This week the Parish Council agreed to begin to explore options for setting up an affiliated trust, and establishing the legal facts, options and procedures that might enable a transfer of church responsibility to such a trust.
To that end a motion will be put with the two proposals below at at the Parish Council meeting on Monday 11th March 2019 at 7.30pm in Wodson Pavilion, Cold Christmas Lane, Thundridge (at which, as usual, ‘Public and press are invited to attend’ (see: https://www.thundridgeparishcouncil.org.uk/uploads/20190311-tpc-agenda-mar-2019.pdf )
“PROPOSAL: That Thundridge Parish Council herewith agrees to appoint GovResources Ltd as planning consultant for correspondence relating to Thundridge Old Church to a maximum of £1,500.00 (one thousand, five hundred pounds)
PROPOSAL: That Thundridge Parish Council herewith agrees to use Surrey Hills Solicitors if necessary for any negotiations with the Diocese of St Albans relating to Thundridge Old Church”
An initial meeting is also to be scheduled between representatives of the Parish Council and the Diocese of St Albans, in the latter half of March, to register the parish councils’ interest in resolving the matter with the Diocese, and request they present a formal written proposal to that end. The group will be kept informed of progress in these discussions.
Of course, this is just the very beginning of a process.
The benefits of a trust affiliated to the parish council may include greater longevity/stability and potential access to additional funding sources and professional services
Such a trust, once set up, is expected to be operated independently of the parish council itself and include a range of trustees from the community.
It is of course possible a council affiliated trust may prove in time to be impractical, and other options are still all on the table, including an independent trust such as Jeans Orchard, or private ownership (with appropriate covenanting) such as recently at Minsden Chapel.
It is also possible, though we hope and believe unlikely, that it may not be possible to negotiate mutually satisfactory terms between the church and the council or any other body wishing to take responsibility for the Old Church. Time will tell.
If anyone has views or suggestions on these matters, please let us know.