Belsize Residents Association AGM 2019
On 26 November 2018, the Belsize Society was registered by the Charities Commission. It has been set up with five trustees and has been modelled as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). On 10 March, we will vote on transferring the Association (its financial and non-financial assets, website, archive, on-going activities) to the new Society and, if passed, winding up the Association so that its work can continue under the CIO.
Belsize Society: Setting up the Society
The registration of charity number 1180842 in November last year probably went unnoticed. However, it marked the end of a phase of work improving how the Association undertakes its activities. At the last BRA Annual General Meeting, the membership asked the Committee to set up a Charitable Incorporated Organisation and, a couple of days after this, Committee member Michael Jampel started the ball rolling by applying to the Charities Commission.
The journey to successfully starting a CIO has been educational, working with different public bodies and advisors – all kindly offering help freely – to shape a way of working for the future.
The Committee had a good of idea of why the AGM wanted to set up a CIO. We would have a legal entity contracting for services rather than individual members. Also, we felt we were “charitable”, seeking to support the Arts/Culture/Heritage/Science (our classification in the Charities Commission register), through providing education/advocacy/advice/information (again from the register). This work was non-political, not-for-profit and for the general public as well as people living in Belsize area
But setting up the CIO did make the Committee look at what we do and how it should be presented, teasing out why our work is for the public good.
The BRA name was a hook for this. The Commission asked whether we were a residents’ body, in the sense of representing residential interests to a landlord or to the Council. The name Belsize Residents Association was always a little misleading, risking giving this impression. The name makes sense in that we are an association of residents seeking to make Belsize a better place. However, it may fail to show that we do this for residents, visitors, businesses and all those that have an interest in the area.
Articulating this wider benefit has been a focus as the Commission probed our application. We were able to observe that the website, newsletter and noticeboard are freely accessible; equally, where we comment on planning matters or undertake pollution monitoring, residents are putting time in for the wider community. Interestingly, using the word “Society” – making us more recognisable as an amenity body – was also scrutinised. There was some relief in March when Michael confirmed with Companies House that we can use the word Society, after answering questions (this time from Companies House) that this restricted word was being used in acceptable way.
What happens next
At the BRA AGM, a motion to transfer assets and wind up the Association will be voted on. If passed, we would plan to hold the first AGM of the Society after this motion. All BRA members will be eligible and encouraged to join the Society as members. The trustees of the Society (five of the BRA Committee) intend to stand for re-election as trustees of the Society. Then, the rest of the Committee for the Society will be elected.
From the members’ perspective, very little of the BRA’s way of working will change. BRA activities will continue (newsletters, TYCT etc) though we will rebrand these. The annual subscription will be unchanged and as the bank account will transfer we would expect not to need to trouble members for new payment details.
Changing organisational form is only a first step. BRA Committee are keen to explain more of the plans at the March AGM, but also hear from members about what we should do next.
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