Community and village halls are a cornerstone of communities and are an important part of neighbourhood life and are mostly run by hard-working volunteer committees. That’s why Sedgemoor District Council is considering investing £775,000 into these invaluable community facilities as a positive commitment to their futures.
The Covid pandemic has shown that halls have been able to act as venues for food banks, vaccination centres and extending activities to people who are vulnerable. In more normal times, they provide a range of activities and access to community activities that are locally accessible and affordable and can also combat loneliness and isolation. Over many years, SDC has supported the provision of local facilities, by its own grant systems and also by applying for external funding such as Single Regeneration Budget or Building Communities fund.
Four hall committees have approached Sedgemoor for further assistance in order to keep them open for their communities to use.
- Victoria Park Community Centre in Bridgwater is a multi-use community hub. There is a 125-year lease from Sedgemoor. The hall committee have asked that SDC transfers the ownership of the site to them, with a £20,000 grant for transitional costs such as drawing up legal documents.
- Wembdon Village Hall has an outstanding loan from SDC of £355,000. The hall and its facilities are very well used by all members of the community including use of the Green by Cricket Clubs including for County matches and training. It also has made up for a deficit of nursery provision and funds have been raised to provide a youth hub on the upper floor which can also serve as a local conference centre. The hall serves a wide area, drawing attendees from all over the District as well as providing a range of volunteer opportunities. The committee have also secured funding from the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Football Foundation, because the hall and grounds make up for a deficit in cricket and football provision. The hall committee are asking for the loan be converted to a grant.
- Watchfield Village Hall in the parish of Burnham Without. The hall has been used continually from 1933 to the present day. It is the only public building in the Parish of Burnham Without. It was constructed of wood, on land in the centre of the village. It has been agreed that the existing hall should be demolished and a new one built on its footprint. Burnham Without Parish Council have offered £50,000 and Sedgemoor is asked to match that amount (£50,000)
- Wilstockhub. The Wilstock Community Hub project was established to address a deficit of community facilities within Wilstock and Stockmoor Villages. Full planning permission exists for the proposed facility and build feasibility exists costing the project at £1.3 million. So far, £510K funding has been secured through Hinkley Mitigation Fund (£300K) and North Petherton Town Council (£210K). There remains however a shortfall of £790K for the project. Officers have discussed with Wilstockhub the potential for a phased approach that would see the delivery of the community facility in two phases. £350,000 would allow the first phase to start which would allow for the building of a Multi-Use Games Area.
The recommendations from the Executive Advisory Meeting today (February 9th) will go to the Leader of Council to recommend onwards to Full Council which will be held on February 24, where the final decisions will be made.