Minutes of a meeting held on 17th October, 2016.
Present: Councillor F.T. Johnson (Chairman), Councillor H.C. Hamilton (Vice-Chairman), Councillors T.H. Jarvie, G. John, K.P. Mahoney, A. Parker and A.G. Powell.
Also present: Councillor C.J. Williams.
487 MINUTES –
RESOLVED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 27th July, 2015 be approved as a correct record.
488 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –
No declarations were received.
489 FORMER SIXTH FORM SITE – COWBRIDGE COMPREHENSIVE SCHOOL (MD) –
The Committee received a report to apprise it of the outcome of the formal request to the Trustees of the Cowbridge Comprehensive School Trust and the Sir Thomas Mansel Franklen Trust to remove the prohibition imposed by those Trustees on a Member of a Local Authority within or serving the Vale of Glamorgan from being a Trustee or either of the said Trusts. Furthermore, a formal resolution was sought for the Committee in order that the conditional approval be given to the scheme drafted by Charity Commission, which was attached at Appendix 1 to the report, on 27th July, 2015 be progressed with and the Scheme be forwarded to the Charity Commission for authorisation.
The Principal Officer, Property and Contracts Team, advised that following the resolution of Committee on 27th July, 2015, correspondence was entered into by Legal Services with the Secretary to the Trust in order to seek a reversal of the prohibition on Members of the Authority (or Members of Community Councils in the Vale) serving as Trustees of the Trusts. A concession had been made permitting the appointment of Community Councillors as Trustees but the Trustees were adamant that Members of the Vale of Glamorgan Council remained ineligible to act as Trustees. The reason for this was that the Trustees were anxious to avoid any possibility of a Trustee promoting a course of action on the basis that it might benefit the Council as the Local Education Authority rather than a beneficiary of a charity.
The Committee was advised that the Secretary to the Trustees had stated that given the year in which he had served in that capacity, there had been numerous occasions where a Councillor Trustee would have been excluded from decision and decisions due to a conflict of interest. The Trustees stated that they were anxious that the Sixth Form site be disposed of as soon as possible to enable application from the sale proceeds for charitable purposes.
The Principal Officer advised that from an administrative point of view it was more convenient to transfer the land direct to the Trustees in order to facilitate implementation of the scheme without delay, this would lead to savings in officers’ time, both in the interim securing arrangements for the site which was becoming problematic and in marketing the site, particularly in the situation where the Council had no interest in the site or its sale proceeds and was viable as Trustee in the interim for the safety of the site. Recent correspondence from a resident at Millfield Drive had complained about the appearance of the building, damage caused by trespassers and risks to young people entering as trespassers and becoming injured, poor maintenance of the fences / hedges separating the building from adjacent residential properties.
The Committee could therefore proceed with final authorisation of the scheme and subsequent transfer of the land to the Trustees or could determine for officers of the Council to proceed to marketing and disposal of the site, with the net sale proceeds to be transferred to the Trustees. Cost savings would accrue from a direct transfer of land and a concomitant responsibility for maintenance and safety of the Site to the Trustees.
In discussing the Trust’s prohibition on Vale Councillors in becoming Trustees, the Committee heard that up until 18 months ago, all Governors of Cowbridge Comprehensive School were Trustees. The Trust had then subsequently amended its Constitution in that two or three Trustees would be appointed and a decision had been made to bar Local Authority and Community Councillors from becoming Trustees. A Committee Member expressed concern that the political environment within Wales was changing and that new regional working schemes were being proposed and so it seemed unfair to bar local Councillors from becoming Trustees.
A Committee Member proposed that the Trust Committee should defer its decision and enquire with the Trust around its decision to prohibit Local Authority Councillors and for a decision to be reached within one month’s time.
In clarifying the situation as it appeared, a Committee Member stated that this Council was spending ratepayers’ money on the maintenance of the building in Cowbridge and the sooner that responsibility was transferred to the Trusts the better.
The Principal Officer advised that the scheme in relation to the site, which had been set up in order to provide secondary school facilities, has since the disuse of the site as a school, been unable to achieve its objectives and so the Council was obliged to ensure that the process was resolved as quickly as possible. He advised that a letter from the Secretary dated 6th October had resolved that Members of Town and Community Councils were able to become Trustees, but there was no mention of lifting the bar for Local Authority Councillors.
The Committee subsequently agreed to defer its decision and adjourn the meeting, to allow officers to liaise with the Secretary of the Trusts in order to clarify whether all Members of the Trusts were in agreement for Local Authority Councillors to be prohibited from becoming Trustees. Once this information had been received, the Trust Committee would meet in order to determine and resolve the scheme.
RESOLVED – T H A T the meeting be adjourned.
Reasons for decisions
In order to seek clarification from the Trusts, with regard its position around Local Authority Councillors being appointed as Trustees.
RECONVENED TRUST COMMITTEE
Minutes of the reconvened meeting held on 31st October, 2016.
Present: Councillor F.T. Johnson (Chairman); Councillor H.C. Hamilton (Vice-Chairman); Councillors T.H. Jarvie, G. John, K.P. Mahoney and A. Parker.
490 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –
This was received from Councillor A.G. Powell.
491 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –
No declarations were received.
492 FORMER SIXTH FORM SITE – COWBRIDGE COMPREHENSIVE SCHOOL (MD) –
The Trust Committee reconvened its meeting of 17th October, 2016. The Committee was provided with a copy of an e-mail dated 18th October, 2016 from the Secretary of the Trusts. This e-mail outlined that a meeting of the Trustees of the two Trusts was held electronically on 18th October, 2016.
The e-mail advised that it had been unanimously agreed to amend a rule made at a meeting of the Trustees on 17th December, 2014 that stated that “No person shall be nominated or appointed (as a Trustee of the Trusts) who is also a member of staff of Cowbridge Comprehensive School or a member of a local Council within or serving the Vale of Glamorgan” by the deletion of the last 14 words of this rule.
The Head of Finance also advised that there was an outstanding sum of £4,375 owed to the Local Authority by the Trusts in relation to the removal of metals from the site. The Committee was advised that a resolution made at its meeting on 22nd July, 2013, agreed that any costs incurred by the Local Authority would be met by the Trust. It was agreed that Officers would inform Members of the Trust Committee when this money had been reimbursed.
Having considered the report and the email dated 18th October, it was unanimously agreed
(1) T H A T the outcome of discussions with the Trustees of the Sir Thomas Mansel Franklen and Cowbridge Comprehensive School Trusts concerning the eligibility of Members of the Authority (and Members of the Community Council) to act as Trustees of either Trust be noted.
(2) T H A T the scheme be approved and forwarded to the Charity Commission for final authorisation.
Reason for decision
(1) To update the Committee as to the outcome of the discussions with the Trustees of both Trusts.
(2) To enable progress to be made with the disposal of the Sixth Form site.