Consideration was given to a report of the Strategic Director of Reform which provided the Committee with an update on the consultation undertaken, as advised by the Charitable Trustees.
The Committee was informed that Lees Recreation Ground was gifted on 21st February 1911 between Samuel Whitehead and Charles Whitehead of the first part, Charles Collinge Spencer of the second part, Edwards Trustram of the third part, Sarah Ann Lees and the Donor, Marjory Lees of the fourth part and the Corporation of the fifth part.
A sealed order of the Charity Commission Board for the recreation ground for secondary schools was agreed on 26th May 1911, to continue to use Lees Recreation Ground exclusively for any secondary or other school or schools, the whole of the endowment to be applied to educational purposes. An amendment followed on 3rd June 1938, trusted to the Corporation that they would use the land thereby assigned for a recreation ground for the Municipal secondary School of the Borough of Oldham or for any additional secondary school or schools of a like character.
At its last meeting, the Committee granted permission to the Northern Roots project team to conduct a consultation exercise with local communities and stakeholders with a view to possibly widening the objectives of the charitable use of the Lees Recreation Ground land and to consider whether or not to swap the location of the land to a more accessible/suitable location within the proposed Northern Roots site.
The consultation took place from 24th June 2019 to 23rd August 2019 and three responses were received. One response ticked the box for nature-based educational activities, but no further comments were provided. The other two responses ticked the box for a multi-functional use sports pitch and again no further comments were provided.
The Committee was informed that the Council had received written advice from the Charity Commission with regard to amending the objects of a charity.
The advice which was given was:
When deciding the new purposes of a charity the Trustees had to consider
· The spirit of the original gift;
· The desirability of providing new purposes that are close to the original; and
· The necessity for the new purposes to be suitable and effective in light of current social and economic circumstances
The Trustees of the charity were required to set out what they thought the new purposes of the charitable trust should be and explain how they related to the three considerations. The Trustees were required to provide minutes of the meeting at which these matters were considered and concluded.
The Charity Commission expected Trustees to have carried out an appropriate consultation exercise to help them inform their decision making regarding whether any of the criteria for making a scheme had been met and if so, what new purposes were appropriate. The advice went on to say that the consultation would need to be appropriate to the situation.
The advice listed what needed to be done namely:
· Consult with stakeholders and consider the results and make any necessary modification to the proposals.
· Pass a resolution at a meeting of the Trustees to formally apply for the scheme.
The Trustees were recommended consider the outcome of the informal
consultation which had taken place in the light of the conditions and make a decision with regard to a proposal to widen the objectives of the Lees Recreation Ground which would form the basis for a formal consultation process as appropriate to the situation.
1. The report and the outcome of the informal consultation process which has taken place to date with regard to the use of the Lees Recreation Ground be noted.
2. The proposal to widen the objects of the Lees Recreation Ground Trust to nature-based educational activities, as both close to and in the spirit of the original gift and in the light of current social and economic circumstances, be agreed.
3. Officers were instructed to carry out a consultation on the proposal to widen the objects of the Lees Recreation Ground Trust on behalf of the Trustees to nature-based educational activities and report back to the Trustees the outcome of the consultation process.