Singleton Spaces

Governance

Singleton Spaces is an independent trust with a board of volunteers. It was formed on 2 November 2018 with a Declaration of Trust – and is registered with the Charity Commission (number 1180577).

Singleton Spaces has been operating Singleton Environment Centre from 11 March 2018 on behalf of Great Chart with Singleton Parish Council (GCwSPC). The building and grounds are owned by Ashford Borough Council and are leased to GCwSPC for a peppercorn rent.

Managing Board
Malcolm Wiffen, chair
Carolyn Perring, secretary
Philip Rogers, treasurer
Aniko Szocs
Jennifer Tippen
Thomas Ackrill

Front-line staff
Centre Manager – John Alexander
Footprints Cafe and Bistro – Candy Gibb

The objects of Singleton Spaces

The objects of the charity (‘the objects’) to be carried out in Singleton and the neighbouring communities of Washford Farm, Brisley Farm, Stanhope, Chilmington Green and Great Chart (‘the Area of Benefit’) are:

1)  The preservation, protection and improvement of the natural environment for the public benefit, in particular but not exclusively by promoting and supporting the creation and maintenance of green spaces within the area of benefit.

2)  Advancing education for the public benefit in conservation, protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment.

Specific ways the Singleton Spaces will achieve this outcome

  1. by providing a hub of information and advice;
  2. by providing community and school activities such as, but not exclusively, practical sessions and working-parties;
  3. by engaging with public, private and voluntary-sector organisations with similar purposes working in the locality.

Funding

For further information on Singleton Space’s finances and Singleton Environment Centre read here about Funding.

First steps towards forming the new operators

Taken from the Business Plan (March 2018)

Background
This background and a document with operational details was prepared by John Alexander for Great Chart with Singleton Parish Council (GCwSPC) dated 25 July 2017.

A business plan and 2018/19 financial year forecast scenarios were established in response to The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) activating its breakout clause and withdrawing from the Singleton Environment Centre (SEC) by 11 March 2018. It highlighted the financial viability of the Centre and, of equal or greater importance, how much growth potential there was under new stewardship. The decision taken by TCV to withdraw from SEC related to the charity not securing a major funding project to support its core activities and its lack of desire to diversify its income stream on a short term basis until its main goal was achieved.

The plan highlighted the financial viability of the Centre and the options open to Ashford Borough Council (ABC) and GCwSPC in finding new stewardship – a willing main operator. The plan was broken down into various sections from current operational issues, dilapidation and a successful handover processes, to future community events and revenue growth strategies.

SEC was recognised as a special venue which serves both local residents and businesses alike. It was proposed that the best option for the SEC is for an overall operating structure with a new organisation to develop all areas and aspects of the Centre, to the benefit of all communities and organisations.

Vision

It was critical for the vision to clarify that all stakeholders, partners and tenants were working toward the same goal. There was a great opportunity to streamline aspects of delivery to the benefit of all parties. It was proposed that the remit set out in the original partnership agreement between ABC and TCV (see below) remains the same. All programme activities can then be carried out with this in mind. Keeping the original vision for the Centre will help promotional efforts target the local corporate market in relation to donation and sponsorship opportunities, further benefiting the communities of Ashford.

Aims and objectives
The original aims and objectives of the Centre (as per 3.1 of the original ABC/TCV partnership agreement) were to:

  • Ensure that the Centre remains financially viable.
  • Ensure that the Centre is used to raise awareness of the community’s role in managing and protecting the environment and that the partners endeavour to lead by example by using best environmental / sustainable practice, where reasonably possible, in the operation of the Centre.
  • Ensure that the Centre is used to raise awareness of nature conservation initiatives in the borough, region and where applicable nationally and internationally.
  • Manage the Centre as a community facility / resource for the benefit of the local community.
  • Actively promote the benefits of “Health and Well-Being” and volunteering through the Centre.
  • Actively pursue commercial / sponsorship opportunities and major capital / revenue grants which are in keeping with the overall aims and objectives of the Centre.

Current influencing factors and assumptions

  • It was the strong desire of GCwSPC that SEC would continue to operate as a sustainably-built Centre comprising of meeting / multi-purpose rooms, workshops, a café and office facilities with landscaped grounds. SEC was built using S106 financing for the long-term benefit of the immediate community.
  • The previous lease set out that the main operator will be responsible for internal repairs and ABC cover external repairs and other items that relate to the core fabric of the building. It was assumed this will continue to be the case.
  • The lease was for a peppercorn rent and has break clauses at 10 years and then every 5 years.
  • Under a new agreement a lead-body (“The Trust”) will have entire responsibility of Centre operations including letting and overseeing the catering contract and any sublet of office space. A Consultative Group could be made up of officers and councillors from ABC and representatives of GCwSPC. The adjacent Ashford Community Woodland (ACW) volunteer group, and other like-minded volunteer groups, would continue with appropriate representation.
  • The Footprints Café – The opportunity for the café to work within the new Trust has been agreed with the current owners.

The July 2017 Plan concluded “The Singleton Environment Centre is financially viable as a successful environmental and community driven resource. This is dependent on receiving business rate relief or exemption by ABC which would be afforded a registered charity.”

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