It is over a year since I last reported, and I have to admit that it has been a year of painfully slow progress with the Charity Commission. One of the problems has been that the Commission has cut its numbers sharply, and each time we tracked down a case officer that person seemed to leave, and we had to start again – or so it seemed. That said, we have made some progress: the tortuous process of getting the new trustees approved has been achieved; we now have (we think!) a proper case officer, and he has given us clear guidance on what we need to do next. No matter that the information asked for has been provided several times before; there is a proper procedure, and a proper sequence, and that’s how things must be.
Our biggest challenge as trustees is this: the object of the original charity was for ‘the provision of allotments for the labouring poor’, but our consultations so far have shown that there are few if any labouring poor in the village who want allotments. That being so, we hope to persuade the Charity Commission to give us the necessary powers to widen the purposes of the charity. We are very aware of the clear wishes of the people of Steep as shown in the Parish Plan, and hope we may be able to persuade the Commission to allow us the freedom to act accordingly. However, at present they seem to take a rather more restricted view, probably linked to the relief of poverty.
The process from now on will I am sure continue to be tortuous and slow, but at least the new trustees now know what needs to be done, and since the Charity Commission set great store on what they term ‘stakeholder consultation’ I shall continue to keep Steep parishioners in the picture.
Finally, I welcome constructive comments.
Chairman of Trustees