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Is The Hitchin Cow Commoners Trust a charity?

Yes, The Hitchin Cow Commoners Trust is Registered Charity No.1158395

The Trust is governed by a Scheme set up by the Charities Commission and dated 23 March 2006.

Please visit Charities Commission website for more information

What are the objects of the Charity?

  • The object of the charity is for the benefit of the community through the provision of facilities for the charitable use for cricket, football or other sports or for other general charitable purposes for the benefit of the inhabitants of the town of Hitchin.
  • Subject to the provisions of clause 5(6) of this scheme the land held by the charity in part 2 of the schedule to this scheme is to be used for the purposes of the charity.

How do the HCCT carry out the charity’s purposes?

The following extracts are from the Charities Commission website:

There are legal boundaries within which trustees must operate but, within those boundaries, trustees are free to exercise their discretion when making decisions.

In many situations there is no one ‘right’ decision to be made; rather that there are a range of decisions that a trustee could properly make in those particular circumstances. Provided that the trustees make a decision within that range, then they will have made a ‘right’ decision.

In relation to carrying out a charity’s purposes for the public benefit, the law on public benefit does not specify what decisions on public benefit trustees must make.

‘In the (best) interests of the charity’ means in the (best) interests of carrying out the charity’s objects, both now and in the future. It does not mean the interests of the charity as an entity in itself (charities do not exist in order to perpetuate themselves). Nor does it mean the personal interests of its trustees, staff or members

Legal requirement: trustees have to decide what is relevant or irrelevant in the circumstances. They should always consider the charity’s objects and what it is trying to achieve. Trustees must make the best decision they can based on sound information. They should not allow personal prejudices to sway their judgment; to do so would be a breach of duty.

An example of irrelevant considerations:

A charity for the relief of financial hardship received a substantial offer from a developer wishing to purchase land which the charity let to provide its income. There was local opposition to development of the site on conservation grounds. The trustees had to disregard these objections as they had no bearing on the objects of the charity. (They might, however, have needed to consider whether there was any risk of adverse publicity or loss of confidence or support from local partners or funders, and what the impact of this could be.)

What are the rules for charity meetings?

Most meetings will just involve the trustees, running the day-to-day business of the charity.

The trust does not employ staff.

Extract from Charities Commission website:

The charity trustees (deciding as a group) may wish to invite non-trustees to some of their meetings. No-one, apart from the charity trustees, can vote at trustees' meetings. Charity trustees cannot delegate their responsibilities in this area and cannot ask someone else to vote on their behalf.

Examples of when a non-trustee may be invited to a trustees' meeting include:

  • a trustee with a disability may need to be accompanied by a carer;
  • professional advisers may be invited to meetings to assist in the understanding of technical matters such as:
  • accounts;
  • surveys or valuations of property; or
  • investment policy;
  • representatives from a funding body or partnership agency may wish to attend; or
  • staff members may be required to report on activities to the charity trustees.

We would expect non-trustees to be present only for relevant agenda items.

Measuring what is beneficial

It should always be possible to identify and describe how a charity’s purpose is beneficial, whether or not that can be quantified or measured.

The public

Legal requirement: for a purpose to be charitable it must benefit either

  • the public in general or
  • a sufficient section of the public

What a ‘sufficient section of the public’ means

A charitable purpose can benefit a section of the public, but the section must be appropriate (or ‘sufficient’) in relation to the specific purpose (legal requirement).

A sufficient section of the public are called a ‘public class’ of people.

There is not a set minimum number of people who have to benefit in order to be a ‘public class’.

Whether a section of the public is or is not a ‘public class’ is not the same for every purpose. What is sufficient for one purpose may not be sufficient for another.

Who owns the land?

The Official Custodian for Charities in trust for The Hitchin Cow Commoners Trust.

Are there any agreements in place?

Top Field:

A 25 year lease between The Hitchin Cow Commoners Trust, HTFC (Top Field Ltd) and The Official Custodian for Charities was signed on 25 September 2014. This refers to the land and buildings at Top Field, Fishponds Road, Hitchin, Hertfordshire.

Butts Close (part of):

An agreement between the Hitchin Urban District Council (now North Herts District Council) and the Trust dating from the 1920s gives public access to the Butts Close land in return for the council maintaining the land and cutting the grass etc.

How many trustees are there?

There are 6 co-opted and 2 nominated persons who through residence, occupation, employment or otherwise have special knowledge of the town of Hitchin.

Who are the Trustees of the HCCT?

Dr. Peter Cranfield, Chairman and Treasurer (co-opted since the start of the current Scheme, was first elected as a Trustee in 1989)

Peter was born and educated in Hitchin, and has worked in the town as a General Dental Practitioner since 1971. His current work role includes that of Regional Advisor in Dental Foundation Training for Health Education East of England. He has been a warranted Scout leader since 1968, holding both Group and District posts, and has helped many young people gain their Queen’s Scout Awards and Duke of Edinburgh Awards at gold and silver levels.

Alan Doggett, Clerk (formally nominated by Hitchin Youth Trust and then co-opted in 2016)

Alan has lived in Hitchin for 38 years and is a member of many local organisations during this time including being chairman of a local youth football club and was an active referee of local football for some 30 years. He is secretary of the Hitchin Youth Trust and a member of Hitchin Tilehouse Rotary Club where he is involved in many activities which benefit local people and groups. Alan is the Trust’s Clerk, when he took over from Tony Freeman on 2 October 2014.

Mark Cherry (co-opted in 2006)

Mark was born in Hitchin at North Herts Hospital in 1959. He lived in Hitchin until he was 30 years old then Baldock, Letchworth, back to Hitchin and now lives in Preston. His family are from Hitchin and for over 75 years ran E T Cherry and Sons Ltd in Nightingale Road (setup by his grandfather). They still live in or near Hitchin. He was educated at York Road Nursery, Strathmore infants, Wilshire Dacre junior and Hitchin Boys’ Grammar School all Hitchin. He played Hockey for Blueharts Hockey Club from about 1974 until 2003 captaining the 1st XI for two seasons in the mid 1980’s and is still a vice president and continues to light the bonfire every year on the 5th November.

Mark was co-opted to The Hitchin Cow Commoners Trust in 2006 to bring some real estate experience as he is a Chartered Surveyor.

Maggie Dyer (co-opted in 2006)

Maggie moved to Hitchin when she was 3 months old and has lived there virtually all of her life.

She went to school at Strathmore, Wilshere Dacre and Hitchin Girls Grammar School. She completed her law degree in Hong Kong. She works as a Conveyancer and Practice Manager for her husband in his law firm, Neves and Dyer Solicitors in Hitchin. She is a member and past president of Hitchin Tilehouse Rotary Club where she has been involved in youth activities extensively over the last 10 years. The youth activities include competitions (cooking, writing, music, technology), youth exchanges, sporting events, and mentoring. She was also the Youth Chairman for Rotary District 1260 which covers most of Herts Beds and Bucks and incorporates about 50 Rotary Clubs. Her uncle was a player and manager at Hitchin Town Football Club and Baldock Town Football Club. Her father also ran a very successful Sunday morning football team in Hitchin for many years. She has been a Trustee of Hitchin Cow Commoners Trust for about 8 year and joined after the Scheme was put in place in March 2006. She was chairman of the Trustees for about 3 years.

Richard Thake (nominated by North Herts District Council)

Tom Williams (co-opted in 2010)

Born in Hitchin, Tom is a second generation local farmer and local businessman. Brought up on the family farm in Gosmore, Tom now lives with his family in St. Ippolyts. In 2014 his business sponsored both the Saturday and Sunday St. Ippolyts Football teams and in 2017, Preston Cricket Club. He also carries out much community work around Hitchin.

Tom was co-opted to The Hitchin Cow Commoners Trust in 2010 to bring his land management experience.