Cabinet Sub-Committee (King George V Playing Fields Charitable Trust) Minutes

Date:
Wednesday, 27th March, 2013
Time:
2.00pm
Place:
Committee Room 3, Council Offices, Gernon Road, Letchworth Garden City
 
 

Attendance Details

Present:
Councillor Bernard Lovewell (Chairman), Councillor P.C.W. Burt and Councillor T.W. Hone.
In attendance:
Senior Estates Surveyor, Legal Advisor, Property Solicitor and Committee & Member Services Manager.
Also Present:
Mr Jim Wilcock, Brown & Lee Chartered Surveyors.
Item Description/Decision
PART I
1 ELECTION OF CHAIRMAN
RESOLVED: That Councillor Bernard Lovewell be elected as Chairman of the Sub-Committee for the remainder of the 2012/13 Civic Year.
2 NOTIFICATION OF OTHER BUSINESS
There was no notification of other business.
3 CHAIRMAN'S ANNOUNCEMENTS
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.
4 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
There was no public participation.
5 KING GEORGE V PLAYING FIELDS, HITCHIN - CHARITABLE TRUST
The Sub-Committee considered a report of the Head of Finance, Performance and Asset Management in respect of a number of issues relating to the ongoing management of the King George V Playing Fields, Hitchin. The following appendices were submitted with the report:

Appendix A - Draft Management Document;
Appendix B - Draft Advertisement; and
Appendix C - Plan of the King George V Playing Fields, Hitchin.

The Trust Legal Advisor tabled an amended version of Appendix A (Draft Management Document).

The Trust Legal Advisor explained that the District Council owned King George’s Playing Fields (‘the playing fields’), Hitchin, registered freehold No. HD493587, of approximately 7.3 hectares (18 acres). The grounds comprised open space used for organised and informal sport, recreation and leisure uses. The District Council held the land in Trust, subject to the King George’s Fields Foundation.

The Sub-Committee was informed that the King George's Fields Foundation was established as a memorial to King George V by trust deed dated 3 November 1936, and was a registered charity (No. 220766). Grants were made by this Foundation in respect of a number of recreation grounds throughout the United Kingdom. Each of these fields, including the one in Hitchin, were dedicated as a memorial to His Late Majesty and the Charities Commission had accepted that each of them constituted an individual charitable trust. A plan that showed the extent of the land that was subject to the Charitable Trust was attached at Appendix C to the report.

The Sub-Committee was advised that, for a number of years, the Council did not appear to have in place a specific method of managing property that it held in trust, and it seemed that over a period of time the administration of this particular piece of property was not undertaken in a way that took specific account of the particular nature of its ownership. Therefore, in January 2013, the Council created this Sub- Committee in order to administer the playing fields so that the Council could more easily comply with all of its obligations as trustee of this charitable trust. This was the first meeting of the Sub-Committee and it was intended that the Sub-Committee used the meeting to deal with some primary matters relating to the administration of the trust.

In respect of future management of the Trust property, the Sub-Committee was recommended to ratify the form of Management Document attached at Appendix A to the report. This Management Document sets out the Council’s approach for managing the Trust Property and was a document that would help to ensure that the Trust Property was managed effectively and efficiently. The Council was legal owner of the land and, as such, was still subject to all of the same duties to maintain the land that applied to the rest of its property portfolio (i.e.) a duty to ensure that it was maintained appropriately etc.

In respect of notice of the prospective transfer to the Hitchin Rugby Club, the Sub-Committee was informed that the King George V Playing Fields, Hitchin was a charity and, as such, any prospective transfer of the land that made up the playing fields site was subject to the provisions of the Charities Act 2011 that provided for the circumstances which a Charity may transfer land that it held in trust. Section 121 of the Charities Act provided as follows:

“1……

(a)Where land is held by or in trust for a charity, and

(b)The trusts on which it is so held stipulate that it is to be used for the purposes or any particular purposes of the charity

2 The land must not be conveyed, transferred or leased or otherwise disposed of unless the charity trustees before the relevant time

(a) Given public notice of the proposed disposition inviting representations to be made to them within a time specified in the notice, which must not be less than one month from the date of the notice, and

(b) taken into consideration any representations made to them within that time about the proposed disposition…………”

The Sub-Committee was advised that the King George V Playing Fields, Hitchin fell within the definition provided in Section 121 of the Charities Act 2011 and, as such, any proposed disposition must be advertised in accordance with that Section. The Hitchin Rugby Club, who currently occupied part of the site, were seeking to surrender their current lease and obtain a new lease of 99 years of a slightly larger footprint of part of the site. This prospective transfer would need to be advertised in accordance with Section 121 of the Charities Act 2011. The Sub-Committee was recommended to approve the advertisement attached at Appendix B to the report, so that this prospective transfer may comply with the Charities Act.

The Sub-Committee considered the tabled Draft Management Document, and made the following amendments:

• Paragraph 3.1(c) - replacement of the word “catchment” with “local” in the second line; and
• Paragraph 7.1 - Review of this Document - rather than the document being reviewed “periodically throughout its duration….”, this be amended to “at least every 20 years or as and when appropriate….”.

The Sub-Committee agreed the proposed form of advertisement set out at Appendix B to the report, and further agreed that this should appear in The Comet newspaper, in local libraries, and on the Council’s website, as well as notices being posted on site.

RESOLVED:

(1) That the Draft Management Document, as tabled at the meeting and with the amendments detailed above, be approved; and

(2) That the proposed form of advertisement, as attached at Appendix B to the report, be approved, and that this appear in The Comet newspaper, in local libraries, and on the Council’s website, as well as notices being posted on site.

REASON FOR DECISION: To ensure that the management of the Charitable Trust proceeds in an efficient manner; and to ensure that it complies with its statutory duties.
6 EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC
RESOLVED: That under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and press be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the said Act (as amended).
PART II
7 KING GEORGE V PLAYING FIELDS, HITCHIN - CHARITABLE TRUST
  • Report
  • |
    Appendix A
  • |
    Appendix B
  • |
    Appendix C
The Sub-Committee considered a Part 2 report of the Head of Finance, Performance and Asset Management in respect of a number of issues relating to the ongoing management of the King George V Playing Fields, Hitchin. The following appendices were submitted with the report:

Appendix A - Plan of currently lease area and proposed leased area;
Appendix B - Hitchin Rugby Club’s proposed heads of terms for their new lease; and
Appendix C - Surveyor’s Report.

The report outlined the procedure for disposals, consideration of the Hitchin Rugby Club’s proposals for a 99 year lease and significant improvement works to the buildings they used on the site; the lease in respect of the Scout Hut on the site used by the 5th Hitchin Scouts; and the use of the garages on the site.

The Sub-Committee considered the proposed Heads of Terms proposed by the Rugby Club, as set out at Appendix B to the report. The Sub-Committee accepted some of these, and suggested amendments to others, which were noted by the Trust Legal Advisor and Senior Estates Surveyor. It was agreed that the Senior Estates Surveyor be authorised to enter into negotiations on the proposed Heads of Terms with the Hitchin Rugby Club.

The Sub-Committee agreed that a new lease be granted to 5th Hitchin Scouts for continued use of the Scout Hut on the site, on the terms set out in Paragraph 11.74 of the Surveyor’s report set out at Appendix C to the report.

In response to a request, the Senior Estates Surveyor undertook to arrange a site visit to King George V Playing Fields, Hitchin for Members of the Sub-Committee.

The Sub-Committee agreed that it would meet next at 2.00pm on Tuesday, 14 May 2013 at the Council Offices, Gernon Road, Letchworth Garden City.

RESOLVED:

(1) That, in accordance with the Trust’s Independent Surveyor’s advice, the necessary procedures for bringing the Management Agreement to an end are commenced to allow further negotiation on the most appropriate method of incorporating matters currently dealt with in the Management Agreement into the new lease;

(2) That a further report be produced to inform the Sub-Committee:

• of the outcome of the consultation that will be taking place pursuant to Section 121 of the Charities Act 2011;
• of the response of “Fields in Trust” to the suggested lease to Hitchin Rugby Club;
• of the outcome of negotiations regarding the incorporation of the Management Agreement matters into the new lease;

(3) That further investigation be undertaken regarding the use of the garages on the site;

(4) That a new lease be granted to 5th Hitchin Scouts for continued use of the Scout Hut on the site, on the terms set out in Paragraph 11.74 of the Surveyor’s report set out at Appendix C to the report; and

(5) That the Senior Estates Surveyor (currently acting on behalf of the Trust) be authorised to enter into negotiations on the proposed Heads of Terms with the Hitchin Rugby Club.

REASON FOR DECISION: To ensure that the Trust is managed in accordance with its regulatory requirements.
Published on Monday, 15th April, 2013
4.00pm