Town Clerk, Mrs N Watkins (for the ACE Item) and Messrs H Candler and N Banwell (For the Theatre Item)
1. Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs J Prosser, Mrs S Woodhouse, C Woodhouse, R Harris and Mrs M Harris.
2. Declarations of interest would be made as and when necessary during the meeting.
3. The Mayor welcomed Mrs Norma Watkins who had come to give members feedback on the progress with ACE Partnership. Firstly she expressed gratitude to the Council for its support, and she was anxious to maintain good contact with the Council for the future. At present deprivation is still an issue in North Abergavenny and this is exemplified by the fact that she issues 15 Food Vouchers a week.
The Wax Art project which the Council had supported was now a small business for the person who set it up. She rents a room at the centre ans she is making a living from it. Santa`s Grotto last year had been very successful. Raffles during the year would enable it to happen again this year without Council support. There is also a Coffee Morning next week
The gardening project had also been a success with the garde now joining the RHS Gardening Scheme and the money the Council had given is being used to make more money. Volunteers are also doing gardening in the Community for older people.
Core Funding is difficult – Comic Relief had given £10000. Equipment that needed replacing was being replaced as necessary, but the project is now running out of space.. They are currently seeking a grant to alter a room..
The money for a cookery course has just been used It was used to fund a course for a group with Mental Health problems and had been very successful.
The ACE Partnership is working with PCSOs and the Monmouthshire Housing Association Advisor works from the building.
The Vegetable and Meat co-operative is very successful – anyone can take part. They serve 400 people a month with bags of vegetables and packs of meat.
There are 12 regular volunteers working out of the Centre and another 6 who come occasionally.
Cllr Tatam asked if some of the equipment that Homemakers remove when they do house clearances would be of any use.
The Information sheet that was distributed should also be passed to the Town Team for information.
The Mayor thanked Mrs Watkins for attending and for the very useful feedback om how the Council`s support had been used. Mrs Watkins left the meeting at this point.
4. The Mayor next welcomed Mr H Candler and Mr N Banwell to the meeting to give an update on the Theatre Trust.
There was clarification at the start that A4B is a group of organisations that use the theatre whereas the Trust manges the Theatre itself. The old Voluntary Theatre Management Committee had become A4B.
The Theatre was last upgraded by Monmouth Borough Council in 1990. At that time it added a professional programme to its voluntary societies, and a Theatre Manager as employed. The Trust has been in operation for just over 12 months and now manages the Theatre. It took 4 years to complete the transfer and they operate under a lease and a management agreement. They have recently commissioned a firm of consultants to complete a feasibility study to improve facilities in the building. They will also produce a business plan on how the theatre will operate. Presently there is a 3 year funding agreement in place. When that finishes the Trust will be hoping to renegotiate terms. They still expect MCC to support after that time.
When the Theatre was last refurbished it was state of the art at the time, but over the years it has now fallen behind. The Arts Council said in 2010 that it was not fit for purpose so they disinvested in it. The would still be willing to help in the future. The theatre needs improvements to Health and Safety in the backstage area, the corn Exchange needs upgrading, and general access needs to be improved. (Probably a new lift)
The Feasibility Study will test ideas, cost the design and plan for fund-raising and delivering the plan. Grants from the Arts Council and the National Lottery would be essential to delivering the plan. The Study will be completed in April and the Town Council and Town Team can expect to be consulted.
There was some discussion on Gwent Theatre and Gwent Young People`s Theatre and what may happen, but this is not a part of the Borough Theatre`s concerns at present. The fact that the County is seeking to recover £1M from asset sales next year is not in any way linked to the Borough Theatre needing funding for improvements.
The Mayor thanked the two gentlemen for attending and they left the meeting at this point.
5. The sheets providing web-links for Councillors were distributed to Councillors for information.
There being no other business the meeting was closed at 8pm