Tuesday 27 January 2015

Questions of accountability for Barham Park Trust meeting tomorrow

The Barham Park Trust will be meeting tomorrow to consider its future governance arrangements and recommendation on the future of the buildings in the park.

Having spent possibly thousands of pounds on advice from Bircham Dyson Bell, specialists in the law of trusts and charities, five options are discussed, and maintenance of the status quo recommended by officers.

This maintains a structure which gives control of the Trust to Labour Cabinet members with no alternative councillor or community trustee voices.

Titus Barham of course gave his home for the benefit of residents of Wembley and future use of the buildings is passionately disputed.

The Trustees will be considering a number of recommendations to market the buildings. 
2.1       That the Trust approve the marketing of the Card Room (Unit 1) for a possible Café A3 and/or D1 use and to authorise the Property Adviser to the Trust in conjunction with the Trust Chair to select and let the unit to a suitable tenant on terms to be agreed.
2.2       That the Lounge (Unit 4) be marketed for a D1 and/or an A3 Use depending on the outcome of the marketing of the Card Room, or marketed in conjunction with the Card Room as a D1 use and to authorise the Property Adviser to the Trust in conjunction with the Trust Chair to select and let the unit to a suitable tenant on terms to be agreed.
2.3       That the Trust directly lease the Snooker and Billiard Rooms, (Unit 2), to the current occupiers, The Barham Park Veterans’ Club (Wembley), under appropriate leasing arrangements to ensure compliance with the aims of the Charitable Trust. The terms of the lease to be as set out below in Para 3.6 or as amended by the Property Adviser to the Trust in conjunction with the Trust Chair/
2.4       To obtain an independent valuation of the terms proposed between the Council and the Trust so that another application can be made to the Charity Commission for consent to lease the Children’s Centre (Unit 8) to the Council as Nursery Education Grant funded childcare open 5 days per week with children centre sessions being delivered in evenings and at weekends and to agree the Council can sub-let the space to a third party for similar use only. 
The 15 year lease granted to ACAVA (Association for Cultural Advancement through Visual Art) for a number of units on the site has been opposed by many local people as not benefiting local people in the spirit of Barham's legacy. This followed a Planning Appeal that cost £9,000 which I understand the Trust (and it is claimed therefore Brent Council) will pay, rather than ACAVA. The rental income (before service charges) is below that officers first projected.

In the light of the controversy over the Welsh School's bid to set up their school on the Bowling Green Pavilion site at King Edward VII these proposals are clearly important in terms of setting a precedent for other parks.

The Friends of Barham Library have been campaigning for the use of one of the Barham buildings as a community library having successfully run libraries at Sudbury Town station and a shop in Wembley High Road.

The report states:
The Trust has already received an offer from the Friends of Barham Library, (FOBL), for the Card Room and the Trust maybe minded to pursue this offer as the FOBL has charitable status with similar aims, in certain respects, to the Trust’s.
Alternatively the Trust could suggest to the FOBL that they may wish to consider participating in the tender process, should the Trust decide to approve the recommendation to instruct officers to conduct another marketing campaign for this Unit.
As mentioned above the Vets currently make occasional informal use of this space and they will be similarly advised of the intention to market the space should the Trust so approve.
(iii) It should be noted that The Card Room, is of a simple timber frame construction.  It is in poor condition and will require considerable expenditure to secure any long term use. Any ingoing tenant will need to not only install catering facilities, but will also need to expend a comparatively large sum of money on the Unit to carry out basic and essential improvements. Thus if a suitable tenant is not procured through this marketing process, it may then be necessary to consider demolition of the building as the cost of repair would not be economic for the Trust to undertake as a speculative project.
Local people have argued for some time that the Trust had been neglecting the buildings and letting them fall into disrepair as they prevaricated over their  future.  There are claims that after spending £220,000 on repairs and refurbishment that water has damaged newly refurbished floors and ceilings.


Anonymous said...

As someone who got involved in Barham Park matters in 2013, over the planning application to change the use of the former library from community use to business use (for the benfit of ACAVA), I have written to Cllr. Michael Pavey and his fellow members of the Barham Park Trust Committee about the governance report, as I will not be able to attend and have my say. Here are my views, from the email I sent them:

'Item 4. Future Governance of the Trust:
I note that the Officer's recommendation is for option 1, no change. While I agree that the Trust should remain with the Council, as envisaged by Titus Barham himself in donating his estate to Wembley, I think that option 2 would have some advantages, if this were exercised to allow, say, two local residents to be co-opted onto the Committee (possibly from nominations put forward by local residents' associations or other community groups), so that there was a wider perspective of views, rather than simply politicians from Brent's Cabinet. I believe that by involving the local community more closely in this way, the Barham Park Trust could work more effectively, and co-operatively, with the the people who are best placed to contribute to, and benefit from, the facilities at Barham Park.'

If you also have views on this, why not let the councillors involved (Pavey, Crane, Denselow, Hirani and McLennan) know what you think, either by attending the meeting or emailing them this evening.

Philip Grant

Anonymous said...

Who can attend the meeting? public? What time? where?

£9000!?! Sounds like a gross mis-spend of council money. Why?

How do we find out how much the rental income from ACAVA will be?

Are the buildings locally listed or listed? Are they of architectural merit worthy of preserving? Is it in a conservation area?

Who scrutinises council spending? It is very alarming that they can justify such spending and generating lower than expected rental income, especially if there is such huge opposition from local people. Are you sure there is not another income revenue stream that is included?

Alison Hopkins said...

Hang on. Why the hell are Brent paying ACAVA's costs? This was always too damn cosy.

Man and Van in Wembley by Van Squad said...

Who can attend the meeting? People demand more information!

Martin Francis said...

The meeting was this afternoon (my article was written yesterday) at 2.30pm. The public is allowed to attend. I was teaching. http://democracy.brent.gov.uk/documents/g2662/Public%20reports%20pack%20Wednesday%2028-Jan-2015%2014.30%20Barham%20Park%20Trust%20Committee.pdf?T=10

Anonymous said...

I think this needs to go to the Charity Commission and get Charity Commission to review costs.

It was after all ACAVA who required changes in planning to incorporate light industrial. That to me should be ACAVA cost.

Oh wait a minute ACAVA accounts shows they are cash strapped and are unlikely to be able to pay.

francis said...

i attended the meeting on behalf on Friends of Barham Library alone with other volunteers