National Village Halls Forum folds after 35 years

The National Village Halls Forum, which has provided a voice to around 90,000 volunteers running village and community halls throughout the country, is to fold after almost 35 years. Its annual meeting, which was to be hosted by Damien Green MP at Millbank in London last week, was cancelled at short notice.

The Forum’s grassroots role of lobbying of MPs achieved a number of important changes that have protected charitable community buildings. The continued zero rating of VAT on the construction of new charitable community halls was achieved in the face of an EC Court Judgement in 1988, saving communities throughout the UK millions of pounds. Through working with the Government’s Red Tape Initiative the Forum helped the work of the ACRE Network in achieving a more appropriate light touch licensing regime for community buildings and retained other essential tax reliefs such as rate relief and reduced waste disposal charges.

Spokesman, Alan West, chairman of Ringmer Village Hall Committee in Sussex, said “The Forum had an important role to play as volunteers trying to manage, rebuild and improve halls face a very difficult task particularly in raising funds and grants in the current financial climate. Earlier this year we met Oliver Letwin MP to put the case for enhanced Government funding for the ACRE network of advisers and the excellent information service provided nationally by the ACRE Network, but while he has written on the subject we are still waiting to hear of any improvement.

“We sincerely hope the Comprehensive Spending Review will bring improved funding for the ACRE Network. It would cost so little for the Government to keep this service and the peer support it facilities between halls.

“It is sad that we have to wind up the National Forum before we have achieved important goals that would benefit communities throughout the country"

The Forum's website is still operational at the time of writing and includes some useful links and news about the Forum's previous work.