Master Plan - What are Almoners trying to achieve?

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Concerned
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Master Plan - What are Almoners trying to achieve?

Post by Concerned »

[Continued from topic "Future of 'Master Plan' - where will the money come from" Click HERE to view - Moderator]

The ‘Masterplan’ – What are the Council of Almoners really trying to achieve?

Because the Ridley Society believes the Clerk’s reply to it's letter of 10th Feb 2005 manifestly failed to address a multitude of points contained in the Society’s original letter of the 10th February, a follow-up letter has been written to the Clerk - for a full copy, please go to the Society’s own website at http://www.ridleysociety.com, "Letter to the Clerk 16th Mar 05" link
This latest letter asks some very interesting questions about the Masterplan and where responsibility lies for its dire current state.

Some of the key points include:-
How are decisions actually made by the Council of Almoners? The Clerk intimates that all decisions (such as a move to Total Return) are arrived at through discussions involving the entire Council. This runs counter to letters from certain Almoners in the Ridley Society’s possession. These report that, all too often, these Almoners aren’t party to policy formation and are frequently asked to ‘rubber stamp’ decisions already made in sub-committee.

This leads to a wider point on the openness of the Council of Almoners.
The decision making process is shrouded in secrecy – with Minutes of Council meetings routinely denied to non- Almoners. What little information the Ridley Society is able to glean is from sympathetic Almoners supplying it strictly ‘off the record’. Hardly in keeping with today’s era of transparency and openness as exemplified in the recent Freedom of Information Act.

The economic prudence of these "decision making" Almoners. Amply illustrated by the following example: In 1997 the Council decided to sell off 5 Grade One listed Queen Anne town houses in central London for £2.9 million for office redevelopment. The property developer who snapped these bargains up must have laughed all the way to the bank – 7 months later they were sold on for some £7.5 million. (The only difference being that they had spent £800 on obtaining planning consent for residential development)

Ironically, the difference between the two sums is about £4.6 million – not far off the amount now claimed as necessary to complete refurbishment of the last eight boarding houses. How that money could come in useful now!
With a track record like this, should we be surprised at the difficulties their Masterplan has run into?

Finally, is the real agenda of certain Almoners the admission of day pupils? And, is this linked to the sale of Station Yard for development into, surprise, surprise, a housing estate? After all, new houses right on the school’s doorstep would be extremely desirable to the parents of day pupils if they are ever admitted. Naturally, the prices of these houses would reflect that desirability – thereby providing the Council of Almoners with the face-saving funds they so desperately need to rescue their floundering Masterplan.

The letter suggests a halt on all further building work until alternative approaches to the Masterplan can be discussed.

Will The Ridley Society, and all Old Blues, get replies to the probing questions asked in the above summary and in the full letter (at http://www.ridleysociety.com )?
And, given Christ's Hospital is a charity, why are the minutes of Almoners' meetings available for public scrutiny?
Will people continue to fund and support Christ's Hospital if the management aren't accountable?
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Lamma looker
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Post by Lamma looker »

It looks as though it is time to implement the adage of "follow the money" and investigate the directorships, shareholdings and other financial links of the key members of the Council of Almoners.
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Post by eloisec »

http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/re ... yno=306975

includes the statement that CH shall admit 'such day pupils as the Council of Almoners shall in its absolute discretion think fit'

probably deal with finances in absolute discretion too ...? :?
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Post by spiderlegs »

Shouldn’t we be asking the question, ‘Why are we even having to discuss the admission of day pupils at all?’
For one of the wealthiest charities in the country to be so short of cash strikes me as completely scandalous. Especially when you consider the way, literally, millions have been squandered on building works the sense of which few people but the Council of Almoners themselves could see.
This doesn’t just start with the ‘Masterplan’. Take the decision to build the Grecian’s Houses. Allegedly £7 million (incredibly hard to get an exact figure because of the Almoner’s traditional reluctance to share information). This on a project most members of staff, housemasters and even the headmaster of the day had grave reservations about.
Rumour has it the reason the Council of Almoners were so determined to get them built was to hire them out as conference venues during holiday times – a plan that fell flat on its face when they discovered top businessmen didn’t want to stay in a pupil facility where the bedroom doors had no locks!
Then we move on to the ‘Masterplan’ itself. An earlier contributor stated that,
‘Whatever you think of the Foundation, the money is managed by top Merchant Banks not cowboys!’
Would these be the same types of advisors who recommended the Council of Almoners sell off 5 central London townhouses for almost £5 million BELOW market price? Puff goes another huge pile of cash.
Some of the financial decisions seem so incompetent I’m inclined to agree with the call to examine the money trail in all this mess more closely. I’d hate to think certain people out there have benefited financially from the school’s current financial crisis…
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Post by J.R. »

I'm glad that's cleared that up, then !

(Clear as mud to me, and my head STILL hurts !) :oops:
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Post by Richard Ruck »

Perhaps someone could enlighten us as to what effect all this is having or is likely to have on the numbers of pupils actually being educated at C.H. .....

Let's start with the merger, and the closure of Hertford. Does anyone remember what effect this had on overall pupil numbers? (This is not meant to be a red herring - I think it's important when looking at the overall state of the Foundation).

I think that Horsham had around 850 pupils before the merger, but I'm afraid I've no idea how many girls were at Hertford. I would imagine that a few hundred places disappeared, though.

As for the Grecian's houses, how many people do they accommodate?

Did their construction result in additional places becoming available in the other houses, or does the upgrading result in fewer pupils per house?

In other words, how many boarding places are currently available, and is the situation expected to change if and when the rest of the houses are upgraded?

Re. the financial dealings, is it REALLY possible that property can be sold for £4.6 million less than its market value? If this is truly the case, it's unbelievably incompetent and someone, somewhere, must be sitting on an enormous pile of easy cash.
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Post by spiderlegs »

Re.
the financial dealings, is it REALLY possible that property can be sold for £4.6 million less than its market value?
If you can wade through it, it's all documented in detail in the 'new' letter on the Ridley Society web site (http://www.ridleysociety.com). The society tried to refer the deal to the Charities Commission, but they weren't prepared to investigate it.
Someone, somewhere made a killing...
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Post by spiderlegs »

RE J.R.'s comment -
(Clear as mud to me, and my head STILL hurts !)
I guess you never had the pleasure of Mr Simms' Pol/Econ classes when you were at CH! Sitting through a double lesson on the vagaries of the British 'first-past-the-post' electoral system on a dark Thursday afternoon having just played rugby/hockey etc was truly an exercise in staying awake!!!
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Post by Great Plum »

When I was at CH the school had approx 800 pupils - now due to a larger 6th form (mainly) the school has approx 850 pupils...
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Post by Concerned »

Pictures of the Old Grammar School front, and the "Master Plan" map showing the bi-secting of the quarter-mile, are now on the Ridley Society web page. http://www.RidleySociety.com
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Post by Lamma looker »

Is there a list of the members of the Council of Almoners anywhere?
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Post by Great Plum »

As we know with the 'masterplan' it was mean to do the following:

1. Build car parks - this has been done.
2. Reroute the main entrance of the school down North drive - this has been done but it still looks like the school's back entrance as that it what it was designed for.
3. Build two 'Grecians' Residences' - this has also been done but the price is rumoured to have been high, they were approx a year late and still have damp in them.
4. Gut the boarding houses and do slightly daft things like put 11 doors between the ground floor and matrons.... This has been done to 4 blocks - now the money has 'run out' so they are going to do what they should have done in the first place and renovate them properly...

5. Build a new CDT school on the other side of the arts Quad - this has been put back indefinately

6. Build new classroom blocks either side of the music/ theatre blocks on the Quarter Mile and demolish the Octagon (good luck, I believe it's listed!) - this has obviously been put back.

7. Convert the CDT school into a social area for the pupils - incorporating the Grecian's Club - again put back.

8. Build a museum on the site of the dep's club and reroute everyone through the quad and school office to get to the theatre - and build a decent foyer for it. - Obviously shelved for the mo.

I think I have covered most of the plan - does this not seem a little far fetched and was it all really necessary...?
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Post by jtaylor »

Presumably there was a published and costed plan for this work?
How much was all of the above supposed to cost, what has been achieved so far, and for how much?
Where was the money expected and planned to come from? If it hasn't been realised, then what went wrong there?
If there's an overspend, how much is it, and what are the explanations for it, and the "lessons learnt" for whatever the next phase is?

All of the above are standard questions that you'd ask in business when a project isn't going to plan......can anyone answer any of these factually?

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Numbers of Girls at Hertford

Post by jhope »

Richard Ruck wrote:"I think that Horsham had around 850 pupils before the merger, but I'm afraid I've no idea how many girls were at Hertford"

There were 8 boarding houses at Hertford (imaginatively named Houses 1 - 8) which housed @36 (sometimes a few more) plus the Prefects' Flat which slept @ 6-8? - so around 300 in total.

How many girls are there now at Horsham?
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Post by palgsm93 »

Lamma looker wrote:Is there a list of the members of the Council of Almoners anywhere?
Clicking on 'List of Trustees' in that Charity Commission document mentioned earlier seems to list them:

Click here:

http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/re ... TAL&SubID=
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