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7 June 2011 - Presentation & Proposal

Page updated - 29 August 2011


This is a more detailed version of the Presentation & Proposal given by Tony Harman at the meeting on 7 June 2011.


I have been the Caretaker at Wells Hall Old School (WHOS) for just over 5 years and was recently elected to be a Parish Councillor for Great Cornard. Neither of the posts are prejudicial to the campaign to explore the viability of retaining WHOS as a Community Facility. The reason for my involvement is that I have been a resident of Great Cornard for over 25 years and know how vital WHOS has been, and should continue to be, to our Community.


Over the last few weeks, and indeed over many years, there has been much misinformation & disinformation – some may wish to use stronger words - regarding the false rumours of the 'imminent' closure of WHOS.


I always try to work with the facts and not the fiction; also with the important and not the emotive.


Currently, WHOS is NOT shutting in the next few days or weeks; if fact Booking Forms have been sent out to book the facility to end of this year.


BUT, the continuation of WHOS as a versatile Community facility is under threat.




A very brief history of WHOS, as I believe it to be, is the original buildings of the Front Hall, Back Hall & Toilet Block were built in 1875. Initially it was the only school in Great Cornard and remained so for nearly 100 years and then became a Community facility. Currently it is owned & managed by Suffolk County Council (SCC).


I believe, that recently, the whole facility has been grossly under-used. I believe that there are many different reasons for this but it would be a waste of time to debate these at this stage. However the ‘history’ needs to be borne in mind so that the same mistakes are not repeated.




I have spoken with several of the current users. For all the right reasons, they wish to continue using the facility.


Also I have spoken with a few potential users, who have expressed enthusiasm to use the facility. One of them could be a major user.


I have received numerous words of encouragement regarding keeping WHOS open, but it must be a viable facility.


Click the hyperlink to reader the Letter from Paul Press




So what of the future?


Already I have received several offers to assist with the management aspect of running the facility.


I have also received POSITIVE offers of REAL help with running the site. These are for several specific aspects of repair & maintenance.


All these unsolicited offers are from residents in the village and I haven’t even started exploring ALL the possibilities . . . YET.




So what do we need to do? 


An emotional feeling of ‘nice’ to keep WHOS open is a bad reason to do so.


It has to be viable; we must have a BUSINESS PLAN.


With the minutes of the previous meeting was a version of 2009/2010 Financials for WHOS. Sadly, I feel, these lack detail, relevance, context & accuracy. To expand on my criticism, apart from the cost of Electricity being a seemingly astronomical £5,599, a detailed breakdown of the usage throughout the year would be very helpful.


To include the costs for photocopying (£2,694), postage (£303), telephones (£3,477) and, possibly, cleaning (£9,386) is irrelevant if the site were to be run by a Community Management Group as a Community facility.


One would expect that the cost for Building Maintenance (£7,421) for 2009/2010 would rise in the following year. However the projected figure for 2010/2011 is a nice fat round ZERO - hence £7,421, as a figure for just one year, is obviously out of context.


The cost of the Caretaker for 2009/2010 is stated as £1,475. The projected cost for 2010/2011 is £2,590. The ACTUAL COST, gross pay before any stoppages, for 2010/2011 was £949.20. I know that £949.20, and not £2,590, is correct because I AM THE CARETAKER.


This is why I was critical of the Financial figures that accompanied the previous minutes.




We must have accurate & detailed financials, any legal constraints & operating guidelines applicable to the site so that we can formulate a Business Plan.


I believe that WHOS is viable as a Community Facility but this will only be proven with full details in our Business Plan.


I received one email that stated 'it will be brave people who take on the running of WHOS'. Only in the fullness of time will we know whether 'Brave People', 'Dogged Determination' or 'Crass Stupidity' was the correct term to use.




I proposed that I continue to lead the process of collecting information and formulating a Business Plan. Also to arrange meetings of interested parties and to form a Community Management Group. Meantime, I keep all interested parties informed of further developments mainly via this website.


Remember – 'When it’s gone, it’s gone'.



This concluded the presentation apart from a few questions from those at the meeting.


During the remainder of the meeting SCC proposed two options that seemed to be centred around closing & selling the WHOS site. Neither of these options were acceptable to those, at the meeting, representing the users of WHOS. Nor were they acceptable to a number of the residents who also attended the public meeting. This resulted in a proposal that a number of the users and interested residents would explore the option to keep WHOS as a Community facility but running the site by a Community Management Group.




Just some further points from me:


All offers of help are very welcome, just let me know what you can, and would, contribute. No involvement should be too arduous.


I firmly believe that the future of WHOS as a Community facility is important. I also believe that a few well-chosen members of the Community should be able to manage & run the site. However these people need to make a positive input. We do not need nor will I tolerate passengers.


If you ‘offer a service’, expect to be contacted. I have a strong sense of 'delegation' when delegation is applicable.


Please do not forget to keep up-to-date with the progress by visiting my website – www.cornard.info - and follow the WHOS hyperlink to the WHOS Index page.


By clicking the hyperlink you can email me and send me your ideas, suggestions and any offers of help. Please do not hesitate in emailing as I really want to know your views on WHOS.


Very best regards,


Tony Harman

11 June 2011