A community group has organised a ‘rally of support’ to be staged outside a derelict chapel in the Moorlands. The ‘Kingsley Holt Centre’ group will be outside the Kingsley Holt Methodist Chapel on Saturday (February 12) in a bid to gain further support for their aim of acquiring the building which the Staffordshire Moorlands Methodist Circuit is set to put up for sale very soon.
A community group has organised a ‘rally of support’ to be staged outside a derelict chapel in the Moorlands.
The ‘Kingsley Holt Centre’ group will be outside the Kingsley Holt Methodist Chapel on Saturday (February 12) in a bid to gain further support for their aim of acquiring the building which the Staffordshire Moorlands Methodist Circuit is set to put up for sale very soon.
In an open statement, a representative of the Kingsley Holt Centre group said: “Methodist Church appears set on turning their back on the community of Kingsley Holt.
“After many attempts over the past months Kingsley Holt Centre, a not-for-profit Community Benefit Society set up by the village community have been unable to negotiate with the Methodist Church in trying to reopen or purchase the Chapel buildings for community use.
“Martin Wheeler spokesperson for Kingsley Holt Centre said, despite repeated offers to work together in partnership with the Methodist Church we have learnt that Staffordshire Moorlands Circuit plan to press ahead and start marketing the property for sale before the end of the ACV moratorium period.
“We are incredibly disappointed as we had hoped that by offering to work together, we could have found a solution that would have been of benefit to both parties. This building is an asset to the community and as such needs to be protected, unfortunately the Localism legislation doesn’t do this, it only buys time for interested parties to raise funds.
“Setting up a suitable legal body, achieving recognised status, raising funds, opening a bank account, collecting statistics, all while trying to negotiate, in six months is a mammoth task especially in the current environment, but we are determined to press on. We will soon be launching a share issue to help raise the funds needed to try and buy the Chapel, please if you can, show your support by investing in this project. You will be able to buy shares and become a member, donate and or be a volunteer, please help us in any way you can.
“This is a situation we would have preferred to avoid and is exactly why we offered to work with the current owners. Should the property be sold on the open market at this stage there will potentially be only one winner. In view of the social use made for over 50 years, and the thousands of pounds in financial support made by the village developing and supporting its wider social use, we had hoped for a more charitable approach to selling. We had hoped for some recognition and acknowledgment of the contribution made to this asset by the village over the past 80 plus years.
“This is a public appeal to the local Methodist Church Circuit. Staffordshire Moorlands Circuit please reconsider selling this asset for the “best price,” consider finding a way of helping the community that has helped support and develop this asset. Other options are available within your organisation and have been used in similar situations, please think again.
“We want this Chapel Building to continue to be at the heart of our community available to and providing support for all including the Methodist Church. We have made this offer in the hope that we could avoid the unnecessary expense and risk of the building being sold on the open market, we have offered to help with maintenance and modernisation costs. We are trying to do the right thing to help our community. We want to save this asset, develop it and ensure it continues to support and serve its community well into the future.
“If you believe in helping your community please help, please show your support in any and every way you can. You can find more information on our Kingsley Holt Centre Facebook page.
“We are holding a rally of support on Saturday, February 12 at 11am outside the Chapel in Kingsley Holt, please come along and join us in trying to save this essential part of our village life.
“The Chapel has been used over many years for activities such as Christmas Fayre, children’s parties, parent and toddler, Rainbows, first aid courses, coffee knit and natter groups, polling station, committee meetings both village and parish and many more. Used every week until Covid closure and the refusal of the Methodist Church to reopen in 2021.”
Anyone interested in supporting Kingsley Holt Centre can visit the group’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Kingsley-Holt-Centre, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 07443 397522.
Response from the Methodist Circuit
The Times & Echo contacted the Staffordshire Moorlands Circuit Leadership Team for a response to the open statement from the Kingsley Holt Centre group.
In response, a spokesman for the Staffordshire Moorlands Methodist Trustees said: “The managing trustees of the former Kingsley Holt Chapel have arranged meetings with representatives of the local community.
“On each occasion the trustees explained the constraints they were working under by virtue of Charity Law and Methodist Law and Policy. Specifically, together these require the trustees to obtain the best price on disposal of the property.
“The community have under the Localism Act registered the property as an Asset of Community Value and under the legislation a moratorium period of six months has ensued. This expires on April 13, 2022.
“The community group have always been very clear that the legislation provides them a right to bid and not a right to buy.
“Originally the property was to be sold at auction. As explained to the community representatives the advice is to sell the property by private treaty. The community group were informed of this and were grateful as they considered that this helped their position.
“In connection with this, as advised to the community group representatives in a recent meeting, the trustees will begin marketing the property at the end of February, as they are entitled to, as the end of the moratorium period approaches.
“The trustees have no recollection of any offer in respect of maintenance and modernisation costs.
“The representatives of the community did ask the trustees to consider the possibility of leasing the premises and at short notice a rental valuation was obtained and submitted but the community group indicated that they would not want this pursuing further.
“The church closed some years ago. The disposal of these premises is a result of that closure given the ongoing costs to the trustees of insurance and necessary maintenance.
“The trustees do not recognise the suggestion that they have failed to work with the community.
“The trustees have repeatedly explained the constraints which they are working under. Best price is not optional for the trustees in this situation.
“Finally, the trustees in exercising their fiduciary duties have taken and acted upon professional advice at every point and will continue to do so.”
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