What's going on?
...the transfer of Canolfan Ial - the old school

by Roy Sinclair on 25 July 2017

The following is my best attempt at a summary of the Canolfan Ial transfer situation, based on a study of the last two years' BCC meeting minutes (cited below). If you know this summary to be incorrect or incomplete, I'm sure our readers would welcome your input, especially if you are a member of the BCC or DCC.

In summary:

To summarise the last two years' efforts to transfer ownership of Canolfan Ial to the village without resorting to sarcasm, satire or criticism, is difficult, and I feel the BCC's pain in having to deal with it! You need to read the minutes below to get a full sense of how easily a group of professional firms and government departments can take a relatively straightforward estate-transfer task and turn it into a long, drawn-out comedy of errors ...in my opinion.

The long-and-short of it is that the BCC are doing their best to form a body of trustees with charitable status, in order to become the new owners of Canolfan Ial on behalf of the community, and until that happens, the school is still part-owned by DCC and other parties (not sure who). It makes me angry to think that whilst public swimming sessions were recently cut back for lack of DCC funding, elsewhere public money is being spent on this unnecessarily long process that seems to lack a firm hand on the tiller.

Canolfan Ial - The Old School in Bryneglwys

There follows extracts of all currently published BCC minutes relating to the the transfer of Canolfan Ial...

7th September 2015

Nia explained that the grant funding that was expected from Cadwyn Clwyd wouldn’t be available in September as hoped as the money from Europe hadn’t come through. They were now expecting it in January 2016. The Community Council had registered an interest in their next batch of funding.

7th March 2016

Building conditions survey received from Sian through DCC. It was dated 2006. When the school closed, a structural survey should have been carried out. As this wasn’t done by Denbighshire Council at the time, it was decided to ask DCC if they could carry out a survey in lieu of not doing one at closure.

Nia confirmed that she had contacted a plumber, builder and chimney sweep to sort out the chimney in the school. The plumber has serviced the boiler but couldn’t carry out a complete safety check as the chimney was blocked. It was also decided to ask Mr Allen Davies, electrician for a safety report.

9th May 2016

Structural survey – Sian confirmed that she had contacted DCC, but they have refused to supply one free of charge as they don’t own the property anymore, even though a survey should have been carried out when the school closed.

Councillor Hugh Evans apologised that DCC had refused to carry out a survey as they claim not to own the building any more. Clerk read out an email dated 4th May 2016 from Becky Williams, Principal Chartered Valuation and Estates Surveyor confirming that the final draft transfer for the property should be on its way shortly. This was confirmation that the actual transfer hadn’t been completed.

He went on to say that he would like us to make enquiries as to how much money had been spent by DCC on remedial work when the school ceased and that the property could be transferred in good order. The clerk confirmed that she had sent a list of repairs to Becky Williams but had received a reply informing her that DCC didn’t have any money to carry out the work, even though we had received assurances from them that the building would be handed over in good and fit condition. Stan suggested that we now move on as DCC didn’t have any money, we should now be looking for more grant funding.

Chimney – All the work had now been completed and the builder could now come in to fill the hole and leave a ‘trap door’ on the wall to allow any cleaning in the future.

Llewelyn Jones, Solicitors – Letter informing us that they are actively chasing DCC as they are aware that the Community Council would like to synchronise the transfers.

DI Jones – Invoice for £1,146 for servicing the boiler, lining the chimney, carrying out smoke tests.

6th June 2016

Nia informed councillors that Councillor Hugh Evans had informed us that the Diocese would have been responsible for the survey when it was transferred. (It was pointed out by councillors that as far as we were aware, the transfer hadn’t taken place as we hadn’t been informed) Structural surveys weren’t carried out by DCC when the school closed, only internal inspections. The chimney would have been the responsibility of the Diocese. This comment caused concern. The chimney was so blocked when inspected by the plumber, builder and chimney sweep they confirmed that it had been blocked for a considerable amount of time i.e when the school was open and children present. This could have had serious consequences. All work on the chimney had now been completed. He went on to say that DCC had spent £1,500 on the building in 2014/15 and £2,000 in 2015/16. No confirmation of what this money was spent on.

Copy of Email from Councillor Hugh Evans to Becky Williams at DCC regarding the transfer of the school. It confirmed that the Diocese have been slow and getting information had been difficult. There was draft documentation in place and they would return this and completion should take place shortly.

Llewelyn Jones, Solicitors – Letter received asking for the signatures of the Chair and Clerk re. transferring part of the school to Bryneglwys Community Council. Both the Chair and Clerk noticed that the whole area which belonged to DCC wasn’t on the plan, only the yard to the right of the school i.e from the large white gate down to the fence which borders the park. No buildings shown. Above correspondence was given to Stan upon receipt by clerk and email sent immediately to solicitors querying why the old kitchen and toilets (i.e actual building) were omitted on the transfer documents.

Email received from Llewelyn Jones re. 06/06/16/24. They haven’t heard from Swayne Johnson solicitors since they sent a letter in April. Llewelyn Jones may be able to move Swayne Johnson along with their part of the transfer prior to DCC’s transfer. They also asked if we wanted to complete both actions simultaneously. It was decided to ask the clerk to write to Llewelyn Jones so they could once again contact Swayne Johnson asking what the delay was on their part.

Letter received from Llewelyn Jones – They have received confirmation from Swayne Johnson that the only fees due at this time will be £300 as we have paid other fees directly, and on the basis that if Capital Gains Tax liability is due, the Community Council will be responsible for it as stated in the contract. In the letter they (Swayne Johnson) have also requested that the funds are in place to make payment of Capital Gains if payable. Llewelyn Jones offered to lodge the monies in their client account pending HMRC’s decision.

The contents of this letter [above] was discussed at length and many councillors were against paying the proposed amount of Capital Gains suggested by Swayne Johnson of £16,800 to Llewelyn Jones’ client account, as we have promised this verbally and in writing to the both sets of solicitors IF AT ALL this amount is actually due. Monies for Capital Gains Tax would only be released upon request of HMRC. It was decided to write to Llewelyn Jones to request again what valuation was used by Swayne Johnson to arrive at this amount and what rate of Capital Gains Tax was used to determine this figure, what figure have HMRC given if at all?

Another concern raised was the fact that when Valuer, Dafydd Jones came out two years ago and also valuer, Gwil Williams from Clough & Co the valuations given were on the whole building. It has since come to light that the extended part of the building (old kitchen/toilets) should be separate from the rest of the main building as this is owned by DCC. Following further discussion, it was decided that as a goodwill gesture, we would place 25% of the Capital Gains due (if applicable) in Llewelyn Jones’ client account and the remainder would be paid upon request of HMRC. Clerk to write to Llewelyn Jones confirming these points.

4th July 2016

Nia read the email she had sent to Llewelyn Jones, Solicitors requesting an urgent update on the transfer situation due to the up and coming meeting with the grants department as we could be in a situation that we may lose grant funding. A reply was received informing us that things were moving and they would like to know if both transfers could be completed simultaneously. All agreed that the transfers could be carried out simultaneously if all the contracts were correct and that the part of the school owned by DCC was shown correctly on the maps and that the matter regarding the Capital Gains could be sorted. It was decided to go ahead with a new valuation due to the fact that DCC own part of the school. This wasn’t known at the time of the first valuation. Bryn to contact Gwilym Williams of Clough and Co.

Letter from Llewelyn Jones requesting documentation with signatures for transfer. It was agreed to sign only when the Capital Gains issue had been sorted and that when we know for certain the correct part of ownership of the school had been confirmed by DCC as at present it looked incorrect.

7th November 2016

Buttresses on side of school – Allan Roberts, Builder had been approached about repairing the plasterwork to avoid any further water damage. He will carry out the repairs once the weather improves.

Clerk had told the Solicitors that we were hoping to have finalised the Charity Status application by December so that we could finalise the transfer process.

Fire Extinguishers and Alarms in the school. Clerk to contact Chris Linder of Combitechs Alarms for an estimate to re set the alarm and update the extinguishers.

15th March 2017

Pat Prabhu tabled a question regarding the old school. Sian confirmed that £15k TAP grant funding is available for renovating the old school and that the legal process for the Community Council taking over the ownership of the property is still ongoing.

Charitable Status - Each member of the CC was required to a sign a Charities Commission form to enable them to become a trustee for Canolfan Ial. A 30 page form was required to be completed on-line in order that charitable status could be obtained.

8th May 2017

Trustees Update - Sian is meeting DCC's Head of Service tomorrow regarding the TAP grant. Andrea proposed that available BCC funding is utilised to top up the TAP grant to allow all windows, external doors, gutters and fascia works to be carried out in a single phase. Seconded by Paul and agreed by all.

Charitable Status - The Charity Commission have now responded to the application for charitable status requesting additional information. Sian to respond. The Canolfan lal Trustees who signed the Charity Commission application forms comprise all the previous Community Councillors. It was agreed by all to await the full response from the Charity Commission before altering the names of the Trustees to the newly elected Community Councillors and co-opted members.

5th June 2017

BCC currently holds a Licence to Occupy and once charitable status is granted by the Charity Commission, BCC will be gifted the freehold of the building by the current owners. In the meantime, BCC has been successful in gaining grant aid to [...] commence building works comprising new windows, external doors, fascias, soffits and gutters.

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BCC: Bryneglwys Community Council

DCC: Denbighshire County Council

Cadwyn Clwyd

Cadwyn Clwyd Cyfyngedig is a Rural Development Agency, which provides guidance and support to develop and diversity the rural economy in Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham through European Union funds, UK domestic funds and private sector funds. The Company focuses on actions which stimulate grass-root participation, partnership working and innovation to support projects for rural communities and sector groups. It works directly with local communities to assist in the development and implementation of projects, which benefit the area’s local economy.

TAP Grant

TAP (Town and Parish) grant funding is made available by most county councils to help town and parish councils work more closely for the benefit of their local communities. At the time of writing, I am unable to find anything online that explains this funding relative to DCC.