It has been agreed that the structure of Effingham Village Recreation Trust (EVRT), the charity that runs the KGV playing fields, Hall and Cricket field, is changed from an unincorporated body to Effingham Parish Council being the Sole Trustee. See EPC Governance Moves
Currently there are three Trustees, Paula Moss (Parish Councillor), Charles Thorne (Parish Councillor) and Chris Hogger (husband to Liz Hogger, Parish and Borough Councillor). All were appointed on 17 Nov. 2021 following the resignation of all former Trustees.
EVRT is dependent on a large financial contribution from EPC for the running of KGV (currently about 60% of the Parish Precept – part of our Council Taxes).
The main issue with the current structure is that the Trustees have personal financial liability, which has put off a lot of potential volunteers coming forward to run the charity. Personal liability can only be removed if the charity becomes a corporate body. The two main possibilities are:
- Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO)
- Sole Trustee by a corporate body (e.g. the Parish Council)
The KGV Playing Fields are legally well protected, so it would be very difficult, if not impossible to sell off the land. The deeds must be held by a corporate body, so it makes little difference if the deeds are held by EPC as Custodian Trustee (as currently), or directly by EVRT if incorporated as a CIO.
A key requirement of any charity is that it must be an independent body. It must not be controlled by another organisation. Where there are any conflicts of interest, they must be managed in such a way that they do not influence decisions. In the Sole Trustee model, the charity must be run very much at arm’s length from the Parish Council. In the CIO model, the Trustees should be independent without any conflicts of interest.
Currently EPC can appoint four trustees, with a further three independent trustees appointed by the existing Trustees. In the Sole Trustee model, the Parish Council would become the Sole Trustee managing the charity.
The three current EVRT Trustees have asked if EPC would be willing to become the Sole Trustee; EPC has agreed to this. See EPC/EVRT. The former Trustees wrote an open letter to EPC setting out their concerns about the future management of EVRT, see Open Letter to EPC regarding EVRT 28.03.2022
EPC has taken legal advice on the proposal to become the Sole Trustee and believes it can avoid any conflict of interest in the two roles. The EFFRA Committee has read the legal advice and the Charity Commission’s guidance and is very concerned that the Parish Council is adopting the Sole Trustee model when the Charity Commission does not recommend it or “is chary” of it because of the difficulty of managing the conflict of interests. The Committee is also concerned about the increased workload this will place on the Parish Council at a time it is already stretched and whether this change will be to the detriment of both the running of the Parish Council and the KGV Playing Fields.
Due to pressure from the EFFRA Committee and some residents, EVRT has agreed to give residents an opportunity to comment on the agreed changes up to Friday 27th May. The legal advice can be read here
The current EVRT trustees are giving a public presentation by Zoom on Friday 13 May 2022 at 19:30 for which residents need to register today (Wed. 11 May) by emailing email@example.com and giving their names.
The KGV is an important Asset to Effingham and the EFFRA Committee suggests residents form their own views of these changes. Comments can be made through the process set up by EVRT here and we also welcome comments here.