KGV Fields and Hall

 

King George V Hall and Playing Fields
and
Effingham Village Recreation Trust
and
Effingham Parish Council



Historical background
Between 1935 and 1938, Effingham residents raised £4,000 in order to purchase 33 acres of land for village playing fields - this is the area now known as the King George V Playing Fields. This was a huge amount of money at the time, which would be about £770,000 at 2012 adjusted values.  

After the Second World War, it was feared that the land might be requisitioned for housing so the residents' purchasing committee decided to dedicate the land as a Charity which would preserve its intended use, sport and recreation, for the benefit of the residents of Effingham in perpetuity.  

In 1951 the Charity was duly registered. Its purpose was:

'for the following objects for the benefit of the inhabitants in the Parish of Effingham, namely
a)  the appropriation and use of the land … for playing fields for outdoor sports and games
b)  the appropriation and use of the land … for the site of a village hall to be erected and maintained thereon under the title of King George's Hall for the purposes of physical and mental training and recreation and social, moral and intellectual development through the medium of reading and recreation rooms, library, lectures, classes, recreations and entertainments or otherwise as may be found expedient without distinction of sex or of political, religious or other opinions.'

In 1955 some further land joined the charity - the cricket field on Effingham Common, and another tiny piece of land on the east side of Effingham Common Road. The Charity Scheme (the governing document) has been updated twice since, in 1990 and 2009, but both the objects of the Charity and the basic structure of the arrangements for looking after it have remained the same.

The name of the Charity is now Effingham Village Recreation Trust (EVRT).  
To see the full text of the current Scheme (the foundation document which defines the objects of the Charity and how it works) and other statutory information submitted by the Charity, click here.

The objectives of the Charity now
'The object of the charity is, for public benefit, to provide or assist in the provision, support and or maintenance of facilities for recreation and other leisure-time occupation for the inhabitants of the area of benefit, in particular through the provision of a village hall and recreation grounds.'

Arrangements for looking after the Charity
Since the very beginning, a committee of charity Trustees, called Managing Trustees, has handled day-to-day administration.

The number of Managing Trustees on the committee, and the way these members should be assembled, has been changed twice since the original foundation (in 1990 and 2009). Under the previous Schemes the Managing Trustees referred to themselves as the Committee of Management. Today (2013) under the current Scheme, there are seven Managing Trustees referred to as the Board of Trustees. All these volunteers down the years have made a declaration that they will do their best to ensure that the Charity is managed well and in the interests of the residents of Effingham, for whom the charity was formed.  Every year the Managing Trustees hold an Annual General Meeting in public, which is advertised locally and is an opportunity for Managing Trustees and residents to hear from each other. The Charity presents its audited accounts for the most recent financial year.

For EVRT's website and contact details of the current Chairman of the Trustees, click here.

The Custodian Trustee
When the Charity was originally set up, it was necessary to constitute another body as well as the Managing Trustees.  

The freehold (legal ownership) of the Fields had to be officially registered to the Charity. But the membership of the Managing Trustees would be bound to change fairly regularly down the years as individuals came and went. It would be impossible to update the legal freehold documents every time this happened. This situation obviously affects many similar bodies. The widely-used solution is that freeholds are registered in the name of a body which will always exist through time, rather than with specific named people. This sort of body is then called a 'Custodian Trustee' for its charity. Effingham Parish Council was identified as a suitable local organisation to be the body which would hold the freehold for the Playing Fields charity and is therefore EVRT's Custodian Trustee.  

A Custodian Trustee always acts as a corporate body. In Effingham it just happens to be made up of all the parish councillors of the day. Individual councillors do not choose to hold that role or not, they do not have individual roles or powers, and the fact that they are parish councillors is not relevant to the role.

As well as holding the freehold, being a Custodian Trustee brings a few other duties. A Custodian Trustee is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the finances of a charity are run in accordance with the objects of the charity (Public Trustee Act 1906). It must know on what basis money is being received into or paid out of the charity, for instance. It may, if it chooses, delegate management of the finances to Managing Trustees.

A Custodian Trustee also has a duty to ensure that its charity's assets are kept secure for the beneficiaries (in this case the residents of Effingham and nearby areas), and that any significant decisions taken such as sales or leases do not breach the objects of the charity, for instance by disposing of or losing control of the assets.  

This means that a Custodian Trustee must be informed about such plans, because alongside the Managing Trustees it may need to be party to (a signatory to) any legal agreements which are going to be made affecting use of the land or facilities. The area of law for charities who are landlords is not straightforward. A Custodian Trustee does not usually decide for itself whether it needs to be a signatory or not. It takes independent legal advice on the technicalities of each individual agreement as these come up. In doing this, the Custodian Trustee's aim is only to assure itself of whether the asset and the objects of the charity are fully protected in the terms of the agreement. The fine detail is not its concern.

A Custodian Trustee must not intervene in the day-to-day management of a charity, and it must go along with the plans or aims of the Managing Trustees, in so far as these do not amount to a breach of trust. If someone has a problem with a Charity, they should take it up with the Chairman of the Board of Trustees in the first instance.

Finally, to reiterate, Effingham Parish Council's role and responsibility as Custodian Trustee for the EVRT Charity is entirely separate from its normal powers and duties as a Parish Council.  


Effingham Parish Council and the Charity

These final sections are about Effingham Parish Council when it IS acting in its primary role, ie as the Parish Council.

Effingham Parish Council funding of village organisations
Effingham Parish Council is elected to make decisions on behalf of the residents of the Parish. It can raise residents' money (the precept or council tax) and spend this on various aspects of village life.

When the Playing Fields were first purchased, it was publicly agreed that the Parish Council accepted no responsibility to finance this facility through the precept. Early on it became evident that the Charity was raising insufficient money to cover its costs. Therefore, in every year from 1951 up to 2013 the Parish Council made a grant from the precept to the Charity. During 1988-2013 this grant money amounted to £237,260. Since 2013 all grant money provided by the Parish Council to the Charity has been for specific items or projects that have had to be formally costed and justified by the Charity. Additionally a Service Level Agreement came into being in 2015 as the means by which the Parish Council would pay from the precept, on behalf of the residents, for the maintenance of certain KGV amenities such as the playgrounds. The Charity's operating costs today are fully covered by the income from its users.

It is an auditing requirement of handling the public money entrusted by the residents that, before funds are granted to any group, the Parish Council should know why the funds are necessary and that they are not available from other sources (ie residents are not subsidising the activities of specific groups unnecessarily).  Following various discussions and attempts to help the Charity financially while also operating the standards necessary for local government audit, in 2012 the Parish Council decided to set up the Community Fund. Depending on available funds each year it is intended this will be an annual scheme.  It is a pot of money open to bids from all village organisations, including EVRT, to fund projects of community benefit that they would like to undertake. For further details of the scheme contact the Clerk. Discussion and agreement of which applications will be funded takes place in public at monthly Parish Council Meetings.

In addition to funding specific projects through the Community Fund, the Parish Council has, as mentioned above, a 4-year Service Level Agreement (2015-2019) with the Charity to support the maintenance of the public amenities and infrastructure. This enables the Charity to provide year-round facilities as a recreation resource for villagers, identified as Ear Marked Reserve 336 “Community Green Space SLA”  in the Parish Council's annual accounts.

The Parish Council has no powers to deal with complaints made about the management of the Charity's premises or facilities and if any such compaints are received then they will be passed on to the Board of Managing Trustees.

Appointment of Managing Trustees by Effingham Parish Council
All three successive Charity Schemes down the years have given various named village organisations responsibility for appointing Managing Trustees to the Committee. Effingham Parish Council is just one of those listed, and thus has had responsibility for appointing some of the Managing Trustees since 1951.  

The Parish Council can nominate anyone it thinks has the qualities needed to be a Charity Trustee and is willing.  These people may or may not be serving Parish Councillors. Down the years, many of the people appointed have been Parish Councillors, and equally, many have not.  Either way, their role once appointed is to act entirely independently, for the good of the Charity and the residents, not to do the bidding of the Parish Council.   

In the present Scheme the Parish Council is responsible for appointing four of the seven Managing Trustees. It makes the nominations in public.  Once people have accepted their appointment they may serve for four years.  

Conflict of interests
Up and down the country at every level of local government there are countless individuals who are both Managing Trustees for charities in their local areas and also elected members (councillors). Elected members are aware of the requirement to behave with great probity in situations where they are potentially on both sides of a fence if certain issues are discussed. This is described as 'having a conflict of interests' and must always be addressed, in order to ensure that an individual's duty of trust to the Charity is not compromised. 

In Effingham's case, at meetings of the Custodian Trustee or of the Parish Council where items relating to EVRT may be discussed, individuals in this situation make a 'Declaration of interest' and then, depending on the nature of the item, they may make a report of fact (ie factual - but non-confidential - information, not for discussion), stay and observe but not discuss / vote, or withdraw completely. This is normal practice for people in public life.