Proposed changes to EVRT structure.

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 trustees@evrt.org.uk 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.

3 thoughts on “Proposed changes to EVRT structure.”

  1. Although current trustee Chris Hogger is indeed my husband, of more relevance is the fact that he was an EVRT trustee from 2015 to 2018, and acted as volunteer Finance and IT Administrator to the charity for two years after that.

    I believe our community should be grateful to the current trustees for volunteering to be appointed as trustees in November, when the former trustees chose to resign. If the current trustees had not picked up the baton, the charity would have become inquorate and unable to function, and the future of the KGV Hall and Fields would be very uncertain. Continuing to rely on volunteers to become trustees and carry the workload and personal responsibilities this implies is not a sustainable way forward for such an important village asset.

    I hope residents concerned about this governance proposal will also look at the full report about the advice received from both the solicitor and the Charity Commission, which is available on the EPC website: https://www.effinghamparishcouncil.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Full-report-on-sole-trustee-governance-model-FINAL.pdf

    The EVRT Trustees have been discussing this possible change in governance with EPC since January at meetings of the EPC/EVRT Liaison Group, as has been reported at Parish Council meetings and recorded in the EPC minutes. Full notes of the Liaison Group meetings are available at: https://www.effinghamparishcouncil.gov.uk/evrt/

    Charity Commission Operational Guidance OG56 C1 2. is directly applicable to charities such as EVRT, and is key to EPC’s decision to accept the role of sole trustee. It states:

    2. Advantages of appointing local authorities as trustees

    The administration of a charity by a local authority can have advantages:

    as a body corporate, a local authority enjoys perpetual succession, so that it is not necessary to make individual appointments of charity trustees or to vest the charity’s property in them;

    the authority may well have an informed view of the needs of the charity’s beneficiaries, especially if the charity provides services similar to services provided by the authority;

    in the case of a recreation ground or open space, the local authority is able to make bye-laws for the land which are enforceable by the police and the criminal courts;

    often the local authority will be willing to subsidise the operation of the charity out of its own statutory funds:

    either directly, by way of grant aid; or indirectly by, for example:

    meeting the cost of maintaining the charity’s property; or providing professional services free of charge.

  2. In the interests of accuracy, please can I point out that the four former Trustees had not ‘all’ resigned when the Parish Council appointed three new ones on 17 November.

    Having taken time to reflect following the fateful Parish Council meeting of 26 October at which councillors, ultra vires, decided to stand in the way of the charity’s progress to a CIO, I resigned on 2 November. Howard Manton and Michael Agius themselves took time to consider, and resigned their trusteeships on 6 November. Rob Hope however decided to stay on alongside the Clerk and the Manager. He specifically wished to help incoming Trustees by providing continuity and knowledge.

    In the event the three new Trustees were appointed on 17 November, Rob Hope resigned on 6 December.

    I would also like to point out that in October 2021 the Board was enjoying the greatly encouraging prospect of a full complement of seven Trustees for the first time in about ten years. Three keen and skilled people were primed up and waiting in the wings for the moment at which the CIO was in place so that they could take up trusteeship.

  3. I am thankful to EFFRA for correcting the previous comment. In the interest of accuracy and with the greatest respect to the previous contributor I would also like to add the following:
    At no point did EPC step beyond its powers to block the actions of EVRT. As the minutes of the Extraordinary Meeting of EPC on 15th November, 2021 stated, ‘EPC while supporting the principle of conversion to a CIO, has concerns about the draft constitution and the security of the assets into the future, and the accountability to the residents of Effingham, who are the beneficiaries of the charity.’ As a local authority representing the people of Effingham, it was fully entitled to raise such concerns. The new trustees, of whom I am one, have reviewed all options available to the trust and concluded, in our opinion, that such concerns were well-founded. We recognise that this is a matter of opinion rather than fact.
    However, this opinion was reached in good faith and is intended in no way to detract from the efforts of previous trustees. It is my belief that nobody enters into such a community commitment with nefarious intent, but rather to support and serve the community in which they live and which they hold dear. It is sad that people are unable to accept the legitimacy of differing opinions on a complex subject.
    Current trustees hold no personal angst and accept that others will have differing views from ours. For my own part, however, I feel it inappropriate that my colleague, Chris Hogger, has been defined in the article by reference to his marital allegiances and not for the outstanding contribution he has made to EVRT and the community over many years. Perhaps if people stood back and took a breath they might think about not personalising issues and afford credit to those who step forward to support the community when others are stepping back.

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