Cabinet Sub-Committee (Hitchin Gymnasium and Workmans Hall Trust) Minutes

Tuesday, 26th July, 2011
Committee Room 3, Council Offices, Gernon Road, Letchworth Garden City

Attendance Details

Councillor Bernard Lovewell (Chairman), Councillor I.J. Knighton and Councillor Mrs C.P.A. Strong.
In attendance:
Strategic Director of Customer Services, Head of Revenues & Benefits, Legal Advisor, Accountancy Manager and Committee & Member Services Manager.
Item Description/Decision
RESOLVED: That Councillor Bernard Lovewell be appointed as Chairman of the Sub-Committee for the 2011/12 Civic Year.
RESOLVED: That the Minutes of the meeting of the Sub-Committee held on 10 January 2011 be taken as read, approved and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.
There was no notification of other business.
The Chairman reminded Members that, in line with the Code of Conduct, any Declarations of Interest needed to be declared immediately prior to the item in question.
There was no public participation.
The Accountancy Manager presented a report in respect of the outcome of the independent examination of the Trust’s Statement of Accounts for 2010/11. The following appendices were submitted with the report:

Appendix 1 - Final Statement of Accounts 2010/11 (as amended);
Appendix 2 - Final Annual Report 2010/11;
Appendix 3 - Independent Examiner’s report.

The Accountancy Manager advised that, for the year ended 31 March 2011, there was a net inflow of resources of £11,426 which was mainly due to a revaluation of the property during the year to a carrying value of £160,000 as at 1 April 2010. Income from the hire of the hall was £13,557 which, together with the contribution from the Council of £36,155, covered all expenditure, except the charge for depreciation of the fixed asset. This charge of £3,556 was funded by a reduction in restricted funds.

The Accountancy Manager advised that the examination of the Trust accounts had been completed by the appointed auditor, Gursh Bains CPFA, an Audit Manager in the Shared Internal Audit Service, who had experience of auditing Charity Accounts in previous roles at the Audit Commission. The examination did not identify any issues which needed to be bought to the attention to the Trustees and the examiner’s report was attached at Appendix 3 to the report.

The Accountancy Manager stated that, during the course of the examination, a number of minor errors, mostly of a presentational nature, were identified by the Auditor. All of these errors had been amended in the revised version of the statement of accounts attached at Appendix 1 to the report following discussion with the Accountancy Manager.

The Sub-Committee was pleased to note that the cost of the independent examination had amounted to £250, some £200 less than the amount paid in 2009/10.


(1) That the independent examination report, as attached at Appendix 3 to the report, be noted;

(2) That the 2010/11 Statement of Accounts, as per the amended version of Appendix 1 to the report, be approved;

(3) That the 2010/11 Annual Report, as attached at Appendix 2 to the report, be approved.

REASON FOR DECISION: To comply with requirements for registration of the Trust with the Charity Commission.
The Trust Legal Advisor presented a report updating the Sub-Committee on the ongoing work on the North Hertfordshire Museum and Community Facility project.

The Trust Legal Advisor reminded Members that the North Hertfordshire Museum and Community Facility project ‘community’ proposal for Hitchin Town Hall was being taken forward by the Council working with Hitchin Town Hall Ltd., a company set up to take forward Hitchin Initiative’s proposals.

The Sub-Committee noted that, on 10 February 2011, confirmation of the grant/loan award for £850,000 from the Community Builders Fund (now known as ‘Future Builders England Ltd.’) was received. Hitchin Town Hall Ltd., with support from the Council, were seeking clarification of the grant/loan conditions with Future Builders. Following receipt of confirmation of conditions from Future Builders, officers would progress to conclude the Development Agreement with Hitchin Town Hall Ltd. and then report to the Council and Trust to consider the final agreement and specifically seek authority to transfer part of the Town Hall and Trust property by way of a lease. Initial advice had been received from the Trust’s appointed Surveyors, Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH), that the circumstances relating to the disposal of the Trust’s land by way of a lease to Hitchin Town Hall Limited were sufficient to satisfy the criteria laid down by the Charity Commission, without the need for their formal consent. Once the final terms were known, LSH would be asked to confirm that their initial advice had not changed. The current anticipated timescales would require the Sub-Committee to meet during September 2011 to consider the terms of the final agreement.

The Trust Legal Advisor commented that, further to obtaining planning permission on 17 March 2011 for the demolition of 14 Brand Street, Hitchin, the construction of the museum and refurbishment of the Town Hall Complex, the Council was now procuring the ‘Supervising Architect’. This advert has now been placed in the Official Journal of the European Union and a timetable highlighting key phases of the project was set out in Paragraph 4.3 of the report.

The Sub-Committee was informed that officers on behalf of the Trust would continue to monitor the ongoing work, providing input where required to safeguard the interests of the Trust. Further work was required on the proposed Management Agreement, and specialist advice would be obtained from the Trust’s appointed surveyor prior to any formal proposal being placed before the Sub-Committee.

In respect of Land Registry registration, the Sub-Committee was advised that, on 3 February 2011, HM Land Registry confirmed that the application to re-draw the boundary between the Trust property and the non-Trust property at Hitchin Town Hall had been successful.

The Trust Legal Advisor stated that, upon receipt of confirmation from HM Land Registry, officers applied to the Charity Commission for the re-registration of the Trust. This application was successful and the Trust was re-registered on 16 February 2011 under its previous registration number of 233752.

The Trust Legal Advisor explained that the Charity Commission listing stated that the Charity’s name was "Charity for a gymnasium and other purposes for the benefit of the inhabitants". This name appeared to have been taken from the 1934 conveyance which created the charity and which remained the governing document. However, for the purposes of the public trying to find information about the activities of the charity this was not considered to be a particularly helpful name. Officers had sought advice from the Charity Commission on formally changing the charity’s name to “Hitchin Town Hall Gymnasium and Workman’s Hall Trust”, the name which was being commonly used to describe the Trust.

The Sub-Committee was advised that the Charity Commission had confirmed that trustees of unincorporated charities had a 'statutory power' - the power granted to them by the 1993 Act - to change the administrative powers and procedures of their charity. Trustees must pass a resolution to approve a change under this statutory power. This may be at a properly constituted meeting, or by any other method allowed by the governing document for such resolutions. In all cases, trustees of registered charities must send a copy of the resolution to the Charity Commission and notify them of the date it was passed in order to keep the charity's entry on the Register up to date. Accordingly, officers recommended that such a resolution be passed to change the name of the charity to “Hitchin Town Hall Gymnasium and Workman’s Hall Trust”.

The Sub-Committee asked that, should the scheme for the North Hertfordshire Museum and Community Facility proceed, what would be their input as administrators of the Trust. The Trust Legal Advisor replied that the Sub-Committee would need to meet at least once a year to approve the Statement of Accounts and Annual Report, but that it would be a matter for Members as to how they wished to meet in order to fulfil their overview role on behalf of the Trust.


(1) That the report be noted;

(2) That that the name of the Charity be “Hitchin Town Hall Gymnasium and Workman’s Hall Trust” and officers be authorised to apply to the Charity Commission to facilitate the formal change of name.

REASON FOR DECISION: To keep the Sub-Committee updated on various matters relating to the Trust.
Published on Tuesday, 17th April, 2012