Establishing a charitable Trust

The Implementation section suggests things to consider when establishing a new charitable Parks Trust, recruiting a Board, and going live.

If you’re exploring options for transforming parks in your area and are interested in establishing a charitable Parks Trust to care for your parks, there are a number of factors to consider when planning for implementation.

 

  • Decision making - how to make decisions relating to the creation of a Parks Trust and when to formally establish the Parks Trust legal structures. It might be helpful to consider establishing a 'Shadow Board'. This will all need resources and staffing. 
  • Asset transfer - likely to be a long and complex process requiring legal support on behalf of the local authority as well as legal support representing the Parks Trust
  • HR requirements - for example, scoping out TUPE, negotiating with trade unions 
  • Business planning - refinement and due diligence of the Target Operating Model linked to the asset transfer
  • Stakeholder consultation and communications - in some cases it will be a legal requirement to consult particular stakeholders, for example, relating to asset transfer or TUPE of staff. In other cases it will be good practice to consult, for example, with residents and user groups. 

 

Data that you have gathered as part of Understanding your assets will underpin this process. For example, it will have identified the legal status of assets and any restrictive covenants or liabilities that need to be taken into account. 

A Shadow Board

Whilst the establishment of the new Parks Trust will have been initiated by the local authority, it is important that the Parks Trust’s interests are represented in discussions from an early stage.

 

One way of providing support and constructive scrutiny when establishing a new Parks Trust is through the creation of a ‘Shadow Board’. This could include external expertise that widens the skill set of the project team and provides guidance as well as thinking through decisions from the Trust's perspective. They will not have any legal responsibility, but the Shadow Board will be expected to act in the interests of the yet-to-be-established Parks Trust.

 

The Shadow Board may provide guidance, for instance, on the charitable purposes, legal structure and broad business model for the new Parks Trust. They may also advise on the development of draft leases or a draft business plan. However, once the local authority is ready to proceed to asset transfer and the new charity has been incorporated, formal governance needs to be put in place and this will have clear, legal responsibilities. 

Going live

It is important to establish the new organisation and recruit the new Board at the right time.

 

If this happens too soon, there may be little for the new Board to engage with, leading to uncertainty and frustration. If it happens too late they may feel they have been presented with a model that they would not have chosen, or a portfolio of assets that will hard to manage as a sustainable business.