They’ve only gone and said yes!

Carol Clapperton, SPI’s Chair, tells of a momentous decision for Stanley Halls and the start of the next part of its history…………

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Getting our priorities right. Image: John Watson

Does anyone know where the tea urn went? That’s the burning (or rather boiling) question of the moment.

Why do we need an urn? Well because Croydon Council has said YES.  “You South Norwood folk seem to have your heads screwed on properly, can pull together a business plan and you’ve seen off the competition, so go for it. You can have the lease on Stanley Halls” or something along those lines. If only it was as easy as just picking up the keys. Now we have to spend the next few months negotiating terms and setting up a new charity, but in the meantime, yippee we’ve done it!

We need to start with a public meeting to elect a board for the charity.

Back in March 2011 a group of local residents thought: “surely we can make a better fist of running these public halls than the Council”. By the end of 2011 the Council felt the same and the following summer they started a competitive process for organisations to bid for the lease on the Halls. By the end of 2012 we were the Council’s preferred partner.

Two years on and 153 signed up supporters later we can now say we are now in the position to start a community business to run these Halls as a place for entertainment, community gatherings, education and enterprise.

Back in Spring 2011 the phrase ‘community asset transfer’ was just jargon and something to do with that ‘Big Society’ thingy. To many it may still be jargon, but we have proved that a community can come together and work at something that is really important to us. We will manage Stanley Halls.

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The simple cover doesn’t do justice to the amount of work contained inside.

We don’t take this task lightly. No one is going to spare us an inch just because we are a well-intentioned group of locals.  We still have to have all the financial, legal and governance controls the same as any other business.

The first comment people make to me is nothing to do with the grandeur of the Halls, or our ambitious programme, it is always “what a fantastic group of people”.  We are so proud and fortunate to have an exceptionally skilled and enthusiastic group of local people who want to make this happen; from accountants to project managers, architects  to performers and more. It is the skills of the people that have got us this far and will spur us on.

So, the next milestone is to set up a charitable incorporated organisation. To get ourselves ready to register with the Charities Commission we are now inviting our registered Friends of SPI to nominate and elect a board, the members of which will become the initial charity trustees.

Fancy this? Well, you’ll have to be quick. You will need to register as a Friend by 5pm on 1st July to nominate yourself or to vote at the Special Meeting to be held at 10.30am on Saturday 13th July 2013.  Not only will we elect a board, it will be the first time we can show off the Halls, including all the fascinating nooks and crannies behind the scenes.  Of course you still can come along if you are not a registered Friend.

To make life easier, register as a Friend or nominate for election to the board using the form below.

So, you can see why we need to find the tea urn. Umm, will orange squash suffice instead for potential charity trustees?

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