Please see below, the letter that was sent to TRAC members and the letter that was sent to parish council following the decision by TRAC to dissolve.
You may or may not have seen on our website and social media, that due to unresolvable differences between TRAC and Twyning Parish Council, that the TRAC committee have voted in favour of dissolving TRAC as a charity.
Our constitution states that “If the Executive Committee decides that it is necessary or advisable to dissolve TRAC it shall call a meeting of all members of TRAC, of which not less than twenty one days’ notice (stating the terms of the resolution to be proposed) shall be given. If the proposal is confirmed by a two thirds majority of those present and voting the Executive Committee shall have power to realise any assets held by or on behalf of TRAC.”
Therefore, we feel it is necessary to explain to you, the reasons behind this decision.
When the planning for the new developments in the village was granted, it was made clear that as part of the process of building new developments, the developers have to make funds available to improve the facilities in the area as a result of the new development. This is known as Section 106 funds.
TRAC applied for funds for a number of different projects including resurfacing of the tennis and MUGA courts, refurbishment of the play equipment, levelling of the top field for various sports and recreation, outdoor gym equipment, plus other items such as more bins etc. We were delighted when we were awarded the money to complete all of these projects. This was truly a testament to the amount of work that Lorna and Hilary put into the applications. Since then, the courts have been resurfaced, the play equipment has been refurbished and the top field has been levelled and is ready for use.
In February 2018, we were approached by members of the Twyning Playgroup committee, asking in principle if they could use an area of land next to the TRAC pavilion to build a new building dedicated for the use of playgroup, plus the potential of the provision of using the facility to provide a childcare both before and after playgroup hours. It was agreed in principle by the TRAC committee as long as the opening hours were not outside of the opening hours of the TRAC site and they were offsite before 6pm to allow for when most tennis players turn up for matches. We didn’t feel that we should disrupt the matches of the existing thriving tennis club. There were also concerns raised about safeguarding and the 2 different businesses using the same building.
Playgroup rejected this proposal as the hours were not long enough to make the childcare business a viable proposition.
This was all we heard on this until the work on the top field was nearing completion. Playgroup approached Twyning Parish Council (not including TRAC) about the possibility of using an area of land on the top field. The Parish council were keen to offer this to Playgroup until TRAC found out about it. We were very concerned that such discussions were occurring without our knowledge or input. The Parish Council were well aware of TRACs plans for the top field as they had to review and agree the Section 106 applications. However, it was felt by the TRAC committee that as soon as the potential for that facility was realised, that the Parish Council didn’t want a 3rd party running it and getting the benefit from it, instead it should be them. TRAC, were looking forward to using the proceed from this to further enhance the facility. For example, we were going to build an off-road bike track in the far corner of the site.
It is also worth pointing out that TRAC had concerns about the provision of additional childcare in the form of a private business, because as a charity, we couldn’t be seen to favour one business over another.
When the plans for Brockeridge paddocks were being drawn up, TRAC was approached by the Parish Council with regard to the possibility of a path allowing access to the village through the TRAC site. This is something TRAC said could not happen as the site itself is a no dogs site and inevitably, public from Brockeridge paddocks would want to walk into the village with their dogs. Also, TRAC is not open all day. Therefore, they wouldn’t be able to use that throughfare out of hours. It was proposed by TRAC that the pathway would run along the far edge of TRAC, but the other side of the hedge (so not being on TRAC land), then join up with the existing public footpath that comes out at the end of Kilmore Lane next to the TRAC entrance. TRAC never heard any more about this until the Brockeridge Paddocks development was nearing conclusion and the gate was installed giving Brockeridge paddocks direct access to TRAC. On consultation with some of the residents, TRAC established that this was on the plans when they bought their houses, and in some cases was a major factor in them choosing to purchase the house there. This issue remains and all residents have been told not to use the gate. TRAC have since been accused of putting childrens lives in danger as they have to cross roads where drivers travel too fast as they enter the village. A member of the TRAC committee was subjected to verbal abuse when challenging a member of public who had walked through the gate with their dog.
While all this was going on, we still have to run the site as it is. When the resurfacing of the courts was completed, the contractor advised us that the tarmac that they used, is ideal for ball sports (football, netball etc), but would not last if bikes and scooters were used on it. We therefore took the decision to lock the courts and only allow access to anyone that had hired them. TRAC have since had numerous occasions where younger inhabitants of the village have broken into the courts, either by breaking through the fence or by spending time trying different combinations to the padlock until succeeding. We have also had occasions where the play equipment in the play area was deliberately damaged. The repair cost over £2,000 and is yet to be completed. In all cases, when questioned, approached, we have been met with attitude, denial and generally bad feeling towards us.
When the Covid restrictions started lifting, we carried out a risk assessment of the play area and determined a number of actions to be put in place that would allow us to re-open it. We put in place a restriction on numbers, a requirement to use hand sanitiser before and after use and we also put in place a rota where on a daily basis, a member of TRAC committee will clean down (at their own risk) areas that were determined by the risk assessment to be hot spots, refill hand sanitiser and lock the site for the night.
On the 22nd July 2020, TRAC were asked to meet with 2 different representative of Twyning Parish Council, who were keen to try and resolve the above issues and move to a point where the site could be used to its full potential. This is something TRAC have been trying to do all along. Representatives from Tennis Club, potential football user (Eckington FC) and Playgroup were also in attendance. All parties put forward their thoughts and were asked to submit a proposal of their “ultimate” situation to the Parish Council. TRAC had previously submitted this as part of the Section 106 applications, but the 2 new Parish Council representatives were not party to that as it was before they joined. Plus they wanted some additional information which we needed time to source. It was also mooted that a project manager would then be appointed to decide on what would be the best outcome for the site and then implement it. This basically would render TRAC unnecessary and as a direct result, the Treasurer/Secretary of TRAC resigned with immediate effect.
Following TRAC committee discussions after then, TRAC submitted their proposal to the Parish Council (we were not given a deadline), on the day of the Parish Council meeting (10th August 2020). Our proposal was:
TRAC in principle agree to relinquish their licence for the area of the land directly beyond the pavilion to the edge of the tarmac area (roughly 100 sq M, exact area to be defined) for the provision of use by Twyning Playgroup) only. In return:
• TRAC request that the Parish Council pay them a maintenance fee of at least £3,000 per year, so that they need for membership can be withdrawn, thus making TRAC a non membership site and opening up the site for use by all of the village.
• TRAC will be granted a licence for the top field to run and oversee the area as they deem appropriate for the use of sport and recreational activities and have full say in any decisions as long as they fall within the rules laid out int he TRAC constitution.
At the Parish Council meeting, the use of the top field was discussed and the feeling amongst the Parish Councillors was to go directly to Eckington football club for this coming season. TRAC proposal wasn’t discussed as an option.
It was clear at this point that no matter what TRAC do, the Parish Council were set to take over the site to run as they wanted to. This was effectively the straw that broke the camels back as, after all of the other issues faced, the TRAC committee felt that TRAC was no longer going to be a viable proposition and voted unanimously for the dispersal of TRAC as a committee.
As mentioned at the start of this letter, our constitution requires all member to also vote on this. Due to covid restrictions, getting all members together to have a physical vote will not be possible. Can I ask you therefore to vote by replying directly to me only whether you are in favour of the dispersal of TRAC or not in favour. During the communication of this between the TRAC committee, the 2 Parish Council representatives were included but never commented or voted. On 12th August 2020, when the decision was made, we posted on our website and Facebook the decision and that the TRAC site would therefore close until further notice. On 13th August 2020, we had a phone call from the clerk of the Parish Council asking what was going on and that all they had heard on the matter was the Facebook post. Showing that the 2 Parish Council representatives had not communicated any of this back to the Parish Council. Further illustrating the issues TRAC have with the situation.
The future of the site is likely to be in the hands of the Parish Council if the vote from members is carried.
Wow what a week… The most stressful holiday ever!
There we were only last Monday submitting a proposal to the Parish Council, which we had hoped would be accepted and that we could finally advance with fulfilling plans, that we have had since well before applying for 106 money. And now here we are in the midst of dissolving!
Sadly the only people being affected by this situation are the very people that TRAC were providing a service for and indeed have done for the past 23 years. I’m not sure whether you have received any feedback from the community over the past week, but believe me my phone has not stopped with people asking why we have closed the site and offering solutions on how best to resolve the situation, especially during these strange times that we find ourselves in with the current pandemic.
Unfortunately they are asking the wrong person, as I still don’t understand why the Parish Council are so intent on running the site themselves and it certainly does not appear that they have the best interests of the whole village at heart. As a charity and a group of volunteers, we have worked hard to run and maintain the site to the best of our ability and yes, the top site will hopefully generate more money, but surely that money should just go straight back into the site for further development in the future. Which is exactly what TRAC would intend. We have no hidden agenda.
But what we don’t want to be continually doing, is having to answer to the PC every time a decision is made. We simply want to run the whole site as we see fit.
It is incredible that I have been asked so many times for multiple quotes for work to be carried out at TRAC yet, Eckington Football Club’s proposal, was railroaded through by the PC, without TRAC even being consulted or being made privy to the contents of the proposal or taking into consideration the long term benefit to the site. I don’t know what the PC’s incentive is to maintain control over TRAC, other than simply power. The only way forward is that either TRAC runs the site or the PC does, but there is no point in both doing it.
The fact that during the meeting on Monday night one or more of your councillors did not know the relationship between TRAC and Tennis Club, demonstrates that the PC are making decisions (or Not making decisions) about something they know little about or understand.
This is exactly why we have decided to take a step back.
Now that we are in this situation though, we need to move forward and, unless the PC suddenly realise the impact that their involvement is having and that it is not needed, we need to continue with the legal process of dissolving. Just making a list of all the areas that need addressing… it is not going to be easy task! I feel that the best thing for us to do Gill, is to meet in person and discuss what needs to be done.
We are currently following what is set down in our constitution, but unfortunately this is going to take time to resolve. We have informed our members of our decision and we now need to wait for 21 days before holding a meeting. There seems no point in submitting a letter to forfeit our lease at this point, in case a different vote is taken at that meeting.
In the interim it is a shame that the play area at least cannot be opened and if the PC what to proceed with this we would need to see evidence of :
· The PC carrying out their own Risk Assessment and H&S Assessment of the area
· The PC providing adequate cleaning rota and materials for the play area equipment to ensure Covid compliance
· The PC ensuring that they have relevant insurance cover
· The PC providing adequate cover to open and close the site, in line with TRAC hours of opening
· Ensuring that the equipment is checked on a regular basis
Obviously I am working this week but happy to meet with you at your earliest convenience, so that we can try and move forward.
I look forward to hearing from you