What next? Here are some of your 'Frequently Asked Questions'

Since the announcement of the award by The National Heritage Lottery Fund of £82,000 to develop our plans to rebuild The George, many of you have been keen to find out further details. In order to keep you informed, we have put together a short list of questions asked most frequently and the answers to them:

“How certain are you of getting the second round grant of nearly £1m?”

At the end of the Project Development Phase, for which we have already been awarded the grant, we will make an application for the 2nd Round funding. Although this is not a formality, a sum of £989,000 has been allocated in the Heritage Fund’s budget on the basis of our detailed application for the 1st Round, which included full cost estimates (including inflation and contingency sums), and programme and management plans through to completion of the Project. The Heritage Fund’s Letter of Award states that: “A Development Grant does not guarantee that you will receive a Delivery Grant “, and that, “…your Delivery Phase Application will still be in competition for funding”. The fact, however, that we have been awarded funds to develop the Project reflects their confidence to invest in us to deliver a strong, high quality bid at Round 2. On the basis of the work we have done so far, one of our highly-experienced advisers has told us that we should be “quietly confident” provided we maintain our level of commitment, hard work and excellence during the Development Phase.

“How do I become a Member of the Society or buy (more) shares?”

The only way to become a Member of a Community Benefit Society is to buy shares in it. Membership gives you the right to attend and vote at Members’ Meetings and receive updates on plans and progress in advance of others.

Following our successful share campaign last year, we are not currently actively promoting the sale of shares. We intend to launch a second formal share offer to raise the Society’s contribution to rebuilding and restoration costs at the beginning of the Delivery Phase in 2021.

The Rules of our Society allow us discretion, however, to sell shares at anytime to anyone wishing to become a member and positively encourage us to recruit members. Therefore, if you wish to buy shares, or (if already Member) buy additional shares, you must send us a request to do so. In the first instance, simply send an e-mail to shares.wmgeorge@btconnect.com. We can then advise you of the rules and risks involved before you commit to buy.

If you decide not to, you can wait for the next formal share offer to become a member, or, alternatively, make a pledge now to buy when that offer opens. Pledges, though not giving you membership, help us give assurance to grant and other funders that we are capable of meeting our commitment to part-fund the project. At our Members’ Annual Meeting in June, obviously before we knew the outcome of our Heritage Fund application, some £11,000-worth of pledges were taken; a fact we made known to the Fund and which they found relevant.

“Why will it take so long (until 2023) to rebuild The George?”

Our Project Development Grant is valid until September 2021, and we have been advised that we should not rush the development/design process and use as much time as is necessary to make our Project as strong as possible in order to succeed at Round 2. Currently we have allowed the maximum time possible to develop our detailed designs, plan our community activities, raise additional funding and, ultimately, gain planning permission. This process will involve a large number of professional specialists covering different aspects and regular community consultation in order to ensure that we deliver the maximum benefit possible.

The Round 2 decision process also takes time. Our application for Round 1 funding, made in May this year, for instance, was decided, in accordance with the Heritage Funds timetable, in September. Once we receive permission to start the rebuilding and restoration work we estimate this will take approximately 18 months, hence our current date for the re-opening of The George in mid-2023. We will, however, work hard to accelerate our programme where it is prudent to do so.

“How can I help the Committee?”

Many people, recently and over the past few years, have offered to do anything they can to help us achieve our aims. Until now, although we have already received much voluntary support opportunities have been fairly limited. This has changed since the award. We are actively seeking volunteers to assist the Committee, for example, with specific aspects of the Project, with the Society’s business (including as Committee members) and in organising fund-raising and other events. We will let Members, Friends of The George and the community as specific opportunities arise but, in the meantime, to ensure that you will hear and can be contacted about them please visit our Volunteering page and register your interest

Committee members will continue to be pleased to answer any other questions you may have. Please email us with you questions or comments.