Village Hall Background – PCDT Formation

There have been a number of allegations and some mis-information circulating about the formation of PCDT. This page gives the background of events leading to the formation of PCDT up to the submission of our application for transfer of Portpatrick Village hall into community ownership.

D&G Council have threatened closure of the Portpatrick Village hall over the past few years.

This is true. In November 2015 D&G Council called a public meeting to intimate that the Council sought interest from the Community for the management or asset transfer of the Village Hall.  Portpatrick Community Council organised two further pubic meeting to discuss the Hall. (26th January 2016 and 29th March 2017).

Since November 2015 D&G Council have been seeking an agreement with a community-based group to run the hall on either an operational lease basis or as a full community asset transfer. 26th January 2016 PCC called public meeting to discuss the way forward. There was no public support for taking over the Hall. at any of these meetings. The objections raised included:

  • The hall was the responsibility of D&G Council and the community did not have the resources.
  • There are ongoing issues with the title and it cannot be transferred.
  • The hall is a liability, it loses money and the community should not be burdened with it.
  • No groups have come forward.

D&G Council will not shut Portpatrick Hall

We believe that this is untrue. On 20th October 2016 Communities Committee of D&G Council rejected Portpatrick Community Council request for additional time to come up with a solution for the Hall. Although this decision was successfully overturned the hall remains a liability for D&G Council and runs at a loss.

There is community support for retaining the Hall

This is true. Both PCC and Mr Tommy Monteith as a community volunteer started community petitions to “Save the Hall” in November 2016. This resulted in a small group of individuals coming forward to offer to reduce D&G costs by taking over Hall keeper activities. This small group of individuals were not a constituted organisation, meaning that they were unable to enter into a contract with Council .

PCC offered to host the contract as an interim measure.

D&G council agreed on the understanding that this indeed was an interim measure and that work towards forming an entity capable of taking on either an operational lease or a full community asset transfer would be undertaken.

What did Portpatrick Community Council actually do.

PCC initially sought support from 3rd sector D&G to help with community consultation and obtain professional help with the legal aspects of taking over the Hall, while protecting Community interest.  Full community consulation support from 3rd Sector D&G was too expensive and PCC decided not to pursue this. 

The hall group then sought help from an independent consultant “Here for Growth” , this was at much lower cost and was paid for by PCC. At this time PCC also (unsuccessfully) sought engagement with the business community of Portpatrick.

The hall group

In 1 July 2017 a small group of volunteers took on hall keeper duties as a temporary arrangement and proceed to take the bookings, open and close and clean the hall. We also started interior decoration. The operation of the agreement was reviewed by D&G Council every 6 months.  By November 2018.  D&G Council, intimated that this arrangement with Portpatrick was a special case and that all other community halls were being transferred as management leases or asset transfers and that they would like to see the same situation with Portpatrick Hall as of early 2019.

Following the “Here for Growth” Report. The hall group sent out an enquiry to OSCR (the Scottish Charity Regulator) about the possibility of setting-up a Community based organisation specifically for community asset transfer of the hall but the advice given was that there was a need for sound business plan and and community development plan to form a prospectus for community ownership of the Hall. They directed us to “DTAS”.  The Development Trust Association of Scotland.

DTAS advised that a Company Limited by Guarantee was the most suitable vehicle, at this stage, as this could set up by a small group and developed over a period. This was the route we took. A company could form the legal basis of a Community Trust or be converted to a SCIO or other forms of organisation at a later stage. As the hall group had neither the capacity nor capability to produce the prospectus at that stage , we worked on the company model, with the aim of attracting community support and building the resource base of PCDT.

In preparation for the year end review of the arrangements by D&G Council, the hall group worked on a proposed structure. The proposal for a structure was announced at the PCC meeting of 11th September 2018. The same questions about he hall were raised, regards title and capacity.

The group then registered a legal vehicle at Companies House (Registration number No. SC 611849) on 25th October in readiness to form the required entity by the year end if this was going to be needed. The idea was to demonstrate some sort of progress and to assure D&G Council that the community were moving in the right direction.

Who was involved?

The hall group comprised David Telford, Gordon McKee, Donald MacDonald from Portpatrick Community Council with Heather Telford, Tommy Monteith and John Ansell as community volunteers. There was also fourth member from PCC who is currently serving on Portpatrick Community Council. The composition of the Hall group is a matter of public record as was reported in the Note for the Record for the PCC meeting on the 4th June 2017. However, the currently serving member has asked it be noted that they subsequently resigned from the group in late 2019 and that their name be removed from this page as they do not agree the content.

There was some disagreement.

All of the hall group were aware of the terms of reference and need to form an entity and move forward, however disagreement on the possible ways forward led to a split in the PCC members. Not all PCC members believed that there was any urgency due time limited nature of the agreement with the D&G council. At this time David Telford stood down as chair of PCC to concentrate on the consultation and planning process, passing the chair to the then vice chair of PCC to handle things from the PCC perspective. The remaining members of the hall group decided to move to establish the framework to form a Community Trust.

This then led to a group in PCC actively opposing the hall group as is recorded in the various minutes of PCC .

How PCDT was formed

Under our constitution the founding members may not conduct any business other than to ensure the admission of sufficient members to ensure the minimum membership requirements are met. This we did between October 2018 when the company was formed and March 2019 when the first meeting of members was held. See minutes. At that meeting the members agreed to put in a stage 1 Expression of Interest in the Village Hall to prevent immediate closure.

On the  26th March 2019. Two resolutions were unanimously agreed.

  1. To formally adopt the Articles of Association and so bring PCDT into being as a Community Development Trust.
  2. To form a Management Group and submit a stage 1 Expression of Interest to Dumfries and Galloway Council with respect to Portpatrick Village Hall.

It was most certainly not a bid for the Hall.

About the Portpatrick Harbour Benefit Society

PHCBS are a registered charity and have been set up as a community benefit society. In this case the community is a community of interest. That interest being community ownership and operation of Portpatrick Harbour PCDT are very much in support of all community enterprise including PHCBS and would applaud the organisation for all the great work that they have done for the community around the harbour.

However, unfortunately, PHCBS decided not to engage with the PCDT initiative and not support the bid and rapidly moved to put in a rival stage 1 EoI which the submitted on 8th May 2019 and thereafter moved very quickly to a full stage 2 Community Asset transfer request. This was validated by D&G Council on the 7th July 2019. – PHCBS Application was rejected by the Council and they proceeded to appeal to the Scottish Ministers. This appeal was also rejected.

You can read the detail of the reporters findings here.

PCDT’s application for CAT

PCDT considered if it should proceed to a stage 2 application. By this time we had the support of our community members and it was decided to go ahead with consultations and to develop a credible business plan for the hall. PCDT would have liked more time to do this but due to the desire of D&G Council to consider both applications together the PCDT’s stage 2 application was submitted and validated on the 1st August 2019. We did not proceed to appeal.

Events following failed CAT bids.

PCDT has been formed with a wide range of objectives and following the above events PCDT continued to pursue it’s objectives.

Activities included running the “Gaitherin Place” and working with the “Rocking the Port Group”.

In January 2022 D&G asked for Expressions of Interest (EoI) for managing the Village Hall, until such times as a viable community assert plan could be considered. PCDT put in an EoI and followed this up with a an outline business case.

This was independently evaluated and resulted in PCDT(SCIO) being offered a 3 year management lease starting January 2023. This is the current position.