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

Date:
Tuesday, 14th May, 2013
Time:
2.00pm
Place:
Committee Room 2, 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:
Head of Finance, Performance & Asset Management, Senior Estates Surveyor, Legal Advisor, Property Solicitor and Committee & Member Services Manager.
Item Description/Decision
PART I
8 MINUTES
RESOLVED: That the Minutes of the meeting of the Sub-Committee held on 27 March 2013 be taken as read, approved and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.
9 NOTIFICATION OF OTHER BUSINESS
There was no notification of other business.
10 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.
11 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
There was no public participation.
12 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 the King George V Playing Fields, Hitchin.

The Trust Legal Advisor explained that, at the previous meeting of the Cabinet Sub-Committee held on 27 March 2013, the Sub-Committee was asked to approve a form of notice that informed the public of the prospective transfer of part of the land from the King Georges Fields Trust to the Hitchin Rugby Club. The Publication of this notice was a requirement of the Charities Act 2011, and was produced in order to provide local residents with an opportunity to consider the prospective transfer and to provide them with an opportunity to provide their views on the transfer. The notice that the Sub-Committee approved provided a correspondence and e-mail address for members of the public to provide their comments on the prospective transfer, further to Section 121 of the Charities Act 2011.

The Trust Legal Advisor confirmed that no comments had been received in relation to the proposed transfer to the Hitchin Rugby Club. The Sub-Committee had no extra information to consider, therefore it may proceed with forming its own view concerning the appropriate terms for the prospective lease to the Hitchin Rugby Club.

In response to a question, the Trust Legal Advisor further confirmed that, to the best of his knowledge, it was unlikely that any member of the public wishing to comment had been unable to, by virtue of the fact that electronic and/or written submissions would have been acceptable.

RESOLVED: That the contents of the report be noted.

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.
13 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
14 KING GEORGE V PLAYING FIELDS, HITCHIN - CHARITABLE TRUST
  • Report
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 Trust Legal Advisor advised that, at the Sub-Committee meeting held on 27 March 2013, a number of general matters regarding the administration of the Trust land and some specific matters concerning the prospective lease to the Hitchin Rugby Club required further investigation. These were as follows.

• the response of Fields in Trust (FIT) to the proposed lease to Hitchin Rugby Club;
• of the outcome of negotiations regarding the incorporation of the Management Agreement matters into the new lease;
• of the outcome of the negotiations of the Senior Estates Surveyor acting on behalf of the Trust with the Hitchin Rugby Club on the proposed Heads of Terms for the new lease; and
• the outcome of investigations regarding the use of the on-site garages.

The Sub-Committee was informed that, since its previous meeting, the Council’s Senior Estates Surveyor had met with a representative of the Rugby Club. The following points had been put to the Rugby Club and were awaiting a response:

• The Rugby Club’s position regarding responsibility for maintenance of the existing buildings that were currently subject to the management agreement, but that would subsequently be incorporated into the new lease; and

• The Rugby Club’s position regarding Income from the letting of the sports pitches/future provision for the public of the current and future facilities.

The Sub-Committee noted that the Rugby Club had indicated that they were not willing to pay a contribution towards the maintenance of the Car Park.

The Trust Legal Advisor advised that FIT had been informed of the proposals to lease part of the site to the Hitchin Rugby Club. Officers were awaiting FIT’s formal response to the proposed lease to the Hitchin Rugby Club, although initial telephone discussions would indicate that they would require agreed heads of terms before they could provide any firm indication of their views.

In respect of the use of garages and compounds at the site, the Sub-Committee noted that it was clear that this situation regarding these would need to be regularised. However, any potential solution to this situation would require the approval of FIT. As such, officers were currently seeking the views of FIT as to what they would consider appropriate in the circumstances. Once FIT’s views had been ascertained, the Sub-Committee would be in a position to consider the options available.

The Members of the Sub-Committee who had attended a site visit with Hitchin Rugby Club officials on 23 April 2013 confirmed that the buildings appeared to be in need of refurbishment, and that they had expressed their encouragement to the Rugby Club to progress towards the signing of a lease and management agreement with the Trust so that they could then proceed with their redevelopment scheme.

The Senior Estates Surveyor tabled an e-mail response from Hitchin Rugby Club which clarified their views on a number of matters. The Sub-Committee noted these views, and hoped that the Rugby Club would, in future, be swifter in responding to issues raised by the Trust.

The Sub-Committee did not envisage any problems with an agreement being reached with the Rugby Club for accounting for pitch hire income.

The Sub-Committee considered that the Rugby Club was one of the significant users of the car park and, as such, could be reasonably expected to contribute towards its maintenance. However, should both parties come to an agreement regarding a date by which the Rugby Club would assume maintenance responsibility for the clubhouse, bungalow and changing rooms, then the Trust would be prepared to come to an agreement in respect of the car park maintenance.

In respect of the use of the garages and compound on the site, the Sub-Committee was of the view that, subject to the views of FIT, some of these could perhaps, in future, be let for income generation purposes. In any event, the Sub-Committee felt that the compound and surrounding area should be kept in a tidier condition.

The Sub-Committee agreed that it would meet next at 2.00pm on Thursday, 20 June 2013 at the Council Offices, Gernon Road, Letchworth Garden City.

RESOLVED:

(1) That the Rugby Club’s position regarding not paying a contribution towards the maintenance of the car park be noted;

(2) That, should both parties come to an agreement regarding a date by which the Rugby Club would assume maintenance responsibility for the clubhouse, bungalow and changing rooms, then the Trust would be prepared to come to an agreement in respect of the car park maintenance;

(3) That the Council’s Senior Estates Surveyor be delegated to continue negotiations with the Rugby Club regarding the terms of the new lease of the clubhouse; and

(4) That the current situation regarding the use of the garages and compound on the site be noted.

REASON FOR DECISION: To ensure that the Trust is managed in accordance with its regulatory requirements.
Published on Friday, 31st May, 2013
3.15pm