STATEMENT ON LONDON COLNEY VILLAGE CLUB
The concerns of residents were listened to when earlier this year, the Parish
Council took a decision to seek legal advice on the status of the London Colney Village Club.
There is very little that the Parish Council can do in relation to the management of the site. We asked our solicitor to review documents available from a variety of sources, about the current legal status of the trust, which administers the club at the site in St Anne’s Road. They recommended that a legal opinion should be sought from a barrister who specialised in trust law. The barrister considered the case and has raised concerns about the action undertaken to remove the previous trustees and set up the new company as a sole trustee of the site.
It is the barrister’s opinion that as long at the club exists, the property should be held in trust and that the Club cannot distribute the property, or its proceeds, amongst themselves. Once the club ceases to exist, the property or its proceeds cannot be for the benefit of individual members because the trust deed states that it should be applied for charitable purposes.
What is clear is that the current situation is precarious and could result in the site being lost to the village. This has put the Parish Council in a difficult situation. If we do nothing, then the land could be lost. Earlier this year, the company that now ‘own’ the site, were nearly struck off from Companies House, after they failed to register any return. This would have meant that the land would have been seized by the Crown. The Parish Council stepped in and our solicitor wrote to Companies House asking them to not undertake this course of action, and a return was subsequently filed.
Our solicitor has written to the concerned parties and outlined a course of action to be considered including:
- Appointing the company who currently owns the site as a Trustee.
- Transferring the legal title in the property from the company to the company and two other trustees.
We have urged all parties involved to seek legal advice which could include making an application to the Court that has jurisdiction to direct Trustees how to deal with Trust property.
The Parish Council has objected to the planning application being considered by the District Council as we do not consider this is the best use of the site. We appreciate that it is the Company’s intention to develop the site so they can invest in the club’s future. However, it does appear that the current legal situation is not in the best interests of the site which has resulted in the legal title of the property being transferred out of the Trust.
Furthermore, we have registered the site as an Asset of Community Value under the Localism Act. This means that if the owner of the site were to commence to sell, the parish council has six months to raise the funds to purchase the site. It does not mean that the owners have to accept the parish council’s offer but would give the parish council the opportunity to formulate an action plan to save the site.