Play and Recreation Park
28/03/2022 The notifcation of tender has been published for the refurbishment of the play area, including the supply and instalation of new equipment. Tenders have to be in by 17:00 on 17th April and Parish Councillors will meet to consider and hopefully award the contract on 28th April so that work can then begin (allowing for lead times) asap but hopefully no later than beginning of July. It is hoped that the work will take no more than 2 weeks.
The Lease of land in Townhouse Road from Old Town Trust to the Parish Council as Tenants was signed in 1986 for a period of 28 years and was then reviewed and extended until 2035. The old lease was also the governing document for the Play Council and reflected the fact that until 2021, the Parish Council held the land known as the Play Park, upon trust for the Play Council (registered charity 293364). The Trustees of the Play Council undertook development work and received an annual grant from the Parish Council for the the day to day running costs.
The Play Council charity emerged from the original Youth Forum which did such great work putting the Millenium Village Appraisal into action. Local children were asked what they wanted in Walsham and then following successful grant applications, including a £50,000 Playbuilder grant, the Skatepark and MUGA were built.
An improved Play Area was opened over the two days of the Open Gardens Weekend August 30 & 31st 2009 by trustees of the the Play Council Charity. The extremely enthusiastic and dedicated committee expended a lot of effort over a few months prior to the re-opening.
Latterly, further development has been frustrated because it proved impossible to maintain a full committee of Play Council trustees as required by the charity’s governing document.
Given that the Parish Council is legally not allowed to be in receipt of charitable funding as it is not, and cannot be, a charity and alternative solution needed to be found. Once it was established that sufficent non-charitable funds could be raised by the Parish Council for development, the Parish Council could then agree to take on this responsibility directly, alongside the day to day management.
From April 1st 2018, the Parish Council assumed direct responsibility for the day to day running costs and maintenance in place of an annual grant to the Play Council for these costs.
A lengthy process then ensued whereby the Charity Commission was asked for consent to the amendment of the Play Council Constitution in order to allow the assets to be passed to the Parish Council as a non-charitable body, and the charity dissolved and closed. The alternative was that the assets would have been passed to another charity with similar charitable objectives but outside the village because of the other charities in the village that met the criteria, none was prepared to take on the management and development of the Play Area.
As this was progressing a fantastic group volunteers continued their work behind the scenes on further consultation, on fundraising from local organisations and on getting the support of the school and sports club for future fundraising efforts. This fed into a new plan for phased development which was used by the Parish Council to raise further funding.
Minutes of the Play Council AGM held on 29th May 2020 document the reappointment of a quorum of Play Council committee members (trustees) and resolutions to change the constitution to allow the assets of the charity to be transferred to the Parish Council and to finally, dissolve and close the charity. Following confirmation from the Charity Commission on 25th August 2020 that the Play Council Charity had been closed it was possible to start to engaging with the bank to transfer remaining cash assets of the former Play Council to the Parish Council.
The redevelopment of the new Play Area will now hopefully start towards the end of 2021 and will provide new equipment for younger children, older children whilst also refurbishing existing equipment. This will once again cost in the region of £51,000.
The Parish Council finally signed the new lease on 8th September 2021 and now await completion by the respective solicitors for Old Town Trust and the Parish Couincil. The Parish Council has committed £29k and bids for funding from the local authority, district and county councillors have been submitted.
As with all community working groups, a constant flow of new members is needed to keep things moving forward. If you would like to be involved with the Play Council Volunteers who work together to undertake practical tasks to realise the development plans agreed with the Parish Council, then please get in touch the Parish Clerk to register your interest.
The following documentation can be found in this news post
- Charity Commission closure confirmation
- Final bank statement
- Treasurer’s year end accounts
- Independent examiner’s report