A letter reaches us from Kate Waring of the Charities Commission.
She writes that Birmingham City Council have set a date for a public meeting about the future of Highbury. The date seems quite firm, but we should wait to hear from the Council itself before making any plans.
The main part of her letter is copied below.
Further to my e-mail last week, we have now been informed that the Council has arranged a public meeting in relation to Highbury for 28 October. On this basis, the Commission will not proceed with the meeting proposed for 6 November.* However, we have advised the Council that we do reserve the right to arrange a further meeting at some future date if we consider this is necessary to obtain the views of interested parties. We hope this will not be necessary because the relevant parties will be fully consulted at the Council’s meeting. I appreciate this date may not be ideal for many of the interested parties – this is a matter you will need to take up with the Council to determine whether there is any flexibility to re-arrange the date, subject to the need to hold the meeting as soon as possible.
I propose to attend the meeting as an observer, and to provide any advice to the Council which may be required on charity law issues.
I have provided the Council with a list of the organisations that made representations on the Scheme, including your organisation, so they can be invited to the meeting. Many of the representations we received when the draft Scheme was published came from individuals. As we are unable to disclose personal details for reasons of data protection, I will be writing to all these individuals directly to inform them that the Council will be holding a meeting on 28 October. I will advise them to contact the Council directly to obtain details of the meeting.
Given the high number of individual representations made, we recognise that the Council may need to limit numbers at the meeting for practical reasons and to make decisions about who can attend based on this. It is a matter for the Council as trustee to decide on the best way of ensuring that the greatest possible range and number of interested parties can be consulted. This may include other forms of consultation outside the meeting if necessary.
I would advise you to contact the Council directly to obtain further information about the meeting.
There are several points of interest or concern here, but the main thing to get across is that the long-awaited consultation over the future of Highbury is about to happen, so if you have an opinion one way or another on a range of related topics, now is the time to set them out. The future of Highbury is partly yours to decide. If you have an idea of what is best, or what should be, then please set aside time to attend this meeting and voice your thoughts.
We will be setting out our position on the charitable use of the hall and gardens, the protection and restoration of neglected and vandalised features, increasing the number and breadth of Trustees, improving support for Four Seasons and related projects, and expanding the role of Highbury in the neighbourhood and wider communities. We have set a lot of this out in our original vision document, and have developed further views based on things that have come to light since that was written. These need writing up and posting here, so check back over the coming weeks. There will also be versions set out with and by other members of the Highbury coalition (the group of concerned organisations and individuals that have been pressing this issue for some years).
As always, we want your input, your thoughts, so please get in touch if you have a particular interest you want us to take on board.
* A previous letter from Kate said “The Commission is very disappointed that Birmingham City Council has failed to meet the commitment it made to us to call a public meeting to discuss the future of Highbury by the end of September. We have therefore advised the Council this week that we will be making our own arrangements to hold a meeting to consult interested parties about the future of the charity. This meeting will proceed unless the Council holds its own meeting before this date, with the Commission’s involvement.”
The Commission had suggested Friday 6 November to the Council as a possible date for the meeting. But now that the Council have set an earlier date, the plan is to go with that instead.