The Toilet Project at St Andrew’s(July 23, 2017)
At the last PCC meeting (5 July), the PCC unanimously voted to cease seeking funding for the toilet/boiler /storage project. This was a difficult decision for all concerned but taken to safeguard the future of the Church.
The project commenced in 2012. At which time we had secured the promise of appropriate funding for the scheme. However, we came up against the Diocesan Advisory Committee, Historic Churches and the conservation officer at TDC. None of whom were supportive of what we were seeking to do. We took on board their concerns, revised the scheme, obtained copious additional reports as requested and eventually in 2016 we were at long last given permission to go ahead.
Our architect tendered the construction works and we selected a local contractor and agreed that the works could commence as soon as the funding monies were formally confirmed. We submitted the requested paperwork and were then advised that in the intervening period there had been some rule changes and the grant funders were no longer able to provide the substantial proportion of the cost that was originally promised. In fact it was even worse, our application was declined and we were invited to resubmit. We did so for the lesser amount they were prepared to offer whilst approaching other bodies. The Parish Council were prepared to assist with a modest sum, for which we thank them, one other body agreed to provide £10,000 subject to matched funding being put forward. All of the other bodies approached declined our applications, including the Lottery Fund. The final blow was when the original grant funders turned down our futher application and invited us to try again as part of the next funding round. So 12 months after obtaining all of the Church consents we were no further forward in securing the necessary funding to be able to implement our plans and faced a significant funding shortfall.
As a church we have some deposit reserves and some investment monies, although a greater proportion of these are restricted (ie can only be used for the purpose for which they were given eg churchyard maintenance, etc). What is available for general use can perhaps best be described as our rainy day emergency money. We debated using this but as we are custodians of the Church with trustee responsibilities we had to question whether using these monies for the toilet project was financially prudent.
Our treasurer has analysed our income and expenditure over the past 5 years and the clear trend is falling income overall with rising expenditure. In particular the Common Fund (a levy levelled by the Diocese towards the costs of present and retired clergy) has doubled and now currently stands at £16,000 p.a. Add in the all other unavoidable expenditure such as, the church annual insurances (circa £4,000), the utility costs and other unavoidable expenditure and the forward projected financial position is extremely challenging that couldn't support a major capital project or any additional recurring costs.
The PCC considered all of this financial information in detail and concurred that it would be imprudent to go forward with the project as a whole and the project should be regrettably brought to a close.
Of the monies raised to date for the project, two thirds has already been spent on architects and other professional services fees in undertaking the required surveys and issuing reports to the DAC and paying the fees for the Church and building consents. The PCC also unanimously agreed that the remaining balance of the Toilet Fund should be utilised to provide the new heating boiler that was part of the original scheme. The aim is to progress this as quickly as possible so that with the on set of winter we will have that in place.