Ahead of the Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) on Monday 24th July 2017, I am writing to address some of the issues that have been raised by members.
Before I do, however, I want to emphasise that the proposal to change the club into a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) has not been taken without extensive research. In addition, I would add that the proposal at Monday’s EGM is to authorise the General Committee to proceed with the initial steps of the change which will incur costs. It is for this reason that we are seeking a mandate from you now rather than incur costs only to find that this is not a change the members want. Our intention would then be to present the detailed changes, including a new constitution, at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in order that a formal application to the Charities Commission can be made.
The view of the General Committee is that it is in the long term interest of the club and its members to convert from an unincorporated organisation into a CIO.
I will now address the issues raised by members:
Under the Charity Commissions charitable purposes requirement, the Charity must benefit the public in general or a sufficient section of the public. We would qualify under the “sufficient section of the public requirement”, which is also called a “public class” of people. The Charity Commissions guide to this states that, “in most cases this is defined as people living within a certain geographical area”. This would be the public class that we would adopt. The maximum number of members in the charity would be established by the directors and we would then have a waiting list for potential future members. The facilities would not be available to non-members other than under existing arrangements which the club has previously entered into.
The question that the charity must not give rise to anything more than incidental personal benefit refers to what is also called a private benefit. This is a benefit specific to one member, or small number of members, and is not available to the general membership. This would not be the situation at the club as there are no such benefits.
The fee levels at the club would be set by the charity’s directors in a similar way that they are currently set by the General Committee. Whilst the directors are under a duty to consider whether the charities fees are more than the poor can afford they are under no obligation to provide discounted rates or an affordable pay as you go option. This is because they are also under a duty to consider the ongoing financial security of the charity when deciding upon member rates.
The directors of the CIO would be elected by the members of the charity and would be accountable to them in the same manner that the General Committee members are accountable to the members now. The constitution of the charity would be worded appropriately to ensure that this was the case.
The detailed constitution will be prepared by our legal advisors to take into account the specific requirements of the club. It will be subject to scrutiny by the General Committee and available for comment by members ahead of the AGM.
The reason for choosing the CIO option is that it gives us the benefit of being a charity and limited liability status. The charity part is the subject of the EGM but the question of limited liability is equally important. This is because at present as an unincorporated association the members are exposed personally to a potential claim against the club which the club cannot satisfy. It does not necessarily stop with the officers of the club. This in itself should be sufficient reason for the change to a limited liability structure.
I am convinced that this is the right direction for the club but if at any stage an issue arises that in the view of the General Committee changes our view I will have no hesitation in reporting that matter back to you. Subject to your agreement at the EGM there will be a vote on the full proposals at the AGM in January 2018.
Your fellow member