Row breaks out over ownership of village hall
PUBLISHED: 17:00 08 October 2019 | UPDATED: 15:43 09 October 2019
A row has erupted in Lympstone over what organisation owns the village’s ‘valued and precious’ hall.
The Lympstone Village Hall Management Committee (VHMC) and Lympstone Parish Council have clashed over who has ownership of the building, constructed in 1930.
VHMC has staked a claim for the hall's title deeds, which shows the chain of ownership for the hall.
The deeds are currently held by the parish council, which said it 'cannot see any reason whatsoever' to transfer the documents to VHMC.
At a meeting on Monday (October 7), the parish council said it would be seeking legal advice ahead of staging a public meeting to discuss the dispute with residents.
VHMC said in 1930 a charitable trust was created, which evolved into what the committee is today.
In 1977 the parish council assumed trusteeship of the hall from the National Council of Social Services.
This development, VHMc claims, makes the committee the effective owners of the hall.
On Monday's parish council meeting, chairman Kathy Rogers said the council was not prepared to 'relinquish control'.
Cllr Keith Hill said: "We have looked at the options and we cannot see any reason whatsoever for passing it over to [VHMC].
"We think long-term we must, on behalf of the people of Lympstone, retain ownership as trustee."
VHMC chairman Don Mildenhall told the meeting the committee is the owner of the hall, as stated in the deeds - written up in 1930.
He said: "The advice from solicitors is that the paper work done on the September, 29 1930, created a charitable trust, registered with the charity commission, of which we are trustees.
"The legal opinion is that we are, by virtue of that creation of a charitable trust, the managers, the operators and the effective owners of the village hall and its land."
Mr Mildenhall cited the transfer of trusteeship from the National Council of Social Security to the parish council, penned in 1977.
He said the document refers to the parish council as custodial trustees instead of permanent ones.
Mr Mildenhall said: "The hall operated as the effective owner and operator, paymaster and receiver of all revenues throughout the 42 years that the parish council has been custodial trustee."