To consider the establishment of a Corporate Trusteeship Board in order to provide the necessary governance in the Council’s management of property matters related to lands it holds on trust.
The Finance and Assets Portfolio Holder presented a report on the Corporate Trusteeship Board. He informed Members that the establishment of a Corporate Trusteeship Board would provide the necessary governance in the Council’s management of property matters related to land it holds on trust as well as assisting in preparation for Local Government Reorganisation on a ‘safe and legal’ basis.
The report highlighted that the Council held a number of properties in trust with terms and deeds of trust varying from property to property. The common factor of these lands was sharing a history of a benefactor transferring the land to SLDC’s predecessor councils through a deed of trust. It was the role of the Council to act as trustee, working in the interest of the trust to protect the public benefits sought through the original establishment of the trust and in all cases, the Council acts as a corporate trustee, carrying the risks of the liabilities associated with the property and public use.
The proposal was to establish a Corporate Trusteeship Board to determine matters related to the management of the lands held in trust and acting in the Trust’s best interests. For expediency of establishing and conducting a Board, it was proposed that Cabinet be given authority to appoint seven Councillors to the Board. In practice, the appointed Board would be made up of the current membership of the Cabinet, enabling the Board to be held on the rising of Cabinet with the Board adopting rules of procedure similar to the Cabinet unless the trust deed specifies otherwise.
Members raised a question regarding the possibility of an independent person being involved on the Board to provide a different perspective on the decisions. The Legal Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist (Monitoring Officer) noted that the members of the Board could invite others to the meetings if appropriate to do so and further, informing members that Cabinet members would receive training on the role as Board Member as this would be separate from their role as a Cabinet Member.
A query regarding Ward Councillors and Town/ Parish Councils being part of the consultation on individual reports was raised. The Legal Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist (Monitoring Officer) agreed and added that this consultation would form part of the consultation process for each report going to the Corporate Trusteeship Board.
Members expressed understanding for the need to have a Corporate Trusteeship Board but questioned how communication would work between the Board and officers. The Legal Governance and Democracy Specialist (Solicitor) informed Members that there was a reporting line to the Council and that the purpose of the Board was that it should act independently of Council business.
RESOLVED – That:-
(1) the establishment of a Corporate Trusteeship Board as described in paragraphs 3.6 and 3.7 of the report be agreed;
(2) Cabinet appoint seven Councillors to the Board;
(3) the Legal, Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist (Monitoring Officer) be authorised to make the necessary amendments to the Council’s constitution; and
(4) it be noted that as part of the preparation for Local Government Reorganisation a comprehensive list of properties held in trust will be prepared.