P1550177 (resized)Support for Whitchurch Silk Mill is being offered from several sources, following the news of its serious financial difficulties that led to a cessation of weaving. This good news may help the Mill get back on its feet and again become a jewel in the crown of local attractions.

Losing money
The Mill has been losing money for a number of years and has ceased weaving silk, with the Trustees claiming the reason is the present economic climate.

Independent advice and a review
One of the main providers of public funds has been looking at the provision of independent advice in order to help save the Mill.
In a special condition placed on a grant of £25,650 for 2012/13, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council is seeking a review of the Silk Mill’s operation and future development, including business planning. Of note is the condition for Board development, as well as that of partnerships.

Previous annual grants of similar sums for ‘core funding’ over the last ten years have not had such ‘special’ conditions imposed, although the awards have been subject to a ‘service plan’, which sets out the general conditions of funding applicable to all organisations. The core funding is reviewed annually by Borough Councillors and agreed by the Basingstoke & Deane Cabinet.

The full wording of the special condition for the grant for 2012/13 is:

That the management and Board work with BDBC, Hampshire County Council and an independent consultant to review the organisation’s operation and future strategic development, including business planning/continuity, fundraising and income generation, Board development and partnerships.

The Mill is an important part of the town’s social and historic and attracts visitors from far and wide. Many hope that an independent review will be able to restore the Mill to a vibrant attraction that once again is able carry out its function of weaving silk as a working mill.

Call for support
In a very positive move, support is also coming from Whitchurch Town Council.
At last night’s (Monday 2nd July) meeting, the full Council agreed to write to Basingstoke and Deane calling for support for the Mill to be maintained, as well as offering help to the Mill’s Trustees. The proposal was passed with one abstention and none against, with several Councillors speaking highly of the Mill’s special importance to the town.

At the meeting Cllr Allan Vaughan also suggested that if any members of the public had any concerns they could express them to the Charity Commission.
They can be contacted through their WEBSITE.

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