In pursuit of a building to call home, Beverley Baptist Church is exploring the prospect of renting Armstrongs, a former social club. Many questions have been raised and a steering group has been formed to look at these in more detail. To communicate some of the current thoughts, this page has been created to answer questions as they arise, or as soon after as is humanly possible…
All emboldened text represents a question or an adjustment to a previously answered response…
Last updated: Friday 27 November 2020 (notes from steering group added)
The steering group met on 25 November. Here is a summary of the discussions. Frequently asked questions, and answers, are further down the page.
A full report on steering group recommendations will be available before the Special Church Meeting, but we wanted to update people on our progress, and to enable the conversation to continue. Thank you for your prayers, and please do continue to pray for the work of this group.
Key points from this meeting were as follows.
Use of space
The Steering Group looked at some potential plans for how the internal space could be configured, including moveable partition walls in the current billiard room, and possibilities for relocation of the office to the current beer cellar, with the door at that side of the building becoming the main entrance. There are still questions to be answered, but we were happy this would give us sufficient space and flexibility for our own Sunday use and also room lettings. It would provide the 3 rooms we currently need for Sunday School, with options to facilitate a separate creche in an additional space if that became necessary. A proposed plan will be circulated before the Church Meeting.
We also looked at the provision of storage, and concluded there is sufficient onsite for all our church belongings.
After detailed discussion of options for the bar area, the Steering Group recommendation is that we do not aim to stock or run a bar, either alcoholic or non-alcoholic. The physical bar area will be retained and made available for those hiring for functions who wish to hire in external bar provision, or they can bring their own drinks. We are exploring options for local companies who we could work with so that we could offer to arrange the bar as part of the booking package, for an appropriate additional fee. The part of the bar area adjoining the main function room will be equipped with facilities for provision of tea, coffee and soft drinks for our Sunday services and also during the week.
The Steering Group considered headline figures which showed that working up to a 40% occupancy for lettings at a base rate of £12 per hour would mean running at a small deficit after the deduction of fixed costs and necessary salaries. But it would still be a saving on our current room hire and office costs. We would also have use of the building for church activities the other 60% of the time. There was some feeling that 40% occupancy was optimistic, but also a question as to whether £12 per hour was underselling ourselves. A Finance subgroup has been set up to explore models based on other prices and occupancy rates so we can agree a preferred option.
Ideas for use of the premises
Questions had been asked around possible uses for the building, both by BBC and external users. The following list is simply ideas: we probably will do some of these, we certainly won’t do all of them, and there may be others not listed.
Possible church ministries
Lunchtime club for older people
Toddler Group or Messy Church
Prayer Group for families
Youth Club/Drama groups
Board Games Café
A base for chaplaincy to Flemingate and/or the wider town centre
Prayer corner/quiet prayer space available during the week as well as on Sundays
Noodle Bar/Milkshake bar, or other such
Provision of Office Space/Hot Desking facility
Some form of outreach to East Riding College
Tea & Toast drop in – possibly with short prayer services on occasions
Possible external lettings
Toddler groups/children’s activity groups
Nearly new sales
Children’s Birthday Parties
Food pantry/community food project
Slimming World or similar
1. Can BBC legally give Armstrong’s a £5,000 deposit when it exceeds the amount 2 weeks deposit allowed for a residential property?
This is not a residential property and the deposit is not for the lease. It is to show good faith that we hope to confirm the deal when the members are able to meet in a special church meeting.
The Landlord has two offers currently, but if he waits for us and we say no then he may end up with no-one. He therefore asked us for a guarantee, but we said we could not give one until the members met. The compromise was that we would give him a non-returnable deposit of £5000 to show good faith – which we agreed to.
In fact that the deposit (and the risk) will now be paid privately by individuals from church and not by the charity so there is no longer any risk to church funds. If the church decides not to go ahead the landlord will keep the money. If the church decides to go ahead the money will be used to pay other deposits which will be agreed as part of the lease negotiation (to cover the internal fixtures and fittings and which is a perfectly normal part of a commercial lease of this type.)
2. Can the Leadership Team authorise a £5,000 deposit without asking for formal authorisation from the BBC membership first?
The £5,000 will not be coming from BBC funds as several people have offered to write personal cheques to a total which exceeds this amount and pay the deposit. However, we obviously want members of BBC to be in agreement with this. The personal phone calls on 19th / 20th November contacted all church members and 87% have given the go ahead for the deposit (although since then, funding offers have meant this won’t be paid from BBC funds as stated above). This exceeds 75% of the membership which is required by our constitution.
3. If we lose this money is that even allowed under charity law?
It won’t now be BBC funding, should it be lost. The solicitors will be able to advise on charity law going forward.
4. Who pays for repairs at Armstrong (eg roof leaks, broken windows, a break in etc etc)?,
The lease contract will define this, but it is largely thought that the landlords would be responsible for repairs to the outside of the building and we would be responsible for the chattels inside.
5. Would BBC be liable for business rates / council tax or similar are we liable for business rates / Council tax or similar as despite the temporary Covid rebate? This can be a huge cost.
Our understanding is that we would not be liable for business rates or council tax etc.
6. Does the cost projection of £4,000 for utility bills include electricity, gas, water, telephone, broadband?
This is an estimate but will need to be checked.
7. What about insurance?
We already have Contents and Public Liability Insurance but we would need to ensure that we have whatever insurance is required going forward.
8. Is there parking available and free on weekends and evenings in the council car park opposite on Grovehill Road behind platform 17?
Yes, this carpark is free in the evenings and on Sundays, and available as pay-and-display on Saturdays. There are also three spaces for disabled parking near Armstrongs. Free on street parking for up to an hour can often be found on Grovehill Road or the streets off it.
9. Are Armstrong’s happy for the church to sign a contract with the new type of charity organisation that we are – some sort of limited liability organisation?
This has not been discussed as the church is not yet a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, but it is not expected to be an issue. We have not seen their lease document yet and there are many details still to be discussed. Based on our discussions so far there is no suggestion that this might be a problem.
10. Is everyone happy to take a turn cleaning the toilets etc?
While most of the details are still to be worked out, the likely use of the building will require paid staff to manage and clean. The costs for this will be covered by the room rentals.
11. Why is it suddenly such a rush and why have we agreed to let them know by lunchtime tomorrow (about the deposit)?
The urgency is because while we have been in discussion with Armstrongs for some time and some people from the church who were available at the time have been able to visit, the landlords got back in touch a couple of days ago to say that someone else had put in a formal offer to rent the building themselves. Given that we had already been talking with them, they offered another discussion at short notice which happened yesterday. They are obviously keen to get the building rented out and would have preferred an agreement with us then and there but accepted that as a membership led organisation, this wasn’t possible. Hence the pause of 24 hours.
12. Has the church sought legal advice?
We will be engaging solicitors recommended by the Yorkshire Baptist Association, who have experience working with the governance structure of Baptist churches in this area.
13. Does the building have space for our Sunday children’s activities?
One task of the Steering Group will be to consider how we best configure the space for our own use and external hiring. But we are sure that enough space is available.
14. Is there sufficient storage for all BBC property currently stored in a variety of places?
Yes, there is lots of storage space throughout the building, and the move will also give an opportunity to sort through and rationalise our belongings.
15. What ministries might Beverley Baptist Church operate from the building, and do we have enough volunteers to do so?
The Steering Group will be capturing ideas on this, and we will publish them here shortly. If you have ideas of things you would like to be involved in, please do communicate those to us.
16. Is the project financially viable? Will we be able to generate enough income to meet our costs?
The Steering Group is considering projections of income for various occupancy rates against the costs of staffing required to achieve them and other fixed costs. Further details will be made available once we have checked the figures thoroughly, but initial projections are that the net cost to the church will be considerably less than our current expenditure on venue hire and office rent. There have also been generous commitments to increased giving to the church should the project go ahead, and we are aware of a number of bodies who may award small grants towards the refurbishment and/or the running costs.
17. Given the post-Covid world we are moving into, and different ways of working, how can we be certain that the hiring of the building will meet previous levels?
We cannot be certain. But particularly now multiple vaccines are on the horizon and the government is talking about the removal of the vast majority of restrictions including social distancing by Easter, we are confident that community groups and events will wish to start up. The number of venues for such activities may also have reduced as some places will have gone out of business or changed their business models, so we are confident demand will be there. It may take a few months to build back up to pre-Covid levels – but alongside that there could be a backlog of people wishing to hold parties and celebrations which they have postponed over the past 12 months. There is an element of faith and risk to this which we need to decide as a church whether we are willing to take.
18. Who is on the Steering Group?
Names of the group have been provided to BBC members and regulars. We believe the group is representative of the wider congregation. We have deliberately kept the number of Leadership Team members on the group to a minimum, in order to enable input from a wider group, and to enable the Leadership Team to retain their focus on the whole life and work of Beverley Baptist Church rather than becoming distracted by details of this one project. There will be clear and frequent communication between the two groups.