Cornwall Rural Community Council (CRCC) has been working with their national partner ACRE and the other Rural Community Councils across England to develop guidance on the reopening of village halls. ACRE’s new Information Sheet ‘Opening Your Hall After Lockdown’ which is available on CRCC’s website provides guidance and practical help on re-opening village halls following confirmation on 22 June by the Government that community centres and village halls can reopen from the 4 July, providing they are COVID secure. However, the Government has strongly advised against community centres opening for indoor fitness and sport activity on their website, adding “further guidance coming soon”.
The Government list, and specific measures can be read here.
The information sheet provides practical advice, risk assessments, checklists, questionnaires for users and links to government guidance. CRCC hope this will help ease some of the burden and provide reassurance on the steps volunteers running community buildings may need to take to reopen safely as and when trustees decide it is right for their hall to do so. There is nothing to say halls must open from the 4 July.
**NEW from 6 July – COVID-19 Information Sheet – Opening your hall after lockdown 6.7.20 Final
It is anticipated that the Information sheet will need to be updated when Government Guidelines for the safe reopening of community centres are finally published. CRCC will ensure that the latest information is sent to those who are on their Community Buildings mailing list – you can sign up here here.
CRCC are also drawing halls attention to the risk of transmitting Legionnaires diseases in premises whose water systems have not been operated during lock down. It is important hot and cold water systems are flushed through, for the minimum recommended time to avoid potential risk of disease. Please see guidance for further details and safety precautions to take whilst doing so.
Financial support for Village Halls
Most charitable run village halls are eligible for a Government Grant of £10,000. Accessing the grant has been linked to the business rates system for ease of identifying businesses. CRCC are still hearing from halls who mistakenly think they are not eligible as they receive 100% rate relief. This is not the case and most charitable run halls are entitled to the grant, which is designed to help with the fixed costs associated with maintaining premises at a time when they must be closed. If you haven’t applied, call Cornwall Council on 0300 1234 171, (with your business rates account number). We would encourage halls to act urgently.