Rush to set up charity after hitch in hall sell-off

Rush to set up charity after hitch in hall sell-off

A PROPOSED sell-off of Gomersal Public Hall hit a snag when the terms of a covenant were revealed.

Kirklees Council said that the historic Oxford Road building faced closure unless a group took it over through an ‘asset transfer’.

But it emerged that the authority runs the hall as a charitable trustee on behalf of residents.

It means the council would only be able to pass the premises on to another charity, rather than to just any local group.

Details were revealed when councillors Lisa Holmes and David Hall checked for covenants.

As a result, moves were made last Sunday to form a charitable trust that could take over should Kirklees insist on a hand-over.

Coun Holmes (Con, Liversedge and Gomersal) said: “We can’t wait any longer for the council to get its act together.

“We now know the building can’t just be transferred to a local group as we were originally told.

“The running of it must pass to a charitable body and we’d like to set up such a body.

“But we’re still waiting for Kirklees Council to provide up-to-date and accurate information, months after it was first requested.”

Coun Holmes cited as an example the most recent building survey, which is nine years old.

She added: “This is of little use to us. It’s clearly time to say enough is enough and push forward with a more effective approach.”

Residents Erica Allen and Michelle Grainger-Mead were elected as co-chairmen of the Save Gomersal Public Hall group.

More meetings will be held to create a business plan for a bid for charitable trust status.

Anyone who has commercial, legal or building surveying skills is welcome to attend.

Coun Hall (Con, Liversedge and Gomersal) said: “The timescale is extremely tight, so speed is now of the essence.

“It would be a disaster for the village if the hall were to close, so we’ll try our utmost to stop that happening.”

Anyone with expertise to offer can call Coun Holmes on 07922 242370 or Coun Hall on 01924 525417.

 

Council: ‘We want a good outcome’



COUNCIL chiefs insist they own Gomersal Public Hall, despite what it is claimed a covenant states.

Kirklees is the charitable trustee – which led to suggestions that residents are the real owners and the authority merely the guardians.

Tory councillors Lisa Holmes and David Hall accused Kirklees of a “blunder” in trying to sell it off.

Officials said the public hall, built in 1851 as a mechanics institute, passed to them from predecessor councils.

A spokesman said: “The situation with charitable trusts and land ownership can be confusing.

“But we are clear in this case that the council does own Gomersal Public Hall and has done since 1936.

“The council is also registered as the proprietor of the hall at the Land Registry.”

He added decisions must comply with the Charities Acts and the terms of the charitable trust which runs the hall.

The spokesman said: “We all want to secure a good outcome for the future of the hall.

“Officers are continuing to work with local ward councillors and residents to ensure that the hall has a viable future.”

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