Thursday 13th June 2013 at 6:00pm – 8:00pm Aldridge Manor Public Discussion Question and answer and action log Present:
Isabel Vanderheeran – Strategic Lead Positive Activities (role as chair/facilitator) Julie Hill – Senior Area Youth Worker Jacky Hodgson - Estates & Asset Management John Morris – Area Partnership Manager Emma Cole – Ops Admin Support Officer - Minutes Becky Robinson – Walsall Council Communications team
Discussion Comment: 1 WELCOME AND FORMALITIES . Isabel Vanderheeren introduced herself as the Strategic Lead for Positive activities/youth work and welcomed all to the meeting. IV thanked all for taking the time to attend the meeting. All observed a 1 minute silence in honour of Councillor Ansell who passed away earlier this month. 2 .
WHY THIS MEETING IS TAKING PLACE AND THE PURPOSE IV explained that the event was organised initially for members and parents of members of Aldridge Manor House in direct response to an enquiry from a parent IV outlined the purpose of the meeting as follow: To provide information on why a decision was made to close Aldridge Manor House. To provide information on the consultation process for the re-provision of youth work in the area following the closure of the Manor House. Provide an opportunity for the community to ask questions and raise concerns. We recognise that there is a need for more involvement of young people and the community in the consultation and therefore a decision has been made to extend the consultation to December 2013
INTRODUCTIONS Introductions of key officers IV pointed out that Becky Robinson from the communications team was going to be tweeting during the course of the meeting – reflecting factual elements of the meeting and Emma Cole was there in a note taking capacity. Notes of the meeting were agreed to be published on the Council’s and positive activities
website. It was also agreed that the notes would be a public document and so community members were free to circulate them to relevant parties or publish on other websites. 5 .
OVERVIEW – IV The decision to close Aldridge Manor House was made by cabinet in April 2011 as part of a wider Council asset review. The cabinet report has been in the public domain since this date and as well as a number of press releases there was also a community question time in February this year where the closure of the Manor House was discussed. Integrated Young People’s Support Services (IYPSS) has gone through a design and modernisation of positive activities/youth work. In light of the redesign the service feels that the building is not ‘fit for purpose’ – not the right type of facilities and not the right type of place. At the moment the Manor House youth centre has only 182 individual members and on average 15 young people attend per session. It is also worth noting that around 71 of the current members do not live in the Aldridge area. (Members of the community said that more should be done to promote the centre throughout Aldridge as many people have said they did not know about it. Youth workers said they do promote the centre in schools and in other places throughout the community.) Expensive to run – including the use of youth work resources to manage the building. Needs upgrading (e.g. disability access) and therefore significant investment is needed. IV stated it was important to note that we are closing Aldridge Manor House, but we are committed to continue the youth provision and we might be able to deliver more activities with young people through freeing up valuable youth workers time if they are not having to manage a big site.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS Following questions were covered throughout the meeting. Q 1. Why wasn’t this meeting advertised more widely within Aldridge? Only one week’s notice of meeting? A. This meeting was convened as a direct conversation with a parent who had concerns regarding youth provisions in Aldridge and therefore a smaller number of attendances were anticipated. Q 2. Could a further event be held in order to allow the community of Aldridge to have their say about the future of Aldridge Manor House and Youth Provisions in the area? A. It was agreed to look at options to arrange a further consultation that would suit parents/members of the community. It was agreed to give people at least 4 weeks’ notice and all efforts would be made to widely advertise the meeting both by social media as well as posters/flyers. It was also agreed to arrange the meeting at Aldridge Youth Theatre and have a sound system in place. Q3. Can we have an agenda for the next event?
A. IV – confirmed that this will be arranged. Q 4 Why was a decision made to close the building. A. Jackie Hodgson, from the asset management team, explained that the decision was made as part of a property review programme that commenced in 2010. It is aiming to make more efficient use of property assets and ensure that the Council’s buildings are fit for purpose and in the right place. Aldridge Manor House is one of 24, primarily office buildings that Cabinet agreed to close. Since April 2011 office based staff at Aldridge Manor House have been relocated and most of the building is now vacant. Aldridge Manor House is a listed building and therefore incurs higher maintenance costs. If it were to remain open resources would need to be found to deal with backlog maintenance and for improvements to address issues like access for people with disabilities and energy efficiency measures. Q 5 What would be the saving from closure of the Manor House and what capital receipt is the council excepting to get? A. The annual running costs incurred by IYPSS are currently £18000, this does not included cleaning/caretaking costs. Other costs (e.g. compliance with statutory premises management requirements) have been centralised. Full costs can be confirmed at a later date. The cabinet report dated April 2011 sets out an estimated capital receipt of £1,000,000. Q 6 Where will the money gained from selling of the building go? A. Any capital receipt from the sale of the building would be available for reinvestment by the Council. The Council’s capital programme is agreed by the Cabinet. The programme for 2013/14 is explained in the Corporate Budget Plan and Treasury Management and Investment Strategy 2013/14 which is available to download at: http://cms.walsall.gov.uk/corporate_budget_plan_and_treasury_management_and_inves tment_strategy_2013_to_2014-2.pdf The following concerns from the members of the community were noted: o Not sure how much it will sell for, money will go to council property management pot, not necessarily spent back in Aldridge. Public stated that money may go towards making flats/property rather than the money being plied back into the community. o
I believe that the money will be spent on building new houses, I do not believe the council are investing in Aldridge
Q7. Couldn’t voluntary members of staff help to run the youth provisions at Aldridge Manor House to help keep staffing costs down and use money saved to invest in Aldridge Manor House? A. IV – Aldridge Manor House already uses volunteers in the running of youth work provision. Not sure where the saving would come from as the paid staffing is currently already to a minimum level of two full time workers for the whole of the area partnership with some part time and volunteer support. There would still be the need for some significant investment to bring the building up to standard including Disability Access to the second and third floor. Q8. I only heard about Aldridge Youth Centre through my husband who attended as a child. Why is the youth provision not advertised enough?
A. Julie Hill stated that the youth workers do regular visits to schools and advertise Youth Provisions as well as work with young people to spread word of mouth. But the advertisement has not led to a significant increase in numbers. IV stated that as a service we need to work with the current members to ensure that the new provision in the area meets their needs and expectations as well as with young people who are not accessing the current provision to understand barriers and to ensure that the new provision is attractive and accessible. Q9. There are budget reductions everywhere not just Aldridge. Are the budget reductions based on the numbers of young people attending and would the Council be able to manage if more children wanted to attend Youth Provisions? A. The previous budget/staffing reduction within IYPSS has not been based on the numbers of young people accessing each of the centres. The redesign has been based on giving each Area Partnership an equal level of staffing resources. This staffing resource is giving us an opportunity to provide Centre based provision, detached youth work provision and holiday provision. Following the closure of the Manor House, IYPSS is committed to provide at least the same amount of centre based provision for young people in the area. We are currently exploring where this will be based, options being explored so far include community centre, church, school and shop. Q10. Will the provision be replaced with more vans and pop up youth centres? A. No, we are committed to giving young people an equal amount of centre based provision as they currently have. We do have detached youth workers already in the area and they make use of the mobile buses (vans) to engage young people who meet in parks, around shops, etc in positive activities. This resource is deployed in areas where there is an issue around anti social behaviour. This provision is already in place and we are not looking to change this. Pop up youth centre is something that we have explored borough wide and has been supported by young people borough wide. Again this would be in addition to what we are already providing and not a replacement of our current provision. Q11. Do you think a bus can replace a building? A. Not at all. We are committed to relocating the current youth provision from the manor to another venue. Different options are being explored e.g. community centre. Q12. Itâ€™s been two years since you knew the building would be closing, why havenâ€™t things been put in place sooner? A. We do recognise that we should have consulted with young people and communities at an earlier stage. However Julie Hill has been working really hard behind the scenes to find suitable alternatives and this is ongoing before starting consultation with young people on the options available. Examples of this are: The community centre which has Tuesdays available, but would only be able to accommodate the junior provision. We have also looked at vacant properties. Motor Project run at the garage, this will not be lost in talks with museum offering to use their work space. Aldridge Youth Theatre and Aldridge Airport provision have also been looked at as alternative but deemed not suitable due to the lack of space at the Theatre and lighting issue at the Airport.
An option could be considered to use Aldridge Airport just for summer provision and find alternative accommodation during the winter â€“ this will be taken forward as part of exploring the options. Closure of Aldridge Manor House has been extended until December 2013 so this will give us some more time to secure suitable locations. Q13. What have you done with previous budgets, why have they not been used to invest in the building rather then run the building into the ground? A. There has been investment in Aldridge. In terms of the building, revenue resources for building maintenance are limited and as a result the majority of spend is made on a reactive basis, dealing with urgent issues to keep buildings open. There are a number of buildings with significant maintenance backlogs. Overall the current portfolio is unsustainable and the asset base needs to be reduced. Q14. Couldnâ€™t Council invest in the property rather than selling it? A. The long term costs are too high and in the light of the current economic climate there will not be the ongoing budget to keep investing in the building. IV stated that in order for youth provision to continue in the area for the foreseeable future we need to prioritise staffing and lose Aldridge Manor House and relocate the Youth Provision to a more suitable location. Q15. The priority since April 2011 should have been where to move Youth Provisions, why are you only addressing this issue now? A. As previously mentioned there has been ongoing work to try and find alternative accommodation for the Youth Work Provision but we do recognise that the community and young people should have been involved at an earlier stage to help us to indentify suitable solutions. Q16. What about the effects on older members who live in the community? How will the closure of the centre be managed? Will there be a empty building that attracts crime and who will take over the site and what could be the future use of this? A. Following closure, steps will be taken to ensure that the buildings and site are secure and that Aldridge Manor House does not attract anti-social behaviour. It is likely that guardians will be used (as they were at Baytree House) to maintain a presence on site 24/7. The method and timing of sale has yet to be agreed. Any change of use will require planning permission and will need to go through the usual planning consultation process. Any proposal will need to have regard to the Listed Building status and location of the site within a Conservation Area. Q17. Canâ€™t we apply for funding to refurbish Aldridge Manor House in the same way as there was funding for the build of Myplace Youth centre in the Delves area? A. Myplace was a specific funding steam through the previous Government in partnership with Big Lottery and had specific criteria attached to it. We were extremely lucky to benefit from this money in Walsall. There has not been any external funding available for the last two years. Funding often has specific criteria attached and there have been no funding steams available for Aldridge.
Q18. Couldn’t some of the space at Aldridge Manor House be rented out in order to raise money to keep it open? A. It is not ‘fit for purpose’ and therefore this would not be an option. Q19. What about the use of sec 106 money. Can it be spent on Youth Provisions? A. Some councils have succeeded in negotiating section 106 contributions for the provision of community facilities. However more recently developers have been able to argue that, due to falling house prices, the imposition of section 106 contributions will make their proposed developments unviable. First priority for any section 106 negotiated is affordable housing and then additional school places. Q20. The local church is looking at refurbishment/ new build. The Church runs a well attended youth club session. Is there any consideration for some partnership working investing some of the capital receipt in to the church for a joined youth Centre? A. This has been a consideration as part of the options analysis. However the provision of any capital contribution would need Cabinet approval. A concern from a community member that a church might not be a suitable venue for everyone. Some community members also felt that they would not want to see public money invested in a church building as the church has their own budget available and should be drawing on that.
Q21 What consultation has been done with young people so far on the re-location of provision? One of the young people present at the meeting stated that consultation had taken place with all current youth club members. There was a strong feeling that they wanted their own space similar to what is available from the Manor House. Young people want a permanent base and they were against the notion of a pop up provision or the use of a shop front in the area as an alternative. Julie Hill highlighted that further consultation is being planned in schools and at a number of community events including the community fun day on the 13th July. . Q 22. Could it not be part of the agreement of the sale that whoever the buyer is has to refurbish Aldridge Manor House for use of the community? A. Sale of part of the site to enable refurbishment of the Listed Building or a sale and lease back have been considered but neither option is considered financially viable. Q 23. Is the closure of Aldridge Manor House a step in the direction of cutting Youth Provisions altogether in Aldridge? A. The reason for selling Aldridge Manor does not affect the Youth Provision in the area, we still want the provision to be available and we are doing everything we can to find alternative premises. There is a commitment to provide at least the same level of service provision in the area as currently provided from the Manor House. Q 24. Can’t they keep part of the building (e.g. the hall) and sell the rest of the site? A It would not be viable to refurbish the hall. Consideration has been given to the provision of a smaller new build facility on the site but the sale of the Listed Building would not generate sufficient capital to pay for this.
Q 25. When Aldridge Manor House goes up for sale will it be advertised widely? A. Yes it will be advertised publicly.
Q 26. Councillor please take on board that the public want to keep Aldridge Manor House, can the decision to sell be reversed? A. A Cabinet resolution would be required to alter the decision made in April 2011 Q 27. Can the minutes of this meeting be published on Aldridge Residents Website? A. Yes the minutes of the meeting will be a public document. An option was put forward to explore potential partnership with the Thomas project –a charity who is seeking to secure a building in the area for the use of ‘music sharing’ and a clothes and food-bank. Staff from the project have currently identified a large unit in the area with a 5 year lease. This can be explored further as part of the options and will involve discussions with young people. One of the young people made a number of comments: Shop fronts YP’s are against this. George’s Music shop closed – rent cheap/parking. ASB has decreased since youth prov open, need to consider a potential increase when the Manor closes. Other funding options besides lottery could be explored Young People don’t like pop ups. Young People are providing a very good/high standards service. Staff and volunteers are up to scratch even if the building isn’t.
UNANSWERED QUESTION FROM THE MEETING The following questions were asked by a community member, but were not answered at the meeting. Answers were formulated after the meeting: Q. Has there been an impact assessment? A. The impact of the office rationalisation programme has been assessed. There will be a further impact assessment, specific to changes in the provision of positive activities from Aldridge Manor House, which will be shared with young people and the community on completion of the consultation exercise. Q. Who made the decisions that Aldridge Manor House is to be sold? The sale of Aldridge Manor House was a Cabinet Decision. Cabinet members were consulted on the proposals informally prior to April 2011. The rationalisation programme was also subject to review by the Regeneration Scrutiny and Performance Panel in July and September 2010 and January 2011. The panel endorsed the recommendations agreed by Cabinet in April 2011. Q. What consultation has taken place regarding the closure of the building? A. It is not the Council’s custom or practice to consult on the closure of buildings.
Consultation is about changes to the services provided to residents. Q. What will happen to fixture/fitting? A. Fixtures and fittings will be reused locally or at other IYPSS centres. Surplus equipment or furniture is often offered to voluntary sector organisations/charities. Q Will there be an opportunity for young people to access courses from the new provision e.g. food and hygiene? A. Yes these opportunities will be built into the programme as it is now. There will be no reduction in service provision. Q How many young people fit in a van? A. As stated at the meeting the use of detached youth work is already in place as part of the current provision and this will not be increasing to replace the centre based provision. The provision from the Manor House will be relocated to a different venue. Q. Do we know if there is any restriction in the deeds around sale of the building? Can we see a copy of the deeds A. There are no restrictions in the deeds that govern the terms of any future use or sale. The deeds are available for inspection during normal office hours by prior appointment with asset management. Contact: Elaine Hough 01922 652658.
CLOSING Attendee advised to specify on signing in sheet as to whether they wish to be informed of future meetings or wish to be part of future meetings? IV â€“ Thanked all for their attendance and contribution to the meeting. Future date to be confirmed.
MEETING CLOSED â€“ 8:20PM