Coffee morning networking event

This morning our networking event took us to Abbotsley Village Hall, in Abbotsley just outside St Neots.  This wonderful old building is being lovingly restored by the trustees.  They have already battled with the cold and damp in the hall, refurbished the kitchen area, replaced floors and installed lovely double glazed windows to match the historic original design.  Hopefully you can see from the photographs what an excellent job they have done and they still have plans for more work.

After our tour of the venue and a refill of our coffee (and homemade biscuits provided by our hosts). There was time for two discussion topics, firstly we looked at Governance and Incorporation (what is a CIO) and then we discussed PAT testing and what are the requirements for a village hall.

These events are a great opportunity for trustees to come together, share their views and experiences.  Trustees have commented how valuable it is to see what other halls have achieved, how they have managed and funded projects.  Trustees have told us they usually leave these events with a list of new ideas to take away and implement in their own halls! If you are interested in coming along to a future event please see the programme of training and networking events below.



PAT testing – do we need to test appliances yearly?

First of all what is PAT testing?  PAT stands for Portable Appliance Testing and the term describes the examination of electrical appliances and equipment to ensure they are safe to use.  Many electrical defects can be found on visual inspection, however, some types of faults can only be detected with testing.

So is it law we PAT test on a yearly basis?  Well the short answer is NO.  The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 requires that any electrical equipment that has the potential to cause injury is maintained in a safe condition.  The regulations do not specify what needs to be done, by whom or how frequently.

When considering the best approach for your village hall or community building you will want to consider the type of equipment you have and how often it is used by trustees, volunteers and the general public.  For example most halls will have a kettle, fridge, maybe an electric floor cleaner, dishwasher and maybe some IT equipment.  You will of course want to ensure this equipment is safe to use for everyone, so having a process in place where items are checked visually on a regular basis (weekly/monthly) would be recommended.

Also check your insurance document and lease document (if you have one) it may be a requirement that a yearly PAT test is carried out throughout your building.

There is no legal requirement to label equipment that has been tested, nor is there a requirement to keep records of this activity.  However, a record (and labelling) can be a useful management tool for monitoring and reviewing the processes you have put in place.  Equally labelling equipment reassures users and volunteers using your facility that the equipment has been checked.

Do you need a qualified electrician to carry out the work? The HSE website states the person doing the testing work needs to be competent to do it.  In many low risk environments, a sensible competent member of staff/volunteer/trustee can undertake the visual inspection if they have been given enough training and knowledge.

However, when undertaking a combined inspection and testing a greater level of knowledge and experience is needed and the person will need:

  • The right equipment to do the tests
  • The ability to use this test equipment properly
  • The ability to properly understand the test results

The HSE provide some excellent advice and guidance on their website including this document on low risk environments and I would recommend all management committees take a look at the advice and review the policies they have in place on a regular basis.



Village Hall Insurance – Special Events

This article has kindly been provided by Martyn Ingram of Norris and Fisher insurance company.

When the Hall committee arranges an event, it is important to establish with your insurers whether or not the policy’s Public Liability cover automatically applies or whether you need to set up a separate policy. This will normally be determined by the type and size of the event you are staging.

Smaller events, such as table-top sales, will often be covered automatically, depending upon the amount of people attending. Some policies cover events with up to 1,000 attendees but other insurers have a lower level for automatic cover, so do be sure to check your policy.

On the subject of table-top sales, whilst the Village Hall committee would be covered for the organisation of the event, it is recommended that you stress to any stallholders that Products Liability cover would not apply to any produce sold by anyone other than the committee directly. Liability for food poisoning arising from home-made jam, for example, would lie with the stallholder who prepared and sold it.

There are certain activities for which insurers will usually require an additional premium or even refuse to provide the cover. These include fireworks displays, perhaps for obvious reasons, although some policies automatically include cover for a restricted number of attendees. Any additional premium will vary dependent upon the number attending the display and whether the event is being contracted out to a professional firm or whether the Hall committee are handling it.

Bouncy castles are often used at events and it is important to check whether your insurers have any specific requirements relating to them. They may, for example, require that the castle be supervised at all times and that toddlers must not use it at the same time as older children. There are also rules on how inflatables are secured and what safety matting is required to prevent or minimise the risk of injury, which vary between insurers.

If you are planning to hold a tug of war, this can sometimes cause insurance problems. Because of the number of injuries which arise from such events, insurers will often exclude injury to participants. It is imperative that this be communicated to the people involved. With such a wide variety of activities on offer nowadays it is important to check the exclusions in the policy to ensure that nothing is undertaken which will be uninsured.

Events involving animals can be a problem as insurers will often not take any responsibility for injury or damage caused by them. So if a committee were to hold a dog show or provide pony rides then they should make the owners aware that any responsibility would rest with them and the committee should check the owner’s liability insurance. This exclusion would apply to any injury or damage caused by animals as well as injury to the animals themselves.

If your event is to be opened by a celebrity, you may wish to insure against their failure to arrive. You may also want cover for cancellation of the event due to storm, snow or heavy rain. These covers are readily available but at additional cost to the standard Public Liability insurance.

Employers’ Liability cover may be relevant too – even though you may be using unpaid volunteers. The definition of an employee may include anyone under your direct supervision or working in connection with your activities so it would apply to any volunteers.

The majority of Village Hall policies include Hirers’ Liability cover, which extends your Public Liability insurance to cover the activities of any non-commercial users of your premises. However, if an event is being held at your Hall which is being organised by someone other than the Hall committee, then it may not be possible for you to arrange the insurance on their behalf. This is best discussed with your insurers at an early stage.

You will need to carry out a risk assessment in respect of any planned event and record your findings in writing. Assistance with this task can be obtained from the website of the Health & Safety Executive –

As always, it is very important that you should notify your insurers at the planning stage so that you can find out whether all aspects of the event can be insured and whether there is going to be a charge involved.

If you have any specific queries regarding insurance, you can address them to Martyn Ingram at Norris & Fisher –