Village halls urged to draw up snow action plans
by Claire McGine, Head of Communications

Village hall volunteers are being urged to draw up an action plan to deal with icy car parks before the next Big Freeze.

Recent heavy snowfall posed a dilemma for many of England’s 10,000 rural community buildings, says national charity ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England), which runs a Village Halls Information Service.

“Village hall committees will want to make it easier for people by clearing snow and ice from pathways, entrances and car parks,” said ACRE Policy Assistant Janet Griffiths.

“However, the concern is that by doing this they could make themselves more open to claims if someone subsequently has an accident. “It’s a contentious issue and committees will have to decide for themselves whether to clear snow, and put down salt or grit- or whether closing the hall car park is the best option. “We are urging them to think about the issue and identify the risks now so that they’re prepared the next time we get snow.”

ACRE has produced a comprehensive car parks information sheet packed with guidance for village halls on the points they need to consider when faced with bad weather.

It covers the legal issues, risk assessments, advice from the Health & Safety Executive and advice on gritting and snow clearing.

It also covers all other aspects of managing village hall car parks – from dealing with trespassers and squatters to making sure the space is accessible for people with disabilities.

ACRE, the umbrella organisation for the 38 members of the nationwide Rural Community Action Network (RCAN), works with RCAN to deliver a local advisory service for village halls.

It recently launched a campaign for better support for village hall volunteers, who are struggling with red tape, loss of funding and the increasing needs of people who use them.

Mrs Griffiths added: “Managing a village hall is a complex and time-consuming task for 80,000 volunteers across England. Our network of advisers ensures they have accurate information about the law, training and one-to-one advice and support with business planning.”