A community mobilises
Skelton Villages Civic Pride was formed in 2011 by local residents who recognised the need for improvements to be carried out to the environment of the four Skelton villages (i.e. Skelton-in-Cleveland, Skelton Green, New Skelton and North Skelton). Once formed, this committed group were successful in raising funds and sourcing small grants to provide seating, planting barrels and pole-mounted planters along the two-mile length of the village’s main street.
The next steps saw weekly fund-raising coffee mornings established in the Civic Hall and the establishing of the “Sponsorship” scheme for the barrels and planters. This enabled the funding of the annual purchase of plants, the watering, and the ongoing maintenance by volunteers. 2012 saw the fruits of their labours realised with the first annual summer planting.
Their sights were now turned towards the more ambitious target of major physical improvement in the High Street. The Heritage Lottery Fund’s Townscape Heritage programme was an obvious source of potential help. An unsuccessful bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund, in 2013, did not dampen their enthusiasm.
With the aid of a seed grant from the then Tees Valley Rural Community Council and technical support from Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, a new bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund was submitted in August 2014. This was a “Round 1” bid to the Townscape Heritage programme. A development grant of £69,200 was approved by the Heritage Lottery Fund in February 2015, allowing Skelton Villages Civic Pride and its partners to rent a shop on the High Street, employ a project manager and a range of specialist consultants, and develop a detailed proposal for the High Street, together with a range of supporting activities.
This Round 2 proposal was submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund in March 2016. The proposal was accepted in June 2016. The award from Heritage Lottery Fund was for £952,200 out of a total cost of £1.374 million. Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council contributed over £271,000. Skelton Villages Civic Pride, Skelton and Gilling Estates, Skelton and Brotton Parish Council, and local businesses contributed the balance.
Formal “Permission to Start” was given by the Heritage Lottery Fund on 29th July 2016.
Implementing the project
The project was implemented through a Partnership. Skelton Villages Civic Pride as the community group in Skelton which originated the project provided the “Community Lead”. This was the means by which line management was achieved for the employed staff of the project. The group raised a significant match funding contribution to the project out of all proportion to its size.
Our partners & their roles:
- Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council: The Council provided a significant match funding contribution to the project. It also acted to “Cashflow” the project; i.e. it met the costs of the project initially until funds were drawn down either from the Heritage Lottery Fund or from the various match funders supporting the project. The Council also acted as “Accountable Body”. This gave the necessary assurance of financial probity to the Heritage Lottery funding. Finally the Council provided a range of technical support and services to aid the project, including planning, highways, legal and procurement services.
- Tees Valley Rural Action (previously Tees Valley Rural Community Council): TVRA provided two essential roles for the project. Firstly they employed the paid, professional staff, providing all necessary payroll and staff support services. Secondly they provided the operational base for the project by both leasing office space on the High Street and by providing the necessary supporting offices services and equipment. All costs met by TVRA were re-charged to the project.
- Skelton & Brotton Parish Council: The Parish Council provided three key roles for the project. Firstly, the Parish Council owns and operates the Skelton Civic Hall and through this provided the venue for the meetings of the Project Partnership Board. Secondly, the Chair of the Parish Council chaired the Partnership Board (subject to annual election), thus underlining the local roots of the project. Thirdly, the Parish Council provided the venue for Skelton Villages Civic Pride to meet and fundraise.
Our other partners listed below are drawn from the local community and bring particular skills and interests to bear for the benefit of the Project:
- The Skelton & Gilling Estate: This is centred on the historic Skelton Castle and is one of the largest land ownerships in the area. It owns significant parts of the four villages of Skelton.
- All Saints Church: Not just the building on the High Street but also the congregation which it serves. This Church of England parish also contains the iconic old All Saints church which provides such a key townscape feature in the project.
- Skelton Methodist Community Church: Previously known as the West End Methodist Church, this congregation downsized its property in late-2013 by taking over the ex-Village Hall at Skelton Green.
- Skelton History Group: Formed in 2012 by members of the local community, it exists to research and promote a better understanding of the history and heritage of our villages. This it does through exhibitions, and heritage-themed walks and talks.
- Representation from the Business Community of the High Street.
- Representation from local residents
How we made decisions
Primary management of the project was done through the Skelton Townscape Heritage Project Partnership Board. The Partnership Board was originally formed to oversee the development phase of the project, but then continued to oversee the delivery of the project. The Board was made up of members drawn from all the partners. Click the thumbnail to open the image as a PDF.
The Board’s role was to provide strategic direction for the delivery of the project in a manner consistent with requirements of the Heritage Lottery Fund. It’s detailed responsibilities included:
- Overseeing the delivery of the project at a strategic level
- Setting the objectives for the Community Lead and, through him, the project manager
- Approving overall budgets
- Approving consultant briefs
- Reviewing proposed contracts
Nuts and Bolts
The project manager was our only full time member of staff and was responsible for getting the project delivered.
Day-to-day management was achieved through a Project Management Team which helped co-ordinate the delivery of the project. The team comprised the Tees Valley Rural Action Chief Executive, the Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council Masterplan Delivery Officer, Skelton Villages Civic Pride’s Community Lead and the project manager. It supported the Community Lead in acting as the line manager for the project manager.
All our procurement, be it for consultants or contractors, was undertaken using the Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council’s Commissioning & Procurement Service. Competitive quotations were obtained for any spending over £10,000. Anything costing over £50,000 was competitively tendered. We had to account to the Heritage Lottery Fund for all these processes and spending.
The project’s consultants were Southern Green (for the public realm work), Harris Irwin (for building design), Identity Consult (for costings), Tees Archaeology (for Activity 1 – Boroughgate, Activity 3 – Recorded memories and Activity 4 – Snapshot in time). The Heritage Lottery Fund also require us to appoint an independent evaluator to give them an assessment of the project, both during delivery and on completion. Geonomics were our evaluators.