Revelations at public meeting in the Civic Hall

Paul Wesley, Caroline Voaden, Lisa Smallridge of WTF? with District Cllr John Birch

The second public meeting of the rapidly assembled campaign group Why This Field took place in the Civic Hall last Wednesday 6th July. The group have assembled to convince Kevicc School and the landowners, Dart Valley Learning Trust, to sell space to the Totnes Town Council Bid of £2.5 million for the benefit of the town rather than to developers to concrete over with another housing estate.

About 70 townspeople attended on another hot summer evening foregoing more leisurely pursuits in the sun!

The ’round table’ meeting was co-chaired once again by ex MEP Caroline Voaden and Paul Wesley.

A summary of the current situation was given, itemising that Kevicc headmaster Alan Salt had agreed that Lisa Smallridge of WTF would be allowed to address the governors of the school and an interim meeting had been agreed for Lisa and one other WTF member to meet Mr Salt on Monday 10th July ahead of the full Governors meeting on Tuesday. [The date of this initial meeting has since been moved to the Wednesday following the governors meeting].

District Councillor John Birch stood to present a list of several concerns that he described as irregularities in the affairs of the company that owns the KEVICC school grounds – The Dart Valley Learning Trust. These being:

  • The company’s rules require it to have two trustees be appointed by the Company’s Forum, one from Transition Town and one from the Co-operative Movement and yet these do not appear to be in place. .
  • The company’s rules require the trustees to have regards to the views of the Company’s Forum in exercising its powers. There does not appear to be a Company Forum in place in accordance with the rules. The Forum should meet at least three times a year for the purpose of holding the trustees to account and making recommendations. This does not appear to be happening.
  • The company’s accounts filed at Company House for 2021 states its assets total £10,194 and yet the Land Registry states that the value of the property held by the company is over £1 million. Why the discrepancy?The company rules provide for the company to have as its members a cross section of the community such as pupils, parents, staff and community members and organisations and there should be a register of members. The question is how many members does the company have and are these listed on a register?
  • The company should hold annual general meetings after giving notice to members. This does not appear to be happening. It is unclear as to when the last annual meeting was held. There only two sets of minutes for DVLT on the KEVICC website bearing in mind the Trust has been established for 11 years.

John Birch said “I have written to the trustees of DVLT on two occasions drawing their attention to a number of aspects in which the company does not appear to be run correctly and requesting their comments. I have also suggested a meeting with them so that they can explain what they intend to do to put matters right. I have not had the courtesy of a reply and can only assume they are not able to explain the irregularities”

Cllr Birch went on to explain that he had prepared a notice requesting a general meeting and this has been served on the trustees. The trustees following receipt of the notice are required to call a general meeting. At that meeting it will be proposed that the company should put on hold the sale of the school land until DVLT puts its affairs in order. He went on to claim that as matters stand at the moment the proposed sale of the school land may be declared null and void as a result of the irregularities in the way the company is being run. “It is time this company sorted its affairs out”.

On Mr Birch’s revelation that the final decision on who buys the Lower Field lays with the D.V.L.T., the two school governors present were visibly dismayed to learn that this final decision was not actually with the governors as they previous believed. On being asked, they confirmed that this had not been their understanding of the situation.

Ian Bright of Tresoc spoke about the field being a potential income earning asset for the school with the potential to generate money whist DVLT retained ownership, by using ground source energy techniques which would allow the field to be retained as an open space or park. He also suggested he may apply to become a trustee of DVLT in order to advance the idea further. However with the advanced nature of the current TDA groups plans, this seems unlikely to be considered.

The remainder of the meeting was set aside for ideas and suggestions to progress the goal of saving the land from developers. These included improving the visualisations of the end goal and envisiging the space as a community area and local artist Paula Cloonan was happy to help with the imagination process of this.

A decision was made to invite the entire town to march from St Mary’s Church to the Lower Field on Saturday 16th July at 12 noon, as a display of the strength of feeling within Totnes to implore the governors of Kevicc and the Trustees of DVLT, that this is a crucial space and that it should remain in the ownership of the town of Totnes as an essential green lung area in a beautiful location.

 

The next public meeting has been set for the evening of Friday 15th July with the “March at Noon” event the next day.

 

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Hernandez
24 days ago

keep going!

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