SVA ups membership fee as assets cost society £46,000

Margaret's Meadow is one of several sites owned and maintained by the SVA.

Margaret's Meadow is one of several sites owned and maintained by the SVA. - Credit: Archant

A charity dedicated to preserving the Sid Valley’s heritage and charm has been forced to increase its membership fees to address a huge gap in its finances.

Sidmouth Museum is run by the SVA

Sidmouth Museum is run by the SVA - Credit: Archant

The Sid Vale Association (SVA), which owns acres of land open to the public and runs Sidmouth Museum, spent more than £46,000 on maintaining its assets in 2013/14, writes Harvey Gavin.

But income from subscription fees in the same two years totalled less than £4,000 – not even enough to cover the cost of printing and posting two newsletters a year to the group’s 2,300 members.

The SVA is responsible for managing the £2.3million Keith Owen Fund, which has allowed the civic society to dish out more than £600,000 in grants, but the money cannot be used to cover the charity’s running costs.

Writing in the SVA’s November newsletter, chairman Alan Darrant said: “Our subscription income is falling many thousands of pounds short of covering our routine expenditure.

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“We are only kept afloat by legacies, which vary greatly in amount year by year, and we clearly cannot rely on unknown future legacies.”

He said that many members had signed up for a lifetime subscription years ago – some for as little as £8 – and so the decision had been taken to increase the annual fee to £10.

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A lifetime subscription is now available for £100.

Mr Darrant added: “With life membership now significantly more expensive, we foresee having a greater proportion of annual members, and, by demonstrating just how valuable the SVA is to the whole area, we hope to persuade hundreds more to join us, with the aim of preserving the heritage of the Sid Valley and the association itself for decades to come.

“Torbay Civic Society currently charges £10 for annual membership, and they do not run a museum and do not own land.

“I think that shows that the SVA offers, and will continue to offer, excellent value for money, and I do ask you to continue to support us, and to encourage others to do likewise.”

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