New Village Hall Timeline

This page is dedicated to keeping a timeline of the progress of building a new village hall.      

History of the Village Hall

As far back as the late 1970's there were problems maintaining the hall roof and windows. In 1996 the Committee applied for national funding to rebuild the hall stating " The present hall is of a wooden construction and was purchased second hand from the MOD Circa 1952 and is now somewhat worse for wear. 

In spite of our efforts to maintain it, we feel the battle is lost." Unfortunately there is no record of what happened to the funding application but funding was secured for some running repairs. Special funding was available at the Millenium but the committee decided not to apply. Subsequent Committees have faced an uphill struggle to keep the hall usable. 

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Village Halls and Community Centres 2004

Our research shows that a successful village hall or community centre charity usually has: 

• A governing document that is workable and up-to-date, containing provisions for everything that the trustees need to do. 

• A trustee body that is diverse, knows the extent of its role, responsibilities and powers and presents potential new trustees with a realistic picture of what is involved. 

• A building that meets legislative requirements and that can facilitate a range of activities. 

• An effective means of communicating and consulting with the local community to ensure that its needs and interests are understood and that the community knows about the charity's activities and plans. 

• A funding regime that is sustainable and diverse enough to allow trustees sufficient flexibility to direct their activities in accordance with local needs and interests. 

• A strategic plan, however simple, that takes account of the impact of proposed changes on all aspects of the running of the charity.  

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Community Facilities in Rural Scotland: A Study of Their Use, Provision and Condition 2009

Rural community facilities (RCFs) are local assets which serve as central points or "hubs", and as venues for service provision, from within and outwith the community, sometimes providing for the co-location of multiple services. In June 2007, as part of its Halls for All campaign, the SCVO lodged a petition with the Scottish Parliament, which called for greater central government support for village halls and other community buildings and for comprehensive research to establish a baseline of information about village halls in Scotland that will inform the debate on the best ways of supporting them.

This research was a core element of the Scottish Government response to the petition, reflecting the recognition that there was a lack of good understanding of the provision, condition and usage of community facilities and their importance in rural areas. The full report can be accessed by clicking on the link above.

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The Economic Impact of Community Buildings in Rural Communities 2009

 Summary of findings in England: -

1. The total value of assets in rural community owned halls is now estimated as over £3 billion. 58% of halls reported being the only multi-purpose meeting place in the community.

2. Volunteers contributed 18.5 hours per week on average to running the hall. 75% of halls cost less than £10,000 p.a. to run, 51% cost less than £5,000 p.a. 

3. 75% of all halls provide a focus for local democratic engagement. 72% support local community group fundraising and 50% provide a venue for activity supporting health needs. 

4. Hall use has trebled since 1988 but 10% of halls require urgent repairs to keep them in use. 

5. 46% of halls usually earn sufficient income to make a surplus, 27% of halls receive some financial support from their parish council, and the remainder rely on fundraising effort to survive. 

6. Only 3% of halls receive regular local authority funding. 46% receive no discretionary rate relief. 

7. 61% of halls that carried out recent improvements say this led to provision of new services. 78% of improvements cost less than £50,000 with 31% costing less than £10,000. 

8. 60% are planning major improvements in the next 5 years, 35% will require grant funding of under £20,000 whilst 8% say they will require over £200,000. 

9. 56% of halls have no reserves policy, 62% have no planned maintenance programme, 89% have no formal business plan. 68% believe they will remain financially viable over the next 5 years. 

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What to do... 2013

In 2013 the OCA decided that the constant maintenance of the fabric of the hall had reached a critical stage. They invited an architect to inspect the building and give some options for refurbishing. He verbally gave the opinion that refurbishment would not be cost effective and that the best option would be a complete rebuild. Therefore a public survey was carried out within the parish to ascertain what the community felt about a way forward. 

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Community Survey – Oldhamstocks - 2013

Following a survey which returned the following suggested uses of community funding (people could choose more than one option), the local community was also asked what uses the village hall could be put to.


Survey Results

  • Replace the Village Hall......................................................................61%
  • Upgrade the Village Hall.....................................................................38%
  • Upgrade or create footpaths..............................................................26%
  • Community vehicle............................................................................12%
  • Computer hub.....................................................................................9%


Suggested usage of the village hall from members of the community:-

  • Flower show
  • Meeting space
  • Exercise/ fitness classes
  • Sports facility
  • Dance classes
  • Cub/ Scout camp facility
  • Drop-in centre
  • Children’s parties
  • Community computer venue
  • Community events – Burns supper, pub night, quiz night
  • Private functions – parties, dinner
  • Presentations
  • Genealogical resource and exhibition venue
  • Craft based workshops with invited tutors
  • Music rehearsal
  • Tuition for older citizens
  • Community shop
  • Community cafe
  • Local surgery
  • Polling Station
  • Emergency rest centre
  • Church events
  • Live music events
  • Disco
  • Funeral receptions
  • Wedding receptions
  • Public meetings
  • Community cinema
  • Local lending library – books/ DVDs/ CDs
  • Bothy for walkers

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Research, research, research...2013-2014

Having received a mandate from the community to progress with a new hall project the OCA put a lot of time into researching other village hall projects.

Developing options for funding the project, speaking to architects, exploring the possibility of buying adjacent land to extend the footprint of the existing hall and examining what kind of body would be best to own and maintain the new hall and its environs. 

The OCA was simultaneously doing major repairs to the hall and creating additional funding events to cover the costs such as a casino and pub night. 

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A community project - 2014

In 2014 the community undertook to rebuild the footbridge at the bottom of the Mill Walk which had been swept away in 2010. We were greatly assisted by Torness Power Station's "Helping Hands" Project, Lafarge Cement, East Lothian Council and East Lammermuir Community Council. With the expertise on hand a detailed plan of the steel structure was created and built locally by A Watt & Sons Steel Fabricators Ltd. Once manoeuvred into place it was concreted in and the wooden parts and landscaping were finished by John Hanvidge, Gordon Simpson, Davie Philip, Steve Findlay, Liam Harvey and Peter Lennon. Hopefully it will last for about 30 years! The New Village Hall project will require a similar amount of knowledge, good will and funding from a number of sources - if it is going to be successful.

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Public Meeting - 2015

On 11th June 2015 a well attended public meeting was held to discuss the future of the hall using the previous survey and chaired by local Councillor Michael Veitch. 

Following on from this meeting a sub-group was formed with the remit "To gather evidence and present findings on the best way forward for a meeting place for residents of Oldhamstocks Parish."

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Structural Report - 2015

Later in 2015 an architect was enlisted to provide a structural report.

The report indicated that the cost of refurbishing the existing hall would be more expensive than buiding a new up-to-date hall with enhanced facilities and capacity.

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In November 2015 the first part of the AGM was a public meeting again chaired by Cllr. Veitch. The previously mentioned sub-group had decided that their remit required the work to be expanded to the existing committee and reports based on the Structural Report and the future funding possibilities were presented. Cllr. Veitch concluded that a Final Option Paper should be presented to the community including a design for a newbuild hall, plans for refurbishment (although the Structural Report had conclusively ruled this option out) and also a "do nothing" option. There was a vote via show of hands on the question:-  “Does the local community agree that we should work towards producing designs for replacing the Hall?” which was a clear yes. There were also guest speakers from Stenton and Spott who shared their experiences of renovating their village halls. There was then a table top discussions which produced the following results:-

Table Discussions:

Table 1:

  • Main Hall as now (no need for a separate room)
  • Same footprint, and include store and shed
  • East end of hall – extend by approx 2 metres towards fence for redesign of toilet area incl disabled WC
  • Level access throughout
  • Wall to be retained in front of hall
  • North side could be extended by 0.5 metre for a pathway, if part of field is required on north side for building
  • Improved kitchen (same size as now)
  • Improved toilets incl disabled WC (Ladies/Disabled and Gents)
  • Portable stage
  • No showers necessary!
  • If it is a newbuild it should be as similar as possible to existing building: like for like
  • Shelving etc for e.g. audio equipment for dancing etc.

Table 2:

  • Public area bigger than what we have
  • Improved storage and facilities (toilets, kitchen) and disabled access
  • New, bigger kitchen
  • Parking for disabled

Table 3:

  • Slightly larger main hall space – possible to go 25% bigger on existing footprint size?
  • Separate smaller meeting room
  • Storage space to ensure no external sheds are required
  • Level access throughout
  • Improved kitchen and toilet provision, incl full disabled WC
  • Shower(s) – for fell race? And could be used as storage if wet room
  • Excellent energy efficiency – a top priority
  • Much improved ease of maintenance – a top priority
  • At least one disabled parking space (check regs!); how will cars access that space – may need to reinforce access across the Green?

Table 4:

  • Build something wider and larger that can be partitioned off as required, a hall that can accommodate each person who lives in the parish
  • Not looking for something like Co'path Hall which is too big, too high
  • Incorporate shed area into the footprint of the hall
  • Level access throughout
  • Improved kitchen and toilet provision, incl full disabled WC
  • One person said yes to shower; rest at this table (9?) said no
  • Air conditioning. As eco-friendly as possible. Something like a biomass boiler as a starting point for a biomass boiler for the community
  • Very low maintenance
  • An opening directly onto the Green
  • Broadband as fast as possible

Table 5:

  • Slightly larger main hall space to accommodate dances, village gatherings etc. Stone/timber frontage in keeping with the village, consider options already mentioned e.g. change position of entrance door. Be open-minded and realistic about what we as a Community can achieve
  • Separate smaller meeting room or screened off area
  • Storage space to ensure no external sheds are required – keeps everything under one roof and avoids additional maintenance
  • Level access throughout
  • Ergonomically improved kitchen and toilet provision incl full disabled WC
  • Showers – if possible but thought a bit of a luxury
  • Sustainable and energy efficient
  • Low maintenance and eco-friendly where possible
  • Access and egress – take into account the Disability Discrimination Act

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Time to ask the experts - 2016

In 2016 the OCA carried out a process to choose the architects who could take the project forward. A number of architects firms were contacted and some noted an interest in the project. Interviews were carried out and Simpson and Brown Architects came out on top.

Simpson and Brown set about creating a first draft plan of the new hall based on criteria compiled by the OCA informed by the community and its needs.

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Funding - Stage 1

Simpson and Brown's fees and all associated report fees were funded by a grant from Crystal Rig Wind Farm via East Lammermuir Community Council

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Consultation Exhibition - 2017

Following development of the initial design brief with the appointed architects, an exhibition was mounted in the current village hall which was available to everyone in the community and surrounding area, this fulfilled the undertaking to present a Final Option Paper from AGM 2015 with a newbuild design and addressed refurbishment and "do nothing" options. 

The exhibition was advertised on the Oldhamstocks community website, by mailshot through doors and via word of mouth, and was held between the 20th and 31st March 2017. All were welcome to attend to express their views. For those who were unable to visit the existing building due to access restrictions, printed copies of the material was made available for distribution. 

The exhibition was well attended and there was good representation from the village and all surrounding areas.The results and comments were collated and the changes to plans as outlined above were instigated. 

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Consultation Results

Following discussion of the findings of the March 2017 consultation with the appointed design team, OCA made the decision to develop the initial hall design further in order to take on board comments from the local community. While it is accepted that not all suggestions could be taken on board, the following design changes were made: 

  • Roofing material changed from slate to tile. 
  • The west end of the building features a new gable that is clad in timber. 
  • The building design was reduced in size by 21%, from 270 sqm to 212 sqm, without the need to compromise on the provision of new facilities. The main hall, meeting room and kitchen have reduced in size, and storage areas reconfigured to make better use of the roof space. 
  • A second accessible WC with shower facility has been included. 
  • The number of folding wall partitions has reduced. 
  • The large rooflight above the main hall space has been changed to a series of smaller conservation-style rooflights. 
  • The external door to the east of the building has been omitted in order to reduce the amount of landscaping needed. 
  • Solar tiles have been added to the roof to make the building more sustainable. The extent of the landscaping works has reduced now that there is a better idea of community aspirations for the use of the land surrounding the building: 
  • Allotments are no longer included in the design as they were not deemed necessary. 
  • The position of the relocated playpark has moved closer to the village green. 
  • The land behind the hall will be laid to grass and there will be less paving. 
  • The east and west boundaries of the site will be lined with evergreen hedging, as discussed with direct neighbours either side of the hall.   

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Rural Mental Health Survey Report 2017

“If you could change one thing about mental health services in rural Scotland, what would it be and why?” 

1. Create ways for people to connect before personal crises occur. 

2. These connections need to be “low-level”, non-clinical, informal and through trusted people and networks. 

3. Services need to be close to place of need - including mobile services, outreach, particularly on islands:• recognising significant stress of travel to appointments. 

4. Mental health care must be mainstreamed within NHS – not a “bolt-on”. 

5. There must be parity of mental health care with physical health care. 

6. Increase the focus on children and young people (particularly in relation to self harm) and reduce waiting times for them to be seen.  

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What the community want - 2017

In October 2017 another survey was carried out in the community and the majority stated that they were happy with the plan proposed by the OCA and amended as outlined below following community consultation. An "alternative plan" was also tabled to the community by another group and at AGM 2017 the OCA agreed to look at the proposals in the "alternative plan." 

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At the AGM on 23rd November 2017 the amended Simpson and Brown hall plan was presented including a detailed breakdown of the results to the recent consultation and all comments that had been received were read out.     

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Updating the community - June 2018

In June 2018 the OCA distributed a newsletter to the whole community updating them on the progress so far.

It explained that having investigated alternative designs put forward by another group the following has been ascertained:

1) Fjordhus provided an ‘instant quote’ for a ‘turn-key’ operation, making initial assumptions on items such as utilities, site and ground conditions, and were then requested to give a second quote based on the S&B drawings. This quote, at £372k, was for a building with a lower specification and also did not include costs for elements such as external works, demolition of the current hall, extra storage space, design fees, a contingency element or inflation. 

2) Homelodge, based near Winchester, gave an estimated cost of £2-2.2k per square metre (subject to consideration of utilities and site constraints). This is a little less than the cost per square metre given by the quantity surveyor for the S&B design, at £2.3k, but the Homelodge quote did not factor in full project costs. In December 2017 the Homelodge website noted that they were unable to supply to Scotland and, when contacted, their representative expressed concern about the “logistics of providing a turn-key supply and service so far away”. As the building control process in Scotland is different from that in England the OCA need to exercise caution about working with a company with little experience of working here. 

3) Fleming Homes’ response, when given S&B drawings, was to quote for just one element – the ‘superstructure components’. Their figure of £52,400 for a timber kit was viewed by the quantity surveyor as far higher than his own estimate for this element. (Any contractor would be required to bid for and deliver all works, including project management - something the committee believes would be best done by an experienced building contractor.) It should be noted that once planning approval has been received there will be a tender process for the build by invitation. The committee has no objection to inviting Fleming Homes and/or Fjordhus to tender at this later stage in the process, in relation to the Simpson & Brown design. 

In summary, these thorough investigations found that the various buildings cited in the leaflet are not suitable. They do not offer the quality and sustainability of the proposed design - there is inevitably an element of ‘getting what you pay for’ and on a cost per square metre basis, the alternative options have not proved to be significantly cheaper. 

Very importantly, at this pre-planning stage there are concerns that the style and finish of buildings shown on the leaflet would be unlikely to achieve planning permission for any site within the Conservation Village Area of Oldhamstocks. 

Other design issues
The OCA also heard questions raised about car parking and/or a road across the Green. East Lothian Council (ELC) planners have indicated that current parking arrangements are satisfactory. 

Size of the New Hall
Recent events held at the hall, including coffee mornings and the recent ‘Curryoke’ and 'Oldhamrocks' nights have been oversubscribed. It is clear that the main hall is not large enough to accommodate demand for larger community and fundraising events such as dinners and dancing. Nor does it allow for safe access and comfortable circulation at any event with stalls such as a coffee morning. Therefore, the proposed design incorporates a main hall that is 13m x 7m seating capacity 57 (compared to the current 12.5m x 5.5m seating capacity 42). The size and design introduces the flexibility of being able to open or close a partition between the main hall and a smaller room (4.7m x 4.5m) seating capacity 70.

Cost of the New Hall
The OCA are committed to ensuring that spend on the new hall is appropriate and is balanced against need, function, quality, energy efficiency and sustainability. We are clear that we want to make the best use of windfarm benefits funds – which are available for us to use in our local community, for the benefit of our residents. Its first community consultation confirmed that the majority of people wanted to see the available funds spent on a new hall as an investment in the future of our community. 



 In response to concerns and questions about costs, it is clear that it needs to plan costs for both the initial build of the hall, and for its on-going maintenance and running costs. The design will have solar tiles, double glazing, an air-source heat pump and excellent insulation so it will provide a comfortable and energy efficient environment. The OCA hope to provide a factual statement about the likely running costs later in 2018. A figure for final build costs can only be confirmed when it progresses to tender for the build. 

The OCA can only proceed to tender once planning consent has been given and all matters of regulations, building control approval and Conservation Area consent have been confirmed. It can reassure the community that it will not sign any contracts or make any financial commitments until costs have been fully calculated, It has worked very closely with the architects and quantity surveyors to revise the design and specifications to bring down costs wherever possible. These negotiations and adjustments have led to a reduction in the estimated cost of the build from £764k to nearer £577k. 

NEXT STEPS IN THE JOURNEY
1) submit a formal planning application – ELC planners have indicated in a pre-planning meeting that they are favourably supportive of the Simpson & Brown proposal on a range of criteria, commenting positively on the use of traditional materials and the visual design of the hall;
2) purchase the land - the Dunglass Estate has indicated that the land the current hall sits on, and adjacent land for building a new hall, can be purchased, at a very reasonable price, for this community use, with a proposed entry date of November 2019 - the end of the current lease. This means the earliest date construction can begin is the end of 2019;
3) secure funding for both the build and ongoing costs of the hall - the community benefits from local wind farm developments will give a very good start in raising the money needed. Other local villages have drawn down funds for their own halls, using the current windfall to set them up for the next 70 - 100 years. 

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Voting for progress - September 2018

At the Committee Meeting in September 2018 the OCA voted to instruct Simpson and Brown to apply for planning permission. This was based on the 64% mandate from the 2017 survey and the newsletter informing the community that this would happen. The vote was 11 for with 1 abstention and no votes against.

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A new approach? - October 2018

In October 2018 a meeting was held at Oldhamstocks by East Lothian Council Resolution Team which came about following a representation of residents to East Lammermuir Community Council. The group of residents complained that there was a section of the community who did not agree with the plans for the new village hall and that their voices were not being heard. As a result ELC's Resolution Team were invited to become involved. After meeting with the OCA and a group of residents the afore mentioned meeting was organised and all those in the community who were not in favour of the OCA plans were invited. At the meeting, views were aired and a working group was set up combining residents from the group against the current plan and members of the OCA. The working group will look at plans which would be acceptable to all parties. 

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AGM - 2018

On 28th November 2018 a new committee was elected to take forward the goals of the OCA.

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OCA Meeting - January 2019


The Working Group, mentioned previously, whilst being independent, has a duty to report to the OCA with its proposals which should then be set out and deliberated on by the whole community. OCA is awaiting communication from the Group regarding progress to date, including details of their remit. OCA Chair is having an informal meeting on 18/01/2019 with Chair of the Group at which he will encourage a report back to OCA very shortly after its next meeting (late Jan). It was also agreed that OCA should ask a representative of the Group to make a presentation at the next OCA meeting in February. OCA agreed that it should encourage the Group to provide a detailed outline of its proposals as well as a timetable relating to final presentation to OCA.

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Fletcher Hall, East Saltoun nr Tranent

The Fletcher Hall was gifted to the community and is managed by the group of volunteers behind the Saltoun Community Association. It’s used by lots of local community groups as well as by Saltoun Primary School pupils, who use it for everything from their sports days to Christmas services, as well as their gym hall.

In recent years, however, the external and internal fabric of the building has deteriorated significantly and is now badly in need of repair. The repairs required are unfortunately very extensive and expensive. Demolition and rebuild is estimated in excess of £500k.

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Working Group Update

On 28th February 2019 members of the Working Group reported to the OCA to give the Committee an update on the work done to date, to take the new Village Hall project forward.

 Alex Ainslie presented a summary of work progressing at Abbey St Bathans. Whilst at a very early stage, and with only an outline design in place, the community have agreed a provisional budget of c.£350,000 for the project. It is also understood that they plan to use community Windfarm benefits they receive from Community Windpower to fund a mortgage. Paul Scott advised that the Working Group now had 6 members. So far, it had set out its terms of reference, as well as producing a document setting out the process by which any additional hall option(s) will be generated. The Group will build on the work previously completed and will seek to engage with the whole community to validate village hall requirements and fill in any gaps which become apparent, prior to generating any appropriate additional option(s) for the community to review. The Group is keen to ensure any consultation is not seen as a duplication of an exercise undertaken by the previous committee, hence, they will look to make it clear what additional information this will provide and that they will welcome comments from all, whatever their feelings about the existing proposed design.

 Paula Oliver gave an update regarding financing options, as currently known, including the possibility of raising a mortgage, supported by Chris Bruce (OCA Committee member) who provided the funding source details for Windfarm Community Benefits (there may also be other funding sources available to augment these). As regards effective and comprehensive communication with the community, Paul raised the concern that the Group are missing a forum to communicate to the community and get feedback. The Group want to be as open and transparent as possible. Lynn Harris (OCA Secretary) informed Paul that the new OCA website will shortly be up and running, and there would be a dedicated section for the Working Group. The OCA also offered the Working Group a regular section in the upcoming newsletter which was gratefully accepted.

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Resolution Service - withdrawal and apologies

Following serious concerns about the Resolution Service process, a letter was sent to East Lothian Council from ex-OCA members in December 2018, evidencing the failings of the process, in general and the Resolution Officer in particular, which included:

•                    Not adequately researching the situation

•                    Not explaining the remit, the criteria or goals

•                    Not listening to OCA evidence

•                    Lack of neutrality

•                    Claiming unfounded concerns about OCA

•                    Inviting only those opposed to the public meeting

•                    Making no minutes or notes available

•                    Claiming falsely, no record of Pre-Planning existed

•                    Not supporting the Working Group

•                    Failing to report back to the ELCC

In response, a letter was received on 11th February 2019 from Caitlin McCorry, Service Manager – Community and Area Partnerships, East Lothian Council, the following is an extract: -

“Having reviewed the papers that were provided to me, I would like to apologise on behalf of East Lothian Council for the unhelpful impact of the Resolution Service to this community engagement project and acknowledge that the mediation process was not constructive overall. I was very disappointed to learn that the Lead Officer’s involvement did not assist in improving the situation, as had been intended, and to learn that in your view she contributed to the relationship between to two parties involved further deteriorating."

cont'd

"The Resolution Service is provided by Midlothian Council staff, who are contracted to deliver the service of behalf of East Lothian Council. Please be assured that the appropriate senior officers at Midlothian Council have been made aware of the situation. They have advised me that they have taken the necessary action to ensure that the approach and the actions taken by the officer involved when dealing with this dispute, have been addressed. They have altered their working practices to ensure that this situation does not arise again. Managers at Midlothian Council would also like to extend their apologies to you for the way in which the mediation process was conducted.

I can confirm that the Resolution Service has now formally withdrawn from attempting to resolve this dispute. It is extremely regrettable that the outcome hoped for – to reach a consensus on how to make best use of the windfarm funding available to develop the village hall facilities – was not realised.”

On 26th May 2019 a letter was received from East Lammermuir Community Council, the following is an extract:-

“As we discussed on 19th March, the Community Council offered to source and if appropriate fund a mediation (Resolution) service, if that was agreeable to the Oldhamstocks Community. We understood that to be the case, as representatives of the Community Association, and those who attended the Community Council meeting in May 2018, assured us that they would take part in the mediation process. As we now know, the service provided did not meet any of our aspirations, and we are sorry that this has happened. As indicated above, we have taken steps to ensure it won’t happen again.”

This marks the end of the Resolution Service's involvement with the village hall process however, the Working Group it set up, has yet to conclude its work.

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