To all regular users of the hall:
You will know that the current lockdown is due to end on Wednesday next week (2 Dec) and the government has announced a revised three-tier system to follow. The government’s advice does not say a great deal about village halls as such, and we expect more detailed advice will be published in due course.
Because the coronavirus infection rate in Cornwall is one of the lowest in the UK, the government has announced that Cornwall will be placed in Tier 1. This will effectively return us to the earlier position that we were in when activities were governed by ‘the rule of six’. Under those circumstances, we decided in September to allow certain activities to resume in the main hall during evenings and weekends.
However, other factors come into play. First, the future trajectory of the infection rate is by no means certain, and it clearly is not yet on a sustained downward path. Scientists are already warning that the government’s relaxation of the guidelines over Christmas is likely to see the infection rate rise, rather than fall. Thus, the situation could change, and so could the government’s advice. We are not yet in a stable position to enable normal or near-normal activities to resume with any confidence. Any re-opening of the hall would require additional work on the part of the trustees to ensure the building was Covid-secure, but trustees are reluctant to do this while the possibility remains of a further change in tier status.
On top to that, we have our own local problem: a major issue has arisen in the foyer of the hall because of water under the floor, the cause of which is being investigated. If the problem were located in an out-of-the-way area of the hall, such as the chair store, it might be possible for activities to resume. But the problem is in the main entrance, which will have to remain closed until repairs have been completed. (School staff and pupils must currently use the rear emergency exit to get in and out). The work in the foyer also affects access to the toilets and storage cupboards.
In the light of all this and given that the Christmas break is just five weeks away, with bookings normally reduced over Christmas anyway, the trustees have decided NOT to reopen the hall to any of our regular users until January at the earliest. The school will continue to be the sole user.
Our next trustees’ meeting is due to be held on 21 December, when we will be able to discuss the possibility of any resumption of activities, consider information about the post-lockdown infection rate, and digest any further guidance on the reopening of village halls. All these matters will influence the trustees’ thinking about the timing of any reopening. We will keep you informed.
We apologise if this news is disappointing, but we hope you will appreciate and accept the trustees’ reasons for their decision.
Chair of trustees
The Perranwell Centre
3rd November 2020
The trustees have agreed that, subject to confirmation of the governments’ intention to impose a national lockdown, the village hall be closed to all users from Thursday 5 November until further notice, with the sole exception of the school, which will be permitted to continue its use for so long as schools remain open during the lockdown.
The primary purpose of this bulletin is to let you know the arrangements that will apply during the autumn.
The trustees decided at an early stage to offer the school the use of the hall as a matter of priority in order to enable as many children as possible to return to education, an offer that was gratefully accepted by the headteacher.
This meant that, if the hall were to re-open, only the main hall would be available and then only during weekday evenings and at the weekend. The west room would be used by the school to store their equipment, the south room would be reserved as an isolation facility and the kitchen and stage would be kept out of use in order to reduce the risk of infection and simplify cleaning arrangements.
The trustees then sought the views of our regular hirers via an online survey on a possible resumption of bookings. 27 of our regular hirers responded – an excellent response, thank you – and several made a point of agreeing with the decision to give priority to the school.
18 respondents (67%) indicated that they would either not be resuming before January 2021 or did not yet know when they would resume activities.
The other 9 groups thought that they might wish to resume during the autumn.
Of those nine, three normally used bookings during weekdays and either did not wish to book an alternative time or did not know if their members would wish to; one other booking was for a one-off event in December, which would be considered closer to the event, and one other response was from a group that wished to become a regular hirer when it became possible.
That left three groups that normally meet weekly who wished to resume and could do so when the hall was available, and one other group that met monthly.
The three weekly groups were:
Perranwell over-50s badminton club on Tuesday evenings, Kawagishi Dojo on Sunday mornings,
Carnon Downs Drama Group on Sunday afternoons.
These three groups will be invited to resume.
The Local History Group, which meets monthly, also wished to resume meeting. It normally meets on a Tuesday evening but, because that will clash with the badminton club, will be invited to meet on a weekday evening other than a Tuesday.
Re-opening in this limited way will allow the trustees to implement new Covid-19 precautions and test their effectiveness before more hirers return. This is important because of the extra work required of trustees, who must follow detailed guidance and regulations published by the government.
In order to re-open, trustees have had to follow a comprehensive checklist and prepare a detailed risk assessment, approve a set of special hire conditions (which, incidentally, hirers will have to accept before resuming activities), prepare a comprehensive range of signage to explain the rules and guide users of the hall, implement special measures inside and outside the hall to ensure social distancing, provide extra cleaning supplies and materials for hall users, and make arrangements for additional cleaning using a commercial contractor. The risk of infection may be relatively low in our part of the country, but we need to do everything possible to keep it that way.
We are sorry if the groups who wished to return, but are not being permitted, are disappointed, but we hope everybody will appreciate the care that needs to be taken to ensure that coronavirus is eventually eliminated.
Although the hall has been closed since March, our finances are in a relatively healthy position, thanks primarily to an emergency government grant of £10,000. Some costs, such as energy, have declined because the hall has not been in use; other costs, of course, have continued to be paid, but overall the trustees are confident that we will finish the financial year on 31 December in a satisfactory position.
The trustees will review the situation again at the end of October in order to make decisions about possibly extending re-opening from January onwards, and a further bulletin will be issued around that time.
Even though the hall has been closed for most of the year, work has been proceeding on plans to redevelop the building. A detailed ‘concept design’ has been prepared , full of exciting ideas and proposals. We will be consulting all our stakeholders, of whom regular hirers are a key constituent, in due course. Look out for further details.
Chair of trustees