THE RUSHDEN VILLAGE GREENS TRUST UPDATE 2021




In the November Edition of the Parish Gazette, the Parish Council invited expressions of interest from residents who would like to be considered as trustees of the Rushden village greens. That invitation is reproduced here:

This is an update from the Parish Council on the work that has been carried out on Southern Green to restore the Green to its original boundaries as an open space for the recreation of residents. This is the duty set out in the Trust Deed.


One overgrown hedge that had encroached on the Green has been removed and the resulting cleared area shows how much of the Green has been lost over the past 20 years or more. This area will now be sown with a grass and wildflower mix. A mixed English hedge will be planted in January/February along the boundary leaving the ditch clear for drainage.


In view of some strong opposition to this work, the current Trustees intend to stand down at final completion of this phase but have suggested the setting up of a Committee of new Trustees (apostrophe deleted) which will take over full responsibility for all three Rushden Greens.

Any Rushden resident wishing to be involved as a new Trustee in the management and maintenance of Southern Green, Shaw Green and Church Green please advise the Parish Council at Clerk@rushdenandwallingtonpc.co.uk

Since then, no one has made a specific approach to be considered as a trustee, but there has been a series of questions received for background information.

Those questions and the trustees’ replies are useful for giving more detail about the history of the village greens, what will be considered about applicants and proposals for the future.

The questions and responses are as follows:

Response to enquiries for preliminary information about new trustee application(s).


Queries received:

1. What are the terms of reference?

2. The job description?

3. What is the selection process for the committee and who will be involved in selection? Is there a “person specification”?

4. Will the new committee be expected to complete the future works planned by the outgoing trustees?

5. What plans are in place for the transfer of information etc and will I be able to view any accounts?

6. Financial processes will need to be clarified

7. Who will be registered owners of the land going forward?

8. Are the current trustees intending to retain any interest/involvement in the committee?

Response:

1. The terms of reference are in the original trust deed, a copy of which is attached. It is a simple document, reciting a duty on the trustees and contains fixed obligations, which trustees are bound to follow. A very neat summary is that it is the duty to preserve the three Rushden greens as open land for the recreation of the residents of Rushden.


2. In the past, the trust has run by fulfilling the requirements of the trust deed, without any separate operating constitution, but keeping records of correspondence and actions.. There is no specific job description for a trustee, but see the next response.


3. Appointment of new trustees is a matter for existing trustees. There is no process laid down except that if existing trustees propose new ones, the new ones have to be approved at an annual meeting of the Rushden parish assembly. This is not the Parish Council. It is not the case that the parish assembly appoints. It can either confirm or reject a suggestion from existing trustees. Members of the Parish Council may opt to serve as trustees. At present, an offer has been made by the existing trustees and no PC member elected to take office.

Publicity by the Parish Council, in the past, inviting new blood, implied that a committee of trustees would be formed. This is not based on the existing trust paperwork but on a hope that a number of people would volunteer to pool their talents. There is therefore no current specification for the constitution of a committee of trustees. If enough people volunteer to be those trustees, they are free to make their own suggestions for the future of the trust and its administration, whilst adhering to the obligations in the original deed.

For the avoidance of doubt, the trust deed does not cater for a committee of non-trustees who then direct the legally appointed trustees.


There is no person specification. The existing trustees will look to see if applicants have sympathy with the aims of the trust deed and respect for its legal commitments. They will bear in mind an applicant’s history in the village, involvement in village activities and interests, take account of any past indication of support for the legal duties of the trust and ideas for the future conservation of the land.

4,5,7,8. All of these queries should be taken together. The current trustees do not feel it fair to have new trustees appointed and simply cease to assist, leaving the new ones to “sink or swim”. Therefore, works which are already in hand are proposed to be completed. This largely involves Southern Green and the additional removal of scrubby growth or non-native plantings, to restore the verdant appearance and enhance the Conservation Area.

A substantial number of residents have supported recent work, continuing work and indeed urged the current trustees not to step down.

A newt survey is planned. The results will be notified to the police because a report of risk has been made by residents. Work will be guided by the result of the survey.


There is a hedgerow removal consent already in place.


Because of the proposal to phase in new trustees – and this will perhaps take a year between parish assembly meetings – the voluminous records of the trust can be introduced to any new “administration designated” trustee, over time, to allow assimilation.


There are no formal annual accounts of the trust on an income – expenditure basis, because there are minimal inputs of income and minimal outgoings. So, for the entire history of the trust (so far as can be ascertained from the existing records) the bank statements with invoices and notes have served well as accounts. Again, if any new appointees wish for formal modernisation of the accounts (no doubt at extra cost), they are welcome to propose it and see if it finds favour.

The registered title to the trust land:

The first registration of title was done by Christopher Hill and Charles Gutteridge, the current registered owners. They are not owners in the conventional sense, but trustees complying with the burdens of the original trust deed, which is noted at the Land Registry. It is possible to add new trustees to the title, although that involves fees and it may be better to wait until Messrs. Hill and Gutteridge finally leave the trust before registering new trustee owners.


It would be possible to transfer the land to the Custodian of Charities to avoid repeat transfers as and when new trustees appear, but there are disadvantages. The trust makes some income by confirming rights-of-way which have been legally acquired by long use rather than permission and the conveyancing aspects will be more difficult and more expensive if trustees are not personally registered as owners.


Distilled from all the above, the current trustees propose to remain to finish off existing plans and to assist the handover to new trustees.


Thereafter, anyone who comes on board as trustee(s) will be at liberty to take the trust obligations forward with whatever agreed administrative arrangements they wish.


6 This query is not understood. The two current trustees are signatories to the bank accounts. Decisions are taken jointly. The bank statements with notes and invoices give a full financial picture.


Therefore, once again, the Parish Council asks for anyone interested in being considered as a trustee to get in touch at Clerk@rushdenandwallingtonpc.co.uk or to either trustee:


Chris Hill cj.jail@btinternet.com

Charles Gutteridge cmgutteridge@yahoo.co.uk

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