West Midlands: committee decisions March 2019

Summary report of the meeting of the Committee for the West Midlands held on Thursday 7 March 2019 at 10.30 a.m. in Aspects at the National Memorial Arboretum, Croxall Road, Alrewas in Staffordshire, DE13 7AR

Members:    

  • Sue Beardsmore (Chair)
  • Marion Blockley
  • Rachel Chiu
  • Izzy Mohammed
  • Jude Pilgrim
  • Alan Taylor
  • Tom Tew

Apologies:

  • Alison Wedgewood

Committee Business:

1. Chair’s Report

The Chair opened the meeting and welcomed all members to the final meeting of the Committee.  She reported that the interim Area Committee for Midlands & the East would include two members from each of the current regional committees (West Midlands, East Midlands and the East of England), the three regional committee chairs and a Trustee.

The Chair updated the Committee on her activities since the last meeting and noted that she had attended the:

  • launch of Everything to Everbody
  • visited the Express and Star Archive
  • attended the launch of Strategic Framework 5 in London

The Chair thanked members for their good sense and good humour and particularly thanked the Trustee member, Tom Tew, for his support.  She also thanked Vanessa Harbar and the West Midlands team for their help and support.

2. Minutes of the meeting on 20 November 2018

The minutes were agreed as a true and accurate record of the meeting and were signed by the Chair.

3. Matters arising from the minutes

There were none.

4. Corporate Update

Anne Jenkins, Deputy Director of Operations, presented the corporate update.  In an update to the report:

  • Thank you to Committee members

Ros Kerslake, Sir Peter Luff and Eilish McGuiness had extended thanks to all Committee members and the Chair for their support and commitment to the organisation over the years.  The potential risks in terms of the lost expertise and local knowledge had been recognised and mitigated against with the appointment of some existing members onto the new interim Area Committees.  The size of the areas covered by the interim Area Committees would present challenges and exciting opportunities. 

Tom Tew, Trustee, also thanked members and wished them well for the future.

  • Strategic Funding Framework update

Following the successful launch of the Strategic Funding Framework on 30 January in London, launches and briefings were being rolled out in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and across England.

The number of project enquiries had recently increased following a slow start.

  • Business Transformation update

Several assimilated appointments within the new organisational structure, which would take effect from 1 April 2019, had been confirmed.  Vanessa Harbar had been appointed Head of Cultural Change. In the Midlands & East, Anne Jenkins had been appointed Area Director.

Elsewhere:

  • Sue Bowers had been appointed Director of Investment within the new Business Development Department which would focus on achieving a better understanding of project impacts and knowledge exchange.
  • Stuart Hobley had been appointed Area Director, London & South
  • David Renwick had been appointed Area Director, North.

The London office would move from Holbein Place to St Katherine’s Dock in June 2019.

  • Rebrand update

The rebranding exercise was progressing well. The new website had been launched and several issues resolved.

5. West Midlands Overview 

Vanessa Harbar, Head of Region, presented the report, updating the committee on casework in the region.

Vanessa Harbar thanked the West Midlands team for their professional and supportive approach during an unsettling period.

6. West Midlands Budget

Vanessa Harbar, Head of Region, presented the report.

Three second round applications, two Heritage Grants and one Grants for Places of Worship, with a total request of £1,341,900 had been received.

7. Declarations of Interest

The following conflicts of interest were declared and as such members were not present in discussions for those applications or any subsequent voting and prioritisation;

  • Item 10 – Ironbridge Coracle Heritage; HG-17-03379
  • Jude Walker was Secretary of the Ironbridge Coracle Trust.
  • Marion Blockley had prepared the Activity Plan for the bid.
  • Alan Taylor was a member of the trust.
  • Item 12 – Black Country Living Museum: Forging Ahead - creating a world-class visitor attraction in the Black Country; HG-15-08369
  • Marion Blockley had prepared the Interpretation Plan for the bid.

The following interests were declared and were not deemed conflicting.  The members remained present for the discussions;

  • Item 13 – A Centre for Learning, Heritage, and Arts for the whole community; HG-16-04125
  • Alan Taylor mentioned that he had stood down during the first round discussion of this case because he had previously work with the applicant.  However, he had had no involvement or contact with the applicant for over 4 years.

SF4 second round applications for discussion and decision:

8. Urgent repair and refurbishment of St Mary's Church Staunton on Wye, for greater community use; GP-15-01218

Grantee: St Mary Staunton on Wye Parochial Church Council

Request: Award grant £155,000 (67%).

Uplift: £9,300 (6%) due to higher tender returns for capital works than estimated at first round.  Consequently, the porch had been omitted from the repairs list and the applicant had doubled the partnership funding contribution from their own reserves.

Project: To undertake urgent repairs to the exterior of St Mary’s Church, Staunton on Wye, particularly the tower, nave and chancel, and some internal repairs.  This Grade I listed church, located in North Herefordshire, was listed on the Heritage at Risk Register.

The Committee for West Midlands awarded a first round pass of £159,600 including a development grant of £13,900 (75% of eligible development costs) in March 2016.

The Committee for West Midlands agreed that the project was a HIGH PRIORITY for support and AWARDED a grant of £155,000 (67%).

9. Falling Sands Viaduct: Iconic Railway Structure; HG-16-07870

Grantee: Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust

Request: Award grant of £853,800 (65%)

Project: To restore and stabilise the Falling Sands Viaduct, located in the Worcester Canal Conservation Area near Kidderminster, in order to enable continued rail operations on the Severn Valley Railway.  A programme of learning and participation opportunities aimed at connecting people with the railway and engineering heritage would include a travelling exhibition located in a railway carriage and an apprenticeship course.

The Committee for West Midlands awarded a first round pass of £1,018,100 including a development grant of £71,800 (75% of eligible development costs) in June 2017.

The Committee for West Midlands agreed that the project was a HIGH PRIORITY for support and AWARDED grant of £853,800 (65%).

10. Ironbridge Coracle Heritage; HG-17-03379

Jude Pilgrim, Marion Blockley and Alan Taylor left the room during the discussion of this item and item 11.  The Chair informed the Committee that since Alison Wedgwood had been unable to attend the meeting was now inquorate.  In order to allow a decision to be made on this item at this final meeting of the Committee, it had been agreed that the between meeting decision process be adapted to allow Alison Wedgwood to send in her comments and vote in advance of the meeting.  The form recording her comments and vote would be kept on file alongside the minutes of the meeting.

Grantee: Ironbridge Coracle Trust

Request: Award grant of £333,100 (69%).

Project: To stabilise and repair the last historic coracle making shed in England.  The shed was located on the banks of the River Severn in the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site.  A complementary programme of activities and interpretation would include the creation of a coracle visitor trail and interpretation throughout the Ironbridge Gorge, training in coracle making and the documents of living memories relating to coracle making and their use.  A ‘Pepper’s Ghost’ effect through windows and peepholes would be used to allow people to view the interior of the coracle shed and coracle making artefacts.

The Committee for West Midlands awarded a first round pass of £420,800 including a development grant of £76,600 (74% of eligible development costs) in November 2017.

The Committee for West Midlands agreed that the project was a HIGH PRIORITY for support and AWARDED a grant of £333,100 (69%).

11. Prioritisation of second round applications

The Committee were content with the priorities awarded during the case by case discussions and agreed to award grants to all three applications which had all scored as a high priority for support.

SF4 second round applications for discussion and recommendation:

12. Black Country Living Museum: Forging Ahead - creating a world-class visitor attraction in the Black Country; HG-15-08369

Marion Blockley left the room during the discussion of this item.

Grantee: Black Country Living Museum

Request: Award grant of £9,400,000 (41%)

Project: To expand and significantly improve the visitor experience at the open air, Black Country Living Museum.  The historic site would expand by one third in order to create a new historic development set in the 1940s-60s (with the translocation, recreation and replication of historic buildings at risk and double the amount of the Museum’s designated collection on display.  A new Visitor Centre would be built to improve the visitor offer.  The existing entrance building would be re-purposed as a dedicated Learning Centre and a new STEAM learning programme developed.

The Board had awarded a first round pass of £9,800,000 including a development grant of £400,000 (33% of total eligible development costs) in April 2017.  Since the first round, the number of historic structures included in the project had increased by five and three buildings had been replaced with equivalent alternatives as their translocation was no longer feasible due to demolition/ownership issues.  Although project costs had increased from £21.5m to £22.9 no uplift was sought and so the intervention rated had reduced from 43% to 41%.

The Committee for West Midlands recommended the project to the Board as a HIGH PRIORITY (1 of 2) for support.

13. A Centre for Learning, Heritage, and Arts for the whole community;

Grantee: Worcester Cathedral

Request: Award grant of £1,069,000 (52%)

Project:  To repair, conserve the Undercroft of Worcester Cathedral and convert this currently inaccessible storage space into a new learning centre for the community.  The Undercroft was a Grade I listed former monastic refectory cellar and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.  Capital works would also include the conservation of the internationally important 13th Century Christ in Majesty carving, located in the Cathedral’s College Hall.  A learning and participation programme aimed at widening engagement particularly with under-represented audiences would also be delivered.

The Board awarded a first round pass of £1,237,000 including a development grant of £168,000 (66% of eligible development costs) in September 2017.

The Committee for West Midlands recommended the project to the Board as a HIGH PRIORITY (2 of 2) for support.

14. Prioritisation of second rounds 

Marion Blockley left the room during the discussion of this item.

The Committee agreed that both Black Country Living Museum: Forging Ahead - creating a world-class visitor attraction in the Black Country; HG-15-08369 and A Centre for Learning, Heritage, and Arts for the whole community; HG-16-04125 should go forward to the Board with a high priority recommendation as both were outstanding projects.

The Committee recommended Black Country Living Museum: Forging Ahead - creating a world-class visitor attraction in the Black Country; HG-15-08369 as the first of the two high priority cases from the West Midlands.

Papers for information

15. Communications Report 

Vicky Wilford, Communications Account Manager, presented the report.  She informed the Committee that under the organisational structure the communications function would be performed by Marketing and Media Managers and the format of the report would change.

16. Any other business

A retiring member thanked the West Midlands team and other members for their help and friendship during his six years as a member.  He wished them and the Fund well for the future.

There was no other business.

 

Note of Annotation:  This was the last meeting of the Committee for the West Midlands.  The Committee would be replaced from 1 April 2019 by an interim Area Committee for the Midlands & the East which would cover the area originally covered by the Committees for the West Midlands, for the East Midlands and for the East of England.