It has been brought to the attention of the Parish Council that adverse comments have been made, which relate to the Tintagel Social Hall, Toilets and Visitor Centre. Unfortunately, the old adage, once again, applies: ‘One side of a story holds good until the other side is told’.
We do not usually respond to Facebook chatter. However, the nature of some of the comments made in recent days do, we feel, merit our response.
Tintagel Social Hall
Tintagel Parish Council has never claimed ownership of the Social Hall. The deeds appertaining to the transfer of the building clearly state that the Parish Council is the ’Principal Trustee’.
When the former board of Trustees was dissolved, two public meetings were held – and all options permissible under the Deed of Transfer were discussed. One of those options – as stated in the Legal Deed – was that if no trustees were forthcoming, then the Social Hall would revert to the Parish Council. The onus upon the Parish Council would then be to maximise the benefit for the Parishioners – that may have involved the sale of the site and the creation of a new, purpose built, Social Hall for the Village – again, such a facility would have been owned by the Parish (as opposed to the Parish Council).
The composition of, and appointment to, the Board of Trustees is not, and never has been, the responsibility of the Parish Clerk, or the Parish Council. The Tintagel Social Hall Board of Trustees is a separate legal entity – responsible for its own administration. Therefore, there was a legal obligation, under the terms of the Deed of Transfer’ and under Charity Law, for the Trustees to ensure statutory compliance and make all Trustees aware of their obligations.
At the public meetings, referred to above, the Parish Clerk was asked to attend in order to take Minutes and, in light of her legal qualifications, ensure that the Terms of the Deed of Transfer were made known to Trustee Applicants. It is not the fault of the Clerk (either present or former) that Trustees did not understand their legal situation.
It is to be noted at this juncture, that the invoice submitted by the Clerk was in respect of her assistance at these meetings. The remuneration had always been earmarked for the creation of the Junior Marching Band. That is, the Clerk did not retain the monies for personal use. The fee was donated for the benefit of Tintagel Youth.
Why were these facts not to alluded to in social media discussions?
We turn now to the issue of Parish Council support for the Social Hall.
Over the past three years, the Parish Council has met many of the Social Hall’s expenses; not seeking to recover the same from the Social Hall fund because you, as Parishioners, were entitled to that support in order to ensure the longevity of the venue.
Why was that fact not alluded to in social media discussions?
This year, as in all previous years, the Parish Council has met the entire cost of insuring the Social Hall and ensuring that the Trustees are properly protected. The sum involved was in excess of £400. Further to the provision of insurance cover, the Parish Council pays to use the Social Hall for its meetings. We feel that our actions qualify as ‘support’.
Why have these facts not been alluded to in social media discussions?
A recent grant of £10,000 made to the Social Hall was initiated by the Parish Clerk, who advised the Chairperson of the Social Hall that the monies were available. The Clerk had also been asked to assist with the procurement of further funds – that work was to be undertaken by the Clerk at no cost to the Social Hall or the Parish Council.
Why was that fact not alluded to in social media discussions?
We are therefore at a loss to understand why the ‘Key Board Warriors’ are so keen to engage in wholesale criticism of the Parish Council? If Parishioners want to know the whole story – then please, just ask.
The Tintagel Visitor Centre
The Tintagel Visitor Centre does not make money for the village. Indeed, for the past few years, it has been running at a substantial loss (£38,000 over three years). That is a situation which the current Membership of the Parish Council is seeking to remedy.
Previous proposals to address the problem were always met with extreme opposition from some ex-councillors.
Three years ago, an in-depth review of the facility was carried out by the then new Clerk. Recommendations were made, for which the Clerk was lambasted. It was clearly highlighted in the report that Parishioners money was not being used wisely. Notwithstanding the evidence available, the TVC was deemed an asset by several Members and continued to operate.
The discussion was raised again a year later with the same result – some ex-members (and others) insisted on the facility remaining and then utilised their power to engage in a campaign of harassment and libel against the Clerk and those Councillors who did not share their views. Those people know who they are, and should acknowledge responsibility for their decisions, rather than criticise those who are attempting to address the chaos left behind.
Parish Council Minutes clearly show that, on many occasions, the Clerk has;
- Advised of the dire financial situation, and;
- Highlighted, vociferously, the facts that
a. Tintagel is an area of severe deprivation;
b. It was grossly unfair to expect the Parishioners to carry the financial burdens of insolvent facilities;
c. The need to consider what is beneficial to Parishioners, first and foremost and;
d. many of those who were making the decision to retain and maintain non-beneficial assets did not share the same depth of hardship experienced by many of those Parishioners, who were being asked to subsidise those facilities.
We believe that those comments indicate a person with a well-defined social conscience. Our current Parish Councillors share those sentiments.
We are now looking at ways to utilise the TVC space for the greater benefit of the village – what, we ask, is wrong with that? The Parish Council is for the benefit of the many – not just the few.
However, the TVC has not been closed down – nor is it being demolished. The Parish Council is merely considering options at this point. A full discussion will be held in July. Please note that the Minutes of the June 2020 Meeting have not yet been ratified.
- The Parish Council has, in previous years, undertaken the ownership/ management of facilities that have given little, or no, benefit to the Parishioners of Tintagel. Two sets of public lavatories cost you, the Parishioner, over £15,000 in 2019/20, the income from the same was just over £400, one set raised no income at all, but incurred costs in excess of, £6000 – is that an appropriate use of your money?
- Is it acceptable for people operating outside this Parish to make financial demands of the Parish Council (therefore Parishioners) to meet the costs of facilities that have little or no benefit to the Parish? Resistance to such demands was agreed upon – in order to preserve funds for the people of the parish. Was that wrong?
- Is it fair to expect the Parishioners of Tintagel to meet the costs of operating Cornwall Council owned assets, when Cornwall Council gains substantial income from its car parks, but does not share that income?
- There has been, for the past year, a concerted effort by certain persons in the Parish, to undermine the Parish Council and the Clerk. That is not the conduct of civically minded people.
- Our Clerk has had to tolerate on-going harassment from persons within and out with the Parish, merely because she is carrying out her work efficiently and has identified a number of matters which require extensive investigation. Is that harassment fair?
- Comments have been made relating to the dissemination of information. This is surprising as all Agendas/ Minutes are on the Parish Council website and the minutes are very detailed – a fact well known to some of those engaging in that discussion.
- Our Clerk has suggested and arranged for the purchase and distribution of lavatory rolls, soap and bottled water to vulnerable Parishioners, during Covid 19 and the recent water matter. She was supported in this by the Members who accepted that there was a requirement to help Parishioners where possible. Is that a bad thing?
- The Clerk is attempting to set up a Junior Marching Band for young people in the village and has partially financed the set-up cost – is that a bad thing?
- The Clerk and Parish Council supported the creation of the youth club for the village – Was that a bad thing?
- The Parish Council provided grants to the Carnival Committee; The Christmas Lights Committee; Friends of Tintagel; Cornwall Air Ambulance; The Brownies; Tintangels Pre-school; Tintagel; Parochial Council (cemetery maintenance), Methodist Cemetery, Tregatta, and others. Is that unacceptable to Parishioners? Do Parishioners wish these donations to cease?
The Parish Council has received a great deal of criticism in relation to its provision of public lavatories.
Do Parishioners realise that they are paying the total costs of these facilities? The Parish Council does not receive any payment from business rates or car park income – those payments go, in their entirety, to Cornwall Council. The Parish Council even has to pay business rates on the lavatory buildings.
A large percentage of your precept payment is spent on public conveniences. Therefore, the Parish Council is not able to spend that money on the Parishioners of Tintagel. Is that fair?
The current Parish Council Membership has taken the decision to become more inward facing. That is, we intend to focus more on the needs of Parishioners. Is that a bad thing?
The current Parish Council Membership wishes to assess the financial viability of assets held, in order to determine their future value and potential – is that being financially reckless?
We, as the Parish Council, have now stated the facts of many matters for which we are being decried.
Parish Councillors work hard – for no remuneration.
The Clerk works hard – often for seven days a week.
The Parish Council had determined that the Parishioners of Tintagel should be at the heart of decisions made – is that wrong?
Yet – we are criticised, demonised, bullied, harassed, and slandered – often by those who should know better. Some of the most critical commentators to date appear to be those who have made their own, significant, contributions to the financial situation in which we now find ourselves.
This Parish Council wants to provide for Parishioners, not spend your money on loss making enterprises, and assets owned by others – unless that is what the Parishioners want.
TINTAGEL PARISH COUNCIL- 15th June 2020.