LANGPORT TOWN TRUST - A BRIEF OUTLINE
The Langport Town Trust was established in 1888 following the dissolution of the Borough of Langport Eastover under the Municipal Corporations Act 1883.
The Trust document itself was sealed on 23rd November 1888 and set out the terms of the scheme, which even now forms the basis under which the Trust operates.
It was initially agreed that the Trustees should be made up of 10 competent persons comprising 4 "representative" Trustees, from organisations such as the school, the Church and the Langport District Drainage Board, and 6 "co-operative" Trustees representing the `guiding lights' of the Town. The Trust lands were at this time vested in the Official Custodian for Charities.
The original scheme was amended in 1901, 1920, 1934, 1935 and 1966 when the Official Custodian for Charities was discharged and the Trust property was then vested in the Parish Council of Langport, which was appointed as Trustee. This means that the members of the Town Council are required to adhere to the Rules and Regulations of the governing document and the Charities Act.
The most recent amendment to the Scheme came about in 2006 when the Charity Commission recommended that there was a need to simplify the objectives of the Charity.
The objectives contained in the original Trust deed required the Trust:
1. To maintain, toll free, the Corn, Pig, sheep and cattle markets in or near Langport. 2. To maintain the Langport Fire Brigade and Engines.
3. To maintain and improve the Public Library and Reading Room in Langport.
4. To accumulate any residues and apply the accumulations from time to time for any of the above mentioned purposes, or otherwise for the public benefit of the inhabitants of Langport.
The view of the Charity Commission was that this no longer reflected the current situation and they recommended that the objective of the Trust should be changed to read :
The objective of the charity is to benefit the inhabitants of the town of Langport in particular, but not exclusively, by the maintenance, improvement or provision of public amenities.
This was agreed by the Councillors serving as trustees at the time and the revised scheme was sealed on 7t" November 2006.
The principal functions of the Town Trust are:
1. The management and maintenance of the building known as Langport Town Hall, which comprises the original Town Hall and the former British Legion Institute. Accommodation in this building is currently leased to VISTA (a voluntary sector training organisation) and Somerset Arts Week. The Undercroft Market area is currently leased to Mr. F. Etherden for the purpose of a produce and general market.
2. The management of the building known as The Hanging Chapel. This is currently leased to the Portcullis Freemasons Lodge.
3. The control of the Fishing Rights on the River Parrett, from Huish Bridge to Monks Lease Clyes, which are currently leased out to the Langport and District Angling Association.
4. The operation of the Langport Information Centre located in Little Bow, Bow Street,Langport.
5. The management of the recently formed Bagehot Memorial Trust, set up to oversee refurbishment of the grave of Walter Bagehot, located in All Saints Churchyard, and to raise awareness of Walter Bagehot within Langport and the surrounding district.
Although the Town Council is the sole Trustee of the Langport Town Trust, Councillors fulfil the role of Trustees on being elected to Council. Their liabilities are covered by the indemnity insurance that the Town Council arranges on their behalf.
The affairs of the Trust are handled independently from those of the Town Council with each body holding its own monthly meeting.
Finances are dealt with independently using separate bank accounts and auditing procedures. The Town Trust publishes its annual accounts on the Charity Commission website in accordance with current legislation.
All payments made on behalf of the Trust bear the signatures of 2 of the Trustees and have to be approved by a majority of Trustees at the monthly meeting.
Councillors, in their role as Trustees of Langport Town Trust are expected to keep their Trust and Council duties separate and are called on to declare any interest they may have in the business to be conducted at the start of every Trust meeting.
They must only act in the best interest of the Trust and not for their own private gain, or that of their relatives or friends. This is a requirement both of the General Charities Act and, so far as the Langport Town Trust is concerned, is encapsulated in paragraph 40 of the 1888 Trust Deed which states that:
"No Trustee acting as Clerk, or in any other capacity in respect of the Trust, shall receive any salary or remuneration from the funds of the Trust. No Trustee shall for his own benefit, or for the benefit of any other person either directly or indirectly, hold or occupy any land of the Trust or any interest theirin or be engaged in the supply or work or goods at the cost of the Trust."
At the present time the Clerk to the Trustees, or Administrator, is not a trustee but is employed by the Trust to fulfil that role.
Councillors, when acting on behalf of the Trust, are required to follow the same Code of Conduct that they follow as Councillors.