Anyone up for forming a group to nominate Mytholm Works as a community asset?
Here’s some info on how this could work.
Steve Hoyle, the Calderdale Council officer responsible for dealing with the new Community Right to Bid, has emailed that by the end of this week, he should be able to send me the forms to use to nominate a community asset.
And Robin Tuddenham, Calderdale Council’s Director of Communities, has confirmed that although Calderdale Council has not yet decided on its procedure for creating a list or register of community assets, there’s no need to wait for this to happen. It’s ok to submit an expression of interest in nominating a community asset right away, using the nomination forms and guidance that Steve Hoyle aims to send out at the end of this week.
Setting up an unincorporated community group
It seems to me that the best way to go about this is to set up an unincorporated community group – possible working name: Incredible Edible Mytholm. According to My Community Rights/Understanding the Community Right to Bid, an unincorporated group with at least 21 members and a local connection is eligible to nominate a community asset.
Does anyone else think this is a good idea? And would you be interested in being a member? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are, or to find out more.
Other local authorities that have already sorted their Community Right to Bid procedure specify that unincorporated groups that want to nominate community assets must have at least 21 members who are eligible to vote in the local authority elections. So that would be a safe thing to aim for if people wanted to set up an unincorporated association to nominate Mytholm Works as a community asset.
I’ve done a little digging on setting up an unincorporated group – it’s been a while since I’ve been involved in one. This is what I’ve come up with.
Need a meeting to agree the group’s purpose and elect steering committee to draft constitution
The first step is to call a meeting to discuss the group’s purposes – which could be, for example:
- to nominate Mytholm Works as community asset, in order to be able to exercise Community Right to Bid if/when owners put Mytholm Works on market
- to cooperate with Incredible Edible Todmorden – I’ve talked to PamWarhurst and she thinks IET would definitely be up for this
If the meeting agrees on the group’s purposes, then it needs to elect a steering committee to draw up a constitution – this is a requirement for an unincorporated association.
Here’s a draft/suggested constitution for a steering committee to consider, in case this could help speed things along nicely.
Once the steering committee has drawn up the constitution, the group would meet to adopt the constitution, formally accept members and elect the management committee.
Suggested/draft constitution for steering committee to consider
1. Name of organisation: Incredible Edible Mytholm (?)
2. Objects of organisation (aims/purposes)
The primary aim of Incredible Edible Mytholm is to nominate the Mytholm Works site as a community asset under the terms of the Localism Act, in the light of its potential as a community permaculture/aquaculture food growing business, combined with a farm-gate retail outlet for locally-produced food, sustainable horticulture training and education and eco-tourism attraction and hotel.
If the community asset nomination is successful, the group’s secondary aim is to set up a spin-off, community-owned, not-for-profit company in order to exercise the Community Right to Bid for the site, if/when the owners put Mytholm Works site on the market.
To do this, if/when the Mytholm Works site comes on the market, the group will first access grants to employ appropriate staff to prepare a business case for setting up, financing and running community-owned, not-for-profit sustainable food business, along the lines indicated in the primary aim paragraph, above.
If the business case proved viable, the group would then set up a spin-off, community owned, not for profit company, which would be responsible for exercising the Community Right to Bid and raising the necessary capital through a community share offer.
Once this task is achieved, the group may consider disbanding since it will have done what it set out to do.
In order to pursue its objects, the group may:
- nominate Mytholm Works site as a community asset
- set up a bank account
- apply for grant funding and other sources of funding (but is not allowed to borrow), eg crowdfunding, donations etc to cover the group’s costs – including preparation of a business plan in order to exercise its Community Right to Bid for Mytholm Works site
- prepare a business plan for a sustainable community food business
- set up a spin-off, not-for-profit community food company carry out educational, research, networking and information-sharing activities to help it pursue its objects
Membership is open to any individual who shares the aims of the group.
To become a member, an individual can either apply in writing to the group’s Secretary or attend a group meeting and state they’d like to become a member and agree to abide by the rules of this Constitution.
Members may terminate their membership at any time by notifying the group’s Secretary.
The group’s committee has the right to end the membership of individuals who behave in ways inconsistent with the rules or values of the association.
It is impractical for every member to have a vote on every decision. Therefore, an elected management committee will run the organisation on behalf of the members.
The Management committee will consist of Chair, Treasurer and Secretary, two other members and up to three coopted members. The management committee must meet at least 4 times a year, with no longer than three months between meetings. The quorum is four members.
The authority of the voluntary management committee flows from the constitution because every member has agreed to those rules when they sign up as a member. That leaves the office holders as agents for all the members.
The three office-bearers and the two other members of the the management committee will be elected at the first meeting of the group. They may then coopt up to three additional management committee members. Management committee membership will last for one year.
After year 1, management committee members will be elected at the Annual General Meeting. (see 6. General Meetings, below).
The management committee has the duty, power and responsibility to pursue the group’s objects (see 2, above) by acting on its powers (see 3 above).
Membership of the management committee will end if the member acts against the objects and constitutional rules of the group and a majority of the group’s members present at a special general meeting votes for the management committee member’s appointment to end.
6) General meetings
The first Annual General Meeting will be held within a year of the group’s formation, and then at twelve month intervals. Its business will include:
- Receiving from the management committee an annual report and statement of accounts
- Electing office bearers and other members of the management committee
- Appointing an independent examiner for the coming year
Members may call a special general meeting of the entire membership of the group when there is special business to consider.
7) Procedure at meetings
If the Chair is absent, another office holder will take the chair.
The chair will have a casting vote.
The secretary will keep minutes of all meetings and circulate them for approval at the following meeting.
The group’s funds may only be used to further the objects of the group and for no other purpose.
When the group opens a bank account, two signatories are required to sign the group’s cheques. The signatories will be the Treasurer and one of the two other approved/nominated signatories, who must both be members of the management committee.
The accounts of the group are to be independently examined by a reliable, appropriate person nominated and approved by the management committee.
9) Amendments to the constitution
The constitution may be altered by its members at the AGM, or at a special general meeting for the purpose, which members have received proper notice of.
If the group decides to wind up and there is money in its bank account after all liabilities have been met, this will be paid to Incredible Edible Todmorden, or another local organisation with similar aims and objectives.
Updated 12 November on the basis of advice from Locality, to take out the requirement than members must be eligible to vote in Calderdale Council elections. (This doesn’t alter the requirement for 21 members who are eligible to vote in Calderdale Council elections, in order to be able to nominate Mytholm Works as a community asset.)