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Parish Pit Consultation

WE NEED STAPLEFORD RESIDENTS’ OPINIONS!

Two simple yes/no answers required to proposal to transfer ownership of Stapleford Parish Pit to Magog Trust

Stapleford Parish Pit, located next to Magog Down just off Haverhill Road, is an old chalk quarry which was last used more than 100 years ago. It lay abandoned for many years and fell into a state of disrepair. In recent years, a group of volunteers, The Friends of Stapleford Pit, restored the site as a nature reserve under the oversight of Stapleford Parish Council to a management plan drawn up by The Wildlife Trust.

The Pit is the only asset of a charity, called The Public Stone, Chalk, Gravel and Clay Pit, whose sole trustee is Stapleford Parish Council. The beneficiaries of the charity are the residents of Stapleford.

The Parish Council and The Friends acknowledge that the present arrangement is insufficient to ensure the continuation and enhancement of the site over the longer term. In particular, the charity has neither money of its own nor any means of generating income to support future management.

In March 2020, the Parish Council resolved to transfer ownership of the Parish Pit to Magog Trust for the sum of £1. This was seen to be in the best interests of the charity and its beneficiaries. The Magog Trust has more than 30 years’ experience of managing chalk downland for the purposes of recreation and conservation, can call upon appropriate expertise and has sufficient resources to fund the maintenance and improvement of the site.

To bring about this transfer, Stapleford Parish Council must apply to the Charities Commission to request a change to the present purposes of the charity. The Parish Council is required to consult with the beneficiaries of the charity (i.e. Stapleford residents) before the Commission will accept any such request. Residents are asked to consider the following points and invited to raise comments or questions as they consider appropriate.

Why is a change to the purposes of the charity required?

The main purpose of the existing rules of The Public Stone, Chalk, Gravel and Clay Pit charity is to provide road materials. This is clearly now redundant and indeed has been for over a century. The subsidiary purpose of the charity is to provide a benefit to the residents of Stapleford. This is not defined by the rules, but an obvious benefit is recreation. However, it is difficult to see how the charity can maintain any useful benefit in the longer term because it has no cash resources or any means of generating income from the Pit.

The present rules do not allow the Pit to be transferred out of the charity’s ownership. The proposed transfer to Magog Trust cannot take place until this restriction is lifted.

Changes proposed by the Parish Council will provide new purposes of a similar nature

As trustee, Stapleford Parish Council proposes to:
1. Lift the restriction on land transfer
2. Transfer the site to a charitable organisation with aims as close as possible to the existing aim of benefitting the residents of Stapleford. Such aims to explicitly include open public access to the site and maintenance of good environmental standards.

The direct benefits of these changes to Stapleford residents will be:
• Improved recreation facilities (which have taken on a greater significance as a consequence of the pandemic)
• Good husbandry of the environment (which has widely acknowledged health benefits).

To comply with requirements, the Parish Council needs to see clear support for this proposal from Stapleford residents (sorry, not Great Shelford residents) before we can transfer the Pit to Magog Trust. We would be very grateful for your input – the more responses in favour, the more straightforward this is.

Make your opinion count – email or write to the Clerk or respond via Facebook by 31 May 2021

Question 1: Do you agree to Stapleford Parish Council’s proposal to lift the restriction on land transfer of the Pit? Answer: yes/no.

Question 2: Do you agree to Stapleford Parish Council’s proposal to transfer the Pit to a charitable organisation (Magog Trust) with aims as close as possible to the existing aim of benefitting the residents of Stapleford? Answer: yes/no.

Any additional comments you may wish to make will be noted.

Please contact Stapleford Parish Council Clerk, Belinda Irons, with your responses:
Email: clerk@staplefordparishcouncil.gov.uk or post to: 14 Crawley End, Chrishall, nr Royston, Herts, SG8 8QL

Alternatively, this article will also be posted on Great Shelford & Stapleford Community and on Stapleford Cambridge Facebook pages, and you may respond in the comments sections thereof.

A copy of this article is also available to read on the Parish Council noticeboards and in the May edition of Stapleford Messenger.

The consultation will close on 31 May 2021. Responses will be summarised and anonymised before the outcome of the consultation is published on www.staplefordparishcouncil.gov.uk, in Stapleford Messenger, on local Facebook pages and on Parish Council noticeboards.

Thank you in advance for participating!