Agenda item

Alice Park Trust

At the meeting of the Charitable Trust Board held on 11 July 2019, members considered a report detailing a proposal from a third party to transfer responsibility for the Alice Park Trust (as sole corporate trustee) to an independent community led initiative.  The Board is asked to consider the attached report.


Mandy Bishop, Director of Environment Services, presented the report which set out three options for the future governance of the Alice Park Trust:

  • Sole trusteeship
  • Shared trusteeship
  • Company limited by guarantee


Derek Swift, who was one of the co-sponsors of the proposal put forward to transfer responsibility for the Trust to an independent community- led initiative spoke on this item.  He disagreed with the conclusion set out in the report that the retention of the current model represents the lowest risk.  He stated that the Council cannot be worse off because it already provides a large subsidy to the Trust.  He pointed out that under a company by guarantee the Council would have a diminished voice but that this was a negative aspect for the Council and not necessarily for the Trust.  The aim would be to ensure that, over time, the level of subsidy provided by the Council decreased as long-term sustainability was very important.  The structure that he had proposed provided for specialists and a “friends” group.  He also queried the assumptions in the report about the provision of public conveniences and the tennis court hire income.

Graham Page, independent member of the Alice Park Trust Sub-Committee, referred to the public statement that he had submitted.  He outlined the three main points – management, voting and financial arrangements.  He felt that under the current governance arrangements it appeared that the Council is running the park rather than an independent Trust.

Mandy Bishop, Director of Environment Services, stated that this is a strategic issue for the Charitable Trust Board to consider, in particular, how far the Council wishes to hand over control to an outside organisation.  She responded to the issues raised by Mr Swift stating that her understanding was that the break clause for the public convenience contract was 12 months for the whole Council contract.  She acknowledged that the assumption made on tennis court income was based on 2018 figure and explained that there would soon be a new model for the tennis provision.

Cllr Appleyard thanked the two public speakers for their contribution.  He stated that the Sub-Committee now has a clear vision for Alice Park and that the Councillors involved have a great deal of experience.  As Chair of the Sub-Committee he did his best to accommodate all views.  He suggested that a 10-year plan should be produced for the park with the aim of increasing the income stream and ultimately to remove the need for a Council subsidy.

Although there is a cost for providing the public conveniences in the park this covers two cleans per day, consumables, building maintenance and security.  He stated that the Sub-Committee would be keen to create a small management team for the park, which would be open to the community, to undertake operational tasks such as event bookings.

The new offer for tennis court provision will provide good quality facilities.  Cllr Appleyard was optimistic for the future of the park and noted that it is very well supported within the local community.  The creation of a circular path around the park has proved very popular.  It is now important to focus on improving the children’s play area. 

Cllr Myers pointed out the any law and structure should serve the purpose of an organisation and stressed that Councillors are here to serve the community.  He recognised the frustration of the public, officers and councillors who have been involved with the governance of the park.  He stated that the Sub-Committee is listening to the views of the public and welcomed the opportunity to work with them.

He pointed out that the Trust is currently not financially independent and that it had originally ended up being administered by the Council for this reason.  He felt that it could be difficult for an outside organisation to be financially viable.  However, it would be a mistake to ignore the energy of the community and there should be a commitment to tackle any issues that arise.

He proposed that there should be a round table management committee structure enabling everyone to work together to ensure that the Trust serves the people.

The Legal Services Manager explained that the Council currently administers the Trust through the Alice Park Sub-Committee.  The Local Government and Housing Act 1989 Section 13 does not permit co-opted members to have a vote on such a body.  The ultimate decision must be taken by the Council unless it divests itself of the Trusteeship.  Day to day operational decisions could be made by a management committee but strategic decisions must be taken by the Council as sole corporate Trustee.

Cllr Myers noted that a management group could work up a plan and bring it forward to the Sub-Committee for a final decision.  Community engagement is important although it was accepted that decisions must still be taken formally.

On motion by Cllr Appleyard, seconded by Cllr Myers it was RESOLVED unanimously to:

(1)  To note the report.


(2)  To agree to retain the sole trusteeship delivery model for the governance of the Alice Park Trust.


(3)  To ask the Alice Park Trust Sub-Committee to produce a 10-year plan for the Trust with the aim of becoming financially sustainable.  Consultation on the proposed plan should take place with the local community.


(4)  To thank the local community for their support and to ask the Alice Park Trust Sub-Committee to work with them to develop the existing volunteering arrangements to achieve greater community engagement and involvement.  To request the Sub-Committee to propose a suitable community engagement model for consideration at the next meeting of the Charitable Trust Board.

Supporting documents: