Parracombe Community Land Trust Steering Committee
Thursday 24 April 2018 6.30pm
Meeting to discuss legal form for the Parracombe CLT
Attending: Alison Ward (WCLTP), Jay Lambe (WCLTP) Nick Backhouse; Tom Wilde; Keith Denby; Jeremy Holtom; Dave Austin; Helen Minns; Dominic Acland (Wessex Community Assets); Karen Farrington (at 7.00pm)
Apologies: Michelle Blakesley
1. Welcome and introductions
2. What is a CLT and what are the aims and aspirations of the Parracombe CLT steering group?
Alison went through a presentation addressing the below points (slides attached)
– Legal definition (what the CLT must do to be a CLT)
– The principles of community led housing
– Objectives (what social aims will the CLT aim to achieve)
– Activities (what will the CLT do to meet those aims)
– Community benefit (who will benefit from the activities of the CLT)
– Geographical boundaries (where will the area of benefit be)
– Finance (how could the CLT fund the activities)
It was agreed that the CLT would be set up to carry out a range of activities – including a shop and a housing project in the first instance, and that it would be important to be able to finance the CLT in a number of ways – through grants and donations, loans, community shares, and through income generated by other community projects.
3. Legal options for CLTs
Dominic explained that our recommendation would be to use the existing Village Hall charity for the ownership of the Hall (if it is suitable on examining the governing document of the Hall). This is because it is understood that local people will be prepared to donate the money required to purchase the hall if it can be done in a tax efficient way, and this can only be done with a registered charity that is able to accept gift aid. Previously it was thought that investors might be able to access Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) if a Community Benefit Society purchased the Hall, but Dominic explained that renting space (the trade that the Hall would be carrying out) is ineligible for SITR (although retail is eligible for SITR so will, in all likelihood, apply to the shop project). The Village Hall charity could then issue a lease to a Community Benefit Society to operate the Hall.
The Village Hall Charity is not currently fit for purpose as there are two Trustees and one is associated with the vendors of the Hall (the RAOB). In order to make the charity fit for purpose Jeremy agreed to write to the RAOB to ask them to arrange for their Trustee to resign so that new Trustees from the community can be appointed.
Karen agreed to contact the Charity Commission to ask for a copy of the governing document of the charity. The charity may not be in an incorporated form, which would need to be considered as this will affect Trustees liability, and also it needs to be ensured that the charity has the power to take on the Hall.
As the charity may not be fit for purpose in time for the July 11th deadline for completion on the sale of the Hall, it was agreed that a practical course of action would be for the Hall to be sold to the Parish Council in the first instance, from funds lent to the PC from private individuals, and then sold on to the charity once it is fit for purpose. Jeremy agreed to check with Devon Communities Together, who advise on such issues, as to whether this would be possible under the current powers of the PC. The PC would also need to pass a resolution to agree to the purchase of the Hall and the conditions under which this would be done. Loan agreements would also need to be set up. Jeremy also agreed to check this issue with the solicitors who are handling the conveyance. It may be possible to access a public works loan board loan, although these are generally for longer periods of time. Dave agreed to investigate this possibility.
Action: Jeremy, Dave
The CLT may also wish to take on the recreation ground, there would need to be a discussion in the future about which entity took ownership of the recreation ground. There are instances of Housing Associations building shops buildings for communities as part of the housing project, and this may be something that a Parracombe CLT would wish to explore.
It was agreed that a Community Benefit Society would be established, the name of the Community Benefit Society would be Parracombe Community Trust. There is a cost of either £40 or £120 (depending on whether changes would be required to make the Rules suitable for attracting SITR), which a request could be made to the Parish Council to fund via a cheque. Often Parish Councils make a facility of £200 available to emerging CLT groups for start-up costs.
4. Roles and responsibilities
CLTs normally require volunteers for being members of the Board of the CLT and also for the roles of treasurer, chair and secretary. Dave volunteered to be the Chair, Tom as treasurer, and Helen as secretary (bearing in mind her limited capacity until the end of July). It is usually the case that the steering group are all appointed as founding Board members of the Community Benefit Society at the first meeting of a newly incorporated Community Benefit Society.
5. Next Steps
It was agreed to circulate a doodlepoll set the date of the next meeting, but Alison would circulate paperwork to sign and get the process of registering the Community Benefit Society underway in the meantime.
Dominic explained that the support of Jay and Alison on delivering an affordable homes project for local people was ongoing and funded by charging a fee to whichever party brings the development finance (normally a housing association), the support of Dominic on developing a business plan for the shop and Hall aspects of the CLT project, through the WCA Community Enterprise Network, would be funded by a 3% contribution from whatever funding is raised through a share offer or loan which had been arranged/supported by the WCA Community Enterprise Network.