Summary of Village Meeting

M Howick Speech

Good evening and welcome to the Gotham memorial hall and recreation ground trustees info meeting.

For those of you who don’t know, my name is Martin Howick and this is Martin Raven, we are just 2 of the trustees, that have been volunteered to talk this evening along with Doctors  from Orchard Surgery who are here to answer any questions you may have.  We have given you a sheet of some of the questions we have been asked, and our answers.  Any further questions can be asked at the end.  The Memorial Hall Trustees are made up of members of groups that hire the hall facilities and are therefore always in contact, talking and listening to the users.  We have members from cricket, football, tennis, bowls, arena, art, knit and natter, Thursday club, ground maintenance and also 4 members of the parish council (40% of the council).  All of whom are volunteers who thought they were just here to help run GMH.  That was until the fire.

From the start we knew that it would be a challenge to sort the GMH rebuild out.  On top of the rebuild we also, as you know, had the complicated situation of how to accommodate the doctors:

  • We knew they wanted to come back
  • We knew they wanted to expand
  • We knew they had to expand otherwise the NHS could close them
  • We knew the village wanted them back

So after our meeting here last July, where the majority of people who attended stated that they wanted the doctors surgery to return, they gave the trustees (via a written vote) the power to sell part of the hall to the doctors to expand their practice.   Since then there have many meetings with the doctors and ourselves debating on which part of hall to sell.  After many hours of debate and sometimes heated discussions a vote was taken by the trustees and it was decided that the Weldon and Moonrakers (i.e. the old youth centre) would be sold. I know some of you wanted to keep this side and sell the main hall to the doctors. Each side has its for and against and it has been our biggest debate.

Then – How to sell part of a village hall for a medical centre?   We decided we needed professional help.  Our first appointment was Mike Boast who is a chartered building surveyor with Gatley Smithers Purslow.   He is our project manager, employed by us, paid for by insurers   Mike’s job is to liaise with trustees, insurers and contractors.  He sorts out the drawings, planning permission and the general rebuild of GMH.  Mike is a local lad and has worked tirelessly to accommodate all our needs.

Our next appointment needed to be a Surveyor to value the area we wanted to sell.  This turned out to be harder than we thought – How do you value half a memorial hall that has been fire damaged?  Eventually we did find a company and a valuation was carried out by Gilbert Harvey of Eddisons. Once this was completed we went back to the doctors to agree on the valuation.

Next step was Heads of terms agreement between us and the doctors.  This is where we required a solicitor. We asked Rex Walker for a recommendation and he put us in contact with Ellis Fermor and Negus, based in Beeston.   Not only could they help with the sale, they were also experienced with the charity commission rules and were able to contact them with our request to make sure we were all legal and following the charity’s rules.

During this extremely difficult period the Trustees and Surgery struggled with the problem of providing a dispensary service for Gotham. Essential input came from Gotham Bowls Club, agreeing to vacate their primary pavilion for the foreseeable future.   With this joint co-operation and goodwill temporary premises have been achieved and the dispensary, an invaluable asset to the village, opened in January 2024.

So where are we at present. The Solicitor’s are finalising the sale between the trustees and doctors. Mike Boast has sent out the tenders and plans to contractors for the internal rebuild. The trustees are having weekly meetings to try and keep up with all the decisions that need to be made on the finishing touches of the hall, along with all the legal side of the sale and sorting out this evening’s meeting, so as you can imagine we have been rather busy.

We are hoping to make the hall suitable for the next few decades. We have already put solar panels on the roof and at a later date batteries will be added. Air source heat pumps are being installed by Jonny Harrison of Barton. These will hopefully reduce heating bills and also utilise the electricity from the solar panels.  Because we have sold the Weldon meeting room to the doctors we are planning to create a small meeting room which is accessible from the lobby and still has a door into the main hall.  We have also taken out the stage which we thought to be too big and old fashioned and thought a smaller movable stage would be more adaptable.  A lower sloping ceiling in the main hall from the top of the windows on the south side to the bottom of where the windows used to be on the north side is planned. This will allow better natural light from the windows along with lowering the great height of the hall’s ceiling giving a smaller area to heat.

The majority of the cheese rollers will stay the same just with a new kitchen and an upgraded bar and in the future we would like to upgrade the outside area but that’s when we have the available funds. We openly admit we are not interior designers and have therefore approached a local lady, Helen Hollis from Barton, to help with the final layout and finishing touches.  Ideas are always welcome.  Some of the improvements are not covered by our insurance, only like for like items are.  Additional costs are having to be covered by our long term savings where possible. Overall this has been a huge project after the fire however at the end of it all we should have a smart up to date village memorial hall that will cater for village groups, village events and functions such as weddings and parties along with a new health centre run by a set of enthusiastic young doctors. How great for a village of our size.

Questions asked at the end of the Meeting


When will the Play Area re-open?

Work has already commenced on the ground work to clear the area, but unfortunately ant hills have been found which means they need to use a mini digger to clear the area.  The security fence will be moved to just be around the hall building.  All the equipment will need to be checked to make sure it is safe to use.

What about Colin’s garden?

We will definitely be resurrecting this, but at the moment we are not sure if it will remain in the same place.

It is very dark at night walking from the entrance on Bidwell Crescent, it would be nice if there could be some lighting on the pathway?

All the security lights will be replaced on the building as part of the insurance claim.  We would have to look at this once the work has been completed, but we know in the past there was objections from houses on Nottingham Road whose gardens back onto the recreation ground about the brightness of lighting around the building.

Any idea when the hall will re-open?

At this stage we have no idea unfortunately.  The schedule of works has gone out to tender and the contract should be awarded by the end of May.  We have been told that the work could take 20 weeks from the start date.


Will the old doctors surgery area be completed first and then the new area?

No the plan is to do all the work at once, to fit in with the plans for the new surgery.

What about the 16 car park spaces being allocated to the Doctors?

The Doctors would like preference to the spaces for staff and patients use during opening hours, but it won’t be policed to stop anyone parking there.

What about the extra patients from the Fairham development.  Will this have an effect on the parking and trying to get an appointment?

The Doctors do not have a cap on the number of patients that they can take.  People are expected to register with their choice of GP practice, not necessarily Gotham.  There will also eventually be a Health Centre within the development.

The Trustees would also like to thank Mrs D. Brown for speaking and showing her appreciation of the work undertaken by the Trustees.

Questions we have been asked over the last 28 days and our Answers

Q. How did you decide which side of the building to sell?
A. After a lot of debating over several meetings, the Trustees voted and the democratic decision
was taken to retain the Memorial hall side.
Q. Why couldn’t you simply “lease” part of the building to the Doctors (as you did before the
fire) rather than sell it?
A. The original surgery building no longer satisfies NHS requirements. The NHS now insist that
Doctors own their premises. The Doctors are here to provide any further information.
Q. What is the value of the sale?
A. Until a sale has been agreed and contracts exchanged we do not feel it is appropriate to reveal
what is partly confidential information regarding Orchard Surgery’s business.
Q. What do we intend to do with money from sale of hall and what charity rules apply to what
you can do?
A. The Charity Commission requires the money from the sale to be invested which means we can
put money into savings accounts to earn interest and also invest money into making the hall
and recreation ground facilities better for the benefit of the beneficiaries of Gotham.
Q. Will the Doctors be paying an annual Service charge?
A. They will pay an agreed amount which is inflation linked up to an agreed ceiling and is
confidential at this stage.
Q. What is the Service charge for and is the money from this restricted to be used for only
maintenance legally?
A. As per the Heads of Terms contract to go “towards the costs reasonably and properly incurred
by the Seller in keeping the Access Road and car parks in good repair and condition, clean and
properly lit, and otherwise complying with its obligations in the transfer.”
Q. It seems to be taking a lot of time to get the hall and doctors open again, when do you think
we will be able to use the new building?
A. We are hoping it will be some time this year. There’s still a lot of work to be done and we are as
eager as you are to see the refurbished buildings.
Q. What are the plans re buying it back if the doctors decide to leave in the future?
A. As per the Heads of Terms document “the Buyer will grant the Seller a right of pre-emption in
the event of the Buyer wishing to dispose of the whole or part of the Property.”

Hall Floorplan

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