South Norwood’s historic Stanley Halls has taken a massive step towards its ultimate move to full opening.
After years of work from local volunteers, the Charity Commission has granted the Stanley People’s Initiative (SPI) charitable status. This means that the SPI will soon be able to sign a lease and take management of these public halls from Croydon Council and this “jewel in the crown of South Norwood” will be available for hire once again.
SPI has been registered as a charitable incorporated organisation – a new form of charity particularly suited to the type of structure needed to run major projects such as these extensive public halls. It removes a cumbersome level of bureaucracy.
Carol Clapperton, the chair of the trustees’ board, said: “We are all thrilled that we have obtained charitable status – and were really pleased it came through so quickly. We have to thank the officers at Croydon Council for working closely with us to get our charity registered, and the Commission for its timely response.”
The status means SPI will be able to sign the lease agreement after a few final negotiations and some essential works to the Halls by the council, which currently manages the complex.
Both SPI and the council are eager to transfer the lease on the Halls and get them fully open to the public so they can become a vibrant hub in the area. Until the handover there will be occasional public events at the Halls and SPI volunteers are getting valuable experience by managing them.
Earlier this month, folk singer Steve Knightley gave a rousing one-man concert to a packed auditorium. A temporary licence also meant that the bar could be opened, with beer from SE25-based brewery, Clarence and Frederick – emphasising the SPI’s commitment to working with local suppliers.
Other one-off events will continue and the Halls will open to regular hirers when SPI formally takes on the lease and provides a full management service. This should be during the summer.
“Now it really feels as if the community is going to take management of Stanley Halls,” Clapperton said. “It may have looked to outsiders as bit of a pipe dream, but it is finally going to happen. We just need the Halls to be in a fit enough state for us to open the doors to the public, and the council has those works in hand. We owe a huge thanks to our large band of supporters; together we have built this community-led charity from nothing and soon Stanley Halls will once more fulfil its potential.
“Now we need to hear from hirers. Tell us what you want to do in the Halls and we can start scheduling events.”
Due to a historical quirk, SPI is the second charitable trust established in relation to Stanley Halls, which could have slowed the application down. The initial trust was set up in 1905 by Halls founder, William Ford Stanley, and is administered by Croydon Council. Council officers supported the Commission with its enquiries to show how the two trusts could work together and would be of benefit to the local community.
The SPI charitable incorporated organisation has trustees mainly drawn from the local community. SPI held elections among its “Friends” supporters’ group last summer and elected a shadow trustee board in preparation for this charity registration.
- Anyone who wants to know more about SPI or Stanley Halls can visit www.stanleypeoplesinitiative.wordpress.com or can contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Coming to Croydon
- Fairtrade Film night, Antenna Cafe, Haynes Lane, Feb 27
- Fairtrade event, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 1
- Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society, Mar 3
- Patchwork and quilting workshop, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 3
- Fairtrade stall at Food Market, Haynes Lane, Mar 8
- Upper Norwood Library Book Club, Mar 15
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 20
- South Norwood Lakes Playground group workshop, Mar 25
- Croydon Half-marathon, Mar 30
- Crystal Palace Overground Festival, June 26-29
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